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Abide

I’ve always been one to wear my emotions on my sleeve.  Anyone who knows me very well is probably nodding at this statement.

What I’m feeling right now is unbelievably stressed.

The mandates that are being handed down of late are very challenging.  Teaching is an incredibly demanding job that I thought I was finally getting a hold of.

Yeah, right.

Lesson planning, grading, and reworking lesson plans for unexpected “things” that seem to crop up regularly are very stressful for a person who needs everything laid out neatly.

In the midst of the chaos, I keep seeing the word abide around me.

In fact, I even purchased some temporary tattoos of this word, in Hebrew.

It’s everywhere I turn.

It’s been in my Proverbs 31 online Bible study.  The current study has had us reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Uninvited.

Oh word, but what an amazing book!  I just finished reading it two nights ago, and it is seriously some good stuff.  Girlfriend can preach through the written word, let me tell you.

I’m finding that the more I abide with God, the better perspective I have for the issues that I struggle with in my life.

This week has challenged my ability to do this, but isn’t this part of life?  Studying, learning how to apply new truths, and then falling on your face in failure.  It’s a cycle that I constantly find myself in the midst of.

It is when I’m feeling most stressed that I need to abide ever closer to the One who knows my heart.

Abiding is hard for me though.

I’m a perfectionist.  I’m not keen on waiting for things to play out.  I have a need to control my circumstances.

One would think that teaching for this long would have helped me be more adaptable.

It has, in some ways, but in others, not so much.

I am a work in progress.

I am a slow learner who needs constant reminders that I am at my worst when I am stressed…when I don’t abide.  It is during these phases that life slaps me around a bit before I slink, ashamedly, to my Father’s side and slip my hand in His.

It’s when I abide that I find grace, generously poured out by a loving Father who was there all along waiting for me to come to my senses.

When I abide, I find respite from an ever-changing world…peace in a never-changing God.

Hodgepodging Through the Summer

I’ve been a little quiet on my blog this week.  I’ll be writing about that tomorrow or the next day.  For now, why don’t I just focus on the fun Hodgepodge questions that my friend, Joyce, dreamed up.  To play along, answer on your own blog, and then link back up with Joyce!  Thanks for visiting!

1.  On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your summer so far? Why? (1=eh and 10=best summer ever)

I’d rate this summer as an 8.  It’s my first one as an empty-nester and, well, my house has felt empty.  Rooster’s girl has come over once or twice a week for dinner, but not having my boy under my roof has been strange.  Despite that, I’ve still done pretty good with myself.  I’ve maintained my workout routine, experimented with vegan recipes frequently, read…a lot, and have caught up on the rest I desperately missed out on during the school year.

2.  July 26th is National Aunts and Uncles Day. Did you have many aunts and uncles growing up? Were you especially close to any one or maybe all of them? Are you an aunt? (or uncle for the men who join here on Wednesdays) Share a favorite memory relating to one of your own aunts or uncles or relating to a niece or nephew who call you Aunt (or Uncle).

Despite having fourteen aunts and uncles on my mom’s side and one uncle on my dad’s side, I was not close to any of them.  They lived in Canada and France, and I only remember one of them coming to visit when I was very young.

I am the aunt of two nephews.

I don’t have one particular memory that sticks out; however, I will say that watching my children play with their cousins when they were little was always fun.  My kiddos and my oldest nephew are very close in age (Rooster and this nephew are actually the same age).  They’ve always gotten along marvelously.

3.  What’s your favorite food dipped in chocolate? What’s your favorite food dipped in cheese?

I make a vegan dessert that is, essentially, peanut butter balls dipped in vegan chocolate.  It’s pretty delicious!  I can’t have cheese because I’m lactose-intolerant, but I do remember going to a fondue place, when I lived dangerously despite the allergy to milk, and dipping everything in the cheese.  So.  Yummy.  I miss cheese.

4.  When were you last astonished by something? Explain.

I am constantly astonished by how stupid politics is.  I cannot even bear to turn on the news because of all of the “leaks” and backstabbing that’s going on right now.  It’s embarrassing that human beings can be so corrupt and underhanded.

Come, Lord Jesus, come.

That’s all I’ve got to say.

5.  Surf board, paddle board, ironing board, Pinterest board, score board, clip board, bulletin board…which board have you most recently encountered?

I’d have to say that my ironing board and I got up close and personal last week when I ironed a couple of dresses.

6.  What’s your favorite story from scripture? Why that story?

There are just so many to choose from!  I’ll go with Boaz and Ruth.  It’s such a sweet story of how God redeemed a young widow through an honorable man (Boaz).

7.  If you were to travel from the east coast to the west coast in your own country, which five cities would you most want to see?

I already live in Florida, so I’ll start from there, I guess.

By the way, this question is HARD!  I don’t know much about individual cities in many states.  Yikes!

I know I’d like to see Mount Rushmore, so that would be Keystone, SD.

I’d also maybe like to visit Durango, Colorado.  My dad was fond of this place when he was alive.

I’d also like to see the Painted Desert, which is vast.  I’m guessing that going through Holbrook, AZ, would be the way to go, though.

A stop in Seattle would be awesome.  I really enjoyed the day we spent touring this city after the Alaskan cruise I went on six years ago.

My trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop in San Francisco to visit family and see that famous bridge!

8.  My Random Thought

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the First5 app.  It was created by the Proverbs 31 ministry and has a new devotion each day.  The app became available last summer, and we’ve been working our way through the Bible, one or two books at a time.  The writers are ah-mazing, and the lessons so thought-provoking.  There’s a video message each weekend, where a couple of the gals wrap up each week’s lessons.

So.

Amazing.

Yeah, I already said that.

Well, Lysa TerKeurst, the founder, spoke at a She Speaks conference last weekend, and the First5 app allowed its users to stream her lesson.

She’s amazing!

Yeah.  I’m overusing this word, but who cares.  🙂

The lesson was all about loneliness, the theme of her new book, Uninvited, which is being released the first week of August.

I pre-ordered the book and got to download the first five chapters.  I’ve read three or four of them.

Such incredible (like the new adjective?) stuff.

As I watched her speak through the app and remembered the words I’d read from her new book, my heart was stirred.

Feeling uninvited is familiar to me.

I’m already a pretty solitary person…probably because I feel extremely awkward in social situations.  Really, I think I’m just awkward in general.

I’m really looking forward to this book coming out and learning how Lysa has started her own process of healing in regard to this area of her life.

Grace Instead of Gruffness

I am a work in progress.

People often think I’m sweet.

My friend, Barb, knows otherwise.  Well, so does my family, truth be told.  But Barb is the one who likes to say, when my horns come out, “That’s just proof that Jesus ain’t done with you yet.”

So true.

Still, though, as Lysa TerKeurst says in her book, Unglued, the goal should be to seek after imperfect progress rather than perfection, which is unattainable.

This summer has been one of rest…one of reflection.  I have wondered over these last couple of months how I will do when tested.

My first real test came a few days ago when someone responded to a message that I’d accidentally “replied to all.”

She wasn’t aware that I was going to see her message, and let me tell you that she had some very, very unkind things to say about me.

She and I have a history that goes back many years.  Things were said back then, and relationships were broken.  We’ve hardly spoken since.

After I read her message, I sat in shock.

I flashed back to the events that had led to our original break.

I remembered the emotions and the anger that had surrounded me during that time.

It had been a very bad time for me, personally.  I’d recently lost my dad and was dealing with the shock that accompanies losing someone unexpectedly.

I read her message on Facebook several more times.

I considered my options…should I respond and if so, what should I say?

I remembered Lysa’s words of wisdom…gifts from the Lord to my thirsty soul.

I sent this woman a response that did not accuse.  It subtly let her know that I had seen the response she’d crafted, but I didn’t jump in to defend myself.

I told her that I wanted to put everything behind us so we could deal with the big issue that we need to deal with.  This is something that is going to take both of us, in cooperation, to complete.

I also told her that during the intervening years, my heart had softened.

I used to be a person who flew off the handle.  My emotions always run just below the surface.

I still erupt sometimes, but I tend to suppress a lot now, although my face still shows how I feel.

These ten-plus years have changed me, though.  My experiences in life as well as my walk with God have matured me.

It has been the lessons I’ve learned in Unglued that have left their mark and have been the catalyst for the most recent changes in my heart attitude.

She responded to my response (are you keeping up) very quickly and told me that while my heart may have softened, her’s has not, and that she will probably always be bitter.

The anger runs strongly through her veins still.  However, as I read those sad words along with the rest of her message, I almost felt her desperation and longing to believe what I was saying.

I responded one more time, trying to be careful not to fan the flames that are obviously still burning.  But, as Lysa suggests in her book, I laid things out in a very honest way that did not excuse her from the role she had played in the division between us.

I ended my note by asking for her forgiveness.

I haven’t heard back from her.

I don’t know if I will, but in the meantime, I will be praying for her.

This, too, is huge for me.

I don’t know about you, but praying for those who hurt me is pretty low on my to-do list…right below having my toe hairs pulled out one-by-one.

I’m not telling you this story to glorify myself, because I know my heart all too well.

All glory goes to God for His hand that stopped me from writing something like, “You are seriously not over this yet?”

It is my prayer that this woman will draw comfort from the grace I extended.  By not being gruff, I did not give her any fuel for her anger.

I hope that one day she will see that God can heal the heart.  In fact, He’s the only person who can…if she allows Him to.

I heard the song on the radio last night while I was cleaning the kitchen, and I thought of how much we need God in our lives…to help us fight temptation…to get through life’s challenges.

Unglued – A Proper Book Review

So, I’ve mentioned the book, Unglued:  Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions, by Lysa TerKeurst, a couple of times over the last few weeks.

I thought it was time for me to properly review it.

I learned of this book when I read a devotional series, authored by Lysa, on my phone.  I knew I had to order the book.

I limited myself to reading only one chapter per day because I wanted to really think about what I’d read.

I underlined more things in this book than I ever have when reading.

I made notes.

I copied quotes and added them to my Goodreads log.  I also shared tidbits on Facebook.

Every.

Single.

Chapter.

Was.

Powerful.

I saw myself on EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE.

Lysa writes in a style that is conversational.

It’s as if you and your BFF are having a chat over coffee (or in my case, Frappuccinos).

There were chapters devoted to what kind of reactor you are when faced with emotional situations…are you a stuffer or an exploder?

There were subcategories.

I like to be organized, so this suited me.

She explained what kind of reactions she has and gave specific examples.

This was, perhaps, one of the best things about the book…how she opened up and gave honest, heartfelt accounts of situations she’d been in and how she had, oftentimes, come unglued herself.

She gave practical steps…steps that even I can follow…on how to handle the raw emotions that we encounter.  I am going to type them up and put them on my bulletin board at school.

I was validated in some of the ways I handle stressful situations and comforted by the fact that I haven’t always messed up.

I think what I appreciated the most about this book was that I didn’t feel alone or less like a Christian because of how I handle myself when I come unglued.

By the time I closed the book, I felt empowered.

Oh yeah.

For an overachiever like me, planning is huge, and feeling empowered makes me more confident to accomplish, to the degree I expect of myself, the tasks I set in front of myself.

I also felt better equipped to understand others…to recognize how they handle themselves in unglued moments.

I am of the firm opinion that I will be a better mother, coworker, and teacher because of the time I spent reading this book.

Teenagers, especially, need help working through their feelings.  They need to be taught that 1)  It’s okay to feel what they feel, and 2) How to handle themselves when such situations occur.

This book was a godsend, let me tell you.

I highly, highly, highly encourage you to get your hands on a copy of this book.

The lessons have the potential to change your life.

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