Thursday, September 29, 2011

Smart Phone Potential

My smart phone and I just recently marked our first year together.  We've had a good year.  She's still in one piece and I'm still grateful she's mine.

The sleek and shiny mini-computer was an unexpected, yet very much desired, birthday gift from my husband this time last September.  To say I was thrilled was an understatement the day we stopped to browse around the phone store, investigating the endless possibilities before us. 

After careful consideration, we selected the one I now carry with me.  As the salesman was preparing my phone for purchase, I listened intently as he began to convey to me the multitude of things I would be able to do with this new phone. 

I remember how incredibly lost I felt just turning it on for the first time.  So many buttons.  So many options.  So many places to go.  Everything was foreign and so new.  Just holding it up against my ear felt so strange.  So incredibly different from the standard flip phone I was used to holding in my hand.  Yet, I was eager to try it out.

Since it's been a good twelve months,  one might presume I have this small technological masterpiece figured out by now.  After all, I've had a year to play around with it, right?  But one might not understand that I'm no technological expert.  No ma'am.  No sir.  Not by a long shot.

Sure, I can make the standard phone call.  I can text.  I know how to take photos and videos.  I can post and upload to Facebook.  And I can access the Internet when I need to look up something or have a question that can only be answered by Google. 

But, I have yet to learn how to install a new app or even upload new music straight to my phone.  I can't download my pictures from memorable events to my home computer without assistance.  I don't even know how to utilize the GPS feature which would sure come in handy when I'm trying to navigate my way from one place to another. 

I constantly have to ask my technology-loving, technology-proficient husband how and where to locate things on my phone.  Bless his heart.  He understands so much.  I understand so little.  His exact same phone is loaded with a myriad of apps and he appears to use his phone to its maximum potential.  I don't.  I still have so much to learn. 

Which gets me thinking...

It would seem as if my smart phone and I have a lot in common. 

Similar to my phone, I am loaded with possibility and promise.  There's so much I am ultimately designed to be and do.  God has pre-programmed me with unimaginable potential.  It's how I was manufactured by His creative hands before my life ever began.  

Unfortunately, on most of my seemingly ordinary days, I don't feel I'm living up to the fullness of my design, just like me with my phone.  

Why is this?  

I believe a great deal has to do with apathy.  Some has to do with fear and intimidation.  And yet more has to do with my willingness, or unwillingness to surrender.  

Philippians 4:13 states that "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." 

John 15:5 reminds me that "...apart from Me (Christ) you can do nothing." 

As long as I continuously tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and rely solely upon Him, I can be and do all I was destined by God to be and do.  But without Him--apart from His leading and His presence--I can do nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

With that in mind, I think I'll continue to stretch myself with my phone--trying new things and attempting to utilize it to its maximum potential.  

Knowing it's been built for so much more, why would I want to settle for so much less?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Knocking Cancer Out of the Park

I can only imagine today was one of the most difficult and most challenging days yet for our precious friends, the House family.

This afternoon, six year old Brooks, underwent an extremely serious surgery to remove a cancerous tumor on his jawbone.  Back in June, Brooks was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called Ewings Sarcoma and has been undergoing repeated rounds of chemotherapy to overcome this disease for the past three months.
(To get caught up with his story, read a previous post entitled, In the Storm.)

After an extensive, four-hour surgery today, the doctors were miraculously able to remove the tumor with clear margins, hopeful they eliminated all of the cancer from that area.  The bone graft was declared a success as well.  

Mom, Dad, big brother, Brady, and a multitude of family and friends, are currently rejoicing and lifting praises to God, their Helper and Healer in times of trouble.  Prayers have been heard and answered on behalf of Brooks and this sweet family.

"The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house (House family); yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the Rock."  Matthew 7:25

God, be praised for your presence, peace and comfort to the House family and especially to little Brooks today. We believe for continued healing in Brooks' body during the months to come.  Thank you for being the Rock, the firm place in the midst of storms in our lives. 

We ask that you give Brooks the ability and strength to knock this cancer out of the park, once and for all.  And as he crosses home plate, might we cheer and shout with joy, celebrating this amazing victory.  For your fame, God, and for your glory.  Amen.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

One Month Down--So Much More to Go!

Well, it's official.  We've survived. 

The first month of our newest adventure--homeschooling here at Fort Academy, as we so affectionately call it--has come and gone. 

Who would have thought one year ago I'd be a homeschooling mom today?  Certainly not me. 

I admit I toyed with the idea eight years ago, when I left my full-time teaching position in a wonderful elementary school to become a stay-at-home mom.  But at most, it was a fleeting idea.  Honestly, I don't think I was ever truly serious about doing it.

Last January, that all changed when God started planting seeds in both my husband's mind and heart and mine to consider homeschooling.  I wrestled with the Lord about it for a couple of months, not sure I was ready and willing for such an enormous change in our family's life.  All the while, God continued to water those seeds because everything I heard, everything I thought, and everything I felt seemed to point in one direction--homeschooling.

I knew the choice to teach my girls at home would be a sacrifice.  I knew it would cause me to lose some things which had become somewhat important to me in the last year.  Mostly, I knew it would involve a lot of change, and instinctively, I balk at change.  I mean, when things seem to be going so well, why buck the system?  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Right?

But after much, much reading, much, much listening, and even much, much more prayer, I submitted to what my husband and I believed the Lord was leading us to do with our family at this time in our lives.  And strangely enough, the more I submitted, the more the desire to homeschool grew and blossomed within my heart. 

Today, I wouldn't have it any other way.  Seriously.  I mean it. 

The intimate time I get to spend with my girls is a treasure, time I won't ever get back this side of heaven.  Having the opportunity to hear their little hearts and talk about truths with them in a manner I feel I may have neglected in the past is such an honor.  Being the one imparting knowledge, assisting with assignments and encouraging their spirits is yet another gem I hold dear to my heart.  And of course, the teacher in me loves planning, preparing and seeing learning take place--everyday, any time of day. 

Because of all these things and so much more, I feel the most alive I've ever felt in my life.  The Lord is my passion.  My family is my passion.  Teaching is my passion.  Combine the three and it's like a combustible explosion going off inside my very own heart.

The Lord has been so gracious, allowing me the time to chew on all these changes and to live in His love, especially over the last month.  I am so grateful for His presence, His provision and His principles to practice and apply.

Even though I am technically the teacher here at home, I assure you I am most certainly the student.  I'm pretty confident I've learned immeasurably more than my girls probably have in the last month--mostly about dying to self, the importance of true encouragement, patience, forgiveness, consistency, perseverance, and mostly love. 
"If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing..." 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

Will we always homeschool?  Who knows?  I'm only confident that homeschooling is the right choice for us during this season in our lives.  I don't want to spend the time or energy worrying about the future.  Instead, I'd rather be present to delight in this new adventure with my family.  Celebrating each new milestone.  Eager for more, so much more.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Follow the Leader

I jump up and down.  You jump up and down.
I twirl around in a circle.  You twirl around in a circle.
I hop on one foot.  You hop on one foot. 
I march in place.  You march in place.

Whatever I do, you do.  Follow the leader.  It's a great game.  Simple to understand.  Simple to play. 

The game appears to be the most fun though, for the leader, the one demonstrating what the others should be doing.  If you've ever watched young children play this game before, you know it doesn't take long before a coup is formed.  The leader is soon overthrown and inevitably replaced by a new one.  Everyone wants the chance to be the leader.  Few want to follow.

Recently, I have been struggling with the challenge of what it means to follow.  Particularly, to be an authentic follower of Jesus. 

Unfortunately, in the world today, it seems being "Christian" has been reduced to labeling someone who is not an atheist, a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, etc, instead of one "who is like Christ". 

In the evangelical church, a "Believer" is described as one who believes in his/her heart and mind and confesses with his/her mouth that Jesus is Lord, the risen Son of God. 

But, being a true "Follower" of Christ takes the relationship and the commitment even further.  It requires action.  It requires getting up and going.  Walking the walk, not just talking the talk.

  • In the New Testament, Jesus instructed twelve men to "Come, follow me" and they did, becoming His disciples here on earth. 
  • Repeatedly, large crowds demonstrated great faith when they followed Jesus wherever He went, seeking healing and hope. 
  • Jesus declared if anyone wanted to be His disciple, he must deny himself, take up his cross (a symbol of torture and pain) and follow Him. 
  • He told the young rich ruler to sell all his possessions, give to the poor and then he could follow Him. 
  • He taught that since He is, in fact, the light of the world, no one who follows Him will walk in darkness. 
  • Jesus declared His sheep will never follow a stranger because they know His voice. 
  • In the book of John, Jesus states whoever serves Him must follow Him. 
  • After His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven, His true disciples were called Followers of the Way. 
  • Toward the end of the New Testament, we are reminded by the apostle Peter to follow in His steps as we live our lives today. 

"Everyone wants to benefit from the cross, but no one wants to follow. Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die."

A guest pastor spoke these sentences last Sunday at my church.  His words slayed me when I first heard them, as they describe my heart at the present time.

Naturally, I prefer the benefits, the privileges, and the rewards from being in Christ versus the sacrifices, the hardships, and the suffering.  But to truly serve Him, I must follow Him.  It's crucial that I die to myself and take up my cross so I can follow hard after Him.

How will following Jesus manifest itself during this season in my life?  I'm not sure.  But because I love Him, it makes me want to follow Him.  Wherever He goes.  Whatever He does.  

So today, I'm willing. 
Willing to trust Him. 
Willing to join Him. 
Willing to be content, following the leader.

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