The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas

The Reward for Surviving Rough Seas
We are all like sea shells tossed about in rough waters and being re-shaped in wondrous ways. But have you ever contemplated the notion that sea shells have to complete their journey through the rough waters before they get to rest on the shore? Yeah, we are ALL like sea shells and Heaven is The Great Shore.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Does anybody have some chocolate?

Greetings Everybody,

Do you know that feeling when you wake up in the morning and the temperature is perfect, you feel well rested and happy to be awake?

This morning was like that for me.
I slept later this morning than I have slept in years, and my morning coffee was just perfect.

The church service this morning was meaningful and insightful and applicable and memorable.

Hubby and I are by ourselves this afternoon, instead of visiting with my daughter, son in law, and the babies. They are at home and are somewhat "under the weather".

Lol around midnight last night, my daughter sent me a text message.
She said that they wouldn't be coming over for lunch today because she was "all sneezy & coughy and feeling run down...and that both kids are "extra snotty" (lol)...and it looks like one of them might have pink-eye."

So, yeah, I am really OK with not being around them today.

And, since we had guests last for supper, and there were some scrumptious leftovers, making lunch to 2 today was easy peasy.

All in all, It's been a wonderful day thus far.

Now if I only had some chocolate!!!

In Him,
GRACE




Thursday, March 14, 2013

FYI...I Tweaked the title on my blog

Greetings Everybody,
Just wanted you guys to know that this afternoon I tweaked the name of my blog a little bit. 
So from now on, instead of this blog being titled

Grace Under Pressure
 it will now be titled 
grace_underpressure2011 a Blog by Grace

Basically, I got tired of my Grace Under Pressure blog being confused with things that have been written by Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin.

(Lol... No political innuendo intended, just trying to end confusion)

Anyway, wanted to make sure you guys heard it from ME 
instead of wondering what was going on.

In HIM,
Grace


I'm Sporting a Spiritual Black Eye

Greetings Everybody,

It's been a while since I posted right?  
Have I missed posting?...YES!
Then, why haven't I been writing?
I wish I could give you a brief & concise answer, but I can't.

It took me a while to realize what was happening, but I NOW know that I have been engaged in a Spiritual Battle...against a foe that has a mask that looks just like ME.

Basically THIS is why I haven't been writing: I have been fighting against myself and was too busy getting pummeled to sit here and write to you guys.

Also, because I am so transparent in this blog, I didn't necessarily want the whole blogging world to have a ring side seat while I was getting a Spiritual Black Eye.


Clip Art Cartoon Credit: http://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?_adv_prop=image&fr=crmas&sz=all&va=person+with+black+eye+cartoon+of


Yeah I know, the clip art is of a man, and I am a woman, but you get the point.

And now, Perhaps you would like to meet the contestants in this battle?

On this side we have the one and only ME.
And on the other side, we have the one and only ME.

How wily the evil one is.
He pitted me against myself.

He didn't come at me with the big neon sins that I would see coming a mile away.
No Drugs, Alcohol, or Adultery problems here.

He didn't come at me with Lying, Cheating, Stealing, or Tax Evasion.

Nope he came at me with Idolatry.

And the face on that pretty little idol was my very own.

HOW did he do this?
He came in the side window of my spiritual home...and whispered to my mirrored reflection that I was BETTER, SMARTER, and CAPABLE OF DOING MORE than just being a Classroom Teacher.

He cloaked this idolatry in ways that seemed so true.
He whispered things like, "More money will secure your eventual retirement days."
He said, "You are too smart to still be sitting in a classroom"  and  "Your talents are being wasted."

He filled me with a yearning for bigger jobs, and bigger salaries, and bigger accolades.

He put a hunger in my belly for a title that was "More suited to my REAL Qualifications".

And so I have been applying for jobs.

Many many jobs.

And I have been on interviews.

Many interviews.

I have mentally prepared to leave my classroom over and over and over.

And I have suffered a small death with each rejection letter.

My response to all of this rejection?
I have borne it with grace, whimpered just a tiny bit, and kept on thinking that if I just put the PERFECT Resume together, that things would be different next time.

I kept trying to please others, and I did so believing that my present day situatino & my future WAS WORTH all of this effort .

I did so while fervently hoping that SOMEBODY would see how Incredibly Spiffy I am and give me a New Bright and Shiney Job.

I simply kept looking for my next golden opportunity to leave The Classroom.

HOWEVER...It is important that every single time I always prayed: 
"Father, please open the doors that you want me to go through and shut the ones you don't want me to go through. 

And God, if this is not your will for me, then please close the door so tightly that I can NOT open it or slip through it into something that is not your will for me to do."


And guess what?

GOD DID EXACTLY WHAT I ASKED HIM TO DO!

He has shut a ton of doors.
Sometimes He shut them right in my face and while EVERY indication was that I had been granted access to walk through them.


This has a been Study In Faith and Submission for Me.

Along the way, He has lead me to start praying for 
Contentment Without Complacency.

This morning I was reading from the book of John and came across 
John 3:30 "He must become greater; I must become less."

And there it was...my impetus to share this Spiritual Battle Story with you guys.

The words of John 3:30 were spoken by John the Baptist about Jesus, but they should be words and thoughts that I focus on every day. 


Jesus is greater and I am smaller.


Funny how this kind of thinking rather flies in the face of 
good ole American Autonomy.  

We all tend to think of ourselves as very important. 
And we, as a nation, tend to suffer from a whole host of Pride Issues.

Clearly I was not immune this malady either.

I mean, who wants to become LESS, right?

Well, I think its safe to say that according to scripture we ALL should.


Why?

Because the minute we begin to think that we are masters of our own destiny, 
we begin to engage in Idolatry.  


And the ultimate conclusion of this form of idolatry is that we make ourselves to be our own god and we become charter members in the "Church of ME-ism"

Ya know, It would have been easier to see that I was engaged in idolatry if the idol's face didn't look so much like my own. 

But it happened.

And the truth is that I need to cast myself aside.  

And that doesn't mean that I can't look for other jobs, but it does mean that I need to get my heart and mind right.

It means that I don't let my sense of self hinge on whether or not I am found "worthy" in the eyes of men, but that I remember that I was bought with the blood of Christ and that I am both a child and servant of Almighty God.

I need to take all of these skills and talents that that God gave me, and instead of whining about not being given a TITLE that lets me show them off, I simply need to USE them well and faithfully.

This morning I found myself pondering the parable in 
Matthew 25:14-21...the story about how 3 different men used their blessings.


Spoiler Alert: Two of them bonked, but one of them did it right!

Matthew 25: 21 "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" 

Dude...I THAT is the accolade I really want.  

I need to be mindful of the blessings I already have and use those blessings wisely.
After all, I HAVE a job I love and that I know God called me to do.

BaZillions of people DON'T have a job, yet my pride issues "pseudo-justified" me getting my knickers in a twist about not having a job that  truly "show-cases" me?

Again...how lame is that!

I am embarrassed to have been caught with my priorities out of whack, not to mention that I am mortified to have been actively engaging in battle in which I have been perpetually giving MYSELF a black-eye.


If I was REALLY so smart would this have happened? lol
God has a wonderful way of showing us our foibles if we just pay attention.


I keep asking myself how things got tangled up like this???


And the answer is: It doesn't matter.

All that matters now is that I remember that My GOD will provide all that I need.

1 Peter 5:8 says,  "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

But I believe we go through things for a purpose.
And I believe that today I was called to share this story with you guys, so that perhaps it will help someone else along the way.  

So for the record,  How did a Strong, Faithful Christian Woman get sideways on this issue of Idolatry?

I Started Out Right, But If You Keep Reading You Will See Where I Went Wrong...

-I LOVE GOD

-I get up at 4:30 in the morning and spend an hour in prayer EVERY DAY.

-I specifically pray for a Discerning Spirit that Seeks God's Will in my life.

-And all through my day I send up little prayers of  Thank You's  &  Please Help Me's.

-I have a tendency to See God's Work Everywhere...in Clouds and Oceans and Flowers and Kid's Lives.

-And because I SEE God's Work in so many different places, I sometimes assume that the job opportunities I read about are sent straight from Him to Me.
  
-It often feels like God has shined His Spotlight right where He wants me to go.

-Therefore, to date, I have gone through round...after round...after round of the "next round" of the Application Process.

-And fyi, in Texas Independent School Districts, each of these Next Rounds in the Application Process, ends up things taking a couple of months.

-And THIS has been the spiritual boxing match I was referring to earlier:  The gut punch of  waiting for phone calls, or emails, or letters.

-It has been going on for the past several years.

Right about here is where I later discovered that the evil one gained access to me.


                I was tired of being rejected.
                I was tired of not being recognized.
                I was tired of being overlooked.

                But that was PRIDE talking. 
                Pssst....take a look at 
Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

By the Grace of God, I recognized that this was a Self Promoting Pride Issue, planted by the evil one, BEFORE there was a major calamity.

AND I truly believe that God lead me to the book of John this morning, and then on to 
Proverbs 3:5-6 says "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

So where does this leave me in regards to applying for the next Wonderful Job?

I will continue to ask God to show me HIS Will for my life".

And I guess that I will continue to apply to other jobs, knowing that IF God wants me to move on to another job, then HE will open the door and push me through.  

And if not, then HIS Grace is sufficient for me.

I will remember that He has already given me Mission Work to do in my classroom, and that HE will supply the strength I need to DO that Mission Work...until HE deems that my time there is complete.


And I will cling to this:
"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."
-1 John 5: 14-15


I will ask God to please give me the Strength to Walk in Faith and Not Grow Weary.

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  
                                  -Isaiah 40: 30-31


And I will ask Him to help me reduce my sense of self-importance and increase my awareness of how Great and Wonderful HE IS.


And I will also cling to this:


"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
                                      -Ephesians 3: 16-19


And I will ask God to please remind me that I am not big enough to fight this American "Sense of Self"  Demon without HIM, because that demon knows how I walk, talk, think, eat, sleep and breathe.

And THIS TIME, I will ask God to please help me to put on my Spiritual Armor before I step back into that Boxing Ring with the Devil.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people."
                                     -Ephesians 6:12 

In Him,
Grace



Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wispy Little Thought-Threads and Blueberry Tea

Greetings Everybody,

Ok...here's the scene:
Me, propped up in bed, typing away on my laptop, which is sitting on a little rolling tray. 

Yes, like a hospital bed tray...and NOOO I am not in the hospital...and sshhh...just let me type what's in my head before I lose this wispy little thought-thread ok??? lolol

Anyway,  here I sit.

Oh Yeah, I forgot to mention that we have one of those Select Comfort beds and that I have the back propped up and am extremely comfortable right now.

I told you that my thought-thread was wispy.

But did I tell you that it tends to float about?
Oh well...I have told you now, so you 'll understand it if I meander a little bit with this post...right?

So, on my little rolling tray is a lovely little teapot.

Cast iron of course.

With a forest green painted surface that is heavily textured so that it looks very rough hewn.

It is heavy and it keeps water hot for a long time.

And it is precious to me.

My little teapot, on the little rolling tray, is resting on a little woven trivet.

And the little trivet looks for all the world like a wee braided rug that should be used in the den of a toy doll's house.

And inside the little teapot is a little mesh center.

And inside the little mesh center are some blueberry tea leaves steeping in some very hot water.


And next to my little forest green, rough hewn, cast iron teapot, that is sitting on a toy doll's braided rug, is one of my favorite vacation-memory-coffee cups from Hawaii.  

It has a beautiful, vivid, untamed yellow hibiscus on it and is set on a green and blue background that causes me to recall the intense beauty of those islands.

I am comfortable in this setting.

It is sort of like a spa.

Sometimes I have to reign my very-busy-self in.

Sometimes I have to just STOP.

I have to MAKE myself take the time to be still, sip tea and treat my body & soul to precious time off.

And tonight is one of those times.

I am really enjoying the remnant of this Lord's day and the peace that it brings me.

December is the season of reflection and mental meanderings.

And I am definitely IN that season tonight.
Not the HYPE of Christmas, but rather the reflecting on how big God is and how small I am.

And how I am so glad that HE is so BIG and can watch over me.

Hubby is beside me grading papers and watching football.

No it's not loud.

The sound on the tv is very low and it is not distracting my carefully constructed mellow.

I can tell that Hubby is content tonight too. 

We are in The Zone. 

Completely comfortable in each others company.
No words are needed right now.

We are free to remain completely focused on our own thoughts, but neither one of us feels neglected.

We are happy.


There is peace in this room.

Thank you God for the peace of this room.

Thank you for the simple but significant blessings of blueberry tea, and pretty little teapots, and vacation-memory-cups from Hawaii.

Thank you for the bed, the little rolling tray, the jumbo pillows I am propped up on, and and the laptop I am typing on right now.

God, I am so aware that lately I have been in my own head about my job. 

I have been contemplating other positions too much.

I have been too serious.

And I have been overlooking the blessings of my own classroom and the freedoms that you have given me there.

And I have put too much stock in my own ability to impact my future and change my life by changing my job.

But tonight nothing else matters because God is in this room with hubby and me. 

And I think He is calling me to write again.

I have been silent for so long.

My heart has not wanted to write.

Like a child who needs a nap but fights against going to sleep, I have needed to write, but have fought against it. 

The result is that I have ended up punishing myself.

It seems that in my blueberry-tea-induced-state of spa-like relaxation,  I have found some of my previously ignored wispy thought-threads.

And maybe a couple of strands of clarity as well.

So, perhaps the season of silence is past me now.

Perhaps it is time once again to share my writings with others.

It appears that moments from now, I will be posting this wispily-thought-threaded entry... that came to me while sipping blueberry tea.

It feels good to be writing tonight. 

And I hope you guys can relate to this post.

If any words in this post has caused YOU to have a few wispy thought-threads too, please let me know.

Blessings to each and every one of you,

Grace



Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Road Atlas on my Arms

Greetings Everybody,
This morning I want to visit with you about a phenomenon that has been occurring in my body: Transparency

Those of you who read this blog faithfully will recall that I am a severe asthmatic and that I have mentioned that there is a really long list of medications that I take daily, just to be able to breathe in and out.

Among those medications are several respiratory sterioids.

And these meds have some fairly significant potential side effects that can impact eyes, bone density, joints, weight, and even skin thickness.

I have dealt with several of those impacts.

-Yes I have had 3 eye surgeries in each eye.
-Yes I have dealt with the joint pain.
-Yes I have dealt with the weight gain.

-No, thus far I have not had the osteoporosis issue, but my doctors anticipate that I will inevitably contend with this as well.

-However, this morning, I really want to focus on the skin impacts.

These meds are really thinning my skin.

Little by little I am becoming transparent.

I am not kidding with you when I say that my arms look like somebody drew a road atlas on them.

Even my husband has noticed it.

At first he was too polite to mention it, but when I talked with him about it, he said that he had been wondering what was happening to my skin.

Both of us can see this intricate blood vessel highway system all over them.

It's actually kind of amazing to look at:
-The Big Blue ones are like the major highways.
-The Medium ones are like streets. 
-And the Small ones are like small alleys.

Yep the ARM edition of Grace's Circulatory Sytem Road Atlas seems to be very intricate and well charted.

But I must admit that it's a little bit weird.
And slightly disconcerting.

To be truthful, initially I was really "ooked out" by this.

I mean, this is NOT what a 53 year old woman's skin is supposed to be like.
-I don't have wrinkles.
-I am not decrepit.
-I am vibrant and energetic.
And wowzers, people don't generally get transparent until they are way up in their 90's... right?

And then it hit me.

This glorious, epiphany of insight went off like the 4th of July inside my brain.

That's RIGHT...people DON'T generally become Transparent until they are Nearly Done With This Life.

Think back...
We have all seen elderly people who have bruises and 
band-aids and purple blotches on their arms & legs because their skin is so thin that it tears easily.

This condition occurs in those who have lived long lives.
And It generally means that they are approaching the relative end of their allotted time here on this earth. 

Right?

I do not think that it is an accident that the closer you are to the end of your long life, the less solid and more transparent you become.

I think it is a signal that humans are about to "shed their skin "and become Made NEW!

Christians await that day with rejoicing in their hearts.

We yearn for Heaven.
The only way to get there is to finish this time here.
And if we live long enough, we get to see ourselves begin to change.

So there ya have it.

I nearly danced at the thought.
I am getting to see the metamorphosis.
I am cheering at the process.

It's Symbolic.

I know that this transparency phenomenon that is going on with my body, is actually beng caused pre-maturely. I get that.
But still...
it is a very Literal reminder to me of a very Spiritual truth.

I am going to be made New!
-One day I will be be with Christ.
-One day this body will be gone.
-One day I will not have asthma any more!!!

I may not be able to do a thing about this current Road Atlas on my arms, but I CAN rejoice in my newfound Spiritual Perspective.

What is happening on my arms, is only a preview of what willone day happen to the rest of me.

I am daily becoming Less and Less an Earthly being and More and More a Child of God who belongs in Heaven.

It's true that I could sit around and whine about all the blue lines on my arms.  

And I know that there will most likely come a day when I will have all the bruises and band-aids and the purple blotches so common to the elderly. 

(Because of the respiratory steroids side effects, I will probably get to that point long before my friends do.)

But I choose to rejoice at this very physical reminder that as I am becoming more and more transparent it means that I am getting closer and closer to they day when I get to go Heaven.

Less of Me.
More of YOU Oh God.
Transform Me Oh LORD!

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12: 2

AMEN!

In Him,
Grace