Lord Willing........

James 4:13-17

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."

  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 

As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes.

All such boasting is evil. 

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.


When I was a little girl, there was an elderly lady in our church who finished every sentence she spoke of upcoming plans by using the phrase,

"Lord willing.."

I remember being fascinated by this lady's words.

I remember listening to her talk and then thinking to myself,

"Why would the Lord not be willing for her to go to the store?

Why would the Lord not be willing for her to be at church next Sunday?"

It was as if she was leaving everything in her life up to God's will.

And as a little girl, I found that very strange.

Until I became an adult.

Everything changes when you see life from a higher perspective.

Mrs. Willow knew something I didn't know.

She knew that whether or not she would be going to the store or coming to church next week was in God's hands not hers.

She understood the frailty and uncertainty of life, and she knew only God KNOWS for sure what our tomorrow's and even the rest of our today's hold...

because He holds them.

Today, you may have big plans.

Today, you may think you know exactly what is going to happen.

But truthfully, you don't.

And neither do I.

That can be a scary thought until we remember this.


Scriptures say that He goes before us making the rough places smooth which means that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS,

He's already there!

This reminds me of my friend Kim's favorite phrase, "Fear not tomorrow, God's already there!" (I hope I got that right!)

He's behind us, with us, and before us.

He is omnipotent and omniscient.

All-powerful and all-knowing.

And He loves us!

Knowing and believing and trusting in Him means that we can freely and confidently say,

"Today, I am going to ____________, Lord willing."

I pray your day is filled with reasons to celebrate this powerful phrase!

Have a wonderful Monday!


Every Story Holds Special Moments......

One option my students had for presenting their book reports was to create a memory box in which they placed five items that represented key moments in the book they had read.  I was so impressed with their work!  As I listened to them explain the items in their boxes, it occurred to me that our lives are stories.......

Full of special moments.

If you were to fill a box with special things from your life story, what would they be??  Friends, family, places, things?????

I thought I'd share a few of my students' creations with you tonight.  I have so many more to share!




Praying your weekend is full of special moments!

May your memory box overflow!

When God Speaks Through Autumn...........

 love leaf

One lone leaf lay in our driveway just outside our family room door today and greeted me as I was walking out.......

I had to share the sweet message from Autumn to you.

I love when God speaks through Autumn so clearly, saying,

"I love you."

From There........

 "But if from there you seek the LORD your God,

you will find him if you seek him

with all your heart and with all your soul."

Deut. 4:29

I don't know where your "from there" is this morning, but wherever it is,

I pray you will seek God with all of your heart and soul "from there."

Whether it is Australia, Malaysia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Brazil, America, Romania, Spain, or anywhere else in this big world...........

"From there" seek Him.

And guess what????

You'll find Him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




Because He is there!


I love you all so much!

My Penny Class and the Power of Grace........


I remember the day a boy threw a pencil across my room right before the bell rang........

I remember going to pick it up and finding a penny right beside it.

A penny.

My sweet little "hello" from Nick right next to a pencil that shouldn't have been thrown.

I took a chance and told my class the story of how pennies are so special to our family; and I told this specific boy that because of that penny, right next to his thrown pencil, I was reminded that we all need grace.


It covers everything.

It covers the darkest sin.

And it covers pencils that are tossed through the air.

Ever since that day a couple months ago, this particular class has become my penny class.

They enter my room with palms open almost every day...handing me pennies they have found on the bus, in a crack on the sidewalk, on the track around the football field.

I'm filling my drawer with their pennies.

I'm filling my life with God's grace.

I started using Twitter so I could follow Evan's new adventures in California, and my name is "ilovepennies."

I do.

And the reason I love pennies is because they remind me of God's love, Nick's presence even in his absence, and most of all.............


Praying your day is filled with both pennies and grace,

Psalm 46

God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
   God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
   he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

The earth seems to be quaking more, or at least the news is reporting more......

Children disappear and parents become the first suspects......

Life is stressful.

The news is troubling on every channel.

Where do we turn?

Doctors can medicate.

Counselors can listen.

Friends can comfort.

Family can love.

But only God can calm us to the very core, because He holds everything in His hands.

He works through all of this.

The quakes, the fear, the stress, the loss........

He understands our anxiety.

He provides a way to cope.

He speaks. Storms stop.

How does He speak?

Through His Word.

Today, my heart is filled with many different kinds of emotions but HIS WORD remains the same......

steadfast and sure.

He is the Lord Almighty.

And He is with Us.



Saturday's Searching...........

I want to see clearly..I really do.

I want to see God in everything around me.

I want to hear His voice.

I want to know His will.

I want to feel His peace.

I really do.

But it's been a struggle lately.

My vision's been a little upside down...

Lady Raiders099

So Saturday, I knew I needed some quiet time to think.

I took my Bible, my glasses, my coffee....and headed to the backyard.

Maybe, just maybe, time alone with God on a sunny afternoon would clear up some of my confusion.Lady Raiders094

Holding on to Hope.

That's how I've been living.

I know God cares. His Word says,

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I Peter 5:7

So I sat and began to case all my cares upon Him, holding on with the grip of a fisherman pulling in a prized catch.

Knowing that in the holding would come the reward.Lady Raiders097

I took some time to talk to Mom on Facetime while sitting outside, but I couldn't hide the depth of my clinging.
She could hear it in my voice.  She could see it in the wiping of my tears as we spoke.

She knew.

She knew I was struggling, and she cared deeply.

Seeing her face kept me from hiding my pain.

Maybe that's why the Bible says to "seek His face."

Look to the LORD and his strength;
   seek his face always.

Psalm 105:4

Saturday's searching gives me the strength to face tomorrow.

I'm thankful for the tears.

Sometimes blurred vision makes God's love a little easier to see.Lady Raiders095

If you're feeling like your view of life is a little upside down, step away from everything and do some deep soul searching.

Cast your cares.

Hold on to hope.


See His face.

The search may lead to tears, but I promise that through the washing of your eyes you will see Jesus a little more clearly!

And isn't that what life is all about.

Seeing and knowing Him.

Focus, Focus, Focus............

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?  You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.  When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

You adulterous people,don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?  But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

   "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.  There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:1-12

It's easy to get caught up in the things of this world.

Small town gossip, big city excitement

It's doesn't matter where you live, the devil is working to pull you away from the ONE THING that matters.........HIM.

James 4 begins with the heading, "Submit to God," and somehow in our culture I believe the word "submit" has become a negative verb, a verb of weakness.

I love the definition for "submit" that says this:

to present for the approval, consideration, or decision of another or others: to submit a plan; to submit an application.

When I think about submitting to God, I think of the idea of presenting for approval the things I do, the the things I say, the way I feel about people.............

I want God to consider my thoughts and my actions.  Are they pleasing to Him?

Not always, but thank goodness, "He jealously longs for the Spirit He has caused to dwell in me."

Because of this, James says He gives us more grace.

So when I think about life, I think about a seesaw.

On one end is me trying to stay focused on God.

On the other end is God's never-ending grace.

When my focus  becomes blurry and I begin to fall, God's grace becomes stronger and He lifts me up.

I love the feeling of being balanced in God's eyes.

His grace suspending me freely as I focus directly on Him.

That's when my feet dangle and I don't have to work anymore at my faith.

I want to be lifted by God's grace and in an ironic, "God's way is higher than my way," style,

submitting means being lifted higher than we ever could be by trying to live alone.

When I submit to God, He pours out His grace and I begin to rise above all the things this world pulls me towards.......

I love the old song,

"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.......Higher and Higher.......and He will lift you up."

Today, forget the arguments, the distractions, the earthly gain........

look to Jesus as your Peacemaker, Savior, and one and only need.

Oh, the freedom that comes from knowing Christ.

I'm reminded of another song as I write,

In the secret
in the quiet place
in the stillness You are there
in the secret
in the quiet hour I wait
only for You
'cuz I want to know you more
I want to know you
I want to hear your vioce
I want to know you more
I want to touch you
I want to see your face
I want to know you more
I am reaching for the highest goal
that i might receive the prize
pressing onward
pushing every hindrance aside
out of my way
'cuz I want to know you more
I want to know you
I want to hear your voice
I want to know you more
I want to touch you
I want to see your face
I want to know you more

Today, let's live with this song in our heart and enjoy the freedom that comes from focusing on His face.

(Push pause on my blog music to the right just below my Facebook friends listing before clicking "play" on the song below.)

Let it go............

James 3:13-18

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.  But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

According to www.dictionary.com, this is the definition of "harbor" when used as a verb:

to give shelter to; offer refuge to: They harbored therefugees who streamed across the borders.

to conceal; hide: to harbor fugitives.

to keep or hold in the mind; maintain; entertain: to harborsuspicion.

to house or contain.

to shelter (a vessel), as in a harbor.


When I think of "harboring" bitter envy and selfish ambition in my heart, my first reaction is "I don't do that."

But as I read the definitions for the word "harbor," I know that in many ways I am guilty.


There are aspects of my life that I long to change.

There are dreams I long to fulfill.

There are prayers that weren't answered the way I pleaded.


When I am honest, and don't "deny the truth," I am very aware of the reality that I have got to "let go" of these feelings, releasing them from my "spiritual harbor."

God has a plan, and I have to keep on keeping on (as Joyce Meyer says), allowing Him to work His good work in me and in those I love.


I want to live a life focused on these attributes mentioned above:





full of mercy and good fruit

impartial and sincere

When I am able to let go of the things I harbor and cling to the things God loves, I feel so free!

Free to be whatever it is that He is calling me to be.

Free to do His will today.

It may be a student who is having a bad day and needs to talk for a minute.

It may be another teacher who needs a word of encouragement.

It may be the time of cuddling with Olivia that makes all the difference in the world this evening.

I don't know.

I just know this:

God longs for me and you to live a life focused on Him not ourselves.

When I look up instead of around (or down), I see the Hope, the Peace, the Joy, the Comfort that comes from being His.

Let go and look up today!

The Power of Silence......

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.  Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.  Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.  Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?  My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3:3-12

I love people.

I love visiting with people, meeting new people, hugging people, sharing life with people.........

But oddly enough, I love being alone too.

I love quiet.

I love the stillness of an empty room with a candle burning and the lights low.


If I had to choose, I would be very drawn to the solitude of an empty room.

But, I know I can't stay there.

I need fellowship to survive.

I need interaction with others.

I need the laughter that comes from being with friends and family.

At the same time, I realize that with every opportunity to fellowship comes the responsibility of controlling a part of me that the Bible says "no human can tame."

That frightens me.

To know that within me lies a "restless evil."

I don't want to be guilty of praising God one moment and cursing man the next, but I know there are times when I complain, I judge, I fail.


So, do I opt for continual solitude so that I am safe from this "salt water" flow that tries to blend with my "fresh water" spirit?

I don't think we were given that option.

No, God calls us to be IN the world just not OF the world.

He wants us "out there."

He wants us living fully for Him in the midst of those who are not.

Deep breaths.

Whispered prayers of strength.

Constant Scripture quoting in my head.

That's what it takes to try to control this "spark" that can set a forest on fire.

I must blow out the candle in my quiet place and control the flame within me as I step out into the hustle and bustle of this world where the devil "roams like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour."


"Be strong and courageous," God says.

"Do not be terrified.  Do not be discouraged.I am with you wherever you go."

(Joshua 1:9)

Praying that today you are so full of His presence that the thought of uttering even one wrong word seems impossible.

Maybe God is calling us to be the "quiet place" for the world around us.

A porch swing with a friend where you simply sit and soak in the sunset.

A visit over a cup of coffee where the words are few but meaningful.

A walk with a friend where the conversation may be short but the miles are long.

When the world draws near to us, maybe just maybe the "slow to speak" part of us will be just what they need to experience in order to hear His voice in a busy and often crazy society.


Let God speak as you live for Him,


Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers,

because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

We all stumble in many ways.

Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

James 3:1-2

I have a friend who keeps Psalm 141:3 ever-present in her mind,

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD;
   keep watch over the door of my lips.

Many times I have observed her during a conversation as she consciously chose NOT to say something that I could tell was on her mind.

She either remains quiet during uncomfortable conversations or changes the topic of those around her to something more positive.

I've watched and learned from her through the years, and now I have hidden this verse in my heart too.

I have been amazed at how it has changed me.

I've not mastered the art of "only saying what is necessary," but I am getting better.

Now, when placed in an uncomfortable situation where I could easily add bits of information that would not be positive OR when I feel frustrated and want to share more than what is necessary, I hear the words,

Set a guard over my mouth, LORD;
   keep watch over the door of my lips.

Sometimes I mess up and say things I shouldn't say.  Now, though, I feel immediate guilt and am very aware of my mistake.  I have even reached the place where I will often call someone to apologize if I feel I have said more than I should have about a situation.  I want to please God in all I say and do.

God longs to be our tongue tamer.

He understands our struggle.

We'll read more about the power of the tongue tomorrow.

For today, I hope you can work on hiding this short verse above (Psalm 141:3) in your heart.  Tape it on your desk at work, on your bathroom mirror, inside the lining of your wallet....anywhere you need to place it so that you are constantly reminded that God is with you........even as you speak to friends and family, and He wants to be the watchman over the door of your lips.

On a personal note, Olivia is very sick.  We have been doing breathing treatments since Sunday night.  My dear friend Topsy took her to the doctor for me yesterday, and they started antibiotics.  Last night, though, she seemed to be getting worse.  Her fever rose to 102.  The wheezing and barking cough scared her to the point of tears.  Please say a prayer for her today.  I am home with her this morning, and Tim will be with her this afternoon.  I may be taking her back to the doctor after I get home from school if she is not improving.  This is one of those times when a full-time job just doesn't feel right for a mom - no matter how old your child is getting. Thank you for saying a prayer for her recovery.

I love you all so much,

The Power of our Actions.........

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."

   Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.  You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?  As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Praying that today you will each find the opportunity to live out your faith!

Whether it be at home, at work, at the grocery store, or somewhere along the way.........share your faith by the choices you make.

Every word, every action, every deed............done to the glory of God.......


Thank you for your prayers for me this weekend as I spoke on Blessings Through Raindrops.

The journey to that time of sharing was a painful one for me.  The devil attacked both my health and my spirit, but God showed up (as He always does) and carried me through.

I love you all so much,

Telling My Story........

I'm clicking away at what feels like the same old story.

Trying to get ready for tomorrow.

Blessings Through Raindrops...that's the theme, and why have I struggled so??????

Honestly, I know the answer.

Deep inside, I know what's gnawing at me.....

And maybe, just maybe, admitting to all of you what's holding me back will free me from what I try so hard to hide behind my smiles and my laughs...

Losing Nick doesn't feel like a blessing.

I can look back nineteen years, and I can see how Adrienne's brief and sweet life led us to Todd, then Nick, then Olivia.

I can see how she changed me, and I'm thankful.

But I'm just not ready to be thankful for how Nick has changed me even more.

Did it take losing Nick to make me who I am today?

I hope not.

Maybe I'm afraid it did, and maybe I feel responsible.

When I look into the eyes of my students........even the most ornery..........I see Nick grinning, and I love them in spite of their flaws.

And I wonder, "Did it take losing Nick to fill me with so much love?"

Oh, I could go crazy wondering who I would be today if I hadn't walked such a painful road, and I don't want to believe that the pain was what I needed.  Because when I believe that, I see Nick's face and my heart is filled with so much aching.

I loved Nick so much, and I still do.

How do I ever find a blessing in the loss of this sweet boy?

Blessings through teardrops, healing through tears....

I'm clinging to the promise that "those who sow in tears will reap songs of joy!"

Maybe I still haven't cried enough to reap a harvest.............

Friday Morning Rush...

The week has a way of catching up with us, and by Friday the Nischan house is dragging out of bed and then RUSHING to get out the door...

I had to sit and take one minute to say "I love you all," and I'll write tonight when my head is clear and my heart is open.

Live today as if it were your last.  I love that quote.

I'm going to try to live that kind of day.

I hope you can too,

Playing Favorites......

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"  have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?  Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "You shall not commit adultery," also said, "You shall not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:1-13

Sometimes I wish I knew my heart as well as God does.

I don't want to be a person, a Christian, a teacher....who plays favorites.

I want to see everyone through God's eyes, but I know that sometimes I fail and that upsets me.

I'm thankful that in spite of the words, "whoever keeps the law yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it," James also says "mercy triumphs over judgment."

I'm so thankful for a merciful God.


Today, as you venture out into the world, love as Jesus loves.

Show mercy as God shows mercy.

See everyone you meet as a creation of God's own hands and remember that the road they are walking has its own set of struggles.


Thankful that God doesn't play favorites,


Katelyn, my dear friend's daughter, stopped by with her new hubby Josh to say "goodbye" before they left for Canada!  Yes, Canada!  Kate met Josh on eHarmony and it has been love, love, love ever since!   The hug goodbye was so much more emotional than I expected....I still see Katelyn as a little girl, swinging and running through the yard....imagining her over a thousand miles away seems unreal to me.  Hopefully, we will see them at Christmastime! october memories 003

I came home Saturday afternoon to find Olivia preparing for an attack on the spiders on our front porch....she is so funny!  I had to snap this picture before she got away!october memories 010

Olivia and her friend Addey helped Tim stain our pool deck Sunday afternoon...how do you like Olivia's paint brush as they finished???? october memories 014

Tonight, as I sat working on some vocabulary centers for tomorrow at school, I couldn't help but smile when I looked at Olivia on the couch with Domino and Dash...all three sleeping soundly.

october memories 027

I'm thankful for times like these..........I want to soak them up,

because one day Olivia will be all grown up like the boys and like Katelyn, and these are the moments I will miss the most.....

I miss all my boys so much.october memories 022

I just had to get this recorded for my sake,

It's the Reflection that Matters...

Sunday as I was sitting in church waiting for communion to be served, I saw three small stained glass windows on the front left wall of our sanctuary.  I had never noticed them before, and they were beautiful.  Shimmering and full of color, the windows seemed to be suspended in a place that did not make sense to me.

As I admired their beauty, I realized that the windows weren't real.

They were actually small reflections of the large stained glass windows that surround the balcony of our sanctuary.  The plastic covering over the church's thermostat had caught the light just right and was causing the windows high above to be seen down below.

Watching this phenomena, I couldn't help but think of Christians and how the devil likes to make us feel as if we are about as useful as a thermostat cover.

He does everything he can to keep us from catching God's Light just right and reflecting His beauty from above down below.

I love those moments in my life when I am able to rise above the devil's whispers and be the person God longs for me to be.

Some days, though, I miss these moments of Light catching.

I get caught up in surviving the lesson plans, the overly talkative students, the stacks of papers that need graded, the laundry that needs to be done, the house that needs to be cleaned.....and I find myself feeling like a thermostat cover.  Doing my job in a world full of others doing their jobs.  I'm not a happy person when I focus on this "stuff."  I become restless, agitated, disappointed in my calling.  Life does not make sense.  I long for more.  I want to be a stained glass window reflector and somehow the devil convinces me that I am not.

So, today, as I take a deep breath and begin the morning routine of getting ready for yet another day of school, I'm whispering prayer after prayer to God.  I'm asking Him to fill my day with His glory so that I can reflect Him to the world.  I know that's why I'm here. 

It's why you're here too.

Today, let's all catch His Light and reflect it to a world that needs to see more stained glass windows and less thermostat covers.

Psalm 40:8

I desire to do your will, my God;
   your law is within my heart."

Proverbs 27:19

As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart.

Praying your life reflects His today,

Happy Monday.Sleepy Monday.

I woke up this morning and wished I could have had about one more hour of sleep.  When Maria came downstairs, she was feeling the same way. 

I think a few mornings in a row of sleeping in a bit has gotten our bodies off schedule.

So, today, I am going to have to muster everything inside of me to be alert, ready, and pleasant as a teacher.

Acknowledging what I'm going to need in order to have a happy day is the first step to reaching my goal.

What are you going to need in order to have a happy Monday?

I am so thankful that God's mercies are new every morning and that He knows what we need before we even ask for it.  I am so thankful that He longs to give good gifts to His children.

He is my everything, and because of Him I can have a happy Monday on a sleepy Monday.

I am praying you can too!


Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I love those moments when a thought enters my mind and I am able to hear the words, "Lord, put a guard over my mouth," in my head before I allow those words to slip out of my mouth.

I hate when thoughts enter my mind and leave my mouth before I filter them.

I think that's what James is talking about when he says that God wants us to have a "tight rein" on our tongue.

When the rein on something is tight enough, it can be controlled.  God wants us to be in control of our tongue rather than having a tongue that controls us.

I'm still a work in progress.


At the same time, God calls us to another kind of action if we want to be considered religious.

He calls us to look after orphans and widows.

Maybe you've considered adoption or foster care at some point.

Why not go for it!?  I just read a testimony of a dear friend who is committing to this kind of ministry as her children grow up.

Maybe you've thought about sponsoring a child through World Vision or Compassion International (click on either title to check them out up close).  Why not pick a child today?

Maybe you have widows in your church who need some company.  I know we do, and I have been so guilty of not doing the things I want to do.  Stopping by to visit, dropping off a plate of dinner, inviting them over for a game night, sending them a card, and the list goes on and on.


Today, Tim and I spent the afternoon working in our yard after church.  We mowed, trimmed bushes, stained our deck, and cleaned up a lot of branches that were lying around.  In the midst of this beautiful afternoon, I began to feel blue.

Our empty swing set reminded me of the busy life we use to have when the four boys were all small.  They would run, swing, climb our hill carrying swords, and keep us laughing all the time.

I found myself having a little pity party, and then I sat down to work on school work this evening and decided to read a bit in James.

Of course, God would speak to me directly.

Tammy, there are orphans and widows that need your love.  Reach out with My love, and you will fill those empty places deep inside you.

My heart feels so different than I did just thirty minutes ago.

I am going to go get stationary and write a few encouraging notes to women I love who are facing every day alone.

I am going to think of some of my students who live every single day without their moms and/or dads and come up with some creative ways to encourage them. 


When I remember to forget about me and think about others, I feel better.  God calls us to such an upside-down way of living, doesn't He?

He calls us to a life filled with moments where we are sharing His love.......

When we are busy doing this, I believe our tongue is much easier to control because it's busy doing His work and not our own.


Today, I hope you will find a way to share His love with someone you know who needs it!

A Late Start....

I'm not sure if it was knowing I had a teacher's meeting today and because of that I didn't have to be at school quite as early or if it was my lovely "pink eye" and feeling "not so great" that kept me from waking up in time to share with you this morning.

Whichever it was, I slept in an extra hour leaving me only time to get ready and get out the door for work. 

Now that I'm home and I've had a little time to straighten the house, start some laundry, and decompress from hours of analyzing test data, I'm ready to sit back and take a little nap.

Before I closed my eyes, though, I wanted to take a minute to say "hi" and look at the next few verses of James 1.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it-they will be blessed in what they do.

Usually if I take the time to look in a mirror, I try to fix any major problems I see in my physical appearance.

Why can't I be this diligent with my spiritual imperfections?

I can read about being "slow to anger" and then find myself overly frustrated with my kids or husband on the very same day.

I can read about "not worrying about anything" and then discover that I am consumed with anxiety about one of my kids or something at school.

I can read about "casting every care upon Him" and then realize I am carrying not only all of my problems around with me everywhere I go but also lugging with me the issues and problems in my children's lives.

Even now as I type, I'm carrying things that I need to hand to God.

Things I can't fix or change.

Things that only God and time can handle.

When I close my eyes are remember that God promises to bear all my burdens, comfort me in my weakness, renew my strength, and keep my lamp burning, I feel FREE!!!

Free to let go and simply trust Him.

I want to practice looking "intently into the perfect law" just as I look intently into a mirror.

Then I want to practice everything I read not just read it and walk away.

When I learn to do this, the Bible says I will be blessed!

So will you!


Tonight, what things in your life need to be examined in light of His Word?


Thankful that His Word is alive and active even when I get a late start.


On a side note, I did find it quite ironic that after writing my blog post yesterday entitled "Open My Ears" that I would find myself in a doctor's office having my eye examined for blurriness and an infection.  My eye is doing much better thanks to the drops they prescribed! Smile

Open My Ears....

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

James 1:19-21

I love the old hymn that contains this verse,

Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wavenotes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

This morning as I find myself rushing around

(This is morning Olivia and I go to breakfast every week at 6:45

 and she remembered late last night after basketball 
that she needs chocolate chip

muffin mix for school today,

so I'm trying to figure that out in my head while I rush around.)

I'm thankful that I paused to read the next few verses in James.

Just before I read them, I looked up and read the message board

 on the wall right in front of me and it says, 

'Let us be silent that we may hear the whisper of God."

closed my eyes for a moment as my computer was booting up,

and just soaked in the thought of Him,

the presence of Him even in the midst of my crazy morning.

 I am so thankful He is here.  

When I am quick to listen and slow to speak,

I become much more like the person He longs for me to be.

I had a friend who was so quick to listen and slow to speak.

Sitting with her was always so relaxing,

because she just enjoyed being together sipping hot tea.

When she passed away, I knew that God was smiling

because she had learned the secret to simply being with Him.

When I sat down this morning, Debbie Pickens was so far from mind;

 but in my stillness, in the quiet, God has brought

her to mind and I am so thankful.

Thinking of her always reminds me of what is most important

and what God longs for our lives to focused on.


Not speaking out just because I have something to say.

Not becoming angry when things don't go my way.Not the things of this world.

No, God longs for us to accept His Word humbly

and simply be still and

savor the gift of salvation.

Debbie did this daily.

I never saw her angry or upset.

She smiled, she listened,

and she had a peace that passes understanding.

Today, I pray that all of you can have s

Debbie Pickens' kind-of day.

I love you all so much,

God is good...all the time

When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

James 1:13-18


One of our former preachers made the phrase, "God is good.all the time, All the time...God is good," a regular part of his time behind the pulpit.  He would say the first half of the phrase and then have the congregation repeat the second half.

I can remember many Sundays when we were in the midst of Nick's journey through cancer that saying this phrase was very difficult for me.  Sometimes it even upset me that he was having us repeat words that seemed so empty as our family's personal life was anything but good.

This same preacher faced many tough times in his own life as a missionary, though, and his smile never faded.  He has now gone Home to be with the Lord, and one night not long after he had been called Home, I remember reading the words "God is good..all the time" on his wife's Facebook status.  She was living out the words her husband had taught us all...even in her pain.

It's good for me to read verses like James 1:13-18 because I remember when I read them that God is not responsible for the bad stuff in my life, the temptations in my life, the dark parts of my life..

He is the giver of every good and perfect gift.

He is good..


Even when my world is upside down.

Even when I am so weak I can barely stand.

Even when I feel defeated.

Even when I am confused.

Even when I am distraught.

Even when I feel alone.

He is good.......



I'm so thankful that Bob Pemberton helped me sink these words deep into my soul at a time when I did not feel God's goodness.

I am thankful that he drove me to Columbus several times for Nick's surgeries and sat with us for hours in the waiting room.

I am thankful that he is now with Nick.

I am sure they are laughing and loving every second in Heaven.


If they could come back and say ONE THING to us, I believe it would be this:




I love you, Nancy, and I think of you often!!  Praying for you as you continue to serve in Africa!

A Powerful Vocabulary Word and Give-Away Winner...

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because,

having stood the test,

that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. 

James 1:12


It was one of our vocabulary words at school two weeks ago, and I was amazed at how many students were confusing it up with the word "preserve."

In a way, persevering does preserve our salvation; but I wanted the kids to understand the depth of the word "persevere."

See, preserving something just means "to keep up" or "keep safe from harm."

While this is important, it doesn't give the image of what it means to persevere.

I had the kids draw pictures.

Some drew a person trying to climb a steep mountain to reach a flag at the top.

Some drew a person racing towards a finish line with sweat dripping off their face.

Persevering means "to keep going."

Pressing on.

Not just keeping safe from harm but pushing through tough times even when you want to quit.

Do you ever feel like you want to sit down and say "I'm done," "I'm tired," "I'm finished."

Those are the moments when God calls us to do what we can only do through Him.........



Especially as we face trials in this life (which we all will), we need to remember the promise that lies ahead at the ultimate finish line!

Not just an earthly crown..

but the crown of LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't know about you, but remembering this on a Monday morning after a very busy weekend makes me smile!

I am so thankful that God gave us promises to keep us pressing on!

I love you all so much!

Oh, and the winner of Chicken Soup for the Soul Devotional Stories for Tough Times is Cheri!!!  Please send me your mailing address!

Holly, I'll be placing A Confident Heart in the mail Friday when I mail Cheri's!

I'll have another prize give-away soon!

It has to do with Scrapbooking (something I don't do yet but would love to!)

Have a wonderful Monday,

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