What Size Do You Wear???????

.......and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.



Ephesians 6:15





A few weeks ago, I bought Tim a couple new pairs of dress shoes for work. I was so happy to find a black pair and a brown pair that I thought he would like.



However, when Tim slipped his feet into each pair we discovered that one pair was too tight and the other pair was too loose. I had mistakenly bought him a "wide" size in one pair of shoes, and both shoes were a half-size too small.



Fitting someone else for shoes is almost impossible.


When it comes to shoes, "one size does not fit all."




As I was reading in a commentary this morning about having "feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace," I learned that the verb form for "fitted" is one that implies "doing it on your own accord." The commentary went on to explain that this means we don't have to feel guilty if we do not have secure footing as if someone else is telling us what we need to do. We need to choose to have firm footing "on our own accord" because Jesus is our Lord. We should stand firm in our faith and in the message of the Gospel because we have a "high view of salvation" not because someone else is telling us we should stand firm.





I also learned that that when Paul wrote this passage, he was writing to a group of people-not just one person. The interpretation is that with the gospel should come peace and UNITY. As Christians, we lose strength when we are divided against each other within the church. I love this quote I found this morning,



If Satan can disrupt and divide the foundation of the the Christian army which was wrought by the gospel of peace, then he increases his chances of defeating us in individual battles.




One more thing that I never knew until this morning was that Roman soldiers would often plant sharpened sticks just under the surface of the ground so that enemy soldiers could not see them. If the soldiers were not wearing thick sandals, they would step on this sharpened sticks, piercing their feet, and leaving them unable to fight.



The sandals that the soldiers wore were also studded with sharp nails which gave the men a firm grip into the soil as they marched forward.



This morning as I think of all the different places my friends and family...and all of you...will be walking, I am praying that each of us makes a purposeful choice to fit ourselves with the "readiness that comes from the gospel of peace."



Do not leave home without making sure your feet are protected from the sneaky attacks of the devil who wants to plant things in your path that will leave you unable to fight back.


Also, make sure the Gospel surrounds your feet...........helping you march forward confidently, standing firm with every step you take.


In my reading class last week, we talked about symbolism. I found an idea online for making play-doh so that my students could create objects that symbolized their character.



This morning, as you venture out into the world or face the world within your home, I'm praying that you will take a minute to think about what your "symbol" would look like.



I'll show some of their results soon. They were precious.



Here are a few pictures of the beginnings of their creations!



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In all you do today, remember that to the world you are a symbol of God's love.



In other words, we are called to be a symbol of Jesus to the lost and hurting.



Jesus is the Prince of Peace. When we walk with Him, we are walking with Peace.



In order to be a symbol of His love, we must show the world what it looks like to walk with Peace.



I've struggled with this lately, as you all know. Thank you for loving me through some rough weeks.



Praying I can walk with Peace today.



Praying you can too,



What's Protecting Your Heart????

.....with the breastplate of righteousness in place......

Ephesians 6:14b

 

The first question, when talking about the armor or God, is this:

"Do you truly believe Christians are in a spiritual battle?"

If you do, then you realize how vital wearing this armor is in our daily walk.

Often in our life, difficult events can cause our "shield of faith" to drop a little.

When our shield drops, our heart is exposed.

Sickness, loss, hurt, unanswered prayer, and all sorts of other valleys......can lead to times of doubt as we attempt to find a way to understand how God's love matches up with our pain.  Believe me, I have experienced many shield-slipping moments in my life.

I think one of the devil's biggest goals is to bring doubt and questioning into our lives, so that we will feel weak and defenseless.

When we find our faith feeling a little shaky, it's IMPERATIVE that we have our heart protected....

with our breastplate of righteousness.

What does this mean?

I read in one commentary that,

"To be righteous is to do what is right in God's eyes. God's commandments are righteousness.

In contrast, lawlessness is sin, and sin is the opposite of righteousness. So to be righteous is to obey God's laws of love."

Knowing that when my faith seems weak, I can still stand up against the devil's schemes as long as I continue to live a life of righteousness strengthens me today.

I have my belt securely fastened.

My breastplate is in place.

It's time to head out the door into the battlefield of life, so until tomorrow I thought I'd leave you with a few verses about righteousness.

Proverbs 11:4
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Psalm 119:172
My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness.

1 Corinthians 15:34
Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

1 Thessalonians 5:8
But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.

It is so exciting to know that ONE DAY all of our efforts will be rewarded!!  I love this verse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Isaiah 32:17

The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

Thankful for each of you and every prayer you lift for me and my family.

I'm praying for you as I drive to work,



What Comes First??????

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..



Ephesians 6:13-14a







When I get dressed, a belt is usually one of the last things I think about putting on.



Honestly, I rarely wear a belt.



Reading that the armor of God BEGINS with "the belt of truth buckled around our waist" seems opposite to my thinking.



In my simple mind, the belt would be wrapped around my waist as a finishing touch, a piece of my armor that would pull all things together.



However, as I read some commentary thoughts this morning, I learned that in Bible days, the belt was extremely important and needed to go on BEFORE a soldier could probably carry his sword.



The belt had leather straps that hung down and protected the lower part of the soldier's body.



The belt encompassed him and secured all the other pieces of his armor.





Christians are told to place the belt of truth around their waist........first.



Without this truth, we are unable to securely carry God's message (His Word-our Sword) to a hurting and dying world.



Jn. 17:17 says that God's Word is truth.



As I think of John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,".......it all begins to make sense.



The Word was in the beginning.



The Word is truth.



Therefore, truth comes first in our daily "putting on" of the armor of God.



We must wrap ourselves in His truth, in His Word......FIRST.





Today, I woke up with all sorts of things bouncing around in my mind.



Olivia's basketball schedule for the week, Todd's second week of dorm life at college, Erich's new job at Vanderbilt and Mallory starting her Masters at MTSU, Evan's quickly approaching move to California and Maria's job at Elliott County High School, Tim's responsibilities at KCU and church, my week at school, and on and on.................



As I began getting ready, I thought of the armor of God and how I knew I HAD to be wearing all of it in order to face today. I couldn't wait to sit down and take a look at the first part of the armor.




I had forgotten that it was the belt.



Maria walked into the kitchen as I was typing, and her first words were, "I couldn't find the belt that goes with this shirt, so I'm wearing a bigger belt. Can you tell?"





I couldn't believe those were her first words to me this morning of all mornings. I don't think I've ever heard her mention her belt before in my life.



I told her what I was writing about, and she couldn't believe it either.





When we wear a belt, we know when it feels right and when it doesn't.



To others, the change may not be noticeable, but to us, the change in style, size, and color affects how we feel.





The same goes with wearing the belt of truth.



We know when we are securely wrapped in God's truth and when we are trying to wrap ourselves in anything less than His perfect Word.





Today, I woke up with my belt loose.



Doubt, fear, and anxiety slipped in where the belt was not securely fastened.



I am so thankful that God gives such clear word pictures to help us in this tricky world.





I want to start my day with THE BELT OF TRUTH properly placed and securely fastened.





It's the only way I'll survive.





I'm praying that your belt of truth is secure too.



We know the truth and the truth sets us free.




Live victoriously today in the freedom that comes from being wrapped in His love and His truth,



Putting On Your Helmet..................
As I was driving home from work today, I caught a glimpse of something that brought sweet tears to my eyes.

Tonight is the first home game of the East Carter High School football team. Two of the players were leaving the sporting goods store on Main Street with their jerseys on and their brand new helmets in their hands.

As I drove passed, I noticed that the helmets were still wrapped in plastic and both boys were eagerly slipping off the plastic that surrounded them.

I glanced in my rear view mirror as I went on by and one of the boys already had his helmet on and was looking at his reflection in a car window!!

Tears filled my eyes as I thought of how exciting this moment was for both of these boys!

They were officially part of the team as they slipped on the East Carter High School football helmets.

When I think of my relationship with God, I want to remember this moment today.

I want to remember how honored, eager, and happy these boys were to join their team by symbolically placing helmets on their heads.

Do I wear the helmet of salvation with such eagerness?

I want to!

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 5:7-9



Filled to Fullness.......

-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.


Ephesians 3:19



I was measuring flour last night to make play-doh for school, and I realized that filling the measuring cup "to the fullness" of a cup makes all the difference in getting a recipe right.


If I almost filled the cup, then eventually I was adding a little more flour and then a little more until I had "the fullness of a cup."



As I read Ephesians 3:19 this morning, I asked myself am I truly "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God," and if not, how could I become filled?


I find myself lacking this fullness on many days, so I looked back to the words before these words in Ephesians 3:19 and read that Paul says,



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-



Being filled to the measure of all the fullness of God is all about LOVE.


Being rooted in His love


Being established in His love


Gaining power from His love


Sharing His love with others


Grasping His love's size-its width, its length, its height, its depth


Knowing that His love surpasses our human knowledge (this means we'll never, ever understand His love completely while we're on this planet)



The devil is most happy when we doubt God's love because when we do we are not..............


FILLED TO THE MEASURE OF ALL FULLNESS OF GOD.


We are lacking.


We come up short.


We feel incomplete.




Today, I want to soak in, reflect upon, and be thankful for...



HIS LOVE.


"Get thee behind me, satan.........I am loved with an everlasting love."


I am praying he gets behind you, too.


You are esteemed highly by the Lord on high.



Praying your cup overflows today with His love and peace,








Being Watched..........

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

Ephesians 3:10-15

I have a sponsor's meeting tonight at church.

Youth group kicks off again next week for the year, so we're having a meeting to talk about the "plan" for this year's EPIC  gatherings.

I thought about not helping this year, but every day at work  I see the need for Christian adults to be involved in the lives of young people.

I see girls and guys in relationships that do not appear healthy.

I see kids making choices that are leading them down frightening paths.

And, truthfully, one of the biggest reasons I gave up my job last year and took the one I have now was so I could be closer to kids from church and in the same world of people in which Olivia interacts socially.

 

I should have known the devil would be attacking me so fervently.

I should have known that I was declaring war with the enemy when I had any intention of making a difference in our church by changing jobs.

Why have I been surprised that this has been so difficult?

 

When I read the verses above this morning, I was a little confused.  So I did some commentary hunting and learned that many people believe these "heavenly rulers and authorities" mentioned are actually the "bad guys" in the heavenly world....satan's helpers.

I'd never thought of the church as a way for God to reveal his eternal purpose to the devil.

I'd never thought that Christians were models of the power of God not just to encourage others on earth but to make the demons aware of God's power.

I should have.

I should have remembered how Job had been hand-selected by the devil as he roamed the earth "watching" God's people live.

The devil thought that surely Job was faithful because his life was so perfect...so he challenged God and God gave him permission to test Job.

 

Do we as the church realize that we are being watched, evaluated, and tested by the evil ones..........and that it is only by the grace of God that we are able to withstand the attacks that come daily?

Putting on the armor of God is a necessary part of our morning  routine.  Without it we are defenseless.

I feel excited for the first time this morning, because I feel like God is leading me to dive into the armor of God here on my blog.  I want to look at each part in detail and see how it is important in order to stand up against spiritual battles.


Our kids need to know about this too.

The church needs to remember Ephesians 6.

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.

That's why I am going tonight to the sponsor meeting.  I want to help our high school students understand that they are in a battle daily as Christians.  I want to be reminded myself.  When I remember that I am in a war, it makes the attacks seem "normal" not so shocking.  It's scary standing up for Christ.  The devil doesn't want us to live in victory, so I believe he fights us every step of the way.

So what do we do when we are afraid?

I remind myself of Nick's favorite verse, Joshua 1:9,

Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified.  Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!

Today, as you face the difficult things that come your way, do not forget that these truths:

1. You are being watched (by people, by a cloud of witnesses who are cheering you on, and by spiritual rulers who do not want you to live in victory).

2.  God is with you every step of the way.

3.  In the end, He wins the final battle!

 

I love this quote, and hope that it encourages you as you walk out into the world:

 

Only one life, 'Twill soon be past.
Only what's done for Christ will last.



Thankful to be a servant.....

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of his power.


Ephesians 3:7




Of all the things I do every morning (and sometimes evening), sharing with you is near the top.


It's almost as if something draws me to my computer daily simply for this reason.


I love you all so much.



I think of all the things I have learned to let go -


things that have caused me to feel inadequate


...a perfectly clean house, a sink emptied of dirty dishes, laundry which is all caught up, home-cooked meals every night....


and I know there is one thing I can't stop doing daily.


It's writing to all of you.



I want so badly to know that there is a part of my life that is making an eternal difference.


A difference that draws people closer to Him Who holds the keys to eternal life.



When I think of the power someone has when they hold the keys to a locked door (everyone waits until that person arrives before they are able to enter a locked room), I realize that in order to spend eternity in Heaven, all of you have to know Jesus.


He holds the keys.


He is the Gospel story.


I am a servant to that Gospel message.


Knowing this and believing this so deeply compels me to share something daily about His love and faithfulness. I have been struggling ever since school began this year, as you all know, to find a balance in life with this new job I have taken.


Inspite of all of my struggles, one thing has never changed. That is my deep belief and knowledge that God is with me.


Knowing this makes the difference every day as I stumble from bed to get ready to face another day filled with 149 students who look to me for a reading lesson.



Fear.


I have plenty.


Doubt.


I'm an expert.


Insecurity.


Check.


Fatigue.


Daily.



Jesus.............ALWAYS!


Without Him, I am nothing and because of this, I am indebted to His message.


God's grace keeps my head above water and the gospel message moves me to be the person I am every day.



So today, before I ventured into my morning routine, I read the words of Paul and smiled.


Paul could never be the same after being changed by the working of God's power.


Neither can I.


I live daily through His power and by His grace. Knowing this, I am indebted to Him and honored to be able to share My Heart and His Words with you as I walk this road of life.


Thankful to be a servant of the Gospel living freely because of His love,



When the music fades..........

A conversation this weekend has left me reflecting on the power of music.





How much power does music have?





When I listen to someone speak or read someone's words, does the music in the background affect my emotions?





How about with my blog?





What if the music on my blog is what brings you back to read another day's posting?





What if it's all about the music?





Then what???????





I stood outside this morning thinking about these questions while I watched the puppies play for a few minutes before heading to church. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the words to a song I have loved for several years popped into my head. I hadn't thought about this particular song in a long time, because I haven't heard it in a while.






But as I stood in the coolness of the morning feeling the wet dew on my toes, these words floated through my mind,









"When the music fades and all is stripped away, and I simply come. Longing just to bring something that's of worth...."









Ahhhh...........music does matter. Music adds flavor, color, mood............









So what if you turned off the music on my blog as you read my words? Would the words lose meaning?





Maybe. Maybe the music is what brings you back.





If it is, should that change how I feel about blogging?





Is that why I write?





To draw you back?





To move you?





Blogging is so complicated to me. Writing without an audience could easily become discouraging, but deep inside I think I would have to keep writing every day simply to get my thoughts out of my head.





I started my blog to move me, to help me cope, to guide me down a road that seemed impassable (on so many levels) alone............a road of cancer, a road of fear........





As I blogged, I met all of you and I have fallen in love with each of you.





And then one day my music faded. Nick died. And I was stripped of so much of the flavor, color, and mood inside of me.





I was faced with the question, "What happens when the music fades in my life?"





Then what????





Thinking about questions like this has led me to think about all the kinds of music God places in the backgrounds of our lives....





Family





Friends





Hobbies





Nature





Careers





Pets





Adventures





Vacations





And the list goes on and on...........









I'm thankful for the music of my life.





But what if the music fades?






Where does that leave me with God?






Do I stop going to Him when the music fades?





Is it the music in my life that keeps drawing me to Him?





Is it the music that moves me?





Blogging comes and blogging goes. But God's love is eternal.





Lord, let me live my life totally surrendered to you........even when the music seems to fade and everything is stripped away. Lead me back, Lord, to the heart of worship.





In the end, that is all that matters.




Psalm 100:5





For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;




his faithfulness continues through all generations.








Click here to listen to the song I mentioned above.


(You'll need to pause the blog music under "Tammy's Songs" in order to listen to this song.) :)



When We Ask..........

help


Pride can easily get in the way of admitting I am struggling.


Why? I think it's because........


I want to look as if I "get" everything.


I want to appear professional and capable.


I want people to see me as someone who can handle the things life throws my way.


BUT................


There are times when the "look" of being self-sufficient is chipped away by the reality that I am not able to handle life without the help of those around me.


Like an old piece of furniture, paint peeling to uncover the real wood underneath, I begin to reveal the true me........


Fleck by fleck, the covering disappears and SUDDENLY, I'm not pretending anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


And the ironic thing to me is this:


I feel more comfortable in my old wood look.


I can smile even though I'm overwhelmed because I'm not acting as if I am not.


Yesterday I stayed after school with our new specialist from Frankfort for an hour and a half, and we broke down all the reading standards into units. We talked about formative assessments and bell ringers and lots of other things that I just needed to grasp at a deeper level.


I am so thankful that I allowed this lady to see beneath my chipping paint. She knows me now. She knows about all of my kids. She knows about the loss of Nick and Adrienne. She understands that I came to this job still hurting and seeing life from a different perspective than I ever would have had I not been placed on the road of grief.


Today, I'm wondering what you might be hiding under chipping paint?


I want to encourage you to reveal your real wood. You may cry...a lot. You may come out a different person than you are this very minute.


But,


I really think you will feel free as you release the true you to the world around you..........


And ask for help if you need it. :)


JOHN 16:24


Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.




Weekend Memories......

081711086 We spent this past Saturday with my family in Brandenburg.  My sister and her family were up from Florida, so we got together for a cookout. It was great to see my brother-in-law, sister and nephews, my brother and his wife, mom and dad, and Erich and Mallory. :) (And of course all the dogs..Hugo, Phoebe, Lila, Amber..We took Dash and Domino to meet their dog family.)

I wanted to just share a few memories from our weekend together.    081711197 081711102081711135

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081711155  081711166 081711137 I love you all so much.

Thank you for bearing with me and praying for me as I find my way through a valley..I do feel the fog lifting a little and have had two evenings in a row that have felt somewhat "normal."

I have a few ideas that I think will help me as a teacher and a writer....to be able to combine my love for being creative with my responsibilities at school which often give me little time for creativity.

I'll share more as I work my way through these ideas. :)

For today, have a wonderful Thursday.

Tonight is all about getting Todd ready for moving into the dorm tomorrow...

I wish I could hug each of you and say "thank you" for  your friendship face-to-face. 

Know that you are loved and prayed for by me daily,



Living Water.........

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I love fountains. This one sits on my mom's deck, and there's something very therapeutic about sitting near it and just listening to the water pass from pitcher to pitcher then start all over again.


It's almost as if the water is alive.


Not stagnate, simply sitting and gathering moss, but moving and transforming to fit each container it enters.


If I close my eyes and listen, I still know the water is there. The constancy of the fountain brings comfort. It soothes my soul.


I long for Living Water.


In many ways I am the woman at the well for different reasons than the Biblical example. I haven't had five husbands, but I have searched for peace and security in all the wrong places.


I've searched until I've found myself in a place that seems to be bigger than my mind and body can handle.


I've made a commitment for this year. I have to push through. Yesterday, I let it all out at a meeting with all of my English teacher co-workers. The tears flowed freely, and I simply said, "I'm overwhelmed."


I walked away from the meeting at least feeling as if I am not pretending anymore. They know I'm struggling. They know I'm in over my head. They know I'm being stretched and I'm not so sure that this stretching is within God's plan for me long term......


Time.


I need more of it breathe.


Time.


I'll give it this year and pray.


But in the midst of this upside down life I've gotten myself into, I need Living Water...........


I wonder if the woman at the well had said similar things to herself as she walked to fill her pitcher.


Time..I'd say she needed space to breathe. Time.I wonder if the reason she hadn't married the last man was because she wanted to give it a year to see if it would work.....since so many relationships had failed in her past.


And there was Jesus.


Waiting.


Offering.


Giving.


Living.


Sharing freely from a pitcher that never runs dry.


I have a devotional on my desk and two calendars with Scriptures. I cling to them daily as I enter my room.


I need Jesus.


I need Living Water.


I don't want to turn to Jesus and do what the woman at the well did first.


She doubted His ability.


He offered.


And this was her reply,


"Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?


The woman at the well thought Jesus wasn't equipped to provide this water. He did not have a utensil for drawing it from the well, and so she doubted.


It seems silly to us to think that someone could have been just a few feet from Jesus and not grabbed Him and hugged and KNEW that He had all the answers.


But I do it every day.


Jesus is IN me.


He walks with me.


And still I doubt He can provide just what I need..


I love Jesus' answer to the woman at the well,


"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."



Living Water.


Forgive me.


Lord, keep my mom's fountain daily in my mind.


Remind me that Jesus is moving and changing me constantly.


Remind me that He flows through me, in me, around me...


I thirst for more of Him.


Help me remember that all I have to do is drink.




How He Works.......

I arrived at school a little later than I like this morning, thankful for my first period planning time so I could get my boards ready and papers copied.

Not long after arriving, though, the secretary peeked in my room and asked if I could possibly cover for Mr.H, the teacher next door, who had run into trouble on the Interstate on his way to work.

Of course I said, "Yes," but deep inside I was having that sick feeling of "I needed this time to be ready for today..what am I going to do now."

As I sat down at Mr. H's desk and the students begin to file in, I looked at his desk and then I knew.........

I knew why he was running late.

I knew why I was sitting there today at 8 a.m. in a desk I had never sat behind much less been near.

I needed to see his desk up close and personal.  I needed to read the teacher's prayer that was on a cross sitting in front of me.

I needed to read another small plaque that said,

You may not know all the details of your journey or clearly see where the trail is leading, but God will always give you enough light to take the next step."  

Roy Lessin

I needed to read more words that were right there in front of me,

To know Him is to love Him and to love Him is to trust Him. 

Richard Exley

I could have cried as I sat and soaked up all of these messages.  My breath almost left me as I leaned back and realized that God, the orchestrator life, had divinely pulled me into a room so close to my own to read words that would draw me nearer to Him.

Tonight I lay in bed with a stuffy nose, Olivia curled up next to me and everyone else in the house sleeping except for Tim who is working on something on the kitchen computer.  My eyes are heavy but my heart feels just a little lighter.  I walked tonight.  Walking always clears my head a bit, and I was able to stop and visit with a couple friends along the way......thank you, friends, for understanding my tears which seem to be slipping from my eyes extra-easily and much more often lately.

Oh, I love God so much.

I know He hears my prayers, and I know He loves me.

He keeps me looking up even when I am feeling down.

I love you all so much, too. 

Your precious words keep me pressing on. 

Thank you for every prayer you lift for me and for my family..

Praying for you as I fall to sleep.



Being Honest.........

When I look at this screen and think of each of you who may stop by to read my words, I'm tempted to write some kind of thoughts that sound spiritually uplifting and give the allusion that I am somehow handling life the way Jesus would.

I remember the famous "What Would Jesus Do" bracelets, and honestly, those words haunt me almost daily.

I can smile and even laugh sometimes, but to be totally transparent, I am struggling deep within my soul.

I've battled depression in the past and I think that parts of me are slipping that way again.  I feel so ashamed to even write those words, as if somehow God is disappointed when I can't cling to His Word at a strong enough level to keep myself out of this pit.

Truthfully, the pace of life at our house right now leaves very little time to just sit and soak in His promises. I must need more of Him than most people in order to cope successfully, because I see people all around me who seem to juggle fulltime careers and families and church and do it beautifully.

Why do I cry on Sunday afternoon after I get home from WalMart with a load of groceries that takes almost as long to unpack as it did to go up and down the aisles trying to make sure I have dinner plans ready for a whole week.?

I battle wanting things to slow down with knowing that when they do Todd will be moved into the dorm and Evan will be living 34 hours away.

I haven't been this frustrated with myself in such a long time.

I miss Nick so much and feel like I barely have time to acknowledge that I am hurting, because I am spending most of my waking hours working on lesson plans, teaching, and trying to be a decent wife and mom.......all of this leaves little time to be the friend I want to be, the encourager I love to be, the supporter of others who are hurting that I want to be.........

And then as I type these words, I feel like a baby.

I remember typing words last week about encouraging others and realizing that when I take my focus off of me then I am able to pray for others and become the person I want to be.  I felt so strong that morning.

And then another Monday comes and here I am digging deep to find peace and coming up empty.

I'll probably regret posting this, but to say anything else would be fake.

I got up early to get potatoes peeled and roast browned so that I could have the crock pot filled with dinner after work.  Last week, I managed to be a good teacher but failed miserably as a mom.......this week, I'm trying to have a plan for dinner every night. 

As I was preparing the meal, I wondered if any of you have recipes to share, especially crock pot recipes.  If you do, please email me at tammynischan@yahoo.com.  I will share them from time to time with readers here.  Maybe there's someone out there reading this who needs new recipe ideas too.

The puppies are doing great by the way.  They have added such a little fun spirit to our floors!

Olivia is getting into a groove at school and enjoying basketball practice.  I'm so thankful that she feels better than she did in the spring!

We had a great visit with my family this weekend.  My sister was up from Florida so we all gathered at my mom's for a cookout.  I'll show pictures soon.

This morning, I keep thinking of these verses from Psalm 61,

 

Hear my cry, O God;
   listen to my prayer.

From the ends of the earth I call to you,
   I call as my heart grows faint;
   lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For you have been my refuge,
   a strong tower against the foe.

Knowing that He can and trusting that He will...lead me to that High Rock today,

 



The Power of a Pencil..........

august memories first week 006
Last year I gave away about 100 pencils before Christmas.  This year I knew that I wouldn't be able to keep up this pace with the number of students I would have each period, but I didn't really know how to solve this problem.

UNTIL...........

I was in the Christian bookstore this summer  (remember when I bought the praise flowers) and there was the nastiest green water bottle on the counter.  When I asked about it, I learned that this was the water that is available to children in many third world countries.

For some reason this hit a nerve in me that had never been hit in such a profound way.  I looked down in front of me and there was Raj, a four year old boy from India.  His eyes swept me away.

As tears filled my eyes, I knew that I was suppose to adopt him as a sponsor through World Vision for some reason.  I didn't really know why, but I just felt a powerful urge to take his picture home and help his family.

As the employee at the store went to get the necessary paperwork, I thought of my class this year and thought, "This is how I will take care of the pencil problem! I'll let my students help Raj by selling pencils instead of giving them away!"

august memories first week 004

On the first day of school, I explained to my class what the plan for the year was, and I think they were excited!  Deep inside kids want to help other kids.august memories first week 003  There's something special about knowing that a pencil is helping a little boy on the other side of the world!

It makes me realize that even though many days I feel about as useful as one pencil in a drawer full of pencils I still make a difference..........

So do you.

My thought for Friday is this:

Be the best pencil you can be and WHO KNOWS HOW GOD WILL USE YOU!!

Sharpen your skills!

Erase your mistakes!

Point people in the right direction!

And create a beautiful masterpiece in the world around you!

From one pencil to another, I love you all!



When "I" is Replaced with "You"

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from

whom every family in heaven and on earth

derives its name. 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 3:14-19

It's amazing how God works!

If you have read my posts for the past several days, you know tha I have struggled to get back into a groove of having around 140 students a day in a school that is in crisis (this means the state has taken over the school and people from Frankfort do observations regularly), I have found myself feeling overwhelmed, burdened, and on the verge of tears (or crying) daily.

Yesterday, God placed me in the paths of several teachers whom I have loved and respected for years.......

teachers who make a difference in the lives of students daily.

teachers who seem to have it all together....

And guess what I learned?

They have had tears too.

They have felt overwhelmed too.

They have been struggling to balance life too.

We decided to all pray for each other, and I walked away from each conversation feeling a little less alone.

As I reflected on all of this last night and then read Ephesians 3 this morning, I realized something.

When Paul knelt before the throne of God, he lifted up OTHERS not himself.

He said, "I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen YOU."

He didn't ask God for more strength for himself.

He didn't whine about his conditions, his problems, his sacrifices for others.

So, this morning as I began to pray while getting ready for school, I thought of my friends and their struggles.

I thought of all of you and specifically what many of you are facing in life.

I prayed for each of them by name, and I prayed for all of you.

I asked God to strengthen all of you....

AND GUESS WHAT?!?!?!?

I feel stronger this morning than I have on any other day since school began.

I love God.

His ways are so opposite of what I think or feel.

He is all about me letting go of myself so that He can fill me up with Him.

He wants to do the same for you.

When we let go of "us," then we can be there for others.

Now I'm thinking of ways I can be an encourager to my fellow teachers.

Cards, notes, small gifts on their desks...that's the person I want to be.

I have a list of ideas and I feel excited.

How can you be an encourager for someone around you today?

It sure helps me forget about my stress when I get to the place where I can be "the reliever of stress" for someone else.

Thank you, Lord, for answering prayers not by always making life easier but definitely by  stretching us to be better people.

Thank you for helping me replace my "I" with "you,"



Does He Like My House?????

And in him you too are being built

together to become a dwelling in

which God lives by his Spirit.

Ephesians 2:22

One thing about teaching fulltime is making the choice to let some things "go" a little bit.

This is hard for me, because one of the things I've had to let go of is keeping my house the way I like it.  I'd like to say that I am relaxed about this, but honestly, seeing my house become disorganized all around me really stresses me out.  I am a homemaker at heart.  I like candles burning, lights low, clean sheets, the smell of cooked food, and on and on........

One of my goals is to get to the place where I can master balancing my two worlds in way that feels "right" for my family.  I want my family to enjoy being home and enjoy being around me. I want them to like our house.

So, this morning as I read Ephesians 2 and came across the verse above I had this stirring inside me about my body being the temple of God.

The dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

I don't know about you, but that reality shakes me up a bit.

I wonder how it feels inside my "house?"

Does He like dwelling here?

Is it a pleasant place to be or a place of turmoil?

Do I take time to make Him feel welcome or is He shoved to a back room and only visited when I have time?

I'm out on the deck with the puppies this morning, giving them time to run a while before I go to school.

I walked to my garden a few minutes ago as they were playing in the grass nearby, and I thought of Jesus walking with God in Gethsemane.

The closeness He must have felt to His Father there overwhelms me.

As I looked at my tomatoes and cucumbers twisted and mixed with weeds, I felt a nudge from God saying, "This kind of garden is the kind you are trying to walk in with me.....I need more time with you in order to make our garden a beautiful place."

I know that God opened the door for me this year at the high school.

I know that Olivia will be in my building next year and that my ultimate goal is getting her raised in a way that sends her off fully connected to God and ready for adult life.

So, I breathe deep and ask God for creative ways to have good garden time with Him, free of twisted fruit and mangled weeds.

While I want my kids to love being at home, I REALLY want God to love being at "home" in me too.

I want Him to like my house.

Thankful for a Father who longs to not only spend garden time with us but also dwell within our very souls,



Forgive Me............

Just after posting my words yesterday, Evan came walking through the living room.


He had set his alarm so that he could get up and fix me breakfast on my birthday. When he handed me this egg sandwich imprinted with a smiley face and the word "smile," I think he was surprised to see me turn around and begin crying.


He hugged me, and as I wrapped my arms around him and put my head on his chest it was as if my sadness washed away just knowing that even though he will be leaving soon he still loves me so much. Won't Heaven be like that when we lay our head on Jesus' chest? All the heartache of this world will surely fade away into perfect peace and love.....080811021080811049


He even surprised me and came home early from work last night so he could be with us for my birthday evening. I think he knows how much I am going to miss him........and that I never want to hold him back from being all that he can be.......even if that means letting him go.080811074 Olivia made me a great big birthday card.....I think everyone in my family realizes that for some reason I am going through a little emotional slump.....goodness, please forgive me everyone.......


Tim had some of my closest friends over last night for ice cream cake. I have walked a lot of miles with these ladies. Twenty years of new babies and child-raising, church events, neighborhood get-togethers, and sadly, funerals of children, siblings, and parents, have bonded us deeply. It seems like yesterday we were all pushing strollers. Olivia is the youngest of all of our kids, so we are definitely entering a new phase of womanhood and friendship...a phase of out-of-town visits with children and moral support through phone calls has replaced late-night walks with crying infants and kids with fevers. Soak up every minute no matter what phase you are in.....they each come and go so quickly.080811042080811045


Tim remembered how much I love strawberry cheesecake blizzards and bought me a cake of that flavor. :) He really made my day. :)080811046


One of the things that we did this weekend was meet our "adopted" football boys from KCU. Koren Furrey organized all of the players so that they have "football moms" in Grayson. We have CJ, Caleb, Corbon, and Jimmy as our new boys.


080811005 080811007 080811008 080811014 Dana, my sweet friend from Gardnersville where Tim use to preach, came to visit Saturday and helped me pack care packages for each of the boys.


Thank you, Dana. I wish you could have been here to meet them. You'll have to come back and bring the kids to watch one of their games.080811024


080811019






















I regrouped at school yesterday morning, switching to a book that I feel is more appropriate for my students at this time in their lives. The other reading teacher and I are staying after school to meet with our instructional coach and hopefully we can line out a few weeks of school in a way that feels challenging yet exciting for the kids. I feel better when I have a long-range plan and right now I feel like I am surviving on a daily basis as a teacher.


Please forgive for not hiding my feelings yesterday. I sat down to write to all of you and felt incapable of pretending that I wasn't overwhelmed and feeling blue.


God is stretching me this year through my new job. He is teaching me new things about Him and His love. Isn't He like that??? One of my students had this motto on her coat of arms we are making, "Faith = Success." When she showed me, I just squeezed her hand and said, 'I LOVE THAT!!" She looked at me and said in such a matter of fact manner, "I figure with faith I can do anything."


Wow.


From the mouth of a young adult God spoke to me......again.


With faith we can do anything.


Forgive me, Lord, when my faith slips into self-pity,



Feeling Anxious......

Ephesians 2:4a

But because of his great love....

We had a nice but very busy weekend at our house, and I'm now facing Monday morning with that old but very familiar feeling of "Monday morning anxiety" that overshadows me often when I know a week of teaching lies ahead of me.

When I feel like this, I want to cry.

I want to crawl back in bed and stay in the safety of my house where I feel comfortable, protected, and content.

I want to hide from a world with big expectations.

I want to just be the old Tammy, the mom of Erich, Evan, Todd, Nick, and Olivia when they were all little and running through the house playing Legos and Ninja Turtles and dressing up in costumes.

I miss those simple days when the biggest thing on my list of things to do was stay a step ahead of all of them.

Today, I have 140 students who will be looking to me for wisdom........wisdom I often feel I lack.

Today, I have children who are almost totally grown up and who are making huge decisions that I can only pray about.

Erich starts a new job today as a nurse at Vanderbilt in Nashville.  Mallory will be starting her Masters in the next couple weeks at Middle Tennessee State.

Evan will be loading his car and driving away....far away to California......all the way across the United States....in just four weeks.

Todd moves into the dorm in two weeks.

And I will turn around to see that motherhood has been minimized from five busy kids to one teenage girl and thankfully the companionship of Maria for one wonderful year.

My mind swirls this morning.

It's my birthday, so maybe I'm a little reflective today.

46 years old.

How?  When?  Where?

I ask all those questions about time passing so quickly, and how I find myself in this particular place at this particular time.

Sitting in my dark living room knowing that I must flip on that first light of today and face the new chapter.

The chapter of full-time teaching.

The chapter of growing children who need me less and less with every passing day.

The chapter of responsibilities that often outweigh my feelings of confidence.

I'm thankful for Ephesians 2 this morning, a reminder that in spite of everything......God loves me.

And because of His great love I can breathe deeply and face completely the hours ahead of me.

Because of His great love I can smile even when I feel like crying.

Because of His great love I can lean back for just a minute, close my eyes, and know with great assurance that there is Peace even in these dark minutes of apprehension that want to consume me in the early hours of Monday morning.

Thankful for His love this morning.

Honestly, I couldn't turn the light on without His love,



You're always in my heart...

As I read the rest of Ephesians 1 this morning, I realized Paul's words express beautifully how I feel about all of you, so I wanted to share them with you.

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you m

may know him better.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

Ephesians 1:16-21

I love you all so much, and as I step back out of my house and into the high school this morning I am thinking of all of you and whispering a prayer.

Olivia had a better day yesterday.  Thank you for your prayers for her.

God bless all of you today,



Adopted.......

Ephesians 1:5

He predestined us for adoption to sonship

 through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his

pleasure and will.......

Olivia's first day of school was rough.  She has very few friends in her "family" at school, and the ones she does have in her "family" are not in her classes.

She came home feeling blue.

I had to take a deep breath last night, because she has175 more days of 8th grade to face while I have a whole other world that I will be facing every day as well.

When I look back on our decision and prayers about adopting Olivia 13 years ago, I know that we never planned for her to walk through such difficult valleys along the way as our daughter.

We truly adopted her believing that we could give her a better life than the one she would have had growing up in an orphanage.

I think of all the different roads she has been on since becoming our daughter, and I have to believe that God is preparing her for a life of great ministry.  Her level of compassion is intensely deep.  Her understanding of how life is not always fair is unbelievably profound.

Looking back, I wouldn't change our decision and I know Olivia wouldn't change it either, but being adopted into a family doesn't always mean life will be perfect.  Just because we chose her does not mean that we are able to protect her from all the things this world hurls her way.

The same goes for all of us who walk with Jesus.

God has adopted all of us.

As a matter of fact, He planned to adopt us all from the beginning of time if we would simply accept Jesus as our Savior as the Bible says.

However, being adopted into His family does not protect us from all the world hurls our way either.

He's with us all along the way just like we are with Olivia all along the way.

He wants to walk the rough roads and the good roads beside us.

We are His children.

Today, as I venture back to the high school, I am praying fervently for Olivia as she reenters the middle school trying to find her way through a year that appears daunting.

I'm praying for all of you too as you face the challenges of your lives.

This life can be difficult. 

Thank goodness we know Who are Father is! I don't know where I'd be this morning without Him.

 



Feel Special..............

Ephesians 1:4

For he chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless..........

I found myself feeling very anxious last night about the first day of school today.

I struggle with balancing work and home.

I always have.

I am a stay-at-home mom at heart, so stretching myself into a career has been difficult.  

So what do I do this morning as I find myself with my hair in a towel, dress clothes on, puppies at my feet, and students waiting for me?

I remember.

I remember that in the big scheme of life this is just a passing moment.

I remember that above, around me, and in me there is a power working that sustains, equips, empowers, protects, and comforts me.

I remember that before the world began God chose me.

He chose you too.

He loves us!

So today, as I begin a new job in a new school with much larger class sizes, I am asking God to keep whispering in my ear all day long..

I CHOSE YOU.

I AM WITH YOU.

I LOVE YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE.

I am praying He will whisper this in your ear, too,

through things you see and things you do.

I love you all.

I need to dry my hair!

Hugs,



Your Account Has Been Credited in a Big Way! Thank You for Your Prayers!

Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Phil. 4:17-19

I feel a lot like Paul today.

The prayers you have lifted up for our family and especially for Olivia during this sad time at our house have meant the world to us.

I never dreamed I could shed so many tears over a dog.

I never dreamed Olivia could either.

As I sat with her Saturday evening in the memory garden (I found her there on a rock with her head on her knees not long after she got home.), we talked about what a gift Kandi had been to our family.

We talked about the fact that she had been such a little cuddly companion during my recovery from my surgery and during Olivia's illness that seemed to last all spring.

We remembered so many cute and fun things about Kandi, and we cried and cried.

Maria came and sat with Olivia for a while and finally she came in the house.  But when she did, she chose to sit in the back room in Nick's favorite chair for a while.  This is a chair I haven't seen her sit in for a long time.  I sat by her again, and I listened to her talk with a shaky voice about how much she missed Nick and Kandi.

She shared that she wanted to be mad at God but she knew He could make things better.  She shared about how she was glad it happened to us if it had to happen to anyone, because she didn't want her friends to go through this.  As I listened to her talk, I was so overwhelmed with her selflessness and her deep love for God.  I thought of the verse that says that God is close to the brokenhearted, and I realized for the first time ever just how deeply God does love us.

As a mom, I had to stay near Olivia all evening in her grief.  The thought of her somewhere alone in the house or outside trying to process all of her pain was more than my heart could bear.

God is just like that.

He hurts when we hurt.

We are going to hurt in this imperfect world, and I am so thankful that He promises to be near us in our pain.  As our Father, He can't stand the thought of us being alone in our pain either. 

So please know you are not alone in yours.

This morning as I prepare for my first official day of school, I wanted to take a minute to share how the rest of our weekend unfolded.

Topsy, I have to say specifically to you that we don't always think straight at the Nischan house when we are grieving. :)

Saturday evening, Tim announced that he had been on the Internet and found a family in Lexington that was moving to Wisconsin and had two puppies (half Shih tzu and half chihuachihua) that they were needing to rehome.  They said the puppies MUST stay together.  Maria and Olivia screamed when they saw the pictures of the puppies, and I couldn't resist calling the number on the screen. I actually started crying on the phone telling them about Olivia and Kandi.

Anyway, after a nice conversation and sharing my blog address, the owner said she would talk with her family and call me back.

At first she said, "Sorry, we can't give you the puppies."

Then she said, "I'm joking!"

She had come to my blog and had read about Kandi and knew that we were true dog lovers and felt that we would be a good family for their sweet puppies.

We had friends coming from Lexington on Sunday to stay all night, so they picked the puppies up and this was our house Sunday evening.

(Thank you Pam and Ernie.)

 end of july memories 025

This is Dash!end of july memories 006 end of july memories 007   end of july memories 016 end of july memories 017 end of july memories 018 end of july memories 021 

This is Domino!end of july memories 009

Like Paul, I write to say that because of your gifts of prayer for our family we have "received full payment and have more than enough." In return, I am praying that God will "meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus!"

We miss Kandi with every breath we take.  I told Olivia that we will still cry and that is okay.  But God has given us two little busy diversions from our heartache and for that we are thankful.

I love you all so much,

 



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