Sunday, September 26, 2010

I Felt Free

I went to church this morning. Not much different than the Sundays in the past. I had decided over the summer that I would take a break from teaching Sunday school this year - I felt I need to get myself back in tune, in touch, with learning again.

Last week, one of the teachers (from the class I had helped with last year) sent me a message on facebook to let me know she felt overwhelmed. There is another young lady in with her, helping to teach, but the class is bigger by about five or six kids. I told her that we would look into finding another adult to go into the class with them for "crowd control". I should insert here that I am the Sunday school coordinator for the elementary ages, under the head of the "main" Sunday school coordinator.

So, this morning, I went to the class with them to see how things went and to help with the kids. It didn't seem to bad to me, but then not everyone was there either. Both ladies did great - one teaches one week, and the next they switch so that they are not teaching 2 weeks in a row.

Things went well, but I said I'd still go in and help until we could find someone else to be the third person. I talked with the main coordinator before church this morning, and said that it might be a good idea to see if we could get a man in the classroom - someone to be the male influence. So often (at least in our church) it seems that women are the Sunday school teachers (though there is one man who helps his wife in one class). I thought of someone we might ask. The other coordinator approached this man, and he agreed to help. He will be in there just to help out and be the male influence - the girls will continue to teach.

During church, I must say that I felt great. It had been a long time since I sat in a church service and could focus on what was being said. It had been a long time since I "felt" like while I was singing, that I was actually worshiping. It had been a long time since I felt I "got anything" from the sermon. It had been a long time since I wasn't focusing on me and my problems during service.

Today, I enjoyed the sermon. Today, I felt like God was whispering to me, letting me subtly know that I've probably been feeling the way I have (with regard to my walk) because I am not spending enough time with Him! Sure, I read my Bible everyday (though some days I might forget or not get a chance), and I pray (but in all honesty, my prayers have been short and infrequent). But in all reality, I don't spend as much time with Jesus as I need to.

I have been focused so long on me. I have been worrying about my problems, my situations, my lack of things (i.e. husband, children, job, finances) and I haven't been focused on Jesus and following Him, or being like Him. If I want things to change in myself, I need to take the focus off ME and put it back on JESUS, where it belongs.

Today was a great day at church. I felt serenity. I felt some peace. Today, I felt free.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Have A Bad Memory

As you may know from a previous post, my Bible study/small group is working on memorizing Romans 12.

I had been under the assumption that we were just memorizing the first eight verses, but I guess it's the entire chapter! My pastor sent me an email yesterday (he's in the group), encouraging me and seeing how I was doing with memorizing Romans 12. Not Romans 12:1-8, but Romans 12.

After reading the e-mail, I checked the chapter, gulped and shivered. Ok, so it's not really that bad. There are only 21 verses in the chapter. It's not like it's Psalm 119, for Pete's sake! Mind you, it is a little intimidating to me. I know I'll definitely NOT have the entire chapter memorized for this Monday, but then I don't think we actually have to have it all by then. We just need to keep working on it with the goal to have it all memorized at some point.  I guess the point is to keep working at it, and not give up.

My progress isn't the best (we have one man in the group who has it pretty much all memorized - and by last Saturday no less). I have the first two verses totally memorized, the third is pretty much memorized, but I forget a few words from time to time. I've added verses 4 and 5 to memorize since they go together (verse 4 ends in the middle of a sentence). Those two aren't sticking in my memory so much.

Seems like it's going to take forever to memorize scripture. It's not something that comes easy for me - no matter how long I spend with it. Granted, in all honesty, I'm not spending a lot of time with it, I do work at it for a short time each day (though I didn't look at it yesterday). I guess it all comes in time.

I'm not going to give up, though. I want to prove that I can memorize the chapter, but in all reality, it's not going to happen overnight. I need to persevere in this, and keep at it every day until I get it memorized.

Question: How are you with memorizing Scripture? Does it come easily for you, or do you struggle like I do? What "tricks" do you have, if any, to aid in memorizing? Let me know in the comments!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

JusJesus

Yesterday I travelled to Fredericton with a friend. Along the way, we were passed by several cars (I was doing the speed limit, or a tad bit over, and they were all going at least 15-20 km over). I had been a little tired as we were on the road early, and I hadn't slept too well the night before.  Before leaving, a quick stop at the gas station to top up the tank was followed by the drive-thru for Tim Horton's. I needed coffee.

Probably about 45 minutes into the drive, one of the above cars (from out of province) passed me. My friend and I had spent a little time talking about God, faith, Christianity, and he mentioned some struggles/problems he's been going through lately. While it's not my place to go into details of his situation, I will say it has been hard on him. As for myself, I was thinking of my own situation, thoughts, feelings, and what I've been going through for awhile.

Recently, I read the five part series J.C. Wert had on his blog. He finished it a couple of days ago. The prologue can be reached by clicking here. You can continue reading about his adventures after that post, as he has them one after the other (with maybe one other post in between the 4th and 5th posts of the series). I wanted to have a similar drive as J.C. mentions. I wanted to hear God speak to me.

So, as we were driving along, I tried to keep my own thoughts on God, trying to see things in a new light, trying to listen for God to speak.  In some lower areas, or off in a distant field, or even on some lakes and rivers, there was some fog hanging around. It reminded me of myself. I had seemed in a bit of a fog that morning. I had an unsettled feeling that I couldn't put my finger on. It might have been left over from a dream I'd had before waking yesterday morning, but I'm not entirely sure. I really wanted to get out of this "fog" I was in, and tried so hard not to let it affect what I said or thought.

As I mentioned, probably about 45 minutes into the nearly two hour drive, one of the many cars that passed me was from out of our province. About the same time my friend noticed, I had as well. The plate was one of those personalized kind. It said: "JusJesus".

It might have been nothing, but to me, the little reminder was nice. It really made my day - and brought me out of my fog.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Return of Bible Study, aka Small Group

It was so great to be able to start back up with Bible Study (aka Small Group) on Monday evening. We were a small group - only six - but one couple stayed home because of illness, one woman is now babysitting her grandaughter on Monday evenings, and one family (three people plus a baby) may now only be able to come every so often due to new jobs for two of them.

Since it's the beginning of a new "year", Pastor J (who is part of the group but not always leading us as several people take turns) decided that we should sit down and figure out what we wanted to do or accomplish as a group. We had some suggestions of topics to discuss, as well as what we can do in the community as a group (i.e. helping each other, helping seniors, helping out at a food bank or soup kitchen, etc.).

Not only did we look at the needs of others, but also the needs within the group. So often people are willing to help others, but find it difficult to accept help themselves. We took a few minutes to reflect on our lives and where we could use help - and it didn't matter what it was for. One couple decided that the man's garage could use some serious cleaning and organizing, so that's what we decided to do first. We decided, as a group, that we will take one evening per month and help others in the group or community.

Next Monday (unless it rains and then we'll do Bible study instead), we will spend the normal time from Bible study/small group and help them with the garage - and it doesn't matter how much we get done. We will be working together as a group, and helping someone in need.

Monday night, we also focused on Romans 12:1-8, and talked about how we can live it out. We are also aiming to memorize these verses. I have verse 1 memorized already, from about 8-10 years ago. The only "problem" is that it is from the NIV and I now use NASB. I figure I'll just keep verse 1 the way I have it momorized (so I won't get myself confused...which I can do so easily), and then use NASB for the rest of it. So far, I have the first 2 verses pretty much memorized, and will try to get one done per day for next week.

Question: Are you in a Bible study or small group? What are you doing with your group (topics or books of the Bible you might be studying, or working together in your community)? Leave a comment and let me know! We are always looking for new ideas.

Monday, September 13, 2010

More Beginnings

Yesterday was the kickoff to the new year of Sunday school at church. We've been on hiatus since the end of June when the programs typically end for summer vacation.

This year, I'm the co-ordinator for the elementary section of Sunday school (nursery to grade 5). I don't feel called to this position; I don't feel like it's my thing. But I agreed to the position anyway - mostly because I felt guilty. I will, however, be telling them soon that I won't continue this position in the New Year, and they'll have to find someone else. It's just not my gifting.

So, we had Rally Day yesterday, and that went well. The man who is the main co-ordinator for Sunday School was in charge of that, so I didn't have to worry about anything with regard to that. We also had a ministry fair yesterday, and I was in charge of setting up our booth.

The ministry fair is a time when all the different ministries in the church - everything from audio/visual, to greeters, to the kid's mid-week program, to the prayer chain, and lots more - set up little booths in the church gym and the congregation (and any visitors) go through to see what the different ministries are, and whether or not there is something there that they are interested in and would love to help with. We have the fair once a year.

There were a few people who stopped at the Sunday school booth, but no one signed up. They came and looked at the pictures on display, took a pamphlet that outlined the fall classes offered (from the nursery all the way up to seniors), took our candy...and left. Not one person signed up to help in some capacity. Oh well.  The problem is, it seems to be the same people involved in all the ministries - lots of crossover. For example, there are several of our Sunday school teachers who are involved in the children's church program and/or the mid-week program. It makes it difficult when we all are trying to recruit people to help out. I know, for myself, I don't like asking others to help out if I know they are involved in other ministries...and those who aren't involved don't seem to want to help at all. It's tough. I suppose it's something that could be added to prayer requests for our church...

Tonight is the first night of Bible study, a.k.a. small group, and I'm looking forward to it. We stopped having it at some point in July because most people were going to be away or busy for the summer. So, we decided to wait until the fall to restart. We left off discussing the book of Revelation, and had got to about chapter 4 or 5...we had been discussing the letters to the churches. Not sure if we will continue with Revelation, or if we'll start something new. I guess I'll see tonight!

I've been realizing (though I think I've known all along, and just "overlooking" it), that my attitude about things - particularly church and God related. I'm praying that God will help me change my attitude, help me see things the way He does, and not the way the world does. Something definitely has to change, because I can't keep going on like this - I'm becoming jaded, angry, bitter, and I feel like I've lost my passion for doing His work, for what I felt called to do. It feels like the flame has died back to a little ember.  And I want it back.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

First Day of School and Other Stuff

This past Tuesday was the first day of school for the kids in our province. For me,  however, the first day was yesterday.  For a few days I was feeling nervous about going back - probably because of not having to teach over the summer. But, when I got into the class, there was no nervousness or anything. The class I was teaching was one that I had supplied in the previous spring when the kids were in the previous grade. They are a good bunch of kids, and I had no problems with them at all. I even had one little girl come up to me and say, "Ms. S., hi! It's so good to see you again!" Even though it had been about five or six months since she'd seen me, and even though it was once, she remembered me. That felt good.

I was rather tired when I got home after school. I hadn't had a lot of sleep the night before (it took me awhile to get to sleep, but once I did, I didn't wake up until the alarm went off), and I've also been having a hard time sleeping the last few weeks. Also, not being used to working for a few months (I didn't work over the summer at all), and being on my feet all day, more than likely contributed to the tiredness as well.  Last night was a little bit of a struggle to get to sleep again, but I don't think I woke up until the alarm went off again this morning. I think I might have managed about five to five and a half hours of sleep. I'm a little tired as I sit here writing this as well...I think I'll  need another cup of coffe this morning!

* * * * *

I've been giving thought, lately, to spiritual attacks again. I have to wonder if some of the problems or situations we face and "blame" on the enemy are really caused by him. I know there are some things that are the result of his attacks (or his minions), but some things are our own creation or consequences to our actions. I guess I've been trying to figure out how to determine if something is because of us (and we put the blame on the enemy because that's what we've been taught to do, or we don't want to take the blame ourselves), or if it's an actual spiritual attack. I'm not talking about the obvious attacks because we are doing God's work and the enemy is doing what he can to stop it. I'm talking about the more subtle things - doubting we can be used by God, feeling like we aren't good enough, fear..and the list goes on.

I've been feeling weary for a long time. I know - or at least I've been told - that when it feels like God isn't doing something or working in our lives, or we aren't getting our prayers answered, not to give up, not to stop doing what we've been doing...that we should keep on "trucking along" until God tells us otherwise.  But quite honestly, I've really been feeling inadequate in so many areas of my life; I've been feeling like I'm not good enough, or just not good at something that I've been told for so long that I am good at (I guess more like self-doubt)...it's hard to explain. I feel like I've lost the fire, like I've lost my passion for so much...and I can't get out of it. It's like I'm stuck in a deep pit and can't get out.

And, quite honestly, I'm sick of the pat Christian/Biblical answers...the "oh, I'll pray for you" or "trust God" or whatever they happen to be. They don't help; they don't make me feel better, and those answers typically make me feel that the person saying them really doesn't give a rat's.....well, you know. It feels like the ones saying those things just want to sound pious or they only want to hear "I'm fine" when they ask how you are...they don't really want to know, nor do they really care. 

Sure, there are some who do care, some who are well meaning, but it seems from my experience that those people are few and far between. So many are concerned with looking and sounding Christian, that if you tell them you are struggling or doubting or fearing, or whatever, they think you are less of a Christian and act shocked that things aren't all "peachy keen" - especially if things are going well for them.

I'm just so frustrated, and have been for a long time. I feel like I'm floating in water with a heavy weight on top of my head and it's pushing me under. And while I flounder around and silently scream for help...those in the distance who are watching are more concerned with looking and sounding good, they don't want to get their feet wet to help. No, they'll stand on the shore and pray for me or tell me not to worry about drowning because God is with me and He'll help me.

Yeah, I know part of the problem is me...I don't always ask for help. That's because I've been burned and hurt so much in the past that I've pretty much lost trust in most people. I do have one friend I trust, and she knows a lot of what I've been feeling, etc., and I have another relatively new friend I've been able to build trust with, but that's about it (and of course the pat Christian/Bible answer for this is "oh, but you can trust Jesus".... I'm really sick and tired of getting hurt, feeling like people just don't care, and of feeling like I can't let others "in" because they'll probably hurt me in the end anyway.

I'm not losing my faith in God, I'm not doubting anything about Jesus...nothing like that. I'm just venting, I guess. Maybe I'm a little depressed too. Whatever it is, I'm really sick of feeling this way. I want the fire back; I want the passion back; I want to be able to trust...but, I'm struggling with the weight on my head, floundering in the water, and wondering why I just can't walk on the water and not be afraid.

That's it. Venting over. Off to try and be positive and not think these negative thoughts.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Week In Review

It's been another hot week, and I've actually enjoyed it. On Tuesday I went to Halifax and Peggy's Cove again. We'd mainly gone there to Queensland beach (about a half hour outside Halifax) to cool off. Peggy's Cove had a few crashing waves this time (last time the ocean had been rather calm), and was able to get a couple of nice shots of the waves hitting against the rocks. I really enjoy Halifax - it's such a great city.

Yesterday (Friday), I went to another beach. This time it was in New Brunswick. Normally it costs $5 to get in/park, but I think because beach season is pretty much over, they weren't charging. There was a number of people there, but I was quite surprised there weren't more. It wasn't the popular beach in this area though, so I'm sure if we'd gone and paid the $10 to get into that beach, there would have been a huge crowd there.

I was expecting the water at both beaches (the one from yesterday, and the one from Tuesday) to be cold, but they really weren't. Mind you, when you first go in it's a little chilly, but you quickly get used to it. There was also a few waves at both beaches - nothing major - and that was fun to lie on my back and bob up and down in the waves.

Today, we are expecting a visit from Tropical Storm Earl. It's been downgraded sometime over night, but had been a category 1 hurricane while it pounded the New England states. It's still expected to have strong winds and some rain (which could amount to quite a bit), and can still do damage. Hopefully it won't be as bad as they were expecting. I've been awake for nearly two hours now (it's 5:35 am) and I looked out the window to see what it was like outside. There was no wind at all, which seems eerie - probably the calm before the storm. I just looked out now (it's a little lighter out, but still dark), and there is the gentlest of breezes blowing, though it's not consistent. I'll update later on with regard to the storm.

In work related news, I got a call the other night to supply on the second day of school, which is next Wednesday. I was quite surprised to get called in so quickly in the school year. From what I've heard, the first few weeks of school is pretty quiet for supply teachers. However, I do know this teacher as she used to go to my church, and she has been having some medical issues for a little while, so that could be why she's going to be away the second day of school. I'm not expecting too much to be going on that soon, but hopefully it'll go well. I actually had this class once this past spring when I filled in for another girl who used to go to  my church. They were grade three, and now they'll be in grade four. If they haven't changed too much, they will be a great class to teach. There were only about eleven or twelve of them, so if no one new has come to the class, it will still be small - which is good.

Well, I am getting tired again, and the yawning is happening a little more frequently. I am trying to decide if I should stay up for awhile (and get myself used to getting up early for the school year again), or go back to bed. I'm starting to get hungry, so I might just have some breakfast and see how I feel after that. Regardless of my decision, I will end here for now.

My closing question for you is this: What did you do this last week of summer?