Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Month In

Sorry for the delay in posting.  I've been trying to create a post on here for a few days now, but for some reason I couldn't type in the post area of Blogger. I could type in the title area, but not elsewhere.  I don't know if it has anything to do with my outdated Internet Explorer (some sites have been telling me I need to update or I can't see or access certain things or sites).  Anyway, I came to Google Chrome and didn't have any issues with creating a post.

Well, I've been back at work (teaching) for nearly a month now and I've been exhausted and somewhat stressed most evenings/days.  I haven't found a balance yet, and my class is requiring much more work than last year's class.  It's taking awhile to get them used to the class rules and procedures, and this is causing me stress - probably more than I should let it.

Most evenings I get home and feel too tired to do anything - make something for supper, mark work, do lesson plans, housework, etc.  So far, weekends haven't been as relaxing as I'd like either.  I really lack energy and motivation to do anything.  I typically get some work done, but not nearly as much as I'd like.  I've been trying to eat better, but with the way I've been feeling since work started up, that hasn't been too good. I've also been walking to and from (most days) work, so I am getting some exercise.

I just don't want to burn out.  We do have a little "break" at Thanksgiving, but we are going to a conference in the Vancouver area (leaving here on Wednesday, and arriving back on Saturday), followed by the Monday off for Thanksgiving. But, I know that time won't be all that relaxing and restful.  Hopefully it will help, because the next real break will only come at Christmas time.

I know I can get through this. I've been praying more and also doing prayer and devotions in class (aside from our weekly Bible class) each morning.  Maybe I'm being attacked by the enemy for this, I don't know. I pray that I will be able to focus, have energy, get my work done well, and be able to relax in the evenings. So far, I've been struggling, but maybe I'm putting too much focus on the stress and not actually trying to relax.

The balance will come. I just hope it's sooner rather than later.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Little Summer Update

It's been almost three weeks since I've been back home.  And I must say, it's been nice.

My flights were great, no issues, though on the one from Calgary to Ottawa I was nearly sick. I've never been sick on a flight before and I didn't want this to be the first time. This all happened BEFORE the flight even left! 

Not long before the plane was starting to back away from the terminal, I had a sudden feeling that I might get sick. I quickly grabbed a piece of gum from my purse, hoping I just needed a little bit of sugar. It helped a bit. But the feeling came again. This time I grabbed the safety card from the seat back in front of me and began to fan my face.  It was helping. I also turned the fan above me on full force and tilted my face back and also had it blowing on the back of my neck to cool me off.

It was wicked hot in the plan!

Once we got in the air and the flight attendants were going around with the free drinks, I asked if they had a little package of crackers or something like that. I figured it might help settle my stomach.  I got some ice water, but was informed that I'd have to buy a snack if I was hungry. I told her I wasn't, that I felt like I was going to pass out or be sick from the heat. She agreed that it was hot and they would turn it down, but they wouldn't give me any crackers. Seriously?!

After about half an hour, I felt much better because they turned the heat down.

For the first almost two weeks I got home, my mom was unwell. She had laryngitis the night I arrived, and for the next three days.  She also had some kind of stomach bug, and her blood sugar was out of whack (she's diabetic).  Thankfully, now, she's fine - other than being a little weak.

I'm currently in Halifax, and have been here less than 24 hours.  I had hoped to rent a car this weekend and get out to places like Peggy's Cove, but there is something going on in the city this week and all the rental cars are pretty much booked up - though we did find one available. Unfortunately, it would cost over $200 (not including gas) once tax and insurances, etc. were added on for the weekend!  Talk about highway robbery!  I should have followed a friend's advice and rented one back home and drove here. It would have only cost around $70 (not including gas) plus the insurances, etc.  Oh well. We'll just have to get around using the city bus and not go to Peggy's Cove or other places outside of the city.

All in all, I have been getting a lot of relaxing in, done a lot of reading, and made myself some scrambled eggs for the first time this past week! Yep, believe it or not, I have never made scrambled eggs in my life before.  To be fair though, I only started eating them within the last couple of years.

Well, going to head off now. Not sure what's on tap for today as they are calling for rain and thunder/lightning, so just might keep close to home base today.  Might go swimming at the pool (so I can use my new bathing suit!) since driving to the beach is out of the question...

Hope you are enjoying your summer so far!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

The Spirit Himself Intercedes For Us

A simple page from my Bible "art" journal .
The colours and painting aren't showing up too
well here.
 Isn't it wonderful to know that when we don't know how to pray that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us?  I don't know how many times, when praying, that I've just not known what to pray for someone or about something.

I feel that I usually seem to pray the same things for everyone going through the same or similar situations. For example, if someone dies, I usually pray for peace and comfort for the family. Yes, I do mean it for everyone, but I just don't feel as though I'm praying the way I should - or could.

I have also prayed and asked for the Holy Spirit to pray on my behalf about something because I didn't know what to pray - especially if it's for one of those vague request which people say, "God knows what it's about." 

Don't get me wrong, I am totally fine with them saying that. I don't need to know the details or what's going on in someone's life. If they want me to know, they'll tell me. And I'm OK with that.

But, I'm looking for better ways to pray. I'm looking for different things I can say in my prayers, rather than seemingly the same things over and over again. I know it's not what we say that counts. God isn't looking for big, flowery words, and I know He knows what is in my heart when I'm praying.  I used to be good at prayer (at least I thought so, and not in a vain way, and have had people tell me that in the past), but somewhere along the line, something changed and I just don't seem to be able to pray all that well.

Thankfully, until I can improve the way or style of my praying, I'm glad the Holy Spirit will intercede for me.  It doesn't mean that when I finally "get it", or improve, that He won't do this any  more. He still will do this.

I guess I should stop focusing on the past and they way I used to pray, and focus on NOW and just keep praying and grow from there.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Persistence Or Not Trusting?

I've been struggling with, and thinking about, something lately.

You see, I'm praying about something in particular. It doesn't matter what it is for this purpose, I'm using it as my example.

I am trying to leave a situation in God's hands (even though I will still pray about it), I mean, He is the one in control, but that's not always an easy thing to do.  My dilemma in the matter is this:  every time I pray for and about this particular situation, am I not trusting God?  Am I trying to take things into my own hands, so to speak, and continuing to pray because I really want this to be answered in a specific way, or am I just being persistent?

Jesus tells a parable in Luke 18: about a persistent widow. He wanted to show his disciples that they should always pray and not give up.

What is perplexing me, is whether or not I am actually praying about the situation and not giving up (which I am doing, I guess), being persistent, or am I just praying about it so much because I lack trust in God, in His answering my prayer?

How can you tell the difference between the two?  When are you being persistent in prayer and when are you just praying because you might not truly believe or trust that God will bring things about in answer to your prayer?

If you have any thoughts, ideas, or answers, feel free to leave them in the comment section. I'd really like to hear what you think, and hopefully someone can answer my question :).

Saturday, June 29, 2013

It's The End of June Already!

Where has the time gone?  It's the end of June already!

I know I've been away from this for several months. I had really, honestly hoped I would get back into the swing of keeping a blog. Obviously that didn't work out. Mostly it was from not feeling motivated, and lack of energy to just do it (stemming from work).

And now that summer is upon us, I am heading back home again. I don't know how much access I'll have to the Internet, so I don't think my postings throughout the summer will be happening - unless I can convince my mom (with whom I'll be staying this summer) to get Internet just for while I'm there, and of course I'd pay for it since she doesn't use it.

I've kept up with my journals quite a bit (the ones I mention in the previous post). I have two - a general quote type and a Bible verse type. In the general one I mostly write quotes that I like and doodle or draw a simple picture. It's really very basic.  In the Bible verse one, I record verses from when I read my Bible or see one posted online, or hear one in church. I also tend to mostly have doodles and simple drawings in this, but I have "expanded" a little bit. Since my journal has ordinary paper, I bought some gesso to apply to it so that I could use watercolours on it. I've tried it twice now, and while my drawings and paintings are very basic and amateurish, I liked the results. 

I've been pinning a lot of journal ideas to my Pinterest board of the same name. I don't necessarily plan on doing all of them, but there are things about the ones I've pinned that I like: it might be a colour scheme, a quote, a doodle, or design.  I've even pinned a few videos that show how to create some specific journal pages. The ones I've watched were pretty cool, and over the summer I'd like to incorporate those ideas into my own journals.  This, I know, will require practice - and lots of it!  I don't mind though; I'm finding it quite relaxing.  I want to also continue practicing drawing (yesterday I practiced drawing a butterfly landing on a flower and it actually looks cute...not perfect by any means, but cute none the less).

This morning, as I was reading my Bible (in Hebrews 13), I used two verses from there for my Bible verse journal.  The first one is: Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it (verse 2).  The second is: The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me? (verse 6).  I've illustrated the first verse, a very simple sky and what are supposed to be clouds, though they don't really look like clouds. I need some definition or something in them.  I have yet to draw something for the second verse. I'll probably look through Pinterest to get some ideas.

Well, if I don't get the chance to post over the next few months, I wish one and all a safe and happy summer!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Practice Makes Perfect

This was day two of being back to work since having two weeks off for Spring Break.

I must say that although I didn't do much, I was able to relax, catch up on rest, catch up on reading (I read about five and a half or six books during that time), and I even managed to do a little bit of cooking.

But, as I said, I am back to work now. And these past two days have found me exhausted by the end of the day!  I didn't expect to be quite so tired so soon, but then I realized that I am getting used to being on my schedule again.

Recently, towards the end of Spring Break, I discovered journals. I was on Pinterest looking for ideas to use in class, and somehow I came across some art and Scripture journals - or at least pages that people have created for their journals. I really loved the way they looked and how they were set up.  I'm not an artist, but I do like to play around with paint and draw from time to time (though it hasn't been much lately, but I did take painting lessons for a year about ten years ago, and I also took a drawing class in university about six years ago).  Seeing all those creative pages inspired me, and I want to try some myself. I don't have much in the way of supplies, but I will make do and see how this goes.  This might be a good way for me to practice painting and drawing - and being creative. I've got a few simple pages done, but didn't have any pencil crayons or anything at home to colour them with (I'll need to work on that). Also, the paints I have are water colour and the journals I'm using aren't set up for that so I think I will cut up some of the water colour paper I have (into smaller pieces) and use that and either make my own journal or just lay them separately in a box/container loosely.

We'll see how it goes. If any of them turn out decently, I may share them here or on my knitting/craft blog (which I haven't updated in eons because I haven't been doing any knitting).

One reason I decided to attempt these types of journals was because I'm always saying that I wish I could draw and paint. Well, the thought occurred to me...if I don't practice these things, and try, then of course I won't be able to do it. I can't expect to just pick up a pencil or paint brush and be able to create beautiful images! It takes work - practice - and only then will I be able to do these things and develop my own style. I have to put in the work if I want the results. I need to be disciplined in this.

That goes for anything - learning something new, losing weight, perfecting a skill. Practice makes perfect as they say.

And, some day I hope to glorify the Lord with my creativity. It might not be now or any time soon, but if I keep at it, that day will come!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

God Is In Control

Today, I feel odd.

My mind is racing, somewhat. My thoughts are jumbled, and I can't quite place that odd feeling I am experiencing.

Yesterday, I fasted. I don't know if I did it "right" or if I even really completed it fully. My fast lasted about 13 hours and I think going into it I knew what my decision would be - somewhat. My decision will be affected by the summer, and hopefully I will know more by then.

But, I feel as though I'm taking the "safe" way out rather than truly relying on God. And, maybe this is the outcome God wants for me. Maybe I need to fast again and be a little more prayerful during that time. And, maybe I am being attacked by the enemy to doubt my decision and question whether I truly am following God's lead.

My racing mind and jumbled thoughts aren't based on yesterday. I'm fairly certain of that.

I have been reading Kisses From Katie on my Kindle these last few days. What an amazing woman! She totally relies on the Lord to get her through the days, weeks, months - to help her do what He has called her to do.  She obeyed the Lord's calling, following His lead to Uganda, where He has blessed her and the people in the village to whom she ministers.

I compare myself, my life, to Katie's. I know we should not do that, but I can't help it. I think this is where the jumbled thoughts and racing mind are coming from.

While I don't feel called to be a missionary, I do know that I need to follow Jesus more - rely on Him to help me, get me through good times and bad, and just trust Him. I must admit that I lack in this area. It's certainly something I need to work on - or rather, let Him work on in me.

I think reading this book coupled with what I've been praying and fasting about has caused me to examine my own life, my own thoughts and desires. What is it that God has planned for my life? What is my calling? Am I doing what He has called me to do (I do believe that I am, I just might not be pulling it off as well as I could be, or should be)?  What about the desires I've had forever - the ones that are closest to my heart? How do I know if those will come to be (or not)? How do I go about fulfilling those desires? Do those desires and my calling conflict, and if so, what is the right choice to make?

I certainly don't want to make one choice and be left wondering for the rest of my life if it was the right one to make. I think I could have both, but with that there would be give and take involved - and not just on my part. And that offers more confusion to my thought process.

I know that God is in control. He already has my life mapped out - what I will do, where I will go, etc. I just need to learn to trust Him more, and rely on Him.

I doubt myself. I doubt that I hear what the Lord is saying to me - or if He is/has answered my prayer and I'm left wondering if this is all from Him, or from my own decisions. How can I continue to serve Him to the best of my abilities and trust that His ways are the best - even if I don't get the answer I want to my desires.

That takes faith. That takes trust. And, that is certainly something He will have to give me, because on my own merits, I will fail at this.

Lord, You are in control. Help me to have faith and to trust that I am following your lead and not my own.

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Head Tells Me One Thing...

Hello, again.

I have had many things on my mind since my last post, and have been busy with work and tired when I get home.  I had also started a writing course, but sadly, that fell behind and I didn't get it completed.  I should have known better than to do it while I was working - but I thought I could handle it.

In February, I fasted for 24 hours while seeking an answer to something I had been praying about. I don't know if I had done it properly, or if I had really got an answer. While reading my Bible, the passage that had jumped out to me was in Matthew where it talks about asking and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. 

My response was a little shocking to me - something I hadn't expected. When I talked it over with my BFF afterward, she said that maybe I hadn't dealt with the past regarding this. The verse was one that I used many years ago when "praying" (though I wouldn't say I was a Christian at the time). I told God then that I had been asking but I wasn't receiving. That was when I turned my back on Him; put Him on the shelf.

Fast forward to last month. I was not going to let the enemy use that verse again in an attempt to get me angry at God, or turn my back on Him again. No way.  Both prayer and response (both times) was regarding pretty much the same thing/situation. I didn't want to have the same results this time.

So, a couple of days later I fasted again. This time for two days. I let people know so they could pray for me during this time (especially when I came off the fast because that was when I felt attacked by the enemy when I came off the fast from a few days prior).  I feel that God answered my prayer regarding one situation that time - gave me confirmation - but I don't know about the rest of the prayer.  I still pray about this, but don't know if it is something He is "working out" that will happen in time, or if it is a "no" response.  At any rate, I don't feel that I have a definite answer one way or the other regarding this situation yet.

So, now I am on Spring Break (we have two weeks off, and return back to school on April 2nd), and I have decided that I am going to fast again, though I don't know for how long yet.  I am faced with a choice to make, and while my head tells me one thing, my heart tells me another. I just really don't know what to do.  I am trying to trust the Lord for His direction and guidance.  When I fast this time (I think it might be tomorrow that I attempt this one), I am hoping to spend more time in prayer, reading the Bible, and focusing on God's will and desire for me in this.

It's so hard to know what to do. I want the best of both worlds - I want both situations, but I don't know if that is possible. I know, with God all things are possible, and He can work them both out...but I feel as though I have to choose between one or the other at this point.

But, like I said, I am trying to seek God's desire, His will, for me in this situation. I do have fear in either choice (fear of what if I chose the wrong thing, or should I have chosen the other), but I know that I need to trust the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6) and be obedient to what He wants me to do.

On that note, I would appreciate any prayers over the next little while (especially for tomorrow, Mar. 19) for clarity, direction, and wisdom in what I should do.

Have a Christ-filled day!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Slip Away And Pray

In Luke 5, verse 16 talks about how Jesus would often slip away to pray.

It's important to get away from all things that distract us from God - the "hustle and bustle" of life.  In the quiet, it's easier to focus on God and pray.  Sure, our minds can wander during prayer (and I know mine often does), but it's important to refocus, ask for forgiveness for our minds wandering, and resume talking to God.

In the quiet, it's easier to hear from God as well.  If the TV, radio, and computer is off, if people aren't around us talking and making noise, we should be able to focus on God better and hear Him if and when He speaks to us.

Sometimes I find it difficult to pray in the quietness.  I think that is because I am afraid of being alone with God. I think I fear because I'm afraid He might ask me to do something I don't want to do, or He might say, "No" to a specific prayer request. I'm also afraid that it will be at that time when I let my anger, etc., towards God (which makes me feel guilty even admitting that I sometimes get angry at Him) show.  I know it's OK to be angry (God gave us emotions), but when that happens, I need to remember to repent of it and ask forgiveness afterward.

Other than what I've mentioned, I don't know any specific reason that would cause me to "fear" being alone with God.  I know He loves me and he knows what's best for me - yet I still "fear" it.  I have to wonder if it's because during that time God may reveal something about myself that I don't like, or want to hear.  In other words, He will examine my heart and see just how much of a sinner I am (and make me face it), and then I would need to repent (sometimes it seems easier to ignore a sin than to admit it and repent). Or maybe He would tell me that my deepest desire/dream will never become a reality. and I don't know if I could handle that.

It might be that during this quiet time, that God humbles me and brings me to my knees. I like to think that I am humble, but in reality, I am more proud than I would like to admit. And it's that pride that needs to be removed...which, even though I know is a good thing, scares me.

Friday, January 04, 2013

It Is Written

In Luke 4, what spoke to me this morning was when Jesus was in the wilderness and being tempted by the devil. People will say that this is how we know that Jesus can be, and is, sympathetic (and empathetic) to us, and that He completely understands what it is like when the devil tempts us.  I should note here that God does not tempt us to sin - the devil does that. God provides ways for us out of the temptation.

But, while what I just said is true, the part that speaks to me is that Jesus always had an answer when Satan tempted Him.  He was able to "back things up" by saying something that was written in Scripture, and He would begin His reply with, "It is written...".  That is why I need to immerse myself in the Word, learn it, and memorize it.  Elsewhere in the Bible it says we must be prepared to give a reason for our hope..."always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you..." (1 Peter 3:15).  If we don't know the Bible, we won't be able to back up our answers and give reasons "why".

I know that not everyone I come into contact with will accept an answer that is backed up with "it says in the Bible...". Those are the people who would most likely say that the Bible is full of fairy tales, or that it was only written by a bunch of men years ago.  I think, for those people, it would take more than that to turn them towards God. That would be whee "practice what you preach" and prayer would come into play.

But, regardless, it is important to get into the Word and not just read it, but memorize it, know it, and live it.  If Jesus knew the Word and used it in battle (and obviously lived it), then it must be important for me as well!

I am not quite awake this morning, so I apologize if this sounds incoherent. Have a Christ-filled day!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

It's A Brand New Year

It's a brand new year, and I want to get back in the habit of reading my Bible daily, and spending more time with the Lord than I have been. So, yesterday I started reading in Luke 1.

The part that stuck out to me was verse 6, which says, "They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord."  The 'they' who are being referred to are Elizabeth and Zacharias, the parents of John the Baptist.  They were old and Elizabeth was barren. Yet, Gabriel appeared to them and brought the news that Elizabeth would have a baby in her old age.

As I read verse six over and over a few more times, it made me wonder if that might be a reason as to why I am not married and have kids - because I'm not righteous in the sight of God and I don't walk blamelessly in all His commandments and requirements.  Do I need to improve my 'walk' and spend more time in the Word and live a more Christ-like life before any of this will happen for me?

I just wish it would happen soon (the marriage and kids). I'm not getting any younger - especially with my birthday looming around the corner in less than three weeks!

Today, in chapter 2, the part that spoke out to me was part of verse 7, "...because there was no room for them in the inn."  This is, of course, referring to the birth of Jesus and the fact that He was found lying in a manger (which is a feeding trough).  Even as He was being born, people didn't have room for Him. It makes me stop and wonder if I have room for Jesus in my life?!

Lately, (or for awhile), it seems like the honest answer would have to be no.  I would like to say how devout I am, how Jesus always comes first and has room in my heart, in my life, but I need to be honest about it.  Most days I am consumed with thoughts of work, work itself, what I want to do or need to do, things I'd like to have, places I'd like to go, and even just relaxing.  I watch TV, I'm on the computer a lot, get together with friends - but for awhile now, I haven't been making time for the Lord in my life.  Yes, He should get first dibs on my time, my day, but often that doesn't happen.  Oh, I'll try to squeeze in a few little prayers during the day, or before I go to bed, and try to claim that as my "time" spent in God's presence. Or, I will simply read a chapter in the Bible and not meditate or pray on it.  But let's face it...that isn't quite time that is spent with Him.

I need to be spending quality time in the Word and in prayer if I want to be able to hear Him or have Him speak to me.  And how can that happen if I don't take the time to be with Him?

A good part of any relationship or in communication involves listening.  If I want to hear from the Lord, then I need to stop all the talking I do to Him, all the business and laziness in my life, and just sit and listen (or prayerfully listen)...or even throughout the day be more conscious of His presence and the fact that He might be speaking through someone else to me.

It all takes effort (and something like 30 days for it to become a habit), and practice to make it a daily part of my life.  And, that is something I need to work on!