Focus in 2014

Focus on JesusJanuary 5, 2014

My “one word” for this year is FOCUS. There are a lot of things I need to focus on but the most important one is my relationship with God. I know that if I focus on Him, everything else will fall into place. No matter what else is going on with work, family, life, church, relationships…. I feel called to focus.

My Bible verse for the year is Philippians 4:8 “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”

Instead of setting resolutions in January, I find this to be a much more positive and successful way for me to stay on track. Last year I read My One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. You can check it out at  My word for 2013 was NEW. Doing this really set the tone for the year and I was able to come back and be reminded of my focus for the year.

It’s going to be a busy year. At this point the only thing I know for sure is we have a wedding coming up this summer. I don’t know what else 2014 will bring but I do have faith that if I focus on Jesus, it will be a good year.

What do you think of the “One Word” concept and what is your word for 2014?

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Big Dream, Wee Step

“For I know the plans I have for you…They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Dear Heavenly Father, I come before You today, thanking and praising You for all You have done for me. I am humbled at Your gift of love, the opportunities You have given me, and the family You have blessed me with! I certainly have done nothing to deserve Your favor but yet I gratefully accept it.

You have placed a desire in my heart to serve You. You have put on my heart, “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” Luke 1: 79. You have met me where I am and opened doors. I thank You, Dear Lord, for the special people you have put in my life, to encourage me, to inspire me, to love me. I am excited about the future, and Your plans for me. Nothing I plan could ever be as good as what You have in store for me. Thank you for being patient with me, for not giving up on me, for answering my prayers, for being SO good to me. I love You and am ready and willing to take the next step! Guide me, help me to focus on Your will, not mine. I trust Your leading.


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Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 NLT

I’ve begun an online Bible study this week using Tracie Miles’ book, “Stressed-Less Living” and one thing I love about it is at the end of each chapter there is a page of Bible verses that pertain to the topic. What a blessing it is to fill my mind with God’s Word.

One of the choices to blog about this week is Blessings. I find if I focus on my blessings, I am a lot happier and less stressed. Sometimes it takes some creative reframing to find a blessing in a difficulty but I think it’s a worthwhile effort!

Here are some blessings I am focusing on today.
1. My husband is back at home early from a trip! He’s the principal at a Christian academy and drove the bus for an “acro” trip this week. They left Saturday and were supposed to return this Friday night. MANY got the flu and everything that comes with it….so they came back early. So far he has NOT gotten sick AND he’s back home! (2 blessings right there!)

2. I get to go to a Beth Moore women’s conference this weekend with a couple of precious friends.

3. Even though it wears me out at times, I am blessed to work with teenagers! I wear quite a few hats at the school but my favorite is counseling. Recently I had the opportunity to counsel a young man and the conversation turned to spiritual things. He stated that reading the Bible was difficult and he just hadn’t been able to get into it. (Not a new problem for many of us!) I suggested he started with the Gospel of John, read a chapter a day and pick out his favorite verse. That suggestion has turned into us BOTH reading a chapter each day (we will begin our 3rd book tomorrow!) and “tweeting” the verses that stand out to us. What a wonderful blessing this experience has turned into!

4. Finding The Proverbs 31 Ministry has been a huge blessing in my life. It has introduced me to many new friends and given me wonderful resources for my walk with Jesus. I am grateful!

5. And, my children are a huge blessing in my life! They are young adults and it has been amazing to see how God is and has been working in each of their lives. Their choices of partners and careers have been blessed. All three of them love Jesus and are dedicated to serving Him. I have realized that I don’t have control over them but God has a plan for each of them. I have learned to step back out of the way, pray, and be amazed at what God does in their lives!

Those are just some of the blessings I am focusing on today. Laura Story’s song “Blessings” has been playing in my head all week. If you get a chance, listen to it. The lyrics are very powerful and remind me to reframe my situations and look for the blessings.

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The Dance of Submission

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to The Lord.” Ephesians 5: 22.

In Karen Ehman’s book, Let It Go, Chapter 4, she talks about five key dance steps in a marriage. To me, the first step is key to a successful marriage. “Realize that the act of submitting is always a choice by an action of the wife.” Submission is a controversial word for some women. We don’t want anyone telling us what to do. It starts when we are very young! It doesn’t seem like it would be easy for someone like me to be SUBMISSIVE! In fact, people who know me would probably laugh at the idea of me being a submissive wife. However, my husband makes it easy!

Karen goes on to say, “The wife is told she should adapt. She can decide whether to obey Scripture or not. Never is the husband told to ‘make her behave.’ He has his own set of instructions, which are to love, to be affectionate and sympathetic, to not be harsh, bitter, or resentful.”

Although I would like to say that I’m a submissive wife because I follow the letter of the law in Scripture and am such a good wifely woman……I wouldn’t be telling the truth. I am a submissive wife because my husband is such a wonderful man. He is not critical. He accepts me and loves me for who I am. He is affectionate and I always feel adored by him. I’m not bragging but I do feel very blessed. He has shown me by his actions what love is. Because of his example, I have come to know and love Jesus even more.

So although I don’t have a submissive personality, throughout the 30 years that we have been married, we have become great dance partners, a strong team. It’s not perfect by any means. We get tired and grumpy and stressed, but through prayer, communication, and respect, we’ll keep dancing!


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A New Perspective

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun”! 2 Corinthians 5: 17

I am really taking this verse to heart in 2013. I have to constantly remind myself that I am not in control. God is. I can listen to the negative chatter inside my head all I want. And really, who wants to listen to that?! Jesus has made me into a “new person.” Praise the Lord!

So, I’m forging forward with His help. I have signed on to be a small group leader in the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study ministry for the year 2013. This community of women has been God-sent to me! They have encouraged me, challenged me to work hard, study hard, and reach out. I have never had so many girl-friends! And I’m learning so much from them.

I feel as if God is preparing me for the next opportunity. He has blessed me big-time with this one! We will be starting up the new study on Karen Ehman’s book, Let.It.Go. this Sunday, February 3. Last night we had a conference call for all the OBS leaders. The leadership at Proverbs 31 is taking this to the next level. What started has a small online study with Melissa Taylor on her blog as grown beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. There are now about 8,000 women signed up the this next study. There are over 50 small groups on Facebook. It has grown so much that by May, the Online Bible Studies will come under the umbrella of Who knew when they started this just a couple of years ago, that it would fill a need for Bible study and community for women all over the world! It’s amazing to be a small part of this revolution. I am blessed!

In 2013, I’m focusing on what new things God has for me. 2Corinthians5-17

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Trust Fund Baby — A Mother’s Answer to Prayer

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3-5
Chapter 8 of Greater is “Trust Fund Baby.” It’s about blessings from God. I believe in God’s plan for my life and that He will give me the desires of my heart if I believe and ask.
I have three young adult children, two boys and my youngest is a girl. My oldest and youngest have similar personalities. My middle child, Kenny, is more complicated. He is very sensitive but tries not to show it. He is stubborn and does not like to take direction from his mother. I’ve had to learn to deal with him differently to be an effective influence in his life. From green beans to friendships, it hasn’t been easy.
I know Kenny has a good heart. He loves God. What he did not like was sitting in church. He would rather have been out in the woods with his backpack and a hammock. He had some good friends and then some friends that were not so good. I trusted him although I didn’t always agree with him. He was just stubborn enough to not partake in using substances but felt he had to be with his friends in case anyone needed help. There were times he could have been in trouble because of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Thankfully this did not happen. I am very blessed to have honest relationships with all of my children, so sooner or later (and usually it’s been sooner) the truth comes out.
Each one of my kids has worked at a Christian summer camp but Kenny is the one that thrived there. It seemed to give him the boost he needed spiritually to make it through the next school year. The first summer he worked there, he became friends with a nice girl, Katie. They were always in groups of people and he had an unfinished high school relationship, so nothing ever grew past friendship that summer. He broke up with the girl from high school when college started that fall but did not pursue Katie as he thought it would be disrespectful. How’s that for an 18-year old boy???
We teased him about Katie for quite a while but the timing was always off. When he decided to pursue her, she had just started dating another young man. It seemed that Kenny always chose to do things the hard way! The timing always seemed off for one reason or another. But I don’t believe she was ever out of his head!
One school year she went to Pohnpei to be a student missionary. Kenny was concerned about her and kept Skype open on his computer in case she was online and was lonely. That’s when I started praying!!! Another one of Kenny’s friends was also a student missionary that year so we decided to send them Christmas boxes. Katie’s diving mask had a crack in it and Kenny asked if I could get her a new one to send in the package.
I had to be careful to not say too much. I started praying specifically for Katie and Kenny (without telling them). She came back from her year away, but still they did not date. They saw each other occasionally but nothing clicked. I then felt like I was trying to control everything too much so I changed my prayer. I prayed that when Kenny was ready to be in a relationship and treat a young lady the way she should be treated, that he would find a girl that had similar characteristics to Katie. Katie is a young lady with beautiful blue eyes, is a hard worker, studious, and most importantly, has a close relationship to God. I knew that all those things were important and the beautiful blue eyes were a bonus!
The rest of the story is, Kenny and Katie worked at summer camp again and started to date. Last summer, exactly one year to the day, after they started dating at camp, they were at camp to visit for the weekend. Our family and Katie’s family were also visiting there for the weekend. Kenny invited Katie to meet him early in the morning to have devotional time together. He apologized for not planning a special date for their first year anniversary. But he had a special treasure hunt planned for her. Each spot held a special memory of their years at camp and held a rhyming clue for the next location. He also prayed with her and for her at each location. The last clue took them out to the lake point. There was a simple shoebox with a note that said, “Say yes.” When she looked up, he was on his knee with a ring, asking her to be his wife.
God answered my prayer for my son in a great and mighty way. When I got out of the way and just prayed, he gave me the desire of my heart for my precious son. Kenny is a changed young man. Katie brings out the loving, sensitive side of him. I have never seen him happier. I am still praying for them daily and am looking forward to welcoming her officially into the family this summer, 6 years after they first met.
This photo was taken right after they became engaged.

kenny and katie

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“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.”
2 Corinthians 13: 5

I’m reading My One Word by Rachel Olsen and Mike Ashcraft. The concept is to pick a word to live by for the year instead of making New Year’s resolutions. I love this concept. I love words. I’m on board!
I need an awesome word. If I’m going to pick one word, it’s got to be the best word, the coolest word. I came across the word “Dokimazo.” Dokimazo means to examine oneself. I’m introspective and could use this word as a theme to stay on track this year. Dokimazo is a very cool word. I bet no one else picks that word! Hmmmm. Is that a good reason to pick a word? That makes me sound very pretentious. Is that what I want to sound like? Is that what I’m going for with my one word? Keep thinking!

I’ve now got a list of 27 words!

But the word God is impressing me with is a simple word. It’s the word “new.” My one word for 2013 is NEW. It’s certainly not pretentious. New is an adjective referring to something recently made, discovered, or created.

How has that come be My One Word? It’s a promise to me. I don’t have to stay the way I am. “With the power of Christ all things can be made new.” was part of Lysa Terkeurst’s status I saw on Facebook. So although “new” is a very simple word, it is packed with power and meaning to me at this time in my life. It speaks of restoration, of a fresh start, and of untracked territory!

I am 51, but with Jesus, my lease on life is NEW.
I have been married for 30 years, but with Jesus, my marriage is NEW.
I have a good education, but with Jesus, my learning is NEW.
My relationships with others is NEW. My attitude is NEW.

I am on a NEW quest in 2013. How will I be open to NEW in 2013? My goal is to look at things in a NEW way, to learn NEW things, to build NEW friendships, to serve in NEW ways, to be mindful of how God is applying NEW to my life and transforming me into His NEW creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:10 NIV)

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19 NLT)

Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. (Ephesians 4:24 NLT)

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. (Ezekiel 36:26 NLT)

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:23 NIV)

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Looking Back but Moving Forward

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8: 28

I love to look back and see from my present vantage point how God has led and answered prayers in my life. It has always strengthened my faith to do so and probably helps me move forward.

Call me crazy, but I’ve always been restless when things are too comfortable and my life was pretty comfortable in the early nineties. We owned a nice home in Massachusetts, had good jobs at a Christian school, and three beautiful young children. But something was missing. I was bored. My relationship with God was stagnant. I felt I was in a spiritual wasteland.

We moved to Virginia where my husband took a job as a principal of a small Christian school. I had no job. I worked temp jobs, did at-home computer data entry, substitute taught at schools, and tutored children at a battered women’s shelter. It was difficult but I had to rely on God! I learned a lot.

The next move was to a boarding school in New Jersey. This time we both had jobs but comfortable definitely would NOT be one of the words I would use to describe those two years of my life. It was the most difficult time of my life, yet I learned to rely on God even more. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything but it wore me out!

Now we live in North Carolina on another boarding school campus. This is the most beautiful place I have ever lived. I feel it is a gift from God. This is our 13th school year here. I wouldn’t say I’m restless because it’s not easy. We have had our share of difficult times but I see God’s leading in so many areas. I have always wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives. He has given me that opportunity to be part of a team who works toward impacting young lives for Jesus.

I am grateful for the opportunities God has given me and my family. We have been open to His calling, have asked for opportunities and I know He has led. Every time I have asked God to lead, He has!

Two years ago, I asked Him to help me work on my relationships with women. I’ve been working with teen girls but felt a loneliness and disconnect with women my own age. He has blessed me more than I could ever have imagined through these online studies and having Bible studies in my home. I have some other ideas about some even “greater” things but we’ll see how and where God leads. One way or another, I’m all about moving forward on this adventure!

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Let God’s voice be the loudest!

Joshua 1: 9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
What would a “greater” life for God look like to me? I’m reading Steven Furtick’s book, Greater and being challenged to step outside my comfort zone, to expand my horizons! To say that makes me nervous and anxious is an understatement. I’ve often described myself as a “repressed free spirit.” That is how I have labeled myself. I have never felt I belonged. Too conservative for one group. Too liberal in another! I’m always feeling apologetic to someone! That’s extremely tiring.
Two years ago, I prayed that God would help me build better friendships with women. He has blessed that prayer more than I could have ever imagined. I’m able to have a Bible study in my home and I’ve been leading in one of the online groups. I have made many wonderful and amazing friends. What a blessing this has been. I am so grateful for how God has been giving me opportunities to grow in my relationship to Him and to others. I know that He has more in store for me and I’m trying to be faithful in small everyday things and in the knowledge that I can do “greater” things with Jesus’ help.
I’m challenging myself, listening to God’s voice the loudest and moving forward with prayer and humility. I’m choosing to listen to His voice and not let what others say get in the way. This means total surrender to God’s calling. It means believing and obeying. I can see God’s leading in my life. I’m praying for Confidence, Clarity, and Courage to keep moving forward and not surrender to my own discouragement and critical spirit.

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Tired before the week even starts!

Lamentations 3: 22-23 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I am not consumed! I’ve got this! With the Lord’s strength! I’m trying to keep positive and keep my head above water. I always seem to take on a lot. I don’t have any children at home now, so why should I be so busy? AND I listen to all of the negative inside chatter going on in my head like “Who do you think you are? You’re a terrible wife! You think you can cook Thanksgiving dinner for guests? Kids are tired of listening to you! You’re old and fat and ugly!” Okay, I’ll stop there because I’m actually depressing myself!

I’m starting a new online Bible study soon using the book “Greater” by Pastor Steven Furtick. Truthfully, I’m scared and anxious. I’m too old…. Why didn’t I do this before? What is God preparing me for?

I think I’m a hard worker. But I do feel guilty if I read a lot. It’s my favorite thing to do. But then I don’t get the house cleaned. I don’t cook. I don’t get to the yard work. I don’t plan enough. I miss out on exercising. I don’t stay organized enough.

Am I making poor choices of how to use my time? But shouldn’t I get some time to myself? This is what I do. I teach 2 sections of English II. I run the library. I am the school counselor. I spend a lot of time dealing with counseling situations. I don’t get other work done because I’m listening to students and helping them. I feel so behind. On Tuesday nights, before staff meeting or teacher meeting, I go to the girls’ dorm and meet with the ten student leaders to discuss worship plans for the next night. On Wednesday, I am on supervision duty which means I am in the cafeteria and at recreation until 8:00 p.m. I then to to the girls’ dorm and help with the worship. On Thursday evenings, I’ve been having a women’s bible study in my home. We’re on a break right now until after the holidays.

I’m also involved in online bible studies as I mentioned before. I lead a small group on Facebook, am part of the leaders’ group and conference calls that are part of the study. I just planned and participated in a weekend event at school for the students. I had seven guests stay at my house this weekend. Two weekends ago, I had four human guests and two canine guests at my house for the weekend.

Now it’s the weekend of Thanksgiving. I’m tired. I’m venting. I’m sorry. I will have a better perspective tomorrow. Maybe I need to reevaluate. Maybe I need to make an appointment to see a counselor…..

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