Sunday Mornings When Everyone Cries

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As a child, I don’t remember church being an emotional place unless you were there for a wedding or funeral.  In fact I remember thinking it was about the most boring place my parents could make me go.  I distinctly recall wondering why anyone would skip Sunday School and just come for the 11:00am service.

This is not a reflection of my ministers.  I loved a couple my childhood ministers.  My family became great friends with them.  I just don’t ever recall enjoying a sermon or seeing someone showing an emotional reaction to the Holy Spirit.

As an adult, I have seen it on more than a few occasions.  This past Sunday, I had the privilege of witnessing God’s mighty hand moving through my congregation.

My friend, Keith, author of the devotions I am compiling into the book With Unveiled Face, presented the book to the church.  We needed about $1700.00 to proceed with publication.  Our leadership team had agreed to fund the project, but wanted the church to step up and donate if possible.  Keith and a member of the leadership team clearly explained that all money from the book would go directly to our building fund, so we can build our church. (We still meet in a high school.)

The leadership team opened the floor for discussion.  I panicked.  I was afraid someone would want to pull our funding.  I jumped for the microphone, having no idea what I would say.  Actually, I don’t remember what I said!

Another man, an amazing man in our church, asked for the mic.  He was in tears.  He explained that he arrived at church knowing about our project.  He did not feel like he needed to donate money because he thought the book would pay for itself.  Until we spoke!  He then felt like God was calling him out to prove “where your treasure lies, there your heart lies also” (Matthew 6:21).

He said his family would donate $100.00.  Within seconds the church exploded with people on their feet, yelling that they would also be giving.  This man called on 17 families to give.  The leadership team asked for a show of hands of those willing to give.  We stopped counting at 20.  As I looked around, most were in tears.  People around me were in awe of the work of the Holy Spirit and the willingness of our congregation to serve.

Afterwards, I heard stories of families who were down to their last $100 for the month.  They used it to fund this book.  They stepped out in faith.  They were willing to place their treasure in the future of their church.  I was humbled by their generosity and their faith in God and us.

I know God used this book to move in the hearts of His people.  The Holy Spirit washed through my congregation.

What is the Holy Spirit calling you to do today?  Do you need to place your treasure in God?  Do you need to step out in faith?

Blessings!

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Help Meet? What is a Help Meet?

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Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.” Proverbs 31:28-29

Sunday mornings can get rough around here!  We begin our day in a lazy sort of way.  I sit around in my pjs drinking coffee.  The kids stay in their pjs until breakfast is finished.  My husband stays in bed as long as he possibly can.  (Occasionally the kids drag him out by jumping on top of him until he cannot possibly go back to sleep!)

Around 8:30 everyone goes into panic mode.  We realize that if we are going to be at church by 10:00am, we better get moving!

Yesterday morning was no exception.  I hurriedly got both kids ready.  Superhero Son didn’t like ANY of his clothes.  Darling  Daughter needed a nap and cried while we all rushed around her.  Finally, only five minutes late,  I was ready to leave.  As I picked up Darling Daughter to carry her through the pouring rain to the car, my husband asked me for a screwdriver.  I looked at him like he was a big doofus and asked, “Why do you need a screwdriver?  Get in the car so we can leave!”  

His reply went something like this, “I have to drive separately.  I have to go to work after church.  I need to put new license plates on the new car before I leave.  The thirty day tags ran out!”  

I took a deep breath….and went off on him.  I am sure everything I said sounded perfectly acceptable to me at the time, but was probably mean.  While I was ranting about never getting enough help with the kids, always being late, feeling unappreciated, overworked, and overwhelmed, I got the screwdriver out of the drawer.  I picked up Darling Daughter, again, and ran both kids through the rain to the car.  

While driving to church, still fuming, I prayed that God would allow me to calm down before I got to church.  I suddenly remembered something my pastor said about every man needing a help meet in his wife.  He explained a help meet  as a wife who served her husband.

I don’t appreciate that expectation in my life AT ALL! I have never thought of myself as submitting to my husband in any way.  I was not raised to be that kind of woman.  I am independant, strong, and bossy!  My husband would agree with everything, especially the bossy part.  

But in the moment of driving through the torrential rain, listening to a screaming baby, wondering if my husband got the license plate on without getting soaked in his work/church clothes, it occurred to me that maybe God is calling me to be my husband’s help meet afterall.  Maybe God knows that my husband needs an assistant.  My husband needs someone to do his laundry, cook his dinner, and take care of his kids because he works crazy long hours.  He needs someone to boost his confidence when facing poopy diapers, scraped knees, and potty training.  Yesterday morning, he needed someone to tell him where the phillips head screwdriver was because I was the last to use it.

I don’t have to become a slave to my husband, submit to his every demand, or let him treat me poorly.  However, I am called to be his help meet.  Genesis 2:18 says, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (KJV).  I imagine the Proverbs 31 woman was a great help meet for her man!

Blessings!

 

Around the Colvin Cottage: Boxes and Paint

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My least favorite thing about going on vacation is packing and unpacking.  Oh my! That doesn’t hold a candle to trying to pack up my house to move!

The last time I moved, it was just my husband and me.  We were expecting Superhero Son.  We have now doubled our family and tripled our belongings!

All of Superhero Son's toys!

All of Superhero Son’s toys!

We are trying to put our house on the market so we can buy the new house we found. With the help of friends and family, all inside painting is complete, the porch and deck are ready to stain, and the packing has begun!

Lots of painting!

Lots of painting!

Let the packing begin!

Let the packing begin!

I even started moving the boxes into a storage unit last night.

As you can tell, the move is already consuming my time.  In addition, I am still working on the book, With Unveiled Face: A Daily Encounter with God.

I also wrapped up my drama club with all of our performances of Peter Pan!  The kids were awesome!

At some point this week, I have to find time to get some papers graded and do report cards!  This is my least favorite thing about being a teacher.

That’s our week in a nutshell!  What’s going on in your worlds?

Blessings!

 

Airing Our Dirty Laundry

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Nope!  This isn’t about laundry.  This is about sharing our problems with the world!  

We all have issues.  We all have our vices.  We all handle these problems in different ways.  

She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26 NASB

I bet the Proverbs 31 woman had plenty of secrets.  I bet she had vices that she kept hidden from others. She may have even spanked her kids, eaten fattening foods, argued with her husband, felt overwhelmed, sad, depressed, and angry.  How did she handle it? Probably not in public!

Life at work has been tense lately.  Several co-workers have been REALLY cranky.  Some handle the stress gracefully; some bite your head off when you say, “Good morning!”  

We all have bad days.  How do we handle them?  

I believe the Proverbs 31 woman probably hid much of her emotion from others.  She may have had a couple close girlfriends that she vented to at the well.  However, in public, her words were always wise and kind.

Yesterday was rough for me.  After work I drove to Starbucks for a cheesecake brownie and an iced coffee.  Of course I did this before my children were in the car.  It remained a secret.  I don’t do it often, but I allowed myself a treat yesterday.  By the time I saw my kids, I was cheerful and kind.  We would go broke if I did this often.  I also would need way more time at the gym!  This is not necessarily a healthy way to deal with emotions, but it is better than going OFF on my family.

Many of us deal with bad tempers. We know we have to control them.  I blame my father for my temper.  Unfortunately, I passed it along to Superhero Son, too.  It always gets worse when I feel stressed out.  It is really easy to explode in the presence of others when we let that temper go unchecked.

Life is too short to go through it being grouchy!  Instead of ranting on Facebook, yelling at strangers, or sharing a grouchy demeanor with your family, find a way to deal with those emotions.  Strive for your words to always be wise and kind.

Blessings!

Adventures At a Fabric Store

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She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen. Proverbs 31:24

Tonight is the performance of the play I direct at school.  My drama club began putting together our rendition of Peter Pan back in October.  Things were smooth until my co-director had her baby five weeks early.  I can’t complain too much because two other teachers stepped up to help.  My amazing teammates always are willing to help me!  However, as we approached performance time, the to-do list seemed to grow and grow.  Finally, last night, I still needed fabric.

Since our mermaids needed fabric to “swim” through, I went to a local fabric shop to buy something that looked “watery.”  The lady was awesome!  She found the blue fabric, measured, cut, ran my credit card, and I was out the door before I even understood what had happened.  I was completely overwhelmed by that store.  It was by the grace of God that she came to my rescue.

That experience got me thinking about the Proverbs 31 woman and her expertise of fabric.  I don’t think we all need to understand fabric to rise to her level.  We are simply called to understand our own trade.  For me, I work hard to stay current on educational practices.  I also work on pushing forward my writing career. (Small as that may be at this time!).

What is your trade?  How are you working to promote your career, your area of expertise?  I think the point here is to take your God-given talent and use it!

Blessings!

Teaching Kindness

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She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

I started teaching fifth grade about ten years ago.  SOLs, Virginia’s testing standards, were well in place at that time.  We understood that they would be around for a while.  Any good teacher learned them, gathered materials, and taught his or her heart out.

The differences back then, I suppose, were in our budgets.  We had numerous field trips, new textbooks every few years, new educational materials.  Each year computers were added and SMARTboards placed in every room.  Technology upgrades were the norm.

Today is a different story. Our schools do not have money to repair technology that breaks.  Our students don’t have money for school supplies.  I spend about thirty dollars a week buying snacks for my students who try to go five or six hours without eating everyday.  Our lunch is late; their breakfast is early.  Their parents cannot afford the snacks.

In addition to the money problems, the SOLs have increased in their difficulty. The state calls it an increase in “rigor!”  My kids call it torture.  We have so much to cover in a year that fun activities, such as field trips, explorations, and athletic events, are all pushed to the side.

In the midst of this educational turmoil, we teachers are called to teach kindness.  For some of my students, my model of kindness may be the only one they see that day.  Their lives at school may be busy, but their home lives are often violent and scary.

When I decided to become a teacher, I underestimated the amount of time I would spend each day teaching social skills.  I often work with small groups to work through their problems.  For most students who struggle with their behavior, I have to teach them how to approach others with kindness.

The Proverbs 31 woman taught kindness.  I bet she taught her own children how to be kind.  She probably led by example, not just with her rules.  Many teachers, myself included, would benefit from remembering the importance of kindness.

Strength and Dignity…Lord, Help Me With This One!

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Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future. Proverbs 31:25 NASB

Strength has several meanings for me.  First, I obviously admire the physical strength of women who have much more time to workout than I do.  I wish I could hit the gym every single day.  I would love to be able to run and strength train more regularly.  Unfortunately I only get to run 3-4 days a week.

Mental strength, however, is even more difficult.  I believe that God is constantly working on me.  I feel that each trial He presents in my life is an opportunity to shape me into the person He wants me to be.  That doesn’t make life easy!

My mental strength wavered tonight.  As I mentioned yesterday, our house is going on the market. In TWO WEEKS!  I spent all of yesterday evening painting the upstairs bathroom, thanks to a girlfriend who helped paint and watch kids.  After she left, I touched up paint on the kitchen cabinets that I refinished two years ago.  They are a lovely white!  Well… They were!

Whoever thought getting a house ready for market with a nearly one-year old and a preschooler was crazy!  I will blame my husband!  Darling daughter dumped an entire tray of paint on the bathroom floor yesterday.  (Again, thank goodness for my friend who was helping!)  Tonight she cut her finger.   On a bowl. (Not sure how.) And bled. On the …. Yep! White kitchen cabinets!  My strength was TESTED!

In the moment, all I could do was check to see how bad the cut was.  Her finger is so tiny.  It is the first time I have actually seen a person shoot blood from a body part.  (Sorry for the grossness.)

Once she was bandaged, all I could do was sit on the floor beside her and look at the blood.  I prayed to God that He would grant me the strength to keep this house showable once it hits the market.  I prayed that I would not become overly tired and bitter.

My husband’s words filled my head.  On the way home from church Sunday, he told me that his goal for this move was to not get stressed out.  I laughed and told him it was too late.

Sitting on the floor with a crying baby, wiping up little puddles of blood, trying to clean my kitchen cabinets, I thought of my husband’s words.  Instead of stressing about the cut, I picked myself up off the floor, picked Darling Daughter up off the floor, and thanked God that, with strength, we receive dignity.  From strength and dignity comes the ability to smile, even when things go wrong.

The Proverbs 31 woman didn’t have an easy life.  However, she was able to pick herself up after a fall.  She could hold her head high, knowing she was doing her best.  With her strength and dignity, came her smiles.  Undoubtedly her smiles carried over to her husband and children.

We all need God to grant us strength to get through the rough times.  Today, remember to smile when you feel His strength!

Blessings!