Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How do I shine your light?

Lord, how do I shine your light in a world so dark??

How can I make a difference in the hearts of good people who just don't know you as you truly are?

When the world is telling everyone a different truth than what the bible presents, or they are distorting it, how do I make a change?

How do I go about making things right?

What do I say?

What do I do?

It seems people don't want to hear the truth about being a true Chrisitan who honors You. Being a follower of Christ is not the easy way, its the narrow way sometimes. I see the world creating a new god, one who fits their agenda.

How can I help them to see the beauty and the joy in serving you and honoring you, and keeping your commandments?

I feel lost and helpless in a world who just doesn't want the true YOU.

"Show me your ways, teach me your path, guide me in truth, instruct my heart. You are my God and Savior strong, in YOU my soul waits all the day long." K. Lee Scott, All The Day Long,
Psalm 25:4-8

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Gloria in Excelsis Deo

My "hang-ups" get the better of me.  Small things, important things, but small things: forgotten violin practice, squabbles over green scissors, anger over missing shoes. One after another, these frustrations eat away at my peace. The mom needs to calm all squabbles. The mom needs to find the missing shoes.  The mom needs to remind the virtuoso to practice. The mom needs to be a better mom. 

My wordless prayer sent up to heaven was simply a need for the Spirit to fill me. The hang ups are not filling me in such a great way.  I would rather have the Holy Spirit filling me. He would rather fill me. 

My God delivers.  Every time.  I pray, and He answers. In His time, in His way. He knows how to speak to my unique soul. My ears and heart were open to seeing Him in my morning drive.

John Rutter's Gloria streamed into my car as I mundanely pulled through the bank ATM line. "Gloria in Excelsis Deo! Amen!" My heart was immediately filled with the knowledge that my hangups do not really matter.  Nothing else matters.  I could feel the heavenly angels singing "Glory to God in the Highest! Amen!" He is what matters. Someday I will be there, singing in chorus.  My human heart would burst with the glory; my human heart aches when I think of this homecoming. My heavenly heart will be complete and perfect. The glory of God, visible by my own eyes! My own voice singing praises to Him in His presence! These italics cannot convey how my heart leaps at the thought!

This human life and these hang ups will pass away, but our God will never pass away! To be the best mom is to pass along this hunger.  This yearning. This longing to be in our God's presence. It is a longing that will be fulfilled. Our God has promised, and He keeps His promises. What blessed assurance my children have, through their Redeemer, that they will sing with Him in glory. 

Gratias agimus tibi. Thank you for Your great Glory. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Once Upon a Pyrex...

Once upon a time, there was a girl who fell in love with a dish.  A Pyrex dish, to be specific.  This love affair was a long time coming, since she had owned said dish since 1997. It was a beautiful yellow mixing bowl, that once belonged to her grandmother. She used it sporadically for popcorn. It had a few sisters: a similar but smaller green mixing bowl, and an identical orange bowl.

It sat in her cupboard. And there it stayed for 18 years.

Until one day, and she can't remember exactly why (but thinks Pinterest may be to blame), she got it out. She looked at it carefully.  She laid its little green sister inside, nestled close. Her mind began to roam to to her grandmother's hands as they mixed cake batter inside her bowl, as they snacked on potato chips filling her bowl.  She began to realize that it was missing its two littlest sisters: small red and blue bowls that were made to perfectly nestle inside the green bowl.

The Pyrex Primary set. Le sigh.

And this was the beginning. The beginning of her love affair with Pyrex. It became a treasure hunt to find the missing bowls to complete her grandmother's lonely set. Through flea markets and antique shops she hunted, looking for the perfect bowl to make its way into her little primary family.

And find them she did!! As she displayed them on her counter and fondly took pictures of them, she began to realize that there were so many more beautiful dishes to be found!! The hunt was on!!

As she collected more pieces, she would place them on her counter, not wanting to put them away. They were too fabulous to place in a cabinet! Too rich in history to hide behind a closed door! As her collection grew, she knew what was needed.

A display cabinet.

But not just any display cabinet, it needed to be a vintage piece of furniture. A display cabinet worthy of her prized dishware. So the hunt continued! She found a lovely, retro cabinet that she considered worthy to support the integrity of her vintage dishes. She arranged and arranged. It was glorious. She was happy.

Then she discovered Fire King.

Oh the beauty of Jade-ite!! The delicate lovely hues of Azurite! The intricate brush strokes of the Peach Blossom! The golden sheen of Peach Luster! These pieces began to find their way into her arms and into her home, and the lovely cabinet was becoming quite crowded. So it was decided: another cabinet was needed. Would she be able to find another vintage-dish-worthy cabinet? She would!!  A beautiful curved-glass-fronted cabinet was discovered at the flea market, and it would lovingly frame her treasures.

So there they stood, proudly displaying her vintage dishware collection. Her kitchen slowly began to transform into a vintage kitchen. She began to discover new antique and vintage shops, and flea markets where unique dishware and retro items could be found. A retro toaster sits on the counter, feeling so happy to be useful again. A Westclox clock sits on the window ledge, ticking away in contentedness. Milk glass salt and pepper shakers sit on the stove, anxiously awaiting meal time.

Milk Glass, did you say? Lovely white, opaque, and opalescent as the sun streams through its facets? Yes, milk glass, her newest love!  Never to compete with the her first loves of Pyrex and Fire King, but a love all of its own. And could it be, could it just be so! That she would have a perfect blue display bookshelf that belonged to her grandmother?? Yes it could!  Oh how the gleaming, white glass  stands out as if to say, "I am beautiful! I have stood the test of time! I belong on this shelf!"

And do you want to know a secret? This love can be shared!  It just so happens that this love is contagious! Her antiquing girlfriends have caught the vintage-dishware bug, and pieces are finding their way into their homes! Glory BE!!

Long ago, a yellow Pyrex mixing bowl belonged to my grandmother. Her memory, and the knowledge of countless other hands that have mixed, kneaded, stirred and baked, lives on in my kitchen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Voice

The Voice...a popular TV show, where hopeful new singers compete in front a panel of "coaches" (who are famous musicians) to win a record deal and potentially become famous. The series showcases new talent, and these coaches give advice and they help the new young singers shape and craft their voices. 

Let me shift gears a bit here...

I was struck with a thought during preschool circle time a few days ago.  Our wise teacher has begun saying, "Sign him up for the Jesus Team!!" It has really resonated with our students, and they say it all the time.  It is music to our ears, because they are so excited about being on His team!  I started thinking about how these children are the voice of Christ. How, when we are "on his team," we are all the voice of Christ. 

I thought about that phrase, "The Voice of Christ."  I let it run around in my head for a few days, and jotted down a few thoughts. What actions do I portray that reflect Christ? What actions surely do not reflect Him? I began to look around our classroom, our school and our home for actions that are "the voice of Christ." Here are some things I saw:

...my youngest hugging his sister and saying "I love you"
...our track coaches encouraging and praising our young runners
...our preschool teacher lovingly leading our students in song
...the pastor of our church baptizing one of the newest "disciples of Christ"
...our choir director leading the choir during church
...5th grade students thanking the museum docents on our field trip
...4th grade students making birthday cards for our hot lunch worker
...my husband, despite being tired, playing games with our children
...my family pulling together to pray for my nephew who was having surgery

I realized that I was seeing examples everywhere.  To be the voice of Christ, you don't have to "preach" all the time.  To be His voice is to show his love, compassion, kindness, generosity and forgiveness.  There is a key element to these examples that was present as well: these people were knowingly doing their best to honor Him through their actions. These adults and children love their Savior, and they surely know this bible verse by heart:

"whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, 
you did for me." Matthew 25:40

All of this made me really stop and examine my own actions and thoughts. Do I show the voice of Christ? I want to be His voice! I want to honor him by helping others! I want my love for my brothers and sisters in Christ to show the way to the Savior! Because that is what this life is all about...honoring my Savior and loving others to Christ

Now back to that TV show...Its fun.  Its entertaining. Its lovely to watch the amazing talents God gives to His children. But it is also a good reminder of what kind of Voice I want to have. One that puts me on the music charts and gets me a record deal? Nice, I would have to admit, but ultimately not the true voice I want to have. 

May our voices be the Voice of Christ: caring, forgiving, helping, and loving others to Christ

Monday, March 7, 2016

Why I Became a Lutheran School Teacher

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lived a little girl. She was a happy, carefree and well-loved child. As she grew, her parents told her of her Savior and how much He loved her. She was happy because she had the joy of the Holy Spirit growing inside her.  She was carefree because she was enveloped in the blanket of His care. She was well-loved, by her family and her Creator.

As she grew, she attended Trinity Lutheran School.  She was happy because she had the daily joy of sharing the knowledge of her Savior and seeing teachers who lived their lives for Christ.  She was carefree because she spent her days under that blanket of her Savior's care.  She was well-loved by her teachers.

When she was in high school, a life changing comment was made to her.  A teacher mentioned to her that she herself would make a good teacher one day. That single comment started the wheels of thought to begin turning. She thought about it for a long while. When the time came to choose a career after high school, there was one clear choice in her mind: teaching.

Early Childhood Teaching, specifically.  And there was one clear choice as to where to receive the best education: Concordia University. You see, she wanted to become a Lutheran School Teacher.

After four years of work and preparation, God made His plan known to her.  She would be placed at Immanuel Lutheran School, teaching second grade.  This was exciting!! And scary and overwhelming, but she jumped right in...knowing that she was under that amazing blanket of God's grace and care.  She could do all things through Him.

Now, jump 18 years to the present time. This is me, writing the story of how I became a Lutheran School Teacher. So much has happened since that first day of teaching second grade at Immanuel. My wedding, buying our first house, and three children. Endings and new beginnings, but they have all happened under the same blanket of grace that has covered my family and I from the beginning.

Now I am blessed again to teach little children, along with their parents as we Sing and Play and learn about God's love for us. I am blessed to help in the classroom one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met, who literally is effervescent with the love of Christ.

Why do I love being a Lutheran School teacher? Why is it amazing to teach a classroom full of disciples-in-training? Because the gift of a Christian education that was given to me by my parents and my teachers is too amazing to keep inside.

Yes, it is amazing and humbling to open the eyes of a child to new things...to letters and numbers, to helping the light bulb flicker and then shine, to see the spark of learning fan into a flame. But it is a greater joy to see the love of their Savior grow and grow, to mature every day, to become a faith that is sure and strong. I see this happening with my own children, and I see it happening with the children I get to teach. In my eyes, there is nothing more amazing than this.

Reading, writing and arithmetic? Are they important? Of course! But these things are nothing without the the care of Christ to nurture them. I became a Lutheran School teacher so that my students could learn all of these things under that blanket of care and grace of their Savior. There is no better place to be!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

De-Jumbling My Morning Thoughts

It is 6:30 am on a Saturday morning, and I sit downstairs alone at the computer engulfed by a quiet, sleeping house.  I wonder if it is like this for other writers, the urge to write. I wake up with ideas swirling in my head, I slowly begin to give them real and ordered thoughts and my mind is alive for the day. 

My thoughts are random. Today I think I have captured two or three different topics at least.  They swim around in my head like slippery fish, and if I don't grab them quickly they might get away. I have to take these fish and transform them into messy, graphite jumbles in a notebook, words and phrases that maybe can be later shaped into a complete idea. 

Is it the same for you? You writers who are moms, or dads, or children, or busy humans who nightly fall into your beds exhausted? Are those thoughts rambling around inside your minds in a tornado, only to fall in bits and pieces onto your morning pillow? 

I have never written at night. Not ever that I can remember. What is it about the morning? I am blessed with the morning. Joy comes in the morning. New hope come in the morning. A fresh start comes with the morning. 

Thank you God for this quiet. For this shadowy snowy quiet morning. For this de-jumbling of my words. For this heavenly-created mind that is perfect in its infinite intricacies but dependent on You for every thought, word and deed.

Blessed morning. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Messiah: Blessing So Many, in So Many Ways

Yesterday I was part of a wonderful experience. I had the privilege to sing with the Fox Valley Orchestra's Sing Along Messiah. My mother, sister and niece came as well.  For the first time in some 20+ years we were able to sit together to sing these pieces by George Friedrich Handel.

At the beginning of the performance/sing-along, our director gave an introduction. She commented about how each person in the audience has some kind of relationship with Handel's Messiah. Each person has a story to tell about how they came to know and love this most-famous work by this great composer. Each person can remember the first time they sang it, and they have beautiful memories that they brought with them to our performance. As we began to sing, I imagined that the air in the auditorium was thick with all of these memories. 

I loved every moment of it.  The soloists were inspiring. The mass choir was amazing. Singing the choruses, hearing my sister next to me...my niece beside her...my mother blending in beautifully...it was truly a blessing and a Christmas gift. 

As we were driving home, my mother mentioned again how one of the pieces sung by the soloists was my grandmothers favorite. She had always loved He Shall Feed His Flock. I had always known this, and it is my favorite as well. But then my mother told me a little more to that story than I had realized. 

When my mother was in high school, her father passed away.  That first autumn without him was, of course, a difficult one for her family. In December, just two months after her husband had died, my grandmother was invited by a friend from church to attend a performance of the Messiah. She took my mother along...this was to become my mother's first experience in her relationship with Handel's Messiah. 

My mother said that my grandmother cried through the entire performance. I can only imagine the different types of grief that my mother and grandmother felt during those moments.  

But as we drove home yesterday, my mother commented why He Shall Feed His Flock had become my grandmother's favorite piece:
He shall feed his flock, like a shepherd
and He shall gather in his bosom
and gently lead those that are with young. 
Come unto Him, all ye that labor
and he will give you rest.
Take his yoke upon you and learn of Him
for He is meek and lowly of heart 
and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 

What those words must have meant to her that day! How they must have laid upon her soul and her heart! Here was this young mother: suddenly thrust into taking care of her family alone, missing her husband, feeling overwhelmed with grief and life. And here was her Savior telling her that He will gather her and her children close, He will give them rest, He will take the yoke with her. He will lead her, she was not alone. 

I am so very glad our director brought our memories to mind as we began to sing yesterday.  Now I have so much more to bring to each Messiah that I sing...for years to come.  

At the end of the performance yesterday, we concluded with the Hallelujah chorus. When it was over,  my mother had tears in her eyes.  She couldn't sing the last line. Tears of joy that we were together.  Tears of joy for all the memories of the past.  Tears of joy for the blessings that God has given us through Handel's Messiah.

Amen!! All is well, all is well.