Tag Archives: God

A Night of Writing and Thoughts on Arizona

I’m calling it a night.

It’s just 10:46 on a Friday, which is honestly prime writing time, and I’ve set my next scene up for lots of fun conflict, but I’m going to try not to exhaust myself with this book. I’m also going to try to keep my arm moving. Frozen shoulder hurt too dang bad for too many months to ignore the twinges I’ve got going on now. The doctor doesn’t think the hours I spent in front of the computer writing last summer had anything to do with the issue, but I’m not taking any chances.

I kind of hate to turn off Spotify tonight. I started using the discover tab and I’ve found so many amazing country and folk artists I’ve never heard of. It’s so fun to write to music that sets the tone of the story. I’m listening to Laura Cantrell right now. Amazing.

I might come back and write more later if my brain won’t shut down, but I’m going to at least take a break and stretch, which is far better than the quick Facebook break I took before writing this. That stupid quick break turned into a 40-minute look at lots of disturbing news.

I’d written a long Facebook post about Arizona, but I deleted it because it was just preaching to the choir, which is pointless unless you’re trying to inspire and motivate. I’m not. I settled for something that has become a guiding principle over the last few years. Something that would make life a lot easier and the world a much better place.

Love God? Love people. It’s that simple.

I remember when I was in college a friend came out. This was back in the day when dorms were community bathrooms and tiny rooms. Another friend was shocked and said “Oh My God, you’ve seen me naked.”

Our friend who was now out and a little embarrassed and afraid of how we’d respond laughed and said, “You have a very high opinion of yourself.”

We all laughed along with her and went back to whatever it was we’d been doing. We didn’t care that she was a lesbian. She was simply her. The person she’d always been.

Okay, that last paragraph is a fairy tale. It’s the way I WISH it would’ve been. The truth was we were all freaked out, but we tried to be the people who treated her the way we had before she told us…at least while we were with her. I don’t remember it being that big of a deal after a few days, but it might have been. Time messes with memories. Sanitizes them. Makes our parts in ugliness so much prettier. Time lets us believe we actually said all those things we WISH we would’ve said.

What I do know is that was the early 90s. She and her SO could go anywhere in the US without fear of being legally denied service because of what someone believed. If they would’ve traveled overseas to, say, Afghanistan, that would’ve been another story. There they would’ve been executed by people who believed their religious dogma trumped all. People who used hate for years to inspire terror and terrorism. Hate that led to 9/11.

My heart hurts for that girl and her SO and for the anger and pain and ugliness now being spewed all over social media…again. Someone asked me once what I would say if my kid were gay. She’s not, but if she were I’d say the same thing I say now: I love you.

Hate is never the answer. Love is always the answer.

She did it!

Image

Thank you, Lord.

 

 

 

I won’t go into the whole story. It doesn’t matter today. 

 

For now I’ll leave it with She Did It. ON graduated from high school. 

 

And now she’s headed to Vernon College. 

 

She’s a fighter. She rediscovered hope. 

 

It wouldn’t have been possible without her original counselor, Mrs. Susie Nix, Rider registrar Paula Moore, Rider counselor Jennifer Spurgers and Rider teacher Cleveland Wallerich, who connected with a hurt kid and helped her remember how much she loved school.

 

It wouldn’t have been possible without our small group and their prayers.

 

It wouldn’t have been possible without my sister, who’s reclaimed her own life in the same time.

 

Most of all, it wouldn’t have been possible without God, our partner every step of the way.

Image

 

 

 

 

Peace: Love Wins

Today one of my Facebook friends commented on a post and it reminded me of a story a former student told. Her friend had passed away the year after they graduated. Before the funeral, the friend’s grandmother sat down with all the girls mourning and passed around her granddaughter’s picture, then said “You’ll always remember her like this. She’ll never hurt, never be sick, never know heartbreak. She’ll always be the laughing girl you see here. As you age and go through the pain life brings, she’ll stay exactly the same.”

My student said the words comforted her like nothing else could. Tonight, I’m going to hold on to that. And I’m going to remember that love wins.  At small group week before last someone said darkness isn’t the opposite of light, it’s the absence of light. We must be the light. Hate and anger destroy light. I refuse to hate. I give my anger to God.

#

Photo Used under creative commons license. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamingray/421730278/sizes/m/in/photostream/

You Gotta Have Faith

Photo by Randy Adams used via creative commons license. Link at end of post.

A few years ago one of our small group members, Sandra, talked to us about faith. She said when her husband lost his job in OKC, they had absolute faith that God would get them through the tough times. They ended up here where their children grew up in great schools with great friends. She said it wasn’t easy, but they constantly told themselves that God was in control. Thank GOD, because I’m not sure how I would’ve survived the last several years without Sandra and Gerald! Last year two of our friends said they were going on a mission trip to Panama, and they were going to raise all the money to do so. The last month they still had a ways to go, but they never lost faith. Sure enough, by the end they raised every bit of money they needed. People like Bonnie and Justin teach me so much! It’s so hard sometimes to trust God. Let Go and Let God seems easy. It’s not.  Two years ago we almost bought a house. We didn’t love the house, but we liked it all right. We went to the bank, got approved to make an offer, but when we got home 10 minutes later, we had a message from the lending officer. They’d changed their minds. The realtor suggested we go to another bank, but the whole thing struck me as odd. DH and I decided the bank’s reversal had to be a God thing. Then last year’s summer from Hades with over 100 100-degree days and the months-long drought dried up all the Lee’s Total Lawn Care business. Had we bought the house we thought we wanted then, last year would have been an incredibly tough year financially. But God’s no then wasn’t really a no. It was a wait. This year we’re looking at house plans to build during the winter. It’s scary to make that kind of investment, but when I think back over the last few years of Dave Ramsey and prayer, I have faith things will work out exactly as they’re supposed to.###

If you like my blog, I hope you’ll look at my books available in print everywhere and in eformat for kindle. I write YA as Elizabeth Lee (Honor and LiesDead Girl Walking: The Guardian Book 1) and christian fiction as Mary Beth Lee (Grace is Enough, Letting Go). Find out more on my Amazon author’s page. If you’re a reviewer and would like to review my books for Amazon, Good Reads or a personal blog, let me know. THANKS!###

Randy Adams Photo Link

 

A Home for Every Heart

My parents are ministers. My grandparents were ministers. I was raised in the church. And still, in my early 20s I wasn’t sure I believed in God. I’d definitely turned my back on organized religion.

I went to church with my parents sometimes, and I took my daughter to church sometimes, but I could have argued with the best of them about how the church was created for two reasons: money and the subjugation of women.
The lifestyle I lived could be classified as humanistic, I suppose. I was a “good” person. Enough said.
When an elderly customer invited my boyfriend to church one Sunday, I’m not sure why we went. Probably because they were expecting a new minister and the church was by the mall.
Whatever the reason, we went. And from the moment we walked through the doors, the church motto, “A Home for Every Heart” rang true. We weren’t judged. We were accepted. Everything changed.
My church made a point to minister to people with a world of hurt in their eyes. I think Letting Go started way back then. An idea I had to grow into.
So many people hurt today. And so often we forget the role of the church as my minister today says is to Love God, Love People. We get so caught up in life or work or what we need, we forget about others. I’m certainly guilty of that. Or we get so holy and full of our “rules” we think we’re better than others. I’ve been there, too.
Thankfully, God doesn’t expect perfection, but he did give us direction.
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Today, I believe. I don’t clobber people upside the head with that belief. I don’t preach hellfire and brimstone. I don’t talk about the rules. I simply say God sent His son to die for our sins and He loves us unconditionally. He’s ALWAYS there, even when we don’t believe. ###

Find out more about my books on my Amazon author’s page. Letting Go by Mary Beth Lee available in kindle format and print.

***GUEST BLOGGER alert. Janet Brown will be guest blogging here tomorrow. Her story is so inspirational. Please stop by!

Resolution: Happy New Year!

My beginning J kids often try to start their stories with a definition and I make them come up with a new beginning because the definition lead is so cliche, but this post needs the definition lead, so here goes:

res·o·lu·tion[rez-uh-loo-shuhn]
noun
1. a formal expression of opinion or intention made, usually after voting, by a formal organization, a legislature, a club, or other group. Compare concurrent resolution, joint resolution.
2. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something.
3. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc.
4. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.
5. the act or process of resolving or separating into constituent or elementary parts.

The last two months have been a time of change for DH and I. We made a decision to change some foundations in our lives and that hasn’t been easy. Work has been stressful, and I forgot how to embrace the fun of that stress. Writing has been almost non-existent. I’ve decided to venture into the business world and will be meeting with the small business development center to help with that process. And I want to get actively involved in real school reform.

Resolution in any of the above isn’t always easy. All of the above should be less intense. Let go, let God. I know that. But as always, I struggle. Since the first of our life changes deals with church, for some reason it’s a little easier to believe absolutely that He’ll take care of us. The job should be easy, too. I mean, after 17 years, I should know how to let go. But it’s harder this year than it’s ever been. The writing issue is an easy resolution. New words every day. The new business: definitely a let go and let God proposition. I’ve done my market research, I have my mission, vision, values and goals, at least for the short term. The school reform, that’s a passion of mine. Two things I can work on non-stop for hours: The First Amendment and Effective Schools. The problem with wanting to put school reform into effect is I’m a teacher, and teachers can only do so much. In a perfect world, I could have a small test group of students and we’d radically change the business of education. We’d do away with grades and go to a strict mastered objectives (pass) or not (red0) system. Right now we have this Focus on Learning mantra, but in reality, most of the students and their parents care about the grade and not the learning. If the kid brings home straight As, yay! If they make a B or C, but they learned more because they’re in more challenging classes, dump the more challenging course work and get back to the A. The 4.0, or 5.0 in my school’s case, is all that matters. If you strip grades would students still work to master the objectives and be able to prove that mastery on an exam and with their writing? Could teachers use formative assessment without attaching grades to those assessments and still have a real idea of where their students are performing? Could students take responsibility for those objectives and realistically judge their progress on the road to mastery? Would stripping grades and changing to pass (mastered objectives), redo (didn’t) get the focus back on learning instead of grades, which don’t mean anything really? At the end of the year would this shift translate into higher scores on summative exams? Would having a system like this which addresses the questions of what to do when kids don’t learn AND what to do when they’ve already mastered the objective make for a better system? Would parents and students embrace this?

Yeah…like I said, it’s on my mind a lot.

I looked into going back for my EdD and moving into the effective schools consulting direction, but my students are what I love most about my job. Same thing for shifting into administration.

The reality is my job is going away. The whole focus on grades means the students I used to get are picking up an extra 5.0 class or two, and they don’t want the responsibility of deadlines. Something has to change or my program is going to die. I can’t change deadlines: I’m a journalism teacher. I can’t change the workload of the class: we produce awesome newspapers and yearbooks.

Yet another area I have to let go and let God, however, I can resolve to at least attempt to keep the program going.

So there you go. My resolutions this year are pretty close to what they were last year: learn to let go and let God and be the best I can be at what I do every day. And, of course, I’ll be working on the weight thing because I always am!

My new youtube vlog. Not sure if this is the ultimate narcissism or super cool. Going to do it anyway. 🙂

Back to the Basics

Tough.
Last night in small group God smacked me upside the head. Not sure that was the intent, but it happened. We’re doing the John Ortberg study: God is Closer Than You Think.
I’m having this tough year, not just at school but outside the classroom as well. Spiritually, physically, emotionally. It’s like I’m in battle. Nothing like when I broke my ankle where there was so much evidence of the issue. Nothing like when I had that newspaper year where the only person who wanted to work was the editor. It’s more a constant pinging. A constant Really? You’ve got to be kidding me! No freaking way kind of year.
Anyway, we’re sitting there watching and reading and it’s like God is yelling: Look at David. Look at Solomon. Look at Habakkuk. Look at Job. Look at Mary. Look at Paul.
You just THINK you’ve got it tough. They know tough. And what did they do? They turned to Me.They said I will praise your name on high. I will lift my voice to You. I will turn to YOU even when I feel alone, when I don’t feel Your presence. I will faithfully believe You hold me in Your hands because YOU are God and I am human and I can’t do this alone, but You’ve got this.
I started this year determined to embrace those words. And then all this stuff happened. Stuff that had me all confused and researching and asking questions and listening to sermons, not for their messages but for what I might or might not hear. I totally forgot the whole point of the Word.
At first I prayed. Then I prayed for me. Then I quit praying.
And in the last six weeks as I grew more and more frustrated, I didn’t turn to God, I turned to myself. BAD IDEA!
Last night, though, as we shared the verses found in the second chapter of the Ortberg study, I realized what I’d done. When we got in the car to leave I told Brian it was like God spoke in those moments. He said HAVE FAITH. I realized then that giving everything to Him is just that. EVERYTHING. I’ve got to give it to Him and trust Him and obey Him and believe He’s got this. It’s not a 50-50 split. It’s an all or nothing.
So here I am. Giving it ALL to God. My job, my writing, my health, the spiritual battle I’ve been dealing with, the ministry I’m involved with. ALL.
God help me to remember You’ve got this. You are in control. And even when it feels like I’m alone, I’m not. You are worthy. You are mighty. You are God.

Lessons Learned

Anyone who follows my blog knows this year has been tough. Tough enough that I wondered if God was sending me a message.
The end of the year came together in such a way that if God was sending me a message, I heard it loud and clear. I’m where I belong right now.
Today I met one of my former students who is now a co-worker for coffee and we started The Artist’s Way. The former student inspired me to do more in my classroom. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of my job. The last two weeks of school were spent distributing the book and clipping and mounting our contest entries for several organizations we belong to. That was fun and necessary, but I was so focused on the work, I didn’t tell my kids how much I appreciated them. I didn’t spend time on lessons or learning. I clipped and taped and wrote on the back of entries. I won’t get that time back.
The meeting today was supposed to be about writing and releasing the artist in me, but it was more than that. It was a challenge to spend this summer refilling the well for my teaching and to come back next year determined to do more, do better.
God really does speak if we listen. Today God sent me another message. It was one I needed to hear, delivered by an amazing teacher I’ve watched grow up over the years.
Thanks Scotty! I’m looking forward to The Artist’s Way, and I’m thankful I’m a teacher still learning my craft.

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Galations5:13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[c] 15 But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.

Today’s Crave lesson really hit home for me as we discussed. In fact, for the last seven weeks I’ve been on this real soul search.
My next door neighbor is young and loud and, well, completely different from me. WHen we started this World Harvest series, one of the challenges we talked about was sharing God every day, with everyone you come in contact with. Let me just say I wasn’t sharing God in any way with my next door neighbor. In fact, the only interaction we had was me giving him the stink eye if I had to go out in front yard and glare at him and his friends late at night/early morning because of their noise level.
Since that first lesson, I’ve prayed for God to help me show more of His light to others.
Last week, my neighbor and his friends woke me up, but something was different in my response. Instead of being angry, I was worried. When I went outside, I didn’t glower, I spoke. I asked if he was okay. His response was comical. First, he asked his friend if that was his neighbor talking to him, and then he said “yes, Ma’am. I’m good.” and then he apologized. 🙂
When I asked if he was okay, I was sincere. God’s changed my heart where my neighbor’s concerned.
A big part of that change comes from the fact that I work with young adults my neighbor’s age all the time, but I’ve avoided HIM, and he’s right next door. I can’t very well share God with the young man if my only relationship with him is adversarial.
It’s easy to stay at home with my Netflix and computer and TV. It’s easy to hang out with other believers and talk about God. But it’s not biblical to keep God to myself.
God’s been working on me in this area, and this lesson just pushed me more. I’m so thankful for Drew and Sara our leaders and for how God’s using them to touch our lives!

Next week is forgiveness. STRANGE since I just blogged about how God’s been screaming that word at me lately. 🙂

My Utmost for His Highest

Kicked off Crave ministry with a barbecue at the leader’s home this afternoon. Great fun with some amazing young adults in such an important transitional time of life.
Brian and I are so blessed to be part of the Colonial College Ministry.
Right before I started writing, I got a strange friend request from a youtube group. When I clicked on the request, I was surprised to see it dealt with something that came up in my manuscript last night. I haven’t researched the topic or anything, so I was kind of shocked.

When I prayed tonight, I thought a lot about my writing. Is it for me or is it for Him? Tat led to thought about school and parenting and even the time I spend on Facebook. I came back to this saying I hear all the time: My utmost for His highest.
But that’s a pretty big statement when you think about it.
My utmost means I give my all every day no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Some days, I definitely give my utmost. But with the budget crisis in education, I can honestly say I’ve NOT given my all also.
for His highest takes it to an even tougher level. It means that every day I give my everything to God. That I do all for His glory.
I’m soooooo far from that place most days. In fact, my reality is more My Utmost for My Highest, I think. I pray, I read God’s word, I serve in my church. BUT I don’t give my everything to Him.
Letting Go and Letting God is something I’ve prayed about for years, and I’m getting better, but I’m still not there.
My current manuscript is challenging me there. Our current study at church is, too.
My Utmost for His Highest.
I hope that I do more than say the words. I want to live them.