That’s Positive…

img_8813Recently our ministry has gone through several changes. It has been heartbreaking and mind-boggling in many ways. One day, though, we received an email that lightened my outlook a little.

“You may wear dress slacks to work…” It was more formal than that, with a lot of do’s and don’ts along with it, but basically, I saw the word PANTS.

Hallelujah!

Seriously…every time I’m in a situation that is challenging or hard, my immediate thought has been, “well, that’s ok, at least I get to wear pants!” I know, I know…this is an odd thought process for most people.

But.

Most people also don’t have to teach little people music in a skirt and nylons, or march with teenagers in a skirt or dress! Just celebrate with me.

*waves a white hankie* Hallelujah and Amen!

I read an article recently that talked about “training our brain to revel in the positive.” I am a firm believer in this. For several years I have been working on making myself find the good in things instead of focusing solely on the bad. It’s not that I try to ignore the daunting task, but I try to take it in stride and not focus on the things that I can’t fix. Instead, I make myself find the good. Sometimes the stress pushes the things that are good away and it’s hard to focus on them. Fine. I make a list. I pray the list. I thank God for that list. (I might also cry because I know that I’m searching for some good and it’s just plain hard sometimes).

Right now, you may be going through some unsure, sad and scary things. Find a scripture and hang onto it. Play the up and down game with your family.  The key is to remember that God is bigger. Training yourself to remember that truth isn’t easy, but is worth the work so that a pair of pants can make your whole day better…

Word#365

Sometimes I wonder about myself. When I read other posts and blogs from my friends they choose words like “peace” and “rest.” For
some reason God never lets me choose something like that word!

While I was driving one day it was very clear what word I should choose, for the word of the year.

PURSUE

This could mean a lot, and it is an action word. I think I have to have action words because if not, my lazy nature will kick in and bam! NOTHING has been accomplished. Although I would like to rest and peace, I think if I don’t choose to work at it, then I’ll just probably sleep in my chair.

So I choose to pursue.
Pursue peace.
Pursue rest.
Pursue relationships with friends and family.
Pursue excellent lesson plans that teach independent musicians that love to play and worship Jesus.
Pursue studying the Bible.
Pursue connecting with my boys and husband.
Pursue writing. As in, write monthly and submit SOMETHING SOMEWHERE.
Pursue writing music. And playing it. And letting other people listen to it and even sing it.
Pursue….so many things to pursue!

Snappin’ peas

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I’ve seen a meme on social media lately that says something to the fact that if kids would snap peas they would be better people. It doesn’t really say that, mind you, but that’s the impression I got when I saw it.

Honestly, though, I think there’s more to it that a meme just may not explain well enough to young parents.

A couple of things came to me while watching my youngest snap peas with his grandpa this week.

First, it’s about the work. Titus was working to make food that we will enjoy (and need) this winter. There is a satisfaction of being able to say thank you to my boys for helping us have food on our table. It gives them a sense of “I helped. I did something significant.”

Our children’s church curriculum teaches that to help a student feel significant, give them something significant to do. I think this works in every aspect of a child’s life. Snappin’ beans (work), when you teach them what the benefits are, is a part of that.

Another thing I noticed was that Titus took correction well from grandpa when he didn’t snap them “just so.” Listening to someone correct you is hard for all of us. Hearing it from someone other than me is important. The boys learn that correction is normal.

I think something happens over a bowl of snapped peas. Frankly, it can happen at the dinner table, the car ride and a sink full of dishes. Time spent talking to each other, working together with a goal in mind is key to raising our kids in this crazy world. (You don’t just have to snap peas, either.)

It’s all about the time spent with each other. Talking with each other.

Ups and Downs

“Mom! You’re going to love my ups for the day,” my 10 year old boy announced as he bounded into my classroom after school.

“Oh really?” I asked, remembering the grumpy face as he picked off the edges of his pop-tart this morning.

“Yes,” raising his fingers to count off, “In band we started playing snare, my team won the game in PE and we had bread bowls for lunch.” As my enthusiastic boy finally took a breath I inwardly thanked God for working out a way to teach my children to look for the good in the day.

We need the ability to look at all of the circumstances of our everyday and find something good in it. If this doesn’t come easy for us as adults, how is it going to ever be easy for our kids? Here’s what helped our family learn how to look for the positive even when we have had a difficult day.

We started playing the “Thumbs Down and Thumbs Up” game. I learned it from some good friends of mine one night when they were talking with their boys. Every day we ask our boys to tell us something positive that happened to them that day. We also ask for something bad or disappointing that happened.

Since we have been doing this for several years, it has gotten easier for my boys to have positive things they can reflect on. Now it’s turned into “3 Ups and a Down.” What are 3 positive things that happened in your day, and what is 1 rough thing that happened today?

The key is to do this consistently, and remember we are teaching them how to change their focus. I enjoy it the most over the dinner table. It helps us to stop and listen to our kids’ day, and helps our kids connect with us, the most influential people in their lives. It starts conversations. Sometimes (lately a lot of times) dinner is quick and on the move, so we may do it in the car on the way home from basketball practice or around bedtime, but the routine is set. They expect it and even look forward to it!

When we take the time to focus on the blessings in our day it becomes easier to stop and see God working.

It becomes easier to connect with each other as family.

It becomes easier to thank God.

Rest

Our church, our community has had a rough year. We have had pillars of our church family pass away, men of God that touched many lives around them. Then our Pastor passed. He had been battling sickness and age for so long, but it was still a surprise.

16426082_10154139296116196_15213510189007622_nPastor Charlie loved God like no one I have ever seen. Passionate. Unapologetic. Generous. He challenged us often and since Daniel and I had served with him for almost 18 years, he was like a father/grandfather figure to me.

There were so many things happening at once it felt like everything was spinning. I knew that God was in control, but it was hard to see Him through the practical. My sister passed away from cancer during this grieving period also. It’s been a rough year.

It has been only 6 months. Somehow I feel like I’m supposed to be up and happy and ready to move but honestly, it’s hard. Transition and change is slow going and extremely fast at the same time. How does this happen? Yes, this needs to change…but wait! I don’t think it really has to RIGHT NOW, right? What do we change while still honoring our Pastor’s legacy? Admittedly I don’t have to have the answers (or want to try).

So I pray. And write. I’ve been working on this song now for about a month. I’m not sure if it’s finished yet, but as I was reading through Scripture I found a couple of things. They are simple, really, but meant something big to me.

When I looked up “rest” I found Matthew 11:28.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I’ve been hanging onto this verse this year. For awhile I didn’t think I needed to rest. God’s in control, I’m good…

I’m so wrong. Fighting and working and fighting some more. God doesn’t want that from me. Rest.

Then I went to Roman 15:13 last night.  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

The main thing for me? When I rest, He restores. I know that is simple. You probably don’t even think that is significant. I could finally breathe last night. When I rest, He will restore. I’m getting there. Our church is going to have to rest (in Him) while He restores. What peace that brings!

Excuse the recording. I would wait, but waiting until it’s perfect is a bad procrastination issue for me!

REST

You’re the God of hope that fills us with joy

You’re the God of joy that fills us with peace

I rest in your peace

I rest in your grace

Your mercy comes when I see your Face

I rest in your love

That comes from above

You’re hope comes when I trust in Your love

You are for us, here

When we can’t see through the night

You are with us, here

With the promise of Your light

Restore us

Music Olympics! Part 1

I absolutely love the Olympics! I love the stories of so many people working  hard to reach a goal. It’s quite inspiring. So, I thought having a little bit of Olympics here in the middle of a cornfield would be a great way to review musical concepts and have a blast while doing it!

First was the Javelin throw. It was tricky at first, but we got the hang of it pretty quick!

When Normal Is Extraordinary

Bocks of Rocks

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I work in a ministry in the middle of a cornfield. The thing that gets me EVERY time?

When families torn apart by drugs and alcohol are somehow, miraculously put back together. It’s only something that God can do. Every circumstance points to suffering and destruction. And instead there is healing and restoration.

My son Noah plays summer ball. I love it. I love watching him work with a team and getting coached by someone who is passionate about the game. This year, we have a newer kid that came and joined the team…here at Heartland because his family is getting restored. His father should have been in prison. He made some bad choices in his earlier days. Drugs ruled his life…and destroyed his family.

And then…God intervened. Seriously the best words ever.

God changed this man’s life. And his wife’s life. And their families’ life. They got…

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