The Fight for Quiet

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  Mark 6:31 NIV

This verse gripped my very core back in the fall.  The title in my Bible says “Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.”  You’ve heard this story right?  I have heard and read this story more times than I can count.  After I read these words in verse 31, however, I had to stop.  I read them again and again.  It’s like I couldn’t believe what I was reading- that God’s Word was speaking this to me.  It was freeing yet challenging.  God anointing my head with this grace.

In this story Jesus does feed the five thousand, however, I was glued to the disciples.  In verse 30 the disciples were telling Jesus about all they had done and taught.  It says in verse 12 that they “drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”  No doubt the disciples were busy and in high demand as word spread about what they were doing.  So I imagine them being excited telling Jesus all they had done.  But Jesus saw need in them, “so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat.”  They were hungry and tired.  They had been very busy.  This place where they were even reporting to Jesus was busy- people all around.  Jesus knew they needed some time alone.  They needed time to be with Jesus.  So they head off to a solitary place.

Then, in verse 32 it says they were on their way to this desolate place when people “recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.”  They can’t catch a break!  So again, there are people everywhere and Jesus had compassion on them because they were lost.  Jesus began to teach them and knew they were hungry.   Jesus gives the disciples an opportunity to feed them when he says, “You give them something to eat.”  They return with a logical answer that they didn’t have enough money to feed them.  I imagine Jesus saying “Oh you of little faith,” and then he feeds them with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish.

After Jesus fed them, it says in verses 45 and 46 “Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat… he went up on a mountainside to pray.”  It was urgent to Jesus that they get away.  (Then, Jesus proceeds to walk on the water… nbd.)

So what?

  1. Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, and I cannot neglect him for good deeds and ministry.  Hebrews 12:2-3 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…”
  2. When I get caught up in the busyness, I forget my need for Jesus.  I tend to get caught up in the doing instead of the being.  This can lead to selfishness and pride and self-dependency.
  3. When I get caught up in the busyness, I forget the power living in me!  I begin to think in the realm of possibility within my power instead of the power of God.  The disciples totally fell into this, and boy do I fall into this!  I forget God is the source of life and healing and provision.  I also forget my identity and start believing what the world wants for me.  It can truly turn terrifying.  When opportunities arise, I miss them or have no strength to act.
  4. When I am not purposeful about spending time with the Father,  it will never come.  Opportunities to do things are ALWAYS there.  There are a thousand excuses and alternatives that I can choose.  People will demand things from you endlessly.  Jesus sought quiet and sought rest.  I need quiet and rest, and I have to plan it and make it happen.  I have to say “yes” to it.
  5. When I am purposeful with spending time with the Father, it is easier to discern what I should say “no” to and what I should say “yes” to.  Sometimes I feel empty because I take on too much, but sometimes I am empty because I take on things by my strength instead of depending on God.

At the end of this story EVEN Jesus had to be purposeful about his time with the Father.  He went to a place where he knew no one would be, and he prayed.

Jesus is speaking to you and me face to face, “Come with me by yourself to a quiet place and get some rest.”

If you have kids, I know this can be tricky.  And no, I do not know what that life is like.  But what I do know, is that time with the Father is worth fighting for in our busy and loud and crazy lives.

Y’all, this world is loud and obnoxious, and it’s always telling you how to eat and cook and dress and shop and spend your money and act and be a parent and get a boyfriend or girlfriend…  BLAH BLAH BLAHHHHHHHH.

It’s time to fight for quiet.

Where can you go for rest? Outside? Drive in the car? Early in the morning? After the kids go to bed? In the bathroom?… moms, you know.

Maybe we need to turn off the tv, phone, or radio.  Maybe you need to call the babysitter.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I have all kinds of quiet time!”  Well, BLESS YOU, and please share that blessing with others.  Maybe you can help provide quiet for someone else. Let’s be willing to give and even receive so we can all have some quiet.

Let’s fight for some quiet in our lives.  Together.

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For Richer or Poorer

Dearest faithful readers,

First of all I wanted to say thank you to you readers.   I want you to know that God gives me strength through you.  You are truly my family and my friends.  I write because of you lovely people.  I write because God has given me great joy in writing to you.  I write because I want us to grow together and learn from each other.  I also write because God has laid this on my heart to do.  I welcome you to question me or grab a cup of coffee with me to talk things over and get to know each other.  I truly seek to grow and not to be right.  I picture us having a cup of coffee together as I say all these words.  I have no desire to have the final word.

Looking forward, I decided to make a few small changes to my blog.  The title “For Richer or Poorer” came to my mind when I wasn’t searching for a name at all.  I have been wanting to make some changes for some time.  There have been times where I purposefully sat down and searched for this new name, praying that God would give me guidance.  I have done this a few times in the past few months.  All of a sudden, I was sitting on my couch the other day and God laid this before me.

“For Richer or Poorer”: This probably sounds familiar to you as many couples recite this before God as they vow to marry.  I am not married to a man on this earth,

but I am married to God.

Our covenant relationship began long before I was born.  He sought me before I was able to speak or talk.  He loved me before I consciously knew his name.  He knew my name before my parents gave it to me.  He created me to stand in victory with His Son.  He created me to love him and to know him.  He created me to behold his beauty.  He created me for his glory.  He knows me and loves me so perfectly…

but Lauren is full of mess.  Bless her heart.  She does things she does not want to do, and she doesn’t do things she does want to do.  She gets caught up in this world too often.  She gets distracted by other people and their journeys.  She says things she regrets.  She questions God’s goodness when she seeks understanding in tragedy.  She fears bad decisions and failure.

BUT GOD is full of beauty.  Bless his holy name.  He covers Lauren with his grace.  He gave his only Son so she may feel and know love and freedom from sin, and so she can have a relationship with God.  He is her life and breath.  God is her sustainer.  God forgives Lauren and is patient with her.  God disciplines her as any good father does.  He calls her… daughter, beloved, friend, forgiven .  She calls him Father, Healer, Lord, Merciful.  He writes truths on her forgetful heart.  He walks with her when she is blinded by lies.  He sets beauty around her so she is reminded of him when she is caught up in “doing.”  Everything God has is Lauren’s.  He gives her words to speak when she seeks them.  He teaches her when she listens.  He gives her strength to speak when she is scared and boldness to speak truth into dark places.  He is near her even when she doesn’t feel it.  God is doing beautiful things in her life when she sees chaos and struggles to trust him.

He is for you and for me.  Seeking us out in this messy life.  And he redeems all the messy things.

This next year, may we behold his beauty more.  May we seek God in all phases of emotions and choose him and his truth above our greatest desires on this earth.  May we choose silence more than noise and truth more than lies.  May we be devoted to Him for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or worse, no matter what this year may bring or what we leave behind.  May we take courage to do that hard thing.  May we compare less and exalt each other in his love more! May we love those around us and far away with humility and abandonment knowing our Heavenly Father loves even us and loves them too.  This is my prayer for you and me.

Help us, Father.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  1 Corinthians 13:12

In Him forever,

Lauren

 

This Thanksgiving Day: A poem

This Thanksgiving Day: 
I’m thinking of you this Thanksgiving Day.
“Who?” You may ask, and it’s hard to say.
The turkey, the pie, the stuffing divine
Don’t touch the heart when things are just “fine.”

I’m thinking of you if your heart is in pieces.
This world seems cruel where hate only increases.
Disease, violence, pain, and regret
Flood our minds with heaviness we cannot forget.

I’m thinking of you if you’re missing someone-
A hole in your heart that can’t be undone.
A grandparent, a friend, a sister, or brother
A father, a husband, a wife, or a mother.

I’m thinking of you if you’re far away
Working so hard for the next pay day.
You might be near with a mind long gone
Depression and anxiety you can depend on.

I’m thinking of you if your world fell apart-
Ripping all the good things from your heart.
Some are in bondage in the struggle of power
Left feeling alone in a cold dark tower.

Thinking of you this Thanksgiving Day.
Laughter and love for you I pray.
I pray you can choose truth and throw away the lies.
I pray for strength and peace when emotions arise.

I pray that he touches your heart with his hand
And heals you in ways you don’t understand.
I pray that you believe and know that he cares.
“I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” He declares.

Dear Reader, please know He cares for you.
He sees you and knows you and loves you, it’s true.
Our Father is present, He meets you right here.
Freedom will find you as you persevere.

I know not your heartache, frustration, or pain 
But I know He brings life like the spring rain.
His redemption is coming, still He’s present; our stay-
Restoring hope to all nations this Thanksgiving Day.

*Isaiah 43

The Interruption of Band-Aids

My first year of teaching I received an unimaginable amount of Band-Aids from parents.   I thought, “Wow, I hope I don’t have to use all of these!” And I have used a lot more than I ever thought I would.  I continue to be stocked, and it is amazing because our Band-Aid moments are dear to my heart.  I love Band-Aids.  I could probably make a commercial.

In one of my student teaching placements the teacher had a bag of Band-Aids that the students could access.  I thought this was a genius idea.  It hung on the door, and if a student ever thought they needed one, they could go get one.  The teacher is not bothered.  The students eventually get over the freedom of it.  The teacher is freed from the time consumer that this becomes.  Great classroom management piece.

I thought about doing this, but I decided against it.

When a student inquires about a Band-Aid, they show me where it hurts or is bleeding.  I ask about their hurt.  We talk about what happened, where it happened, when it happened.  Sometimes they simply need that attention, even if it is a small scratch.  Sometimes they need to know you will stop what you are doing and attend to their hurt.  They may not have any Band-Aids at home.  They may not have anyone at home that will put a Band-Aid on their scratch.  They might have both!  But I bend down, peel the paper off, and put a Band-Aid on their hurt.  Sometimes we have discussions about not picking a scabs, them running in their back yard, fighting with their siblings, falling out of a tree, falling off their bike, getting hit with a baseball.  It turns into a window of opportunity to know them.  To know them, is to love them.

We all need Band-Aids sometimes, right?  Even if our heartache, problem, or scratch looks small to someone else, no one knows what it feels like or how long it is taking to heal or even how many other hurts have been covered up for some time.  We may not understand why someone is hurting.  Let’s not become hardened to someone else’s hurt because we think it shouldn’t hurt that bad.  We don’t know where they have been or how long they have been there.

No, the Band-Aid doesn’t make the hurt go away.  They don’t just need a Band-Aid.  The person putting on the Band-Aid however can be comfort just by being present and bending down to show that they are seen and heard and that their hurt is acknowledged. We can’t assume that someone else will probably stop and help/listen to them.  We don’t know how long they have been ignored or pushed to the side.

This seems like a heavy task, doesn’t it?  It certainly can be heavy.  People’s lives, struggles, pain are heavy.  That’s okay.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share your hurt or you can’t bear to hear another painful story.

What I have to remember is that I am not the Savior.  I am not the Redeemer.  This brings my heart freedom in the puddle of someone else’s pain.  All I can do is love them, be present for them, provide for them where I can, pray for them, and point them to the Father, all while bowing my knee to the Father.

The abundant life Jesus offers is lived when we choose to love like Jesus.

Sometimes Satan tells you that you are wasting your time.

You might get bloody, dirty, and you might even cry and mourn.

Somehow the freedom and glory Jesus shares during these times are the fullest moments we know on this earth.  Moments full of dependency on him.  Moments full of grace and the gospel.

Jesus offers not just moments of abundant life, but an entire life full of abundance.

Sometimes a child says my name several times before I realize it because I am so busy helping student A.  Sometimes I say I will give them a Band-Aid, and I forget because I get busy doing something else.  Sometimes I even take a deep breath because I am being interrupted when I am in the middle of something, and some days just feel like one big interruption.

No, friend, this isn’t really about the Band-Aids.

Slow down, Lauren.

Lean in to the reality of Jesus, where interruptions become opportunities.

 

On “Waiting for a Husband”

I try to stay away from this topic on my blog because, honestly, it gets on my nerves and usually rubs me the wrong way.  It’s not because I’m bitter.  It’s not because I feel like I’m missing out.  It’s because I believe too much emphasis is put on this topic… which is, in fact, exactly why I’m writing.  Please forgive me if this sounds overly harsh, but quite frankly, I’m over all the fluff.

I’ve read a lot of crappy articles about waiting for a husband: tips on dating, tips on finding the right guy, tips on being content in the “waiting.” I’ve read articles telling me I’m too picky and telling me that I need to enjoy this “season of singleness.” It really all makes me want to actually pluck my eyeballs right out of my head. I will leave that there.

So… I decided I would write about what God has taught me on this matter, “Waiting for a Husband.”  It’s not long.  It’s not 5 nice neat steps, though it is simple.  And it may or may not be what you want to hear.  I’m going to address this from my point of view, and if you choose to take this stance, then feel to claim it for yourself.  I don’t want to put this on you to assume you agree with me so anyway, here it goes.

Lauren’s Understanding of Waiting for a Husband: drumroll……

This life is not about me.

Bam.

That basically covers it, guys.

This life is not about me.  This life is not about my relationships.  This life is not about me getting married.  This life is not about me finding that “person” to spend the rest of my life with.

I am not waiting on a husband.  And I refuse that way of thinking.

I am awaiting the return of King Jesus.  I am not waiting on an earthly relationship to help me make changes in my life.  I am making those changes based on the Spirit and truths in God’s Word.  Though I fail miserably, the Spirit of God in me cries out “He must become greater; I must become less.”-John 3:30  This life is not about me.  It’s about Him.

But Lauren, what about… Yes, I would love to be married.  Yes, I want a man who loves and fears God.  And yes, I fail too, getting pulled into the expectations the world has for me.  Yes, I have to remind myself this life is not about me.  No, I am not perfectly content because I am a sinner, and as soon as I say I won’t do something or have something together Satan comes crawling in.  Believe me, I am flawFULL.

Bottom line?  The desire to have a husband is not a bad thing.  This life, however, is not about waiting for this man to come along.  The truth is I might die next week or in a year, and I refuse to “wait” for a husband.  I refuse to do this and believe this because God has not told me to wait for a husband.  I’ve learned that I have only heard that from the world.  My Beloved has given me mission and purpose here on this earth.  This time is important for you and for me, not because you are or are not single, but because you are alive and breathing and free in Jesus Christ.  What a fierce weapon you are!

I will love him, and I will love his people.  If he sends a man on the way, praise!  If he doesn’t, praise!  Don’t miss all that God is doing right now because you are waiting for something or someone.  Look up! Open your eyes! Until he returns, let’s fight off the darkness that is full of lies and embrace the light with all the beauty of truth.

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.  O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” Psalm 130:4-7

 

There’s Something About Hope

Last night I laid in bed tossing and turning for about 2 hours.  I had my announced observation today, so naturally I am thinking of all of the things that could possibly go wrong.  One thought would spiral to the next, and I was lost in my thoughts and anxiety.  I just simply could not shut my brain down, which is so unlike me at bedtime.  I laid there frustrated, and in a way I was almost hopeless.  I thought I would never get to sleep.  I just wanted to go ahead, get the day started so I could get the observation over with, and then actually get some sleep.

There.

There it was.

A glimpse of hope:  This will end.  It will be over with.  It will pass.  I will get to rest tomorrow night.

Ah, hope.

Hope has a way of getting us through some pretty rough times.  The hope of something better.  The hope of something new.  The hope of throwing out the old.  The hope of healing.  The hope of answers.  The hope for the future.  The hope of light in the darkness.  The hope for something good.

I’m in my car, rain is pouring, and I have to walk inside without a rain jacket or umbrella.  I will get wet, but I will dry eventually (hope).  I will be inside where it is warm, which will help some (hope)…

BUT what about when you are drenched to the core?  When you have waded through the flood.  When it’s cold inside and outside.  Will it really end?  Hope?  Where are you?

What about when hope seems lost?  When all of a sudden, it disappears and is no more.  When the pain won’t quit.  When bad news continues.  When loss grips your soul and takes you down a scary and lonely path.  When disappointment weighs more than you can bear.  When you try and try and nothing gets better.  When your prayers seem stale and dry and worthless.

All of a sudden all of these hopes don’t work.  They are faulty.  They are earthly.  They ultimately lead you back to where you were.  They are tangible, yet temporary.

Temporary.

These hopes might get you through a night.  They might get you through a day.  They might even help you get to next week.

Eventually, these hopes will run out.  Let us not be fooled by these hopes.  When our hope is not on the Rock that is higher than all the floods and destruction our hope fades and turns out to be watered down and worthless.  The Rock that will never crack or break or fall.  The Rock that stands firm in the storm.  The Rock that never moves.  The Rock that is eternal.  There.  There it is.  That is hope.  That is something to hold onto.  That is someONE to hold onto.

The truth is, for those that submit to Jesus, it will end.  He is the Rock.  The flood will cease.  The rain will stop.  Your clothes will dry.  He wraps you in a warm towel fresh from the dryer.  He puts you in new clothes.  He sets you on higher ground -places you could never go or reach on your own.  He says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

Friend, it will end one day.  One day there will be no more bad news, no more pain, no more worry, no more sorrow.  Hold fast to the Rock.  Take refuge in Him.  Take courage.

Thank you, LORD for being our strength and the Rock of our salvation.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.  Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust.”  Psalm 40:1-4

Until it ends, sing his praise.  He stands with you, but also stands waiting with open arms on the other side.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”  Isaiah 43:2-3

 

Stepping onto the Battlefield

Well, dearest teachers, it is that time!  I almost didn’t write to us because I wanted to cop out and repost last year’s back to school post, but I learned I had something different to say.

The other day I was at a store that was really quiet, and I could over hear this young woman talking to these 2 high school graduates.  These girls were getting ready to go off to college, and so the typical questions began, “Where are you going? What is your major? Oh, you’re undecided? That’s okay…”  The lady continued as she said, “Ya know teaching is always a good thing to have as a back up plan.  I have some friends that are teachers, and they get to have the summers off with their kids, and that would just be awesome.  Always keep that in the back of your mind.”  Lauren keeps “shopping.”  She breaths in and out.  She pretends like she is not listening.  End Scene.

Is that the job we have?  “The back-up job”  The one where you can’t think of what else to do, so teaching 20-30 (or more) children or adolescents is a good idea… HECK. NO.  We all know that.  And I will stop there on that soap box.

But, to tell you the truth,  I forget that sometimes. Not because I believe I chose the “back up” but because Satan wants me to forget the power I have in this world today.  He wants me to show up and let the day happen to me.  Did you hear that?  Satan wants you to forget the power that you have!

Teacher, your job is important.  In fact, it is paramount to the function of society.  Show up and show the world who God is and who God made you to be.  He made you to be a teacher.  The very Spirit of THE Living God is in you.  Step onto the battlefield with boldness and do what God created you to do: to teach, to love, welcome, create, coach, lead, encourage, discipline, inspire, reach, facilitate, and watch beauty that unfolds in the goodness of our Savior.  I mean, we all know it’s not roses all the time, or really ever LOL. BUT I do believe we were put here to create and SEE beauty in chaos.  When there is chaos, search for beauty.

So strap up! Finish up! Take your last few mornings with less chaos and enjoy them. Search for beauty.  Breathe in the grace of God, and breathe out his praise.

Step onto the battlefield.

And do that crazy thing God has called you to do:

Be a teacher.