Salt and Light

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I am thankful to Ruth Ayers who provides a place to share and celebrate with others through her weekly link up of blogs. This week, I am celebrating the effects of salt and light.

“A holy life will make the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns, they just shine.” D.L. Moody.

I received a Facebook message this week which has profoundly affected me. I was in a Home Goods store on Friday night walking through the kitchen goods when I noticed that my phone had a message. I paused and pulled my cart over right there in the middle of the kitchen section, opened the message, saw that it was quite lengthy then started to read. It was from a parent of two of my students who are siblings. Now, I know this parent from several conversations which she and I have had over the years and enjoy keeping up with her family on Facebook. Her little ones come to see me with their respective classes but I only get to teach her children once every eight days based on how my school schedule was designed. In addition, I greet them each day as they arrive at school and walk past my room as I am standing there in my doorway saying “Hello” to all students. These kids smile, make eye contact and speak to me. I love to see all of the children because each day provides us with a new beginning and opportunities exist for learning that weren’t there the day before.

This mom’s message instantly drew tears to my eyes. Her heartfelt message has helped me to see why God has placed me in the role that I am in at my school as the Technology Teacher. I asked this mom if it would be okay to share her message to me here on my personal blog and she agreed. As I have reflected on its content, I have allowed the words to seep deep into my heart. This mom didn’t have to take the time to write me this message, but she did. Her words reached out to me and encouraged me more than I could ever express back to her, although I did reply with thanks and gratitude.

Her message to me:
“Hello there. Our dinner conversation tonight was about technology class! My kids really like your class and are very enthusiastic about everything they learn with and from you! But, the reason I am writing to you is to tell you that in one point I mentioned to them how much I like you and I asked them; did you guys know that Mrs. Maples is a godly woman who knows and loves Jesus! My daughter very quickly said…yes I really know that! I asked how did you know that??? And the answer was “because I see Him through her actions and words!” Wow…I just want to take a minute and encourage you to keep letting your light shine there for that whole school! They see Jesus through you! Thank you for being in there!…I know He wants my family to be salt and light to others who may don’t know Him! I know that He has placed you there for the same reason. I pray daily for the school and it feels good to see that God keeps answering my prayers! Have a wonderful weekend!”

This mom described her family and me as being salt and light to others. This comparison of salt and light is a Biblical reference. Salt keeps meat from decaying and has been used throughout time to cure and preserve meat. The salt has to be salty in order for it to work. I pray that the Holy Spirit of God will flow from me in what I say and do with my family, my friends, my co-workers and my students thus allowing me to affect my culture in much the same way that salt affects meat. Salt prevents decay and seasons the meat. As a follower of Jesus, I need His Spirit to prevent me from decaying spiritually and to preserve me in a culture which often does not honor Him, while seasoning it with words and actions that are pleasing to God. The Scripture reference is Matthew 5:13-16 New International Version (NIV):

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I have been a follower of Jesus since I was a child. As I have grown in my faith, I have realized that only Jesus can make me whole. Because of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for the world on the Cross, I have a hope and a wholeness that comes from daily fellowship with Jesus in prayer. I can be who He designed me to be, to love those in my path and to live with hope because of the way God works in me. It is so encouraging to know that with His help, I can live for Him, shine His light and impact others in a positive way.

The Bible tells us that the believers in Jesus overcome by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus) and the word of their testimony. I want to encourage other believers to overcome by living out your faith. It is my goal that other teachers and friends who read this post will see the impact that we can have on others when we live our faith and let the fruit of the Spirit grow which seasons our words and actions. Children and their parents notice how we treat them. I don’t always have the patience that I need or say the right thing, but I can tell you that when I don’t measure up, I ask God to help me and He does. I know that He gives me grace in my time of need so I am willing to give myself grace to move on, forgive myself if I fail or have a wrong attitude and to keep moving in alignment with God’s Word.

I am a sinner saved by the grace of God. My faith in Jesus ushers in His Holy Presence through His Holy Spirit. I realize that I can’t be holy on my own; it is the work of God to place his righteousness in me through His gift at the Cross. Living a holy life is a choice that doesn’t make me any better than anyone else, but it does allow God’s Spirit to work in me.  Reverend Jay Carey wrote on his website in September of 2015 the following poignant words: “Maybe the best way to understand the real meaning of holiness is with a “w”. To be “holy” is to be whole. Sin, like a computer virus, destroys the connection within the computer to do what it was designed to do. Holiness restores us to wholeness in everything that we were created to do, to be, to love and to live.” Referenced from http://www.bethiaumc.org/2015/09/13/rock-solid-living-part-2-living-holy-1-peter-113-23-rev-jay-carey-september-13-2015/

For those who do not know Jesus, it is my hope that they will see Him by the way that Christians live their lives. Being religious has never done anything for me. Being whole by the blood of Jesus has transformed my life. I have never been a fan of religion because Jesus is more to me than a religion. He is my Savior, my Rescuer, my Redeemer. His Spirit is my Counselor, Comforter, and Healer. I trust Him to help me and to restore my soul. He is doing a work in me, sanctifying my heart, purging out my bitterness over past hurts, placing a peace in me that goes beyond human understanding, causing me to see His redeeming love for me and allowing me to love others. I don’t have to be perfect but know that He is shaping my heart and filling my life.

Finally, I was reminded of a song which I used to sing in church in the 1990s called “Carry the Light”.  It was originally sung by Twila Paris.  As I would sing it by soundtrack to our small congregation of believers, I always felt that it was my calling to carry the light of Jesus wherever God would lead me.  I was a beginning teacher in the early 1990s and knew that God had a plan for me to be a public school teacher.  He has helped me to encourage and engage children during my career and to show them the love of Jesus.  It seemed appropriate today for me to end my post with the lyrics to “Carry the Light”:

Verse 1
In this world of darkness
We are given light
Hope for all the dying
How will they know
How will they know
That Jesus loves them
And He died to save them
Chorus
Carry the Light
Carry the Light
Go and tell the children
They are precious in His sight
Carry the Light
Carry the Light
Go and preach the gospel
‘Til there is no more night
In the name of Jesus Christ
Carry the Light
Verse 2
Count them by the millions
Blinded slaves to sin
Inside they are dying
How will they know
How will they know
That Jesus loves them
And His heart is breaking
Ending
Go ye into all the world
Go ye into all the world
And carry the Light the Light
Carry the Light

Lyric credits:  http://www.worshiptogether.com/songs/carry-the-light/

Bumpy, Broken Roads

In my WordPress Blogging 101 course, my assignment for today was to publish a post I’d like my ideal audience member to read, and include a new-to-me element in it like a picture or video. I needed to think about the readers who would read this post. I knew that I would like for other writers to see my posts so I thought that I would join them. In addition, I want to always connect to readers so I chose a topic that affects all of us: Change.

Today, I joined a special group of writers. They are gathered by Tara Lazar, children’s book author. Her website has daily tips in November from Picture Book authors to help inspire writers to jot down 30 ideas for a picture book during the month.

Here is her website:
http://taralazar.com/2015/11/05/piboidmo-day-5-david-michael-slater-listens-plus-a-prize/

In today’s guest author post, David Michael Slater, shared a poignant comment about stories:

“Stories that last are stories that move us.  Moving stories are about change.”

I look forward to collecting ideas for picture books this month, but for today, I’d like to just talk a bit about change.

When change occurs, it can be a big deal.  It can change plans.

Five days ago on a Saturday, the Department of Transportation, decided to dig up the asphalt that leads to my neighborhood.  The first time that I drove on this changed road was on Saturday afternoon and hoped, at the time, that they would resurface the road on Sunday.  Instead, the road sat with huge orange metal machines just waiting on the sides of the road.  They were waiting for workers to return and run them on Monday.  It turns out, though, that there has been rain all week, some of it heavy and some just steady light rain.  As people have driven on the road, their wheels combined with the condition of the road, have broken huge chunks out of the road and potholes have formed.  You can barely drive without dipping into a hole and feeling your car bump up and down.

The change in the road’s condition has been a nuisance, especially since the rain has prevented the workers from beginning the laying of new asphalt.  I have noticed, though, that a worker has outlined each manhole which juts out of the broken pavement with hot pink paint.  If you hit the manhole, you will experience a huge jerk and you may even be forced into oncoming traffic which is quite dangerous.  I realize that the manholes can’t be dug up because they serve a purpose, but boy, do they get your attention!

When the road gets repaved hopefully tomorrow, the drive will be smooth again.  The tops of the manholes will show but my car won’t run me off the road or into oncoming traffic when I drive over them.

It has been this time of experiencing the dug up road that has made me ponder change.  I do not look forward to driving on the road.  If I remember as I am driving from my house to the beginning of the neighborhood, sometimes, I have gone a different way to avoid most of the major potholes and ditches.  Usually, though, I forget and then it dawns on me when I see the intersection with the jagged road top.  My hope is that the road will be fixed at some point, but until then, I will drive slowly, carefully, prudently and methodically.  I will move forward to the things which are ahead like Paul told us to do in Philippians 3:13:


 
When life throws change at me, it is worth noticing that we should also slow down, proceed carefully, prudently and methodically.  Like David Michael Slater shared in today’s PiBoIdMo post above, “Stories that last are stories that move us.  Moving stories are about change.”  I think that my story of driving on the broken road has moved me to really consider the path of change that has happened in my life.  There are times when change has been a definite good thing, but during other times, I couldn’t wait for the road to smooth back over because the change was rough.  My life story has changes sprinkled throughout and it has been, typically, after the changes have occurred, that I have seen God’s purpose for the changes.

It is the methodical maneuvering of the cars on the road near my neighborhood that allows them to get to their destination.  In my life, the bumpy roads, the broken roads and the dead ends, have brought joy and pain.  In the end, I know that I will arrive to the next stop on my journey if I continue, persevere through it and not pull off to the side, at least not for long.  I am confident that there are moments in life when we need to give ourselves a break and space to deal with the jarring effects of the broken, bumpy roads and then allow ourselves the grace to forgive, to renew and move on. Just as the resurfacing of the road will take time, God will use time, circumstances, His Word and people to fill in the grooves and rebuild our path.

I was reminded today of a song that is called “Bless The Broken Road” by Selah.  I will end by sharing it here in hopes that my readers can consider that change causes us to slow down, proceed carefully and hopefully not make rash decisions.  As a follower of Christ, I can also say that without a doubt, He is with me and allowing the circumstances of the bumpy road.  His Word says that He is working all things for my good.  I am thankful and assured that with the help and strength of His Holy Spirit, I will be able to move on, not look back and set my sights on what is ahead.


 

 

 

 

 

It’s About Time: Time Well Spent

I am participating in a course offered by WordPress called “Blogging 101”.  I thought that I would post regularly on this blog every other week on Sundays, however, during this course, I would like to share my assignments and get feedback from my readers.  So far, there have been two assignments.

The first assignment was to revisit my purpose for blogging.   I refined my goals as being to comfort readers, to share how I am comforted by God and to feel connected to readers by sharing intentional moments through my blog posts.  My second assignment was to think about my blog’s name and tag line.  Even though the url is Intendtospend.wordpress.com, I have decided to give my blog some sizzle by naming it a bit different from the url while also throwing in a tag line.  Tag lines are often under utilized to express more about the blog in a few short words.  In a time when few blog readers take the time to read the”About Me” page, I must capture their attention like a good marketer and make them feel that it will be time well spent as they read my words.

Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s about time you showed up!”  Maybe you were running late or you finally joined a group.  My blog’s new name is “It’s About Time”.  The tag line is “Time well spent”.  I made the choice to rework my title and tag line for many reasons.  When I first coined “Intendtospend.wordpress.com”, my vision was to share how I intentionally spent time with God, family and friends.  I think that “It’s About Time” engrains itself in potential and current blog readers’ minds making them hungry to know for what it is about time in my life.  In order for people to read my blog, they have to feel that their lives will be better as a result of reading.  My time is the one thing that I can control.  When others see the new blog title, I hope that they will ponder that they will get something by reading about how I have spent my time and energy.  Hopefully, they will see that it was the right moment to share my times when I have been inspired, been creative, been reflective and been encouraged.  I’d like to think that through my blog, readers would leave refreshed, inspired and comforted while seeing how God is at work in my life.  I am just one of many who love and trust God.  I want to offer my thoughts as a way to lift up others and bring glory to God.

Now, on to the tag line.  I didn’t have a tag line before now.  I chose to allow my tag line to be functional, simple and memorable.  My tag line of “Time well spent” explains what readers will see in my blog.  I felt that my tag line should precisely communicate an emotion that has affected and gripped me.  My blog has spoken of the benefit of spending time well leading to joy and comfort in my soul.  My mission is to continue to spend time well with God, my family and friends while nurturing healthy relationships.  I will focus on the fact that there are times to rejoice, a time to live life to its fullest, times to admit wins and losses and time to be comfortable in my skin.

My story is a collection of time well spent.  It’s simple.  My life is about choices with time.  I have chosen to see and to open my eyes to what has been and what lies ahead.  “It’s about time” that I share.  Sharing my moments and lessons learned helps me continue on a path to clarity and newness.  As I shared in my post “Happy”, I survived a horrible pit and am now living and walking on a new path of hope and healing.  It’s about time that I have a space to share my thoughts and to overcome as I give God the glory for the great things He has done in me, for me and through me.  I hope you like the new name and tag line.  Please let me know your thoughts.

Comfort and Connection – My Blog Goals

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First of all, I am celebrating that I found my way out of a corn maze last Friday night.  A group of fourth graders and some moms tackled it as a part of a friend’s birthday party.  The darkness had fallen so we were equipped with flashlights.  I scanned a QR code with my phone to help us navigate through the maze, but after 15 minutes, my phone died.  We were left with our instincts and a paper map.  Mist rose from the patch causing the light from the flashlights to break apart and distort my line of sight.  I was shorter than the corn but could see the blackness of night very well.

The girls and moms trudged along hopping over corn and dodging mud patches, but at one point, one of the girls became very scared, not of the corn patch, but of the sounds outside of the patch.  An ambulance blared as it raced down a nearby road and a helicopter hovered nearby for a few minutes.  I calmed her, gave her a hug and let her know that we were okay.  The helicopter was probably observing a nearby high school football game.  It was really a moment, though, when I realized that I was helping by coming alongside of her and comforting her.  She recovered and relaxed then moved on through the patch.

The Holy Spirit of God also comes alongside of me.  Earlier in the afternoon, I had dealt with a stressful situation.  At first, I was like that child in the corn maze, feeling like I was bombarded with confusion.  My day had been great, then came a phone call which can be compared to the sounds of the ambulance and helicopter in the maze.  I felt like crying but also felt aggravated about the message on the phone.  I made another phone call which began my calming process.  God’s Spirit stayed right near me and even allowed me to feel peace as I stopped being aggravated and began to find a solution.

I shared the whole problem and its resolution with a friend at the start of the party.  I am so thankful to not only be comforted, but to also comfort another all within the same day!  As I have reflected on the comfort theme, I have realized that the purpose of my blog is to offer messages of comfort and a feeling of connectedness to my readers.  As I share how I’ve spent time in God’s word and received inspiration, I want to share it.  When I share how God has touched a situation in my life, it is my hope that readers of my blog will also be encouraged and view my words as my testimony.  My words testify of the truth found in God’s word.  I am not a theologian nor do I wish to be perceived as “churchy”, but my goal in writing about my life publicly rather than in a personal journal, is to allow a glimpse into how God is at work in me and through me.

Another reason that I want to blog is to connect with people about what I enjoy and my memories of my family and neighbors.  I have written in this blog about times spent with my family, Mrs. Oliver (a dear neighbor while growing up) and plan to continue to share memories of time spent with loved ones.  I grieved when my friend, James, passed away and shared the moments that I spent around his bedside near the end of his life.  I process my feelings by writing about them so having a blog is helpful to me so that I can share and make sense of life’s events.  It is through my blog that I also hope to celebrate and spread hope.  We hear such discouraging news in the media so my blog should be a place of refreshment as my readers hear about life through my lenses.

I have had some moments in the evening during the past week when I was able to read for a while before bed.   I wish that I had time to read each book quickly, but have decided that I will allow myself some time to read when I can and enjoy.  I met Sarah Jakes a few weeks ago at a Women of Faith conference where she signed her book for me.  It is such a joy to read when you have connected with the author as she spoke and shared her life story.  I am already hooked just from reading the first few chapters of her book and Shelly Pearsall’s book, “The Seventh Most Important Thing”.  I can hardly wait to hear more from both authors!

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Getting to hear the real life and realistic fiction stories of people is a way that I study words.  It is my goal that during my blog posts in the coming year, I will be able to share books that I have read and discuss them with readers of my blog.

I am also a fan of food so I like to read food books, magazines and blogs.  I want to keep learning and sharing ways that I am living a life with a proper blood sugar level.  I never blogged about it before, but will let you know that I was diagnosed with diabetes in March.  I can reverse diabetes if I make the right choices.  I think that I will dedicate some of my future blog posts to celebrate successes and share struggles that I have with food choices.

Everyone is walking through the maze of life.  My blog is meant to be a place along the way that you look forward to visiting, a place to see how God is at work in me.  I enjoy coming alongside of readers of my blog and sharing what I have noticed.  It gives me great pleasure to be in your company.  I hope to blog every other week and post my new blog entry at the same time every other week.  I plan to post by Sunday.  I hope you plan to subscribe and read the new blog posts.  I enjoy linking up with Ruth Ayers and her weekend celebrations like I did today.