August 31st, 2011
…….and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
A few weeks ago, I bought Tim a couple new pairs of dress shoes for work. I was so happy to find a black pair and a brown pair that I thought he would like.
However, when Tim slipped his feet into each pair we discovered that one pair was too tight and the other pair was too loose. I had mistakenly bought him a “wide” size in one pair of shoes, and both shoes were a half-size too small.
Fitting someone else for shoes is almost impossible.
When it comes to shoes, “one size does not fit all.”
As I was reading in a commentary this morning about having “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace,” I learned that the verb form for “fitted” is one that implies “doing it on your own accord.” The commentary went on to explain that this means we don’t have to feel guilty if we do not have secure footing as if someone else is telling us what we need to do. We need to choose to have firm footing “on our own accord” because Jesus is our Lord. We should stand firm in our faith and in the message of the Gospel because we have a “high view of salvation” not because someone else is telling us we should stand firm.
I also learned that that when Paul wrote this passage, he was writing to a group of people-not just one person. The interpretation is that with the gospel should come peace and UNITY. As Christians, we lose strength when we are divided against each other within the church. I love this quote I found this morning,
If Satan can disrupt and divide the foundation of the the Christian army which was wrought by the gospel of peace, then he increases his chances of defeating us in individual battles.
One more thing that I never knew until this morning was that Roman soldiers would often plant sharpened sticks just under the surface of the ground so that enemy soldiers could not see them. If the soldiers were not wearing thick sandals, they would step on this sharpened sticks, piercing their feet, and leaving them unable to fight.
The sandals that the soldiers wore were also studded with sharp nails which gave the men a firm grip into the soil as they marched forward.
This morning as I think of all the different places my friends and family…and all of you…will be walking, I am praying that each of us makes a purposeful choice to fit ourselves with the “readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
Do not leave home without making sure your feet are protected from the sneaky attacks of the devil who wants to plant things in your path that will leave you unable to fight back.
Also, make sure the Gospel surrounds your feet………..helping you march forward confidently, standing firm with every step you take.
In my reading class last week, we talked about symbolism. I found an idea online for making play-doh so that my students could create objects that symbolized their character.
This morning, as you venture out into the world or face the world within your home, I’m praying that you will take a minute to think about what your “symbol” would look like.
I’ll show some of their results soon. They were precious.
Here are a few pictures of the beginnings of their creations!
In all you do today, remember that to the world you are a symbol of God’s love.
In other words, we are called to be a symbol of Jesus to the lost and hurting.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. When we walk with Him, we are walking with Peace.
In order to be a symbol of His love, we must show the world what it looks like to walk with Peace.
I’ve struggled with this lately, as you all know. Thank you for loving me through some rough weeks.
Praying I can walk with Peace today.
Praying you can too,
August 30th, 2011
…..with the breastplate of righteousness in place……
The first question, when talking about the armor or God, is this:
“Do you truly believe Christians are in a spiritual battle?”
If you do, then you realize how vital wearing this armor is in our daily walk.
Often in our life, difficult events can cause our “shield of faith” to drop a little.
When our shield drops, our heart is exposed.
Sickness, loss, hurt, unanswered prayer, and all sorts of other valleys……can lead to times of doubt as we attempt to find a way to understand how God’s love matches up with our pain. Believe me, I have experienced many shield-slipping moments in my life.
I think one of the devil’s biggest goals is to bring doubt and questioning into our lives, so that we will feel weak and defenseless.
When we find our faith feeling a little shaky, it’s IMPERATIVE that we have our heart protected….
with our breastplate of righteousness.
What does this mean?
I read in one commentary that,
“To be righteous is to do what is right in God’s eyes. God’s commandments are righteousness.
In contrast, lawlessness is sin, and sin is the opposite of righteousness. So to be righteous is to obey God’s laws of love.”
Knowing that when my faith seems weak, I can still stand up against the devil’s schemes as long as I continue to live a life of righteousness strengthens me today.
I have my belt securely fastened.
My breastplate is in place.
It’s time to head out the door into the battlefield of life, so until tomorrow I thought I’d leave you with a few verses about righteousness.
Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
My tongue shall speak of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness.
1 Corinthians 15:34
Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
1 Thessalonians 5:8
But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
It is so exciting to know that ONE DAY all of our efforts will be rewarded!! I love this verse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
Thankful for each of you and every prayer you lift for me and my family.
I’m praying for you as I drive to work,
August 29th, 2011
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist..
When I get dressed, a belt is usually one of the last things I think about putting on.
Honestly, I rarely wear a belt.
Reading that the armor of God BEGINS with “the belt of truth buckled around our waist” seems opposite to my thinking.
In my simple mind, the belt would be wrapped around my waist as a finishing touch, a piece of my armor that would pull all things together.
However, as I read some commentary thoughts this morning, I learned that in Bible days, the belt was extremely important and needed to go on BEFORE a soldier could probably carry his sword.
The belt had leather straps that hung down and protected the lower part of the soldier’s body.
The belt encompassed him and secured all the other pieces of his armor.
Christians are told to place the belt of truth around their waist……..first.
Without this truth, we are unable to securely carry God’s message (His Word-our Sword) to a hurting and dying world.
Jn. 17:17 says that God’s Word is truth.
As I think of John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”…….it all begins to make sense.
The Word was in the beginning.
The Word is truth.
Therefore, truth comes first in our daily “putting on” of the armor of God.
We must wrap ourselves in His truth, in His Word……FIRST.
Today, I woke up with all sorts of things bouncing around in my mind.
Olivia’s basketball schedule for the week, Todd’s second week of dorm life at college, Erich’s new job at Vanderbilt and Mallory starting her Masters at MTSU, Evan’s quickly approaching move to California and Maria’s job at Elliott County High School, Tim’s responsibilities at KCU and church, my week at school, and on and on……………..
As I began getting ready, I thought of the armor of God and how I knew I HAD to be wearing all of it in order to face today. I couldn’t wait to sit down and take a look at the first part of the armor.
I had forgotten that it was the belt.
Maria walked into the kitchen as I was typing, and her first words were, “I couldn’t find the belt that goes with this shirt, so I’m wearing a bigger belt. Can you tell?”
I couldn’t believe those were her first words to me this morning of all mornings. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her mention her belt before in my life.
I told her what I was writing about, and she couldn’t believe it either.
When we wear a belt, we know when it feels right and when it doesn’t.
To others, the change may not be noticeable, but to us, the change in style, size, and color affects how we feel.
The same goes with wearing the belt of truth.
We know when we are securely wrapped in God’s truth and when we are trying to wrap ourselves in anything less than His perfect Word.
Today, I woke up with my belt loose.
Doubt, fear, and anxiety slipped in where the belt was not securely fastened.
I am so thankful that God gives such clear word pictures to help us in this tricky world.
I want to start my day with THE BELT OF TRUTH properly placed and securely fastened.
It’s the only way I’ll survive.
I’m praying that your belt of truth is secure too.
We know the truth and the truth sets us free.
Live victoriously today in the freedom that comes from being wrapped in His love and His truth,
August 26th, 2011
As I was driving home from work today, I caught a glimpse of something that brought sweet tears to my eyes.
They were officially part of the team as they slipped on the East Carter High School football helmets.
I want to!
1 Thessalonians 5:7-9
August 25th, 2011
-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
I was measuring flour last night to make play-doh for school, and I realized that filling the measuring cup “to the fullness” of a cup makes all the difference in getting a recipe right.
If I almost filled the cup, then eventually I was adding a little more flour and then a little more until I had “the fullness of a cup.”
As I read Ephesians 3:19 this morning, I asked myself am I truly “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God,” and if not, how could I become filled?
I find myself lacking this fullness on many days, so I looked back to the words before these words in Ephesians 3:19 and read that Paul says,
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-
Being filled to the measure of all the fullness of God is all about LOVE.
Being rooted in His love
Being established in His love
Gaining power from His love
Sharing His love with others
Grasping His love’s size-its width, its length, its height, its depth
Knowing that His love surpasses our human knowledge (this means we’ll never, ever understand His love completely while we’re on this planet)
The devil is most happy when we doubt God’s love because when we do we are not…………..
FILLED TO THE MEASURE OF ALL FULLNESS OF GOD.
We are lacking.
We come up short.
We feel incomplete.
Today, I want to soak in, reflect upon, and be thankful for…
“Get thee behind me, satan………I am loved with an everlasting love.”
I am praying he gets behind you, too.
You are esteemed highly by the Lord on high.
Praying your cup overflows today with His love and peace,
August 24th, 2011
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
I have a sponsor’s meeting tonight at church.
Youth group kicks off again next week for the year, so we’re having a meeting to talk about the “plan” for this year’s EPIC gatherings.
I thought about not helping this year, but every day at work I see the need for Christian adults to be involved in the lives of young people.
I see girls and guys in relationships that do not appear healthy.
I see kids making choices that are leading them down frightening paths.
And, truthfully, one of the biggest reasons I gave up my job last year and took the one I have now was so I could be closer to kids from church and in the same world of people in which Olivia interacts socially.
I should have known the devil would be attacking me so fervently.
I should have known that I was declaring war with the enemy when I had any intention of making a difference in our church by changing jobs.
Why have I been surprised that this has been so difficult?
When I read the verses above this morning, I was a little confused. So I did some commentary hunting and learned that many people believe these “heavenly rulers and authorities” mentioned are actually the “bad guys” in the heavenly world….satan’s helpers.
I’d never thought of the church as a way for God to reveal his eternal purpose to the devil.
I’d never thought that Christians were models of the power of God not just to encourage others on earth but to make the demons aware of God’s power.
I should have.
I should have remembered how Job had been hand-selected by the devil as he roamed the earth “watching” God’s people live.
The devil thought that surely Job was faithful because his life was so perfect…so he challenged God and God gave him permission to test Job.
Do we as the church realize that we are being watched, evaluated, and tested by the evil ones……….and that it is only by the grace of God that we are able to withstand the attacks that come daily?
Putting on the armor of God is a necessary part of our morning routine. Without it we are defenseless.
I feel excited for the first time this morning, because I feel like God is leading me to dive into the armor of God here on my blog. I want to look at each part in detail and see how it is important in order to stand up against spiritual battles.
Our kids need to know about this too.
The church needs to remember Ephesians 6.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
That’s why I am going tonight to the sponsor meeting. I want to help our high school students understand that they are in a battle daily as Christians. I want to be reminded myself. When I remember that I am in a war, it makes the attacks seem “normal” not so shocking. It’s scary standing up for Christ. The devil doesn’t want us to live in victory, so I believe he fights us every step of the way.
So what do we do when we are afraid?
I remind myself of Nick’s favorite verse, Joshua 1:9,
Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!
Today, as you face the difficult things that come your way, do not forget that these truths:
1. You are being watched (by people, by a cloud of witnesses who are cheering you on, and by spiritual rulers who do not want you to live in victory).
2. God is with you every step of the way.
3. In the end, He wins the final battle!
I love this quote, and hope that it encourages you as you walk out into the world:
Only one life, ‘Twill soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
August 23rd, 2011
I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Of all the things I do every morning (and sometimes evening), sharing with you is near the top.
It’s almost as if something draws me to my computer daily simply for this reason.
I love you all so much.
I think of all the things I have learned to let go –
things that have caused me to feel inadequate
…a perfectly clean house, a sink emptied of dirty dishes, laundry which is all caught up, home-cooked meals every night….
and I know there is one thing I can’t stop doing daily.
It’s writing to all of you.
I want so badly to know that there is a part of my life that is making an eternal difference.
A difference that draws people closer to Him Who holds the keys to eternal life.
When I think of the power someone has when they hold the keys to a locked door (everyone waits until that person arrives before they are able to enter a locked room), I realize that in order to spend eternity in Heaven, all of you have to know Jesus.
He holds the keys.
He is the Gospel story.
I am a servant to that Gospel message.
Knowing this and believing this so deeply compels me to share something daily about His love and faithfulness. I have been struggling ever since school began this year, as you all know, to find a balance in life with this new job I have taken.
Inspite of all of my struggles, one thing has never changed. That is my deep belief and knowledge that God is with me.
Knowing this makes the difference every day as I stumble from bed to get ready to face another day filled with 149 students who look to me for a reading lesson.
I have plenty.
I’m an expert.
Without Him, I am nothing and because of this, I am indebted to His message.
God’s grace keeps my head above water and the gospel message moves me to be the person I am every day.
So today, before I ventured into my morning routine, I read the words of Paul and smiled.
Paul could never be the same after being changed by the working of God’s power.
Neither can I.
I live daily through His power and by His grace. Knowing this, I am indebted to Him and honored to be able to share My Heart and His Words with you as I walk this road of life.
Thankful to be a servant of the Gospel living freely because of His love,
August 22nd, 2011
A conversation this weekend has left me reflecting on the power of music.
How much power does music have?
When I listen to someone speak or read someone’s words, does the music in the background affect my emotions?
How about with my blog?
What if the music on my blog is what brings you back to read another day’s posting?
What if it’s all about the music?
I stood outside this morning thinking about these questions while I watched the puppies play for a few minutes before heading to church. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the words to a song I have loved for several years popped into my head. I hadn’t thought about this particular song in a long time, because I haven’t heard it in a while.
But as I stood in the coolness of the morning feeling the wet dew on my toes, these words floated through my mind,
“When the music fades and all is stripped away, and I simply come. Longing just to bring something that’s of worth….”
Ahhhh………..music does matter. Music adds flavor, color, mood…………
So what if you turned off the music on my blog as you read my words? Would the words lose meaning?
Maybe. Maybe the music is what brings you back.
If it is, should that change how I feel about blogging?
Is that why I write?
To draw you back?
To move you?
Blogging is so complicated to me. Writing without an audience could easily become discouraging, but deep inside I think I would have to keep writing every day simply to get my thoughts out of my head.
I started my blog to move me, to help me cope, to guide me down a road that seemed impassable (on so many levels) alone…………a road of cancer, a road of fear……..
As I blogged, I met all of you and I have fallen in love with each of you.
And then one day my music faded. Nick died. And I was stripped of so much of the flavor, color, and mood inside of me.
I was faced with the question, “What happens when the music fades in my life?”
Thinking about questions like this has led me to think about all the kinds of music God places in the backgrounds of our lives….
And the list goes on and on………..
I’m thankful for the music of my life.
But what if the music fades?
Where does that leave me with God?
Do I stop going to Him when the music fades?
Is it the music in my life that keeps drawing me to Him?
Is it the music that moves me?
Blogging comes and blogging goes. But God’s love is eternal.
Lord, let me live my life totally surrendered to you……..even when the music seems to fade and everything is stripped away. Lead me back, Lord, to the heart of worship.
In the end, that is all that matters.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Click here to listen to the song I mentioned above.
(You’ll need to pause the blog music under “Tammy’s Songs” in order to listen to this song.) 🙂
August 19th, 2011
Pride can easily get in the way of admitting I am struggling.
Why? I think it’s because……..
I want to look as if I “get” everything.
I want to appear professional and capable.
I want people to see me as someone who can handle the things life throws my way.
There are times when the “look” of being self-sufficient is chipped away by the reality that I am not able to handle life without the help of those around me.
Like an old piece of furniture, paint peeling to uncover the real wood underneath, I begin to reveal the true me……..
Fleck by fleck, the covering disappears and SUDDENLY, I’m not pretending anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And the ironic thing to me is this:
I feel more comfortable in my old wood look.
I can smile even though I’m overwhelmed because I’m not acting as if I am not.
Yesterday I stayed after school with our new specialist from Frankfort for an hour and a half, and we broke down all the reading standards into units. We talked about formative assessments and bell ringers and lots of other things that I just needed to grasp at a deeper level.
I am so thankful that I allowed this lady to see beneath my chipping paint. She knows me now. She knows about all of my kids. She knows about the loss of Nick and Adrienne. She understands that I came to this job still hurting and seeing life from a different perspective than I ever would have had I not been placed on the road of grief.
Today, I’m wondering what you might be hiding under chipping paint?
I want to encourage you to reveal your real wood. You may cry…a lot. You may come out a different person than you are this very minute.
I really think you will feel free as you release the true you to the world around you……….
And ask for help if you need it. 🙂
Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
August 18th, 2011
Thank you for bearing with me and praying for me as I find my way through a valley..I do feel the fog lifting a little and have had two evenings in a row that have felt somewhat “normal.”
I have a few ideas that I think will help me as a teacher and a writer….to be able to combine my love for being creative with my responsibilities at school which often give me little time for creativity.
I’ll share more as I work my way through these ideas. 🙂
For today, have a wonderful Thursday.
Tonight is all about getting Todd ready for moving into the dorm tomorrow…
I wish I could hug each of you and say “thank you” for your friendship face-to-face.
Know that you are loved and prayed for by me daily,