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Round and round, thoughts spin in my head.

How does our world have the capacity to hold so much good……………

and yet have room for so much evil?

Yesterday, evil pushed its way into our country…….once again

and tried to take over.

It forcefully took what was never meant for it to have

and left our nation staring at screens,

asking why?

wondering how?

Evil never makes sense.

We can ask a hundred questions.

We can ask them all day long;

but even if we come up with as many answers as to why……….

evil leaves us empty.

Speechless.

Aching.

Scared.

Evil only wins, though, if it turns us into anything less than good.

Because the only way to overcome evil is with the very thing it hates.

Good.

Love.

Mercy.

Compassion.

Love sees beyond the face of the one who carries hurt into a school and isn’t afraid to ask,

“What is really going on here?”

Our nation has a problem,

and it’s bigger than “who is holding what” or “how they acquired it.”

It’s bigger than any laws or the lack of them.

Evil is a heart issue.

And no amount of law passing can change a heart.

We can pretend evil is humanly fixable…….

because fixing things is what we all want to do.

Some things are just too broken for human hands.

And this world is one of those things.

We need more than a manmade

or woman-made

or people-made

or whatever-you-want-to-call-it today………

glue.

And maybe that’s part of the problem.

We’re so caught up in word usage these days that we’re missing the eyes of the very children we’re trying to teach to read them.

We are a broken world and a confusing one.

Today, the media and our government have no problem sending out “prayers” to the hurting,

but tomorrow they may very well call into question anyone trying to pray within a school building.

No wonder our children often feel lost.

We teach them to want God when they need Him

but to push Him away when they think they don’t.

We’ve got to change this mixed message

unless we think the next generation can survive by bouncing back and forth between faith and self-sufficiency.

There are so many things I want my granddaughter and every other child to know,

but today I want them to know that no matter how evil the world seems…………….

good is still here.

If they’ll only look up.

He is the answer.

Always.

He is the way.

Every single day.

He is the Healer of all that is broken.

Forever.

And there’s no law that can take away, change, or override that truth.

_____________________________

Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts,

would know that they do want, and want acutely,

something that cannot be had in this world.

There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you,

but they never quite keep their promise.

C.S. Lewis

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sunrise peeking through

Even Moses Needed More

January 31st, 2018

 

Moses encountered God in a burning bush.

He watched God perform miracle after miracle in Egypt.

He saw the Red Sea parted and witnessed manna falling from Heaven.

He climbed Mt. Sinai and chiseled God’s laws into stone as God spoke to him.

But it wasn’t enough.

He needed more.

He needed to know what I need to do on the good days and the bad.

“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you,”

and just a few verses later,

“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”

Moses needed to know more about God’s ways so He could know God more.

And He needed to know God was still with him…………….every step of the way…………

or he’d choose to stay right where he was in the wilderness.

___________________________

Driving to work can be daunting when life is hard.

The thought of facing a world full of people when you’re struggling to face your own little world can feel as if the sky is closing in.

Dark

Heavy

Oppressing

And even though God’s shown up in your life time and time again……..

in mighty ways,

it’s easy to find yourself asking,

“Where are you today?”

And it’s easy to think,

“I’ll stay in the wilderness unless I see you……..again.”

And then, as if He knows exactly where you’re looking for a sign of His presence,

He parts a new Red Sea.

He opens the sky.

He places your feet on the same path as a random penny.

Or turns a leaf into a perfect flower.

Something.

Anything.

He just knows.

And He doesn’t get exasperated, throwing His past works in your face, as if your request is uncalled for.

He could have made Moses feel pretty silly for not knowing who was leading him that day in the sandy desert.

Moses had witnessed as many or more miracles than anyone else on this planet.

And yet he felt safe asking for more.

“Show me your glory,” Moses pleaded.

And God showed up.

He led Moses up the mountain,

placed him in the cleft of a rock and said,

“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you,

and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.”

I’m so thankful Moses found himself needing more of God time and time again and wasn’t afraid to admit it.

I need more of Him too.

I need more miracles.

I need more skies with His glory peeking through.

I need more pennies.

I need more hearts.

Because even though I believe with all my heart He’s always with me…………..

I, like Moses, still need to see signs of Him in order to KNOW

just how close He truly is.

I’m so thankful He shows up.

Over and over again.

He never gets tired of reminding me that His glory truly goes before me.

And His glory goes before you too.

If you need to see Him today,  just ask.

Then keep your eyes wide open.

Moses did.

And God was faithful.

He’ll be faithful to you too.

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foot rocks loves

 

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”   So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

Exodus 13:17-18 NIV

They didn’t have a GPS or a map so they didn’t know what we know…….

or what God knew.

There was a shorter way to the Promised Land.

And God chose the longer, harder path.

He looked ahead and rerouted the Israelites, knowing full well where it led and how long it would take.

It’s easy to read the verses above and wonder how this could be the decision of a loving Father.

Who purposely sends His children into the wilderness when there’s an easier way?

______________

I read these two verses about ten times this morning.

“God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country,

though that was shorter.”

The God of the Universe KNEW where He was leading them yet looked at the terrain of the land stretching from point A to B,

and said, “Go this way.”

And “this way” wasn’t the way any of them would have chosen had they been leading.

“This way” felt like the wrong way for forty years.

They grumbled, complained, disobeyed, and kicked their feet in the dust mile after mile,

longing to go back to Egypt but surely feeling it was too far gone as they climbed sandy mountain after mountain and slept night after night under the huge expanse of stars.

God knew the shorter way was easy.

And who doesn’t like the sound of the word, “easy.”

 That’s why I have to keep reading when I get to tough verses.

God knew the way, but He also knew His people.

“If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

God also knew that easy roads can just as easily lead us back to the very place we started if the enemy pops up along our path.

And who wants to start over?

The way of the world can look pretty attractive when the enemy shows up to fight.

And God knew war would be the very thing that sent the Israelites running.

And running isn’t nearly as easy when we turn around and realize the journey back is long and hard.

__________________

I’m sure the Israelites sat around the campfire and talked about “the good ole days” in Egypt when they had more than just manna to eat and homes to sleep in not tents.

I’m sure they remembered the friends they mingled with there who had even handed them jewels and treasures as they rushed out of town at God’s command.

Looking back always looks better when life is hard today.

But in these moments the Israelites were losing sight of their goal –

the Promised Land –

and in losing sight, they chose bitterness and blame over thankfulness and joy.

I’ve been there.

I’ve been an Israelite in the wilderness, wondering why God sent me this way or that.

I’ve grumbled.

I’ve complained.

I’ve kicked my feet in the dust.

But thank goodness, I didn’t have a map.

Thank goodness God didn’t make the way back easy.

Because I would have set off running…………

so many times………………..

back to something easier.

Because who really wants to face battles?

Today, I’m thankful for the wilderness road.

The easy road doesn’t give you time to cultivate………..

Patience

Hope

Faith

Trust

Forgiveness

Grace

Perseverance

Thankfulness

Humility.

That’s why I’m still on the long road.

I’m still learning.

My road still weaves to the left and the right.

And that’s okay.

Because I know where it’s leading.

And the shorter path would never get me there.

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It’s strange how life goes.

You grow up thinking you want to be this or do that.

You imagine all the places you might live.

You dream of having a family.

And then you commit yourself to God’s leading………………..

you throw away your own ideas of what an adventurous life might look like in exchange for an adventure with Him.

You lay it all down

— every dream, every hope, every wish —

and you hold on tight.

Because God’s idea of a big life never seems to look like the one you envisioned.

And God’s thoughts about what will bring the deepest joy never match the things on your humanly-created list.

I’m 52 years old now.

I’ve lived nearly all of my 32 years of married life in a tiny town in Kentucky.

I’ve finished three degrees by taking classes online or walking from my house to the college where my husband teaches or driving weekly over 100 miles from my home.

I’ve babysat to help pay our bills, taught elementary, middle, and high school, and written a book on grief after the loss of two of our children.

I’m now a therapist in our small town,

and through all of my “working” journeys my husband has kept our home stable with his steady passion for being a Bible college professor and tax preparer for ministers across the United States.

None of this was part of our plan as we dated and walked the campus of Cincinnati Bible College in the early 80s.

We had no idea where God would take us as we sat in Larosa’s on dates or played intramural volleyball with other young married couples.

We just knew we loved each other and most of all loved God.

—————————————————–

Many years have passed since we said, “I do,”

and we’ve now watched all of our children “fly away” to pursue their own life dreams.

And if I could say just one thing to each of them,

I would say,

“Never stop dreaming or working or living big…………………

but let go of your own idea of what a fulfilling, adventurous life looks like.”

I read recently in John Ortberg’s book,

The Me I Want To Be,

that “the Spirit is the river………….not us.”

And you can’t push a river,

you can only move with it.

Monday night I told my class of college students to never get so caught up in trying to answer the question, “What do I want to be?” that they miss the importance of correctly answering the question, “Who do I want to be as I do this or I do that?”

WHO is so much more important than WHAT.

I think I’m finally figuring that out.

Who am I?  isn’t so much a question about careers or titles –

it’s a question that needs to be answered as we look in the mirror and see every blemish and flaw in light of His mercy and grace.

We are children of the King.

Sons and daughters placed on this planet for such a short time………………

to have a relationship with Him as we stumble through all sorts of roles,

trying to bring Him glory with each faltering step.

That’s what I want to say to my kids.

Don’t worry about tripping or falling as you travel through life,

because the One who guides your steps is ahead of you.

He’s already smoothing rough roads,

and He’s already working out ways to provide just what you need as you face successes, failures, gains, and losses.

He’s got this.

You don’t have to have it all figured out.

Ever.

Because the minute we think we’ve figured out life,

we’ve taken over the role of Him who created it.

And that’s a dangerous place to be.

So let go.

Trust Him.

Enjoy the flow of the river no matter where it leads,

because when the Spirit is our river it never leads us where we shouldn’t go or be.

Last month, our daughter and her fiance’ became husband and wife.

As my husband and I left the wedding ceremony arm in arm,

my heart overflowed with joy even as it ached for the presence of our two children in Heaven at this very special family occasion.

And that’s how God works.

He fills up every empty place in our heart with His love and His joy……………….

when we surrender our lives completely to Him.

This life passes by so quickly.

So soak up every memory.

The amazingly joy-filled ones and the ones that hurt more deeply than you ever thought you could bear.

Because one day this world will wash away and the only question that will matter will have nothing to do with “what you were” but it will have everything to do with “who you were” along the way.

And the only way to really answer that question is by answering the only question that truly matters,

and that question is this…………….

“Whose are you?”

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dishes in drawer

 

I’m not sure why, but there was something about this particular moment –  Tim putting away dishes while I placed knives, forks, and spoons in their proper place.  Maybe it was the sound of our small talk mixed with the clinking of metal and glass that grabbed my attention.

Or maybe it was the silence just beyond the walls of our kitchen that screamed more loudly.

After such a busy year, 2018 has started very quietly in our home and the echo of the joy that filled December still rings in my ears.

Life is like that.

One chapter can be so loud, so full of energy and passion and purpose.

And you turn the page to find the volume so low you can hear the person next to you breathing in and breathing out as they sleep.

Or feel your own heartbeat as you lay silently in bed.

Or be stopped in your tracks by the sound of a fork landing in a silverware drawer.

I’m not sure where I thrive best.

In the insane chapters of multiple to-do lists and endless phone calls or in the super quiet chapters where I have the freedom to read a book with no one interrupting me.

But I do know this:

God never forces His way into my loud seasons.  I believe He’s always there, but I sometimes feel as if I have to push through a crowd just to catch a glimpse of His face….and then hope He’s still smiling.

I think God lives loudest in places like silverware drawers and the darkness of night.

I think He thrives in the most obscure places and finds silence the best attention-grabber He ever created.

He had to speak before anything came to be,

but He was there in all His fullness long before the planets spun in orbit or the stars hung in the sky.

Silence was His first creation,

and I think He’s most comfortable there.

He didn’t need words to become the Word.

“In the beginning was the Word…..”

And when He breathed life into man,

everything changed………..in an instant.

The gift of speaking was suddenly handed down to the world,

and words began to fill the earth as Adam created and spoke out loud new names for animal after animal.

The Creator bravely created new creators.

I wonder if He hesitated.

I wonder if He knew just how quickly this place would become a roaring ball of chaos and, in that moment, held back for a millisecond before saying, “Let there be…….”

Regardless of how He may have felt as He put time in motion………………………

Silence was broken by His voice,

and I want the silence of my 2018 to be no different.

I want my silence broken by His voice and His voice alone.

I want to “be still” and “simply know” much more often than I “speak out” and have no clue what I’m even trying to say.

Writing has been a struggle the past year and a half and I know why.

Like a knot needing loosened, my thoughts have hung tight, demanding close attention in order to be freed.

And it’s hard to giving something all of your attention when you’re looking anywhere but toward it.

Don’t you see it in the faces of those you love when you realize they’re talking to you as you’re looking at your phone?

We spend so much time looking down…………………………filling our lives with the noise of everyone else’s lives and in the end,

missing our very own.

We miss the voice of our spouse or our neighbor.

We miss the clinking of the glasses as they find their home in the cupboard.

We miss the sound of the spoons as they settle into their resting place.

But most of all………………

we miss Him.

______________________________________________

Thank goodness, He waits.

Quietly.

Patiently.

Lovingly.

He never turns His back.

He never gives up.

He never walks away.

He is the Faithful One.

Unconditionally loving us through our loudest chapters.

And holding us close in our quietest ones.

I’m not sure what your year looks like, but from God’s view I believe it looks good.

And I believe He’s right there with you in the chaos or the calm.

Whether you’re pushing through a crowd to catch a glimpse of Him or finding Him nestled quietly amongst your forks,

He is with you.

Emmanuel.

I’m so thankful for fresh starts and for a Father who shows up in my silverware drawer and simply whispers,

“I’m still here.”

He’s in your silverware drawer too.

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fogtwo

 

Jesus saw the look in the eyes of His disciples as the storm raged all around them and spoke the words,

“Peace.  Be still.”

Suddenly, with no jet stream movement required,

the storm was gone.

All that remained was Jesus, the Son of God, and smooth sailing.

This morning, Jesus is speaking the same words to me,

“Peace. Be still.”

 I’m feeling the to-do lists fade and the hours ahead of me at work feel much less daunting,

because He is there.

He has every Monday,

every Tuesday,

and every day that follows wrapped snuggly in His arms.

And what day can’t be handled when hugged by the Savior of the world?

The Nischan house is overflowing with wedding decorations, borrowed and bought.

But it’s also overflowing with joy and thanksgiving.

 God is so very good,

and He has a way of filling every gap in my weak human flesh with His presence…………..

which means I’m overflowing too.

When I am weak, He is strong.

He promises this in His Word.

So there’s two things I know with confidence on this already busy Monday morning.

When Jesus sees storms, He speaks peace and peace appears.

When God sees weakness, He speaks strength and strength appears.

So this morning, as I venture out to give my all to my job for eight hours,

I’m trusting God and His Son to give their all to me………………

and boldly speak into every part of my life that feels stormy or weak..

That’s truly all I need to know to have a perfect Monday.

I hope you’ll know it too and feel the presence of God and His Son in a mighty way.

I love you all.

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Praise to the Teacher

November 3rd, 2017

 

It’s funny how God works.

I remember playing “teacher” as a little girl,

and I remember the day my sister and I created our own school library by gluing notebook-paper pockets in the front

of all of our books so they could have their very own “library card.”

I eventually became a real teacher and fell in love with my students every single year.

But after Nick died……………

I was a different person.

I couldn’t handle many of the things I had dove into wholeheartedly before he passed away.

And even though I tried a different kind of role in the world of academics,

I knew something had to give or I was going to crumble.

So off to college I went (again) in search of a new chapter…………….

and wouldn’t you know?

God took the very world I had walked away from and gave it right back to me…………..

in a whole new way.

I now spend my weekdays in schools as a therapist instead of a teacher,

and I couldn’t be more thankful.

But as I walk the halls and see so many of my friends

who are still in the teaching field

dealing with so many different kinds of stressful things every single day,

my heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness for each of them.

They are heroes to me.

And this morning I just want them to know.

You are noticed.

You are loved.

You are appreciated.

You are needed.

You are changing the world…………..

one classroom at a time.

Thank you for your daily smiles………………

you amaze and inspire me!!!

This is for you……………from me.

________________________________________________

“Praise to the Teacher”

Praise to the teacher 

who doesn’t feel imprisoned by words like “early duty,” 

“lunch duty,” or “after school bus duty,”

but instead rises above her duties

and see the souls encircling her

and smiles anyway…………

Because she knows her job 

transcends her own lifetime,

isn’t truly measured by data or

limited to core content.

And in many cases extends far beyond teacher to

mentor

coach

nurse

counselor

and most of all

friend.

Praise to the teacher who keeps on giving when she has nothing left to give

and who inspires her students to do the same.

Praise to the teacher 

who never stops learning because she creates a classroom

full of young instructors 

who teach her new things every single day.

Praise to the teacher who is pulled in a hundred different directions 

but smiles anyway.

You are so loved.

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Growing Up Without Growing Old

October 25th, 2017

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Cropping out the world’s distractions and filling every corner of her life with joy,

she giggles as she runs

My niece always brings to mind Jesus’ words,

“Unless you become like a child….”

I need time with this little girl often,

because I’ve felt a little old lately.

Not in a real-world “I can’t believe I’m 52 kind-of way,”

but in a spiritual sense.

I want to grow up in Christ.

I just don’t ever want to grow old in Him.

 And maybe that’s what Jesus meant.

_____________________________________

“Crop out the distractions, Tammy.”

“Giggle as you run.”

“Focus on me.”

Is staying young this simple?

I think it just might be.

_____________________________________

 Just before his death, Sir Isaac Newton made this remark:

“I do not know what I may appear to the world;

but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore,

and diverting myself by now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary,

while the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me”

– Brewster’s Life of Newton, pp. 300, 301. Ed. New York, 1832.

_________________________________________________

Maybe it was the joy of finding a smooth pebble or a pretty shell that kept him young.

Maybe it was knowing there was an ocean of truth undiscovered all around him but not feeling like he had to know it all

or do it all

or be it all

in order to live big.

_________________________________________________

I see tired moms, busy running here and there with their children and wonder………..

“Do they realize the treasure of this insane moment?”

The running ahead, giggling child that seems to ignore her words,

“Slow down,”

may be teaching her to seize the day not simply trod through it.

_______________________________

The endless questions at bedtime……………..in hopes of a few more minutes awake.

Maybe children are trying to teach us to wonder again.

Oh, to have that chance to hear my kids’ sweet, little voices at bedtime.

Children ask,

Why?

When?

How?

Where?

They want to know more.

And I don’t ever want to stop knowing more either.

I can’t turn back time,

but I can turn back my heart.

I can find my youthful soul again.

And I’m working on it.

I’m okay with growing up,

but I’ll never be okay with growing old.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,

for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

(Matthew 19:14)

Praying you’ll find a smooth pebble, a pretty shell, or a surprise heart along your way today.

<3 I’d love to see it if you do. <3

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