Faith · Uncategorized

Bible Journal Update

A few weeks ago I purchased a new Bible Journal and shared some of my earliest studies and artwork with you. Today I wanted to take some time to share some of the things I’ve been reading and creating lately as an update on how I’m using my Bible. At the end of July and beginning of August I studied the book of Daniel. Using the She Reads Truth app I read through the book and was challenged by many of the ideas presented. Through studying Daniel I was pointed to other scriptures as well such as 1 John 2:15-16 and 2 Peter 3:9.

 

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After I wrapped up my study of the book of Daniel I began another study which walks through the life of Moses beginning in the book of Exodus. Currently, I’m still reading through the this study using She Reads Truth as a guide for my daily reading and devotions. Here is a look at some of the major ideas that have spoken to my heart in Daniel and the beginning of Exodus.

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Each day that I sit down to study God’s Word I bring my Bible, journal, and a plethora of art supplies. I read through my daily passage and devotion. Then I pray over what I read. Some days that time of reflection leads me to a specific image or work of art. I spend another twenty minutes or so focusing on what the scripture says and how it applies to me as I create my works of art. In the pictures above I’ve used pens, colored pencils, crayons, water color paints, stickers, and stencils. I am an artistic-minded person and so I get so much joy out of this time interacting with God’s Word and my illustrations help me to remember the passages and tattoo them on my soul. I’m excited to branch out with my illustrations and try some new tools and materials in the future. I’m also learning so much as I walk through the Old Testament.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Faith · Uncategorized

Five Minute Friday: Grow

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Grow. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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The past few months have brought a lot of growth for my faith. I’ve been challenged and stretched, but one thing I’ve learned is that in order for growth to take place rest must accompany it. Through God’s strength I’ve been able to let go of some things that I had held closely to in order to fulfill his will for my life. I’ve also taken time to notice ways in which I’ve allowed things like housework, measuring up, and comparison become like idols in my life that have kept me from achieving optimal growth.

Recently, I was using my Thrive Moms App and reading through Isaiah 30. This entire chapter is about when God gave Israel clear instructions, but they decided to ignore his will in pursuit of their own.

Through their toil God was telling them, “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of that.” (Isaiah 30:15)

Like the Israelites, for so long I pushed my own agenda when I should have been listening to how God was stirring my heart. My head was telling me I had a list of things I needed to do or accomplish at the expense of the rest that God had promised. I wasn’t able to enjoy the fruits of my labor because I was so focused on things that distracted me from God.

In order to grow I needed to learn this lesson: It’s okay to rest.

When my child is in the middle of a growth spurt I know it because she rests far more than usual. Sleep is necessary for the human body to grow. Trust me, when I was growing a human in the womb I did a lot of sleeping. It is a natural and essential part of growth to rest.

We go through seasons in our lives. And we will never be able to completely avoid noise and chaos, but if we are ever going to see growth in our lives we have to understand the importance of rest and quietness. God speaks loudest in the quietness of our souls.

So carve out some time in your busy life to rest. Set aside a portion of your day to quiet yourself. Then prepare to be grown and stretched into the person that God created you to be.

The Ameri Brit Mom

fiction · Uncategorized

Five Minute Friday: Decide

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Decide. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

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Every writer has been where I am now. I’m sitting on a unique see-saw somewhere between hopeful and hopeless. Each day I totter between both places as I think about the story I have written. On occasion, I wake up dreaming about what it would be like to actually release a book. Other days I struggle with the thoughts of whether or not I wasted two years of my life writing a story that no one will ever read. However, it is a daily decision to persevere.

Every time I put pen to paper or open my computer I am claiming that I still believe in my dream. When someone asks about the book I respond, and that also helps motivate me toward the goal.

Some days it seems like a waste of time.

Some days it seems like the end is never going to come.

But the process has taught me far too much to turn back now.

If nothing else, in making the decision to see this project through I will be a far better writer, editor, and reader. I will have learned diligence and practiced discipline. I will have followed through on the hardest task I’ve set my mind to.

So when every part of my mind is telling me to just let it go, or laughing at the silly pipe dreams I’ve drawn up for myself, I will decide to continue. Stay the course. Persevere.

There is more to writing than just getting a book deal. Writing is about growth and deciding to take on the Mt. Everest-sized challenge.

The Ameri Brit Mom

*Side note: Edits Round 2 are just about finished. Check back next week for updates on my book!!

 

Faith

The Power of an Encouraging Word

Encouragement is a big deal. Encouragement can turn a rough day around and make someone who is struggling realize that their situation is really not the end of the world. Encouragement can point someone to Christ and better yet show them an example of what Christ is like. Encouragement offers hope and speaks life not death into the minds and hearts of those around us.

However, if encouragement is so full of life why is it so hard to do? Why is encouragement so easy to hear, but so difficult to speak? It may be that in order to feel equipped to encourage others one usually is being encouraged in their own life in some way. It’s like a chain reaction. If we don’t feel encouraged ourselves it makes it difficult to help another feel this way.

Lately, I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to speak life and encouragement to the people around me. A lesson has become clear to me in this process: in order to encourage others it also takes me encouraging myself. In the past, I’ve dealt with a negative attitude especially toward myself. God is truly reshaping my perspective and helping me to see that before I can encourage the people around me I must also speak encouragement to myself. He’s put people in my life who encourage me. Friendships have been formed on the foundations of faith and encouragement and I’ve been blessed endlessly by these people God has placed in my path.

We have to be cautious that we aren’t motivated solely by the encouragement of others. That is setting ourselves up for failure. People will never encourage us enough to keep us motivated to do good works so our encouragement must rest with God and ourselves.

It’s really important to understand the consequences of our words and actions to ourselves and those around us. What we think may be an small negative comment has the potential power to destroy. Our words can give life or take it away. As for me, I choose to have my words be life-giving.

Today I challenge you to make a list of people in your life who offer encouragement to you. Beside each name write one way you could encourage that person as a “thank you” for all the positivity they bring to your life. Maybe that means writing them a letter, picking up a coffee for them, or spending a few moments in prayer with them for something they are going through. Whatever challenge you decide to take on I pray that you are encouraged in turn!

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:2-4)

Teaching

We All Need a Little Encouraging

Photo Credit: http://epitec.com/thankfulness/

With less than seven weeks before the long awaited summer vacation my ambition is beginning to wane. I look at the calendar of end-of-year testing and I cannot shake the daunting feeling that my valuable instructional time as a teacher is coming to a close. Before long, testing mode will begin and I’m struggling with finding time to fit in all of the lessons yet to be done. Additionally,  the beautiful sunshine and temperatures outside make it really hard to stay motivated. But over the past few days God has thrown me a reminder that I am currently doing what I’m supposed to do and that I’m where I am supposed to be.

Over the weekend while enjoying my family date for the week (more on this in an upcoming post) I ran into a current student and her mother. We were at a mall, and my daughter was playing in every parent’s worst nightmare, the germ-infested play area. From a seat on the perimeter of the playground I caught a glimpse of this student. Let’s be real for a second- I teach ninth grade students. More often than not when I see a student in public they tend to avoid eye contact and act as though I don’t exist. Most of the time that doesn’t bother me one bit, but this student’s reaction was so encouraging. I saw her motion to her mother in my direction and I read her lips as she said, “There’s Mrs. Sisley.”

Her mother could have nodded and continued her parade from store to store. She was a busy shopper with an armful of bags toting newly purchased goods. But her mother’s reaction was more surprising than her daughter’s. The woman left her b-line to the next shop and came right up to the play area. At first, I was astounded to see her approaching me, but when her arms went out to embrace me I was completely taken aback.

I maybe should have explained that a few months back this particular student had struggled with a personal battle and as a member of the FCA which I advise she came to me in need of some guidance. I talked with her as much as I could about what was going on and then pointed her to some of the student leaders of FCA to help her out on a deeper level than I really could as a teacher. I’ve prayed for her often and she updates me on the situation as well. She is a student I have grown close to and whom I enjoy very much. She has grown so much this year and it is a blessing as a teacher to see students grow both in and out of the classroom as I have witnessed with this particular student.

Anyway, the mother hugged me right in the middle of the mall. Yes, I’m sure it caused a little bit of a scene, but it touched me nonetheless. As she was hugging me she said, “You will never know how much you mean to me and my family.” We both teared up. I realized then that my impact is so much bigger than I thought. I had never met this woman, but my influence had reached her. I am so thankful for this encouraging reminder that God has placed me in a position to directly influence my community. It isn’t just the students I’m impacting…it is whole families and groups of people. This was such a humbling experience as well. God is taking me (someone who has my own struggles) and is using me despite my struggles to positively infect my world.

This experience got me thinking. I’m no different than any other teacher. All of us works hard to be positive role models and change the world (or at the very least change our students). Sometimes this can be a thankless job. Luckily, very few of us are into teaching for recognition. It’s not necessarily that students take us for granted, but it ends up that students tend not to be as expressive as they should. They may talk about their favorite teachers at home or with their friends, but rarely do they show their appreciation directly to their teachers. So, today I asked my English students to write 1-3 paragraphs naming and describing a teacher who made a difference in their lives. After I checked their work they were to give their writing to the teacher whom they chose as their subject. My thinking is that sometimes it is nice to get that letter of gratitude or thankfulness.

In closing, I want to encourage you, readers, to remember that your influence reaches far beyond what is seen. Sometimes people spread their kind words and thoughts about you and it never returns. Just because the “thanks” isn’t heard doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. I also encourage you to take some time to thank someone that has had a big influence in your life.

Faith

Fear

According to Mirriam-Webster Dictionary (online) fear is, “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc. whether the threat is real or imagined.”

Lately, I’ve realized how I’ve let fear rule me. I’ve allowed my fears to guide my decisions, my actions (or inactions), and my relationships. These fears have become such a part of who I am and what I’ve done for so long that I have come to view them as part of my personality as opposed to the handicap that in reality they have become. Over the past several months God has been using people and circumstances to reveal to me the capacity at which I’ve allowed fear to motivate and direct me.

Fear is debilitating because it causes us to cower away from decisions and actions due to imagined results. Fear keeps us thinking about pleasing others and their opinions about us as well as our own failures and unrealized goals.

For me, I’ve allowed the first question that pops in my mind when a decision is to be made become, “What would ___________ think about me if I did this.” I’ve chalked up this attitude to a self-conscious personality when in reality it is a lifestyle driven by fear. I’ve kept myself from pursuing many a dream or goal by becoming fearful of failing and/or letting people down. This is no way to live a happy life.

So…as God has revealed more and more to me the ways I’ve allowed fear to reign over me I’ve been letting go piece by piece of those fears. An example, this blog. For years I’ve dreamed of writing and becoming a part of a writing community, but I’ve only really shared that with my husband. He is so brave and courageous and always pushes me to reach my goals and has always been a positive believer in me. This winter a great friend of mine talked to me about how she could sense that I was fearful and I needed to stop worrying about haters because they are always going to be there and I can do nothing to stop that. I prayed about that idea and although at first that statement scared me it became a statement that began to lead me down the road toward freedom.

I began throwing off my fears one at a time. I began to publish my blog. My mentality has been the whole time that if someone doesn’t like something I post or is uncomfortable with details from my life then they have the right to not read my posts or unfollow my blog. I haven’t been writing to please or impress anyone. It’s been therapeutic in one sense and has also helped me toward pursuit of a dream. During this time I’ve also been more vocal at work. I think my fears over time had made me a bit of a pushover, but lately at work I’ve let my ideas and goals become known to the administration and I’ve gained a lot of respect for stepping out in that way.

I’m nowhere near done with dealing with my fears, but God is doing a big work in my heart and life and I am thankful for that. I no longer think about what could happen, and instead focus on who I am and where I’m heading. The root of fear is believing that God cannot accomplish all that he says that he can. Fear is telling God that He is not in control. I just want to allow God to direct my steps and my actions and take back the reigns from anyone or anything else that I’ve allowed to do so in my life.

I want to leave you with a few verses that speak wonders to me in my fears:

Psalm 23:4- Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 27:1- The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 118:6-The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

2 Timothy 1:7-For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

Psalm 115:11-You who fear him, trust in the Lord-he is their help and shield.

Deuteronomy 31:6- Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Isaiah 54:4-Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

1 John 4:18- There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Awards

My First Award: Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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Just over a week ago I made the bold decision to begin publishing my musings in the wonderful blogging realm. I’ve always been a journal keeper and a secret writer, but I took the leap of faith (and advice from my husband) and began to publish my writing on this blog. I have been completely overwhelmed by the response I have received. My site stats are quite impressive and have exceeded my expectations. I’ve been averaging around 100 views per day and have created a following and community with blogging strangers around the world. I’ve gained some feedback from those more experienced than myself and I value that feedback greatly. But today, I have reached a new and unexpected milestone. My blog has been nominated by Welcome to My World for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

I am honored and delighted to be nominated for this award. The nomination comes to me from a follower of my blog. If you enjoy my blog you should follow this inspiring blog as well. The author is a cancer survivor who writes about everyday life with a toddler and all of life’s ups and downs. Her posts are very relatable and sometimes I feel like we are great friends because her everyday life so closely resembles my own. I’m really excited to be nominated for my first award. I feel like maybe some of my ramblings may be inspirational to others out there. So I am very grateful for this nomination.

So what’s the point?

Why would one want to be nominated for a blogging award? The answer is two-fold. One goal of every aspiring blogger is to gain readers and followers and awards help make that happen. When I began blogging I wanted to know that the information I was putting out on the Internet was helpful and inspirational to other people. Of course, it is a great outlet for my thoughts and creative thinking, but my goal the whole time has been to encourage other people through letting them in on my imperfect life. By being transparent I believe that other moms or women may be able to relate to my position and be encouraged that we don’t have to have it all together all the time. Another reason why I am so thankful for this award is because it means that I am achieving that goal of inspiring another woman out there and hopefully countless others.

As a nominee for this award I have 10 questions I must answer on my blog so here it goes:

10 burning questions for the nominees:

  1. If you had the opportunity to donate what or who would you donate to and why? If I had the means and opportunity to donate I would choose to sponsor children overseas through organizations like World Vision. I currently sponsor a child in Guatemala through World Vision with a club that I advise at the high school where I work. For $33.00 a month we are able to provide food, clothing, education, and Bibles for our sponsored child and his family. If I could I would sponsor several more children. I wish that all children had the privilege and necessities that my own child has and it breaks my heart when I hear stories where that is not the case. One of the coolest things about World Vision is that they send correspondence between you and your sponsored child. (They even translate when language is a barrier)
  2. What is your favorite season and why? My favorite season is Spring. What I love most about Spring is the feelings of new beginnings. The winter in the mid-west can be daunting and at times (like right now) it seems as though the warmer temperatures and longer days will never come. Once spring sets in I receive new energy and look forward to all that comes with the changing of the seasons.
  3. Who is your favorite author? This is the toughest question on this survey. I love reading which is why I am a high school English teacher. I have several noteworthy favorites. I love Harper Lee, JK Rowling, Beth Moore, and many many more.
  4. Early bird or night owl? Early bird for sure. Since I was pregnant with my daughter my days as a night owl have disappeared. I would much rather get up early than stay up late. I’ve also learned that I am a much more productive person in morning (granted, I have the jump start of a cup of coffee…or two)
  5. Favorite dessert- Can I count coffee as a dessert? If not, then anything coffee flavored (cheesecake, tiramisu, cupcakes, ice cream…)
  6. Describe your perfect day from start to finish- The perfect day would begin with a little bit of a late start. I may wake up earlier than most, but I would take my time getting ready for the day. I would spend the morning drinking several cups of coffee, journaling, blogging, doing a devotional all while cuddling my daughter and husband on the couch. We would make  a family lunch and dine together still in our pajamas. After lunch, we would head to our favorite corner of the world: German Village in Columbus, Ohio. The weather would be beautiful. We would go to Schiller Park, walk the brick-paved streets, visit The Book Loft, and have cookies and coffee at the Pistachio Vera Bakery. Dinner would be at the quaint and world famous Schmidts in German Village. After dinner, we would venture home and watch several episodes of our current favorite show on Netflix until we all fell asleep on the couch. Yep, perfect day!
  7. What is your dream job? My dream job is yet to be determined. Something where I am able to use my gifts to help and inspire others. Right now I’m a teacher and I’m pretty happy with that!
  8. What is your favorite thing about blogging? My favorite part about blogging is that it is not only therapy for myself that allows me to creatively work out my thoughts and ideas, but it also is a platform to encourage and inspire others.
  9. Favorite movie- Wizard of Oz. Why? Because I’ve known every line and dance in that movie since I was 3. I also love all Disney movies and many many musicals.
  10. Warm or cold climate? Warm. No contest. I am much more happy, energetic, and productive with a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun. The cold is depressing and makes my joints hurt. Maybe I should think about relocating from the midwest 🙂

As a part of the nomination process I must also create 10 questions for my nominees:

1. Who do you admire most in your life? Why?

2. Where do you turn for inspiration and encouragement?

3. Why did you begin blogging?

4. What are three goals you have set for yourself (long or short term)?

5. Describe your family and its members.

6. What is your favorite accessory? Why?

7. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Why?

8. What is your favorite TV show?

9. What is your favorite blog and why?

10. Where do you see yourself and your family in five years?

I nominate the following blogs to receive this award as well:

Desperate Housewife

Thyme is Honey

https://acaffeinatedblog.wordpress.com/

Nominees, here are the ground rules:

– Thank the blogger who nominated you, linking back to their site. (that’s me 🙂 )
– Put the award logo on your blog.
– Answer the ten questions sent to you.
– Make up ten new questions for your nominees to answer.
– Nominate seven blogs.

Thank you once again, Welcome to My World. You have made me feel like my time spent narrating my life is well worth it. I have also been encouraged by this award to set some new and higher goals for my blog and to pursue my own personal writing dreams. It means a lot. Please take some time and check out my nominee sites and help them reach their viewer/follower goals.

Life is good.