Sunday, December 16, 2007

Piano Peace

Burned-out. Exhausted. Hurt. Lonely. Disillusioned.

These are all words I have used to describe myself in the past week. And, yes, these words sound like I've been having a rather large pity-party. At some points, I unfortunately did allow these feelings to drag me into a pity-party. At many other points, I sat quietly in full realization of the sovereignty, love, and nearness of God while still feeling these emotions. Sometimes I am struck by times when I can know God is restoring my hope and strength while still feeling the emotions from the pit He is pulling me out of.

So, that has been my week. Today was different. Today was peaceful and beautiful. Today I was able to lose myself in music: one of God's finest creations. You see, I love the piano. I love to listen to piano music, and I love to play the piano. I took lessons growing up, but have unfortunately lost most of the skills I had acquired along the way. One of the things on my list of things to do before I die is to try again. Take the time to sit and practice and allow those buried skills to rise again. A friend of mine discovered that I have this longing, and he arranged for me to play today in a private room at a store that sells Steinway pianos. It was a wonderful experience! I sat in this private room on a GORGEOUS Steinway grand piano playing away at my silly little Level 1 music books from my first years of lessons. It was far from sophisticated, but it was refreshing. This afternoon I was able to spend one hour lost in music, focusing my talent only to my Lord who is carrying me through the burn-out, exhaustion, hurt, loneliness, and disillusionment of life. What a blessing! Thank you, Lord, for giving me an hour to worship you in a unique way that brought me such peace!

"Mary responded, 'Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.'"
Luke 1:46-49

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Organizing Grasshoppers

Today I had some much needed refreshment as I went to a workshop to spend some time filling up my professional reservoir instead of pouring out of it. At one point the presenter referred to managing a classroom of Kindergarten, 1st, or 2nd grade students as something akin to organizing grasshoppers. What truth is found in that statement!!!

This week I have organized 20 grasshoppers of my own while attempting a secret teaching mission! We made gingerbread cookies on Tuesday. It was so much fun, but oh so exhausting! There is truth to the idea that you only need one cook in the kitchen at a time, so experiencing 20 cooks ages 6 and 7 was quite the experiment. Yesterday, the cookies rested temptingly on each students' desk in a plastic baggie. They had been instructed not to touch until our afternoon decorating experience. Little did they know that the "Big Bad Wolf" would come steal their cookies while they were at lunch and leave a note demanding written letters explaining why they want their cookies back (ah the joy of sneaking in a good writing lesson!). My little grasshoppers were furious, and suddenly their little imaginations were let loose!

"Miss Lowery, we saw him shake that tree outside."
"Yea, and he said, 'HA, HA, HA!"
"My gingerbread man was my best friend, and now he's gone!"
"We worked so hard to make those. That Big Bad Wolf is just mean!"
"What a waste! Our parents brought in all that stuff to make those cookies, and now they are gone!"

Oh, it went on all day! When I tried to get them back to writing by telling them, "No, the Big Bad Wolf is not on the roof and he's not in the tree...he's in a cave watching our gingerbread and trying to decide if he's going to let them come back..." well, suddenly the cave was visible from outside our window. Oops...I should have tried a different tactic.

What wonderful, exhausting fun that was! And, yes, very much like organizing grasshoppers!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Unveiled Face

And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. 2 Cor 3:18 The Message

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor 3:18 NIV

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:18 ESV

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Cor. 3:18 NLT

Tonight I spent some time exploring and meditating on 2 Corinthians 3:18. I enjoy each of the above translations for the different perspectives and depth of insight they provide to the text. Don't you just love the concept in this passage? I especially enjoy the image of an unveiled face. It makes me think of when my first graders have an "AHA moment." The cloud of confusion lifts and understanding dawns in their eyes. That's what I think of when I picture an unveiled face. When I approach the Lord with an unveiled face, understanding dawns on my features as I realize the magnitude of the moment.

When my first graders continue down the path of an "AHA moment," their learning can increase exponentially. Continuing with my analogy, the same is true when I come unveiled before the Lord. Coming before the Lord unclouded and open-minded allows my spiritual growth to become more and more in line with Christ. Wow! What a blessing that my Father would continue to allow me in His presence unveiled just so that He can make me more like His Son! Thank you, precious Lord!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Oh, the Mind of a Six Year Old!

Over the last few days I have taken a walk down memory lane by re-reading my past posts. One thing I noticed is that last spring I posted several more school stories than I have this year. So, the following is just a handful of the cute things I've heard so far this school year! Enjoy!

"I lost my first tooth! You know, I was brave! I thought I would cry, but I really didn't!!!"

"Ms Lowery, (long, exasperated sigh) I'm starting to get ear wax again."

Student: "Do you have a son?"
Me: "What?
S: "Do you have a son?"
Me: "No I'm not married. I don't have children."
Another student: "Is that why you have this job?"

Student: "My leg hurts."
Me: "It's growing pains."
S: "Does your leg hurt when you grow?"
Me: "Well, I'm not growing anymore; but when I was, yes my leg hurt."
S: (In shocked voice) "You're not getting any taller?"
Me: "No"
S: (Very confused look on her face) "Does your birthday still come around?"
Me: "Yes...I'm getting older, but I'm not getting taller."
Every face looking at me has a puzzled expression. HA!

It's moments like these that keep me going! I hope you enjoyed these smiles as much as I did!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Winter Reading

Hi all! Months ago I promised book recommendations in order to live up to my "Curl Up and Read" blog title. Well, I've been reading and reading; but I have failed to post any recommendations before now. So, grab a pen if you want to jot down any fascinating titles and get ready for my recommendations for your winter reading!

1) Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton-This book has been one of the single most life-changing books I have read. Sacred Rhythms is a book on spiritual disciplines but unlike any spiritual disciplines book you've ever read. Barton explores the disciplines of solitude, silence, sabbath, and healthy living just to name a few. This book has challenged my thinking and my way of living in ways I've never been challenged before. It's definitely a thought-provoking read, but it's well worth the time!

2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling-I LOVE Harry Potter. Rowling's books are full of spiritual allegories and the kind of good vs. evil that all of us love to delve into. This book held up to all of the expectations I now have of Rowling. The ending was amazing, wonderful, yet so unpredictable. If you are a fan and you haven't read this one yet...what are you waiting for?

3) Divine by Karen Kingsbury-In the author's note at the beginning of this book, Kingsbury explains that Mary Magdalene is one of her favorite Biblical characters. In an effort to bridge the centuries, Kingsbury takes this Biblical story of rescue and weaves it into a modern story of redemption and healing. It is amazing. Yes, in some ways it is a heart-breaking read, but it is a powerful story. For fans of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, this one may touch similar parts of your heart!

4) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant-A strangely, fascinating read. When I first starting reading this book, I told my mother that I wasn't sure what I thought of it, but I could not put it down! Diamant weaves a fascinating story of life for women during the time of Jacob and Esau. A time when women spent three days a month in seclusion together due to physical impurity. The story takes place in and around the happenings of the red tent. Like I said it is strangely, fascinating!

5) The Baxter Family Dramas by Karen Kingsbury-I'm currently doing something I've never done before. I'm reading a drama series backwards. I didn't mean to...once I had started it was too late to look back. Kingsbury has written two series based on a family named the Baxters, and she is currently in the middle of a third series about the same family. The first series is the Redemption series, the second is the Firstborn series, and the third is the Sunrise series. I have read the first book in the third series, and then I am currently working through the Firstborn series. So, yes, I am working backwards; but they are fabulous anyway! I love getting caught up in characters, and I love it when an author can continue weaving a story that spans a great amount of time all the while keeping it real and believable. Kingsbury is a master!

6) Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury-Obviously, I'm in a little bit of an author rut. But, I just cannot get enough of her books! Like Dandelion Dust is the sweetest story surrounding an education center for adults with Down Syndrome. This story will make you laugh and cry just from the sheer sweetness of it all! It's a must read!

7) Pelican Brief by John Grisham-Many people are at the "been there, done that" point with John Grisham, but I'm still slowly working through his books. I have seen this movie several times, but the book provides so much more background. It was suspenseful and intriguing. I loved every minute of it!

I think I am missing a few that I've read over the last few months, but this will do for now. If you are like me, then you are looking forward to cold winter days when you can curl up with a fleece blanket, hot chocolate, and a good book. Maybe one of my recommendations will strike your fancy! I wish you a cozy winter and happy reading!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving

Bright and early tomorrow morning I am hitting the road to join the rest of my family in Searcy, AR. The next few days will be full of food, conversation, and relaxation. Just what I am in need of at this point in the year! But, see, there is more to the next few days than just food, conversation, and relaxation. There is a reason why we call it "Thanksgiving," right?

I was walking Rori yesterday and once again praying for the Lord to take away the pain in my heart. As I'm praying, I was overcome with the thought that I needed to spend some time thinking about what I have to be thankful for. Hmmm...okay, God, I think you might be trying to give me some perspective! So, I am thankful for...

  • Health
  • Godly parents with whom I now I have a wonderful friendship/mentorship type relationship
  • A wonderful 1st grade class this year
  • An excellent school
  • An amazing teaching team including two very strong Christians to share and pray with
  • Food
  • Water
  • A nice apartment
  • A very playful, loving puppy
  • Authentic, Christ-like friendships
  • Other people's children who ease my "baby bug" for the time being
  • Clothes
  • Sunshine
  • Rainbows
  • Butterflies
  • Singing on the praise team
  • Being a part of a wonderful congregation
  • My sister
  • My grandparents
  • Holiday breaks from school
  • And I could go on and on and on and on
There is so much to be thankful for. Yes, I am in a season of pain and healing. But, the Lord will continue to shower me with blessings...sometimes I just have to be reminded to open my eyes and see them! Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will in Christ Jesus."
1 Thess. 5:17

Sunday, November 18, 2007

God is God

As I was taking a shower this morning, the following verse came into my mind:

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

For those of you who are familiar with this verse, you know that it usually brings with it a lot of hope. This morning, however, I didn't want to think about this verse. Why? Because my heart is broken and I don't understand how that fits with "not to harm you." Why, God, did I guard my heart and pray for so long and so hard about giving it away? Why, God, did You give me a peace about taking the risk to love again, only to take it away from me?

At church this morning, we sang a song entitled Blessed Be Your Name. The song talks about how even in the highs and lows blessed be the name of the Lord. He gives and He takes away, but blessed be His name. Lord, I believe it, but my heart still hurts.

You see, I know that He has plans for me. I know that He will cause me to prosper and He will not harm me. I know He plans to give me a hope and a future. I just don't know why it hurts. But, it does, and I guess that's okay because God is God and I am not. And, yes, I am preaching to myself as I type in this post. Because deep down inside I am working to convince myself that it really will all be okay. The pain will go away again. There will yet again be inexpressible joy at the end of this yucky journey. Because that is the cycle of life here on earth.

God is God, and I am not. His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. God is God, and I am not. I think I'll just keep repeating that to myself over and over again until this miserable pain is gone. God is God and I am not. God is God and I am not. Blessed be His name.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Psalm 34:18

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Lamp Unto My Feet

God's Word is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path.

Schedule-driven, responsible
Rule-follower, list-maker
Never restless
But, restless I have become.

The Lord is moving me
Deeply, internally moving me towards something new.
He has not revealed the details,
But continues simply to light my feet.

My passion for children and teaching slowly creeps out of the classroom
And more intimately into children's lives.
A student needs to know the love of Jesus,
Regardless of what I am "allowed" to say.
Lord, use me.

Families of children in hospitals long for someone to come play
For someone to come hold them
For someone to be Jesus with skin.
Lord, use me.

He is moving me, but where?
All of this feels like preparation for something else.
I am never restless,
But, restless I have become.

The Lord is moving me
Deeply, internally moving me towards something new.
He has not revealed the details,
But continues simply to light my feet.

"My [daughter], if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,
and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowlege of God."
Proverbs 2:1-5



Friday, November 2, 2007

Aren't I So Cute???



My little Rori is now 7 1/2 months old and getting more grown up every day. I took her to the groomer last week, and she returned all decked out for Halloween in a purple and orange bow and matching pumpkin bandana! Isn't she adorable?!?!




Rori's new favorite things to do these days include: chewing the dining room table, taking walks with mom, climbing on mom's shoulder to take the ponytail holder out of her hair, dumping the water out of her water bowl so she can play with the bowl, and playing ball with mom while she's in the bathtub.

She is so much fun, and a joy to have in my life. I will confess though to being many times ready for the puppy stage to be past and my little girl to find her inner lap dog. We've still got a few more months to go!!! Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sitting Shiva

Recently I have experienced hearing news from close friends of tragedy in their lives. Whether it's emotional abuse from a spouse, the separation of parents after 25+ years, or the death of a child six days before delivery; each causes deep pain in my heart. And, I find myself asking, "What do I say to these friends? How do I offer encouragement?" Even though my desire is to encourage, I find myself utterly speechless.

There is a Jewish word that I was introduced to about a year ago called "shiva." The definition of shiva is, "a period of seven days of mourning after the death of close relative." However, as I understand shiva from its historical perspective it was much more than just seven days of mourning. Friends of the family experiencing loss would come and "sit shiva" with the mourners, meaning they would come in and simply show their support by quietly sitting and mourning with them. It did not involve words or some attempt at easing pain by saying the right thing. One would walk in and just be. Just mourn. Just let the pain of the moment speak for itself.

Isn't that what we all want when we're grieving? Isn't it hard to hear the words that seem so utterly useless in the face of gut-wrenching pain? Yes, the words are usually true; and yes, usually in a matter of a few weeks or months it is easier and healthy to swallow them. But, in the midst of the extreme pain of the moment, don't we just want a friend that will acknowledge it for what it is and hurt with us? I've experienced that in my past, and it's the most refreshing thing you can imagine.

So, being speechless is okay. I wish with all my heart that I could go and physically sit shiva with each of my friends mourning losses in their lives. However, I am mourning for them now, and begging the Lord to grant them an extra measure of grace, peace, and comfort during this season of their lives.

May God bless you whether the season you are in is one of extreme joy or extreme pain. Jehovah God is the God of both, and He will see you through.

"Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe."
Psalm 61:1-3

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Quirky and weird

"I'm weird."
"No, you're quirky. Quirky and weird are two very different things."
"I think there is a distinct possibility that I am profoundly and irreversibly screwed up."
-Quoted from the movie Runaway Bride

Have you ever felt this way? Profoundly and irreversibly screwed up? I hope someone else has, cause I sure feel that way these days. The last week or so I feel like I have come face to face with so many different areas of my life that are so not aligned with Christ. I mean, good grief, if it's not one thing, it's another. And, I find myself wondering: what do I tackle first? How do I start aligning every area of my life to Christ without feeling overwhelmed and exhausted? Which areas are the most important to focus on?

Maybe I need to step back a little. Maybe I need to slow down and watch life go by while soaking up each minute the Lord gives me. I wonder if I try this tactic, then becoming more like Christ won't feel like such an overwhelming task...but instead will just naturally happen by spending time noticing my Lord. I don't know, but that's what I'm going to try right now. Because right now, I am tired and overwhelmed. I want so badly to be more like Christ, but I am so far away from that goal.

Adonai--please be near. Change my heart and give me the patience to let the change happen in Your timing. Lord, I need patience in so many areas of my life. Oh, please give me patience.

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
Philippians 4:6-7 from The Message



Sunday, October 14, 2007

Through the Blood of Christ

Helper
Mercy-shower
Teacher

The above three words are my top three spiritual gifts (in numerical order) as I discovered after recently filling out a spiritual gifts survey. All of the women at our Sacred Sisterhood retreat this weekend took the same spiritual gifts survey. The gifts on this particular survey were as follows: exhorter, mercy-shower, helper, shepherd, prophet, giver, evangelist, teacher, and administrator. Every individual exhibits qualities of each gift, but a few of them always stand out. It was fascinating to learn about the other gifts and to listen to the awe found in women who never realized they had any gifts. One of the questions asked during the course of the weekend was, "Which of your top three gifts are you using the least?" When answering this question for myself, the answer was mercy-shower. Of my top three, I believe I show mercy less than I help or teach.

Now, having said all that, I'd like to put it to the side for a minute. I want to take a moment to share with you, my readers, something I wrote down as a reflection during the course of the weekend. I wrote the following:

"Letting go of mistakes I've made. I often find myself wondering if my mistakes in relationships (big or small) are too big to overcome. I find myself asking questions like: 'What if she can't forgive me? What if that (behavior/mistake) is what he thinks I am like all the time? What if she can't see past the mistakes I've made?' How do I place all the 'what-ifs' in God's hands? How do I let go of the mistakes I've made enough to let God handle the other person. Instead of trying to 'control' the situation by worrying about how the other person perceives me. Lord, take control."

After writing this reflection, I shared it with a sweet friend of mine. She listened and made a couple of comments, and our conversation turned in the direction of our spiritual gifts. We began discussing with each other which of our top three spiritual gifts we are using the least. I shared with my friend that I feel that I use mercy-shower more than I use helper and teacher. She asked why I thought this was the case. As I started answering I started realizing the great flaw in my thinking...more than a flaw actually-an outright sin. Here's what I discovered: I easily show mercy to those I am close to. I find myself extremely eager to shower mercy on individuals I am in close-authentic relationships with. On the flip side, individuals with which I either have superficial relationships or we are merely acquaintances...I find myself prone to perceiving them by their annoyances.

Ouch. As I voiced this to my friend, I realized how horrible it sounded. She acknowledged that, but then went a step further. She said, "Oh, Kristi, that's why you wrote your reflection earlier. You are scared that the people in your life will see you in the same way that you are prone to see others." I had to ask her to say it again just so I could let it all sink in a little. What a heavy burden I have placed on others! What a heavy burden I have placed on myself! What a waste of a sacred gift if I only bestow it upon my closest friends!

Praise the Lord that I am not in control of how others view me...and that it doesn't matter, anyway. And, I pray from the depths of my soul that the Lord will take my gift of mercy-showing and stretch and mature me to see all individuals through the blood of Christ. Because if I am wearing the lens of the blood of Christ, then everyone will be the same. Only then can I allow the Lord to use me to pour forth mercy on His children.

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness"
Psalm 115:1



Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sacred Sisterhood

Leading worship is...

  • a blessing
  • exhausting
  • a blessing
  • hard work
  • a blessing
  • an adrenaline rush
  • a blessing
  • followed by an adrenaline crash
  • a blessing
  • and much, much more
This weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to lead worship at our annual women's retreat. All of the above bullets describe the experience for me. It was wonderfully hectic and beautiful. The theme for the weekend was Sacred Sisterhood. We tackled the "whoppers" and "milk duds" that tear community apart for women (and, yes, there was definitely chocolate!). We hashed out gossip, slander, bickering, complaining, and other kinds of negative talk women are prone to exhibit. It was a piercing, convicting weekend. The following are some of the questions I found myself asking in my heart of hearts. These are the questions I will need to spend some time prayerfully considering in the days ahead.

  • What are my words doing to others?
  • What does the spirit of my words do to me?
  • How do I be an emotional woman without letting my emotions negatively spill out on others?
  • I use words to process, detox, vent, and work through things. How do I balance being a woman who uses words to process, with being a woman who knows when to choose silence?
  • Why is it so hard for me to overlook an offense?
  • What needs to change in me in order to overlook an offense?
  • Do I see each person I come in contact with through the blood of Christ?
So, here I am back to life away from the retreat. It is now time to sit on all the questions and ponderings the Lord has placed in my heart. Pray that the Lord will grant me clarity of thought and conviction to follow through on His guidance. May the Lord bless you as you grow to be more like Him.

"A man's wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense."
Proverbs 19:11

"...fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ."
2 Corinthians 10:5 from The Message

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ahhh...Sabbath

"The truth is, sabbath keeping is a discipline that will mess with you, because once you move beyond just thinking about it and actually begin to practice it, the goodness of it will capture you, body, soul and spirit. You will long to wake up to a day that stretches out in front of you with nothing in it but rest and delight. You will long for a simple way to turn your heart toward God in worship without much effort. You will long for a space in time when the pace is slow and family and friends linger with one another, savoring one another's presence because no one has anywhere else to go."
-Ruth Haley Barton from her book Sacred Rhythms

Since my college days I have thoroughly enjoyed Sunday afternoon naps. There is something divine about the need for a Sunday afternoon nap. I have found myself saying, "Of course I long for a nap on Sundays more than other days...it is the Sabbath." But, is the Sabbath just about a two-hour nap? For years I have found myself saying that if I get my nap in, then that's all the Sabbath rest I need for the day. However, after reading Ruth Haley Barton's chapter on Sabbath from her book Sacred Rhythms, I am finding myself inclined to think of Sabbath as so much more than just a Sunday afternoon nap. Currently, I am finding myself convicted to protect my Sunday. To make sure that the entire day stays one of rest. All my work around the house and "to-do" things either get done before Sunday or they will wait until Monday. Because Sunday is my day to rest and delight in the Lord. Here's what my day has looked like:

  • Worship, communion, and fellowship with other believers
  • Simple lunch
  • A two and a half hour nap--one of those kinds of naps where you doze for a little while, wake up, roll over, soak in the quiet, and doze some more. I also found myself waking up with the lyrics from a song we sang this morning pouring through my heart and head. I think the Lord was using my nap time to allow this song to penetrate my heart even deeper
  • Novel time--reading a novel is so refreshing and relaxing to me. I've discovered that simply watching TV all afternoon on the Sabbath leaves me feeling empty and unfulfilled. Reading is just the opposite.
  • Time to meditate and pray on several things such as: selfless love-do I love others in such a way that I demand nothing from them in return? Am I proclaiming Christ to others or just simply showing Christ by my actions? Am I scared to proclaim Christ? Is my heart open to where God is next leading me?
  • Leisurely walk with my dog
  • Time to blog and read others' blogs
  • More novel reading to come...
As I enter early evening of my Sabbath day, I feel as though my body, soul, mind and heart are breathing a collective sigh of relief and rest. Ahhh...it's the Sabbath day. God is good. His will is good. He is holding my life in His hands, and no matter what stretches in front of me tomorrow, this week, next month, or next year I am at rest in Him.

"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
Ephesians 2:10

Monday, October 1, 2007

Girl's Best Friend





My little Rori is now 6 1/2 months old, and I realized I haven't shared pictures in a very long time. Rori is absolutely wonderful. She is so much fun! We play all the time, and she is finally starting to snuggle up a little more. It's amazing how intuitive she is. She was extremely attentive and cuddly last week while I was a little off emotionally. She really is a girl's best friend!!!! I'm so glad I made this investment. We have been going to Petsmart for a little obedience training because Rori is strong-willed! :) She's even been known to spit out her treat after following directions correctly. Little does she know it doesn't bother me if she doesn't eat it! :) Hope you enjoyed the above pictures!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Choose Life

This is the first time I have ever blogged more than once in a day...but the following has been sitting on my heart today and I thought I'd share.

"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you TODAY to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess...This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, BLESSINGS and curses. NOW CHOOSE LIFE, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to His voice, and HOLD FAST TO HIM. For the LORD IS YOUR LIFE, and He will give you many years in the land he swore to give your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
Deuteronomy 30:15-16, 19-20

This morning I composed a post about the confusion going on in my heart and mind, and the opportunity I had today to sit in that confusion, lay it before the Lord, and leave it in His hands. After finishing my post, the part of the above first that says, "Now choose life..." started playing through my mind and heart. I found myself praising the Lord for my singlehood today because today that means I have no distractions. I have been able to dedicate my entire day to resting in Him...laying my heart open before Him...listening to Him...and delighting in my Heavenly Prince Charming. What a breath of fresh air today has been!

"Now choose life..."

What does this verse mean to you?

Confusion

Do you ever feel like your mind is going in a million different directions, and you can't make sense of it all? Welcome to my world. Today I am confused. My emotions are going in several different directions. My thoughts are going in several different directions. And, I can't make sense of a lick of it. I've spent almost my entire week staying super busy trying to put off dealing with what is going on inside of me. This weekend, however, I've decided it's time to face the music. It's time to let myself cry. It's time to let myself ask tough questions-of myself and of the Lord. It's time for me to be still and try to listen to my heart and the heart of my Father. My plan is to kind of "run away" just for the weekend and let myself be angry, hurt, sad, upset, confused, and at peace...in whatever order it happens to be. I'm so grateful that the Lord created me this way, and therefore will sit by me as each emotion and thought rolls through me and around me.

Lord, I ask that this weekend is productive in the sense that I can work through all that is inside of me...and walk away from the weekend knowing I have firmly placed it all in Your hands. Father God, take it all. Take the pain. Take the confusion. Take the anger and hurt. Heal my heart that I may move forward in Your will. Thank you for loving me Lord. May I learn to love you more!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You Are Good

God knows what we need better than we do, doesn't He? Like today at school. My heart was heavy and burdened all day at school, but I tried my best to lay that aside and just concentrate on my kids. So, I'm picking my kids up from Art class glad to know there are only 30 minutes left until the kids go home and I can go home, take a bath, journal, and just rest. As we walk back into the classroom, one of my precious little girls brings me a picture. "Here, Ms. Lowery, this is for you," she says. It is a picture she made just for me that at the top declares, "Your dreams will come true." Truly, out of the mouths of babes.

I am including in this post, the lyrics to a song I heard on my way to school this morning. I finished my drive to school, with tears streaming down my face, praising the Lord for reminding me of His goodness right at the start of my day. I pray these words are an encouragement to you as well.

When the sun starts to rise and I open my eyes
You are good, so good
In the heat of the day, with each stone that I lay
You are good, so good
With every breath I take in
I'll tell you I'm grateful again
When the moon rises high before each kiss goodnight
You are good.

When the road starts to turn, around each bend I learn
You are good, so good
And when somebody's hand holds me up, helps me stand
You are SO good
With every breath I take in
I'll tell you I'm grateful again
Cause it's more than enough just to know I am loved
And you ARE good

So, how can I thank you?
What can I bring?
What can a poor man lay at the feet of a King?
So I'll sing you a love song
It's all that I have
To tell you I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands.

When it's dark and it's cold, and I can't feel my soul
You are...STILL good
When the world has gone gray, and the rain's here to stay
You are still good
With every breath I take in
I'll tell you I'm grateful again
And the storm may swell, even then 'It is Well'
And YOU ARE GOOD!

So, how can I thank you?
What can I bring?
What can a poor man lay at the feet of a King?
So I'll sing you a love song
It's all that I have
To tell you I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands

So I'll sing you a love song!
It's all the I have!
To tell you I'm grateful for holding my life in Your hands!!
YOU ARE HOLDING MY LIFE IN YOUR HANDS!!!

-Point of Grace

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ouch

Oh God, my heart hurts.

As a little child when we fall down and get hurt, all we really want is for our mommy or daddy to scoop us up, put a band-aid on it, and kiss it all better! Father God, can you do that to my heart? Just cradle my heart in your hands. Hold me tight. Kiss it and make it all better. Work it all to your glory! Cause right now, all I can think is, "Ouch!"

"You will go out in joy
And be led forth in peace."
Isaiah 55:12

Monday, September 17, 2007

Here I am, O Lord

It is becoming clear to me that each phase of our life is made up of some type of waiting. Of course, as Christians, we are all waiting and longing for our true, eternal home with our Lord. High schoolers are waiting for college. College students are waiting for their careers. Some singles are waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right to come along. Young marrieds might be awaiting their first child. Parents with children are waiting for the empty nest. And, so on and so forth...with multiple layers of depth to each type of waiting.

My attitude towards waiting goes in cycles. I go through long stretches of contentment and patience as I wait on the Lord's timing for a future family of my own. I deeply believe my longing and desire for a husband and children is God-given, but I also deeply believe it will occur on His time-table and not mine. So, like I said, I go through periods of extreme joy and contentment in the waiting. From time to time, however, whether out of selfishness or depth of desire, I'm not sure--I find myself mourning the unfulfilled desires. Praise the Lord that David wrote many psalms asking, "Where are you, O Lord?" and "How long must I wait, O Lord?" During my periods of mourning, I raise my voice with David, pouring out my deepest emotions to my Lord. Then, once again, I can patiently walk forth into purposeful waiting.

While allowing all of the above to percolate in my head, I was reading again from Ruth Haley Barton's book Sacred Rhythms. The following quotes came from her book, and deeply resonated with my heart.

"The practice of discernment begins with a prayer for indifference...indifference is a very positive term that is rich in meaning. Here it means, 'I am indifferent to anything but God's will.' This is a state of wide-openness to God in which I am free from undue attachment to any particular outcome, and I am capable of relinquishing whatever might keep me from choosing for love. I have gotten to a place where I want God and his will more than anything..."

"The question that is most pertinent at this place in the discernment process is, 'What needs to die in me in order for God's will to come forth in my life? Is there anything I need to set aside so that I can be open to what God wants?'..."

"Willingness to ask this question may take us into a period of waiting, in which we cannot accomplish for ourselves what most needs to be done. All we can say to God is, 'I know I am not indifferent. I know there is still something in me that is clinging to my own agenda. If I am to become indifferent, you will have to do it in me.' This period of waiting may feel very dark. But strangely enough, it will also feel deeply right--as if we are right where we need to be."

O Lord, I ask that as I wait for even a Godly desire...that my heart's attitude will be towards your will for me. Lord, you have placed me at this place, at this time, for a reason. Because of this, may my prayer always be...

"Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."
Luke 1:38

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Psalm 86

Today I needed this psalm as a reminder to me. I have been an emotional and logical mess this weekend. Praise the Lord that His grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in weakness.

Hear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.

2 Guard my life, for I am devoted to you.
You are my God; save your servant
who trusts in you.

3 Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for I call to you all day long.

4 Bring joy to your servant,
for to you, O Lord,
I lift up my soul.

5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord,
abounding in love to all who call to you.

6 Hear my prayer, O LORD;
listen to my cry for mercy.

7 In the day of my trouble I will call to you,
for you will answer me.

8 Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.

9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, O Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.

10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

12 I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.

13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.

14 The arrogant are attacking me, O God;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life—
men without regard for you.

15 But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
grant your strength to your servant
and save the son of your maidservant.

17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Psalm of Praise

O, Lord, I praise your name.
You are good, O Lord;
I sing praise your wonderful name.

When I am down, my heart sings praise to you.
When I am lost, my soul sings out to you.
In unknown times, I praise you still, O Lord,
For you are good.

O, Lord, I praise your name.
You are good, O Lord;
I sing praise to your wonderful name.

I am at peace, O Lord,
Because you are sovereign.
I am comforted, O Lord,
Because all things work to Your glory.

O, Lord, I praise your name.
You are good, O Lord;
I sing praise to your wonderful name.

May I never doubt, dear Lord.
May I seek always to draw to near to your heart.
O Lord, hear this song of praise
And may it bring glory to your name.

O, Lord, I praise your name.
You are good, O Lord;
I sing praise to your wonderful name.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Third "Year's" a Charm

It's 9:15 pm. I left my apartment at 7:00 this morning and just returned home about 15 minutes ago. Tonight was Meet the Teacher night at school. Exhausted is the word of the moment. I received my class list this morning and spent the remainder of the day labeling things in the classroom for my students and preparing everything else needed for Monday morning. At 5:30 pm, my new prodigies began arriving in my room anxious to find out who their teacher would be. They sorted supplies and said hello to their Kindergarten friends. The parents had all kinds of questions and wanted special conferences immediately at that inopportune moment. They were excited, scared, anxious, and full of energy...and all 22 of them are mine for the next nine months.

But this year is different. This year I am prepared. My first year of teaching was all about survival. Really that's all first year teachers can do: survive...there is just too much to take in. I was also teaching 5th grade and found it was not my preference, so I was anxiously awaiting word of a change for Year 2. My wish was granted, and my second year became Year 1 all over again because I was teaching a different grade level and a new curriculum (and with mono), so once again I was in survival mode. But, like I said...this year is different.

Now, here I sit, two days away from the start of Year 3; and I am prepared. I am ready to teach well, not just survive. My room is organized and makes sense as opposed to everything just being out of the way to make room for the kids. I know how to expect first graders to behave. I know what changes in lessons need to be made cause it just didn't work last year. I know. I have experience. I am prepared.

Someone once told me, "Give teaching three years. Your first year is awful. Your second year is a little better. But your third year--that's when it starts getting fun." Oh, dear Lord, please make it fun! Yes, third "year's" a charm...and I'm ready for it. So, bring it on!

"It was He who gave some to be...teachers"
Ephesians 4:11

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Width vs. Depth Part 2

I have been hoping that time would help clarify my thoughts concerning Width vs. Depth into something more easily put into writing. Alas, it seems that I am going to need to use writing as my means for clarification. In that case, be warned that the following post may be slightly confusing as I myself am on a journey of discovery.

In Part 1 of this topic, I explored Websters definitions of width, depth, breadth, and transformation. The following three definitions have stuck with me:

1. Depth: degree of richness and intensity
2. Depth: complete detail thoroughness
3. Transformation: a marked change

Hmmm...

At the risk of sounding arrogant, let me confess that I have quite a width of Biblical knowlege. I am, by no means, the most learned Biblical scholar; but due to spending most of my academic years in a Christian school, I have acquired a decent width of knowlege. Having said all that, I must also confess a definite lack in depth of Biblical insight. How do I acquire more depth instead of just width? I am not sure.

But...if transformation means, "a marked change," then I believe it will take a "complete detailed thoroughness" in my Bible study as well as a "degree of richness and intensity" in my pursuit of the heart of my Father. Because without depth, how can I honestly acheive a marked change?

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose ake I have lost all things."
Philippians 3:8

Friday, August 17, 2007

Heartbreak

Some friends of mine lost their father in a tragic work-related accident this past Monday. I just found out this afternoon. I cannot tell you how badly my heart breaks for them. I did not know their father, but I have heard some wonderful things about what a great man of God he was. Praise the Lord that he is in a better place. I pray that Lord will rain comfort down on the family as they mourn this untimely loss.

Receiving the news this afternoon caused me to enter one of those moments where I suddenly found myself extremely reflective of this precious life. It can be gone in a flash...without any warning. When I spend time with people, do I invest all of my energy into that person, treasuring the moment I have been given as a gift? Or do I take advantage of that time, hurrying through our conversation with my own selfish agenda in mind? Who have I not recently professed my love and affection? Who I have I recently been short with, where reconciliation is needed? Who I have not looked at as a child of God, but rather as a distraction walking through my day? What in my mind needs to change in order to more effectively treasure people; because people are important...not time...not my to do list...not my books...not my agenda. God's children are important. Oh Lord, please show me how to treasure the people you have surrounded me with...never foresaking their presence in my life.

To the families involved in this tragic accident I pray for comfort and peace. I pray for support and shoulders to cry on and ears to vent to. I cry out to the Lord on your behalf asking him to carry you through this wilderness of pain only to bring you out stronger on the other side. May the Lord bless you.

And, Dad...I love you very much!

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Ps. 34:18
"The LORD gives strength to His people;
the LORD blesses His people with peace."
Ps. 29:11

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Width vs. Depth

Width. Breadth. Depth. Spiritual Transformation. What do these words have in common? Or, rather, how do these words relate to each other? Welcome to Life Questions on CurlUpandRead. The last couple of weeks have been punctuated by conversations, readings, and sermons/teachings surrounding these very words. For the sake of processing, I decided to blog through my thoughts. This will most likely be a multi-post topic. For today, I wanted to percolate on what good ol' Mr. Webster has to say in reference to these words. Here's what I discovered:

Width:
-the measure of the extent of something from side to side
-size from side to side
-the state, quality, or fact of being wide
-breadth

Breadth:
-width
-freedom from narrowness or restraint; liberality
-size in general
-wide range or scope

Depth:
-intellectual complexity or penetration
-intensity
-emotional profundity
-quality of being deep
-part of greatest intensity
-complete detail thoroughness
-degree of richness or intensity

Transformation:
-change in form, appearance, nature, or character
-a marked change, as in appearance or character, usually for the better
-a qualitative change

So, how do these "words" relate to each other? Any insights?

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
2 Corinthians 3:18

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Fragile Vessel

"This fragile vessel You have made, no hand on earth can fill. For the waters of this world have failed, and I am thirsty still."
The word picture that these lyrics create is refreshing to me. I have been doing some reading about the practice of solitude and its importance in spiritual formation. When the song that contains the above verse was given to me to sing on Sunday, I was floored at how well these words depicted the idea behind our need for solitude. Consequently, as I contemplate on these words and the spiritual discipline of solitude I am left with these questions:
Why am I always in a hurry?
Why do I struggle with quiet?
Must I always have music or the TV going? And for that matter, if not one of those, then it's always a book...
Can my time with the Lord on any given day truly be "nothing but" sitting quietly in His presence?
What needs to change in my life in order to make more room for time alone with God?
What addictive distractions do I need to let go of in order to better here my Father God?
All of these questions and more are rolling around in my head. And, if I am honest with myself, then I should confess my fear of solitude. I am afraid, because I know that if I devote more time to quietly seeking the heart of my Father, then I will have to change. I want to change, but it might hurt to change. However, in all honesty, the spiritual exhaustion that comes along with not spending time in God's presence is worse than the pain of change. So, for that reason, I will begin practicing the discipline of solitude. I pray that the practice of solitude will give me a greater sense of grace and peace even as I ask my Lord and Father to change me from the inside-out.
"The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still."
Ex 14:14

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Power of God

Since returning from Oregon, my life has been comprised of VBS, part-time work, and Harry Potter. So, suffice it to say, I am just now getting to a more detailed blog about my trip to Mt. St. Helens. Although, I must confess that it is hard to put into words the magnitude of what I saw and experienced a week and a half ago as I gazed into the enormous crater left behind on May 18, 1980. The entire area is desolate and feels almost like a war zone. I left awe-struck at the beauty that can be found in such desolation. After 27 years, things are just now beginning to regrow and recover from this powerful catastrophe. The mountain itself is actually repairing itself slowly. Mt. St. Helens is currently erupting which I discovered did not necessarily mean the powerful explosive devastation we always attribute to the word "erupt." There are areas inside the crater where molten rock and lava are bubbling over into the crater slowly buiding a "lava dome." This lava dome will effectively become a new top to the mountain if the volcano continues to erupt in this manner. In this way, the volcano is healing from what happened 27 years ago. It's amazing to me that the power of God is demonstrated not only in a massive explosion, but also in the mountain's ability to make itself look like a mountain again.

I think one of the things that has stuck with me so powerfully about the eruption from 1980 is the timing. While doing a guided tour of the area, we were told about how the timing of the eruption saved approximately 1000 lives! 50+ people were tragically killed on that day, but the number could have been much more catastrophic. Here's why: Mt. St. Helens exploded at 8:32 on the morning of Sunday, May 18, 1980. At 10:00 that morning, the gates into the valley were scheduled to be open to let approximatelly 100 cars (200-400 people, most likely) into the valley in order to allow these people to remove personal belongings from the summer homes located at the base of the volcano. If Mt. St. Helens had erupted an hour and half later than it did, all of those people would have been buried under 250 feet of melted mountain. In addition to that, if Mt. St. Helens had erupted on Monday morning instead of Sunday, it has been estimated that about 600 loggers would have lost their lives while felling trees in the fir forest located near the mountain. What I love about this is the idea that God might have been sitting in heaven saying, "I am going to demonstrate my power over creation, but I am going to do it My way by sparing hundreds of lives." What a mighty, awesome, powerful God we serve. Taking a tour of the area around Mt. St. Helens is something I will never forget. What an incredible reminder of the power of God over His world!

"Since we are are receiving a kingdom that cannot be destroyed, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a consuming fire."
Hebrews 12:28-29

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Bloomin' in Oregon


Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I am loving it in OR

and the flowers do too!



We went to the market yesterday where I spent about an hour and a half tasting all kinds of different fruits. Along the way I stopped every so often to snap pictures of the gorgeous flowers that could be found in abundance. The picture of the red and yellow lily above is actually in my parents' yard. What gorgeous color!


I have filled my bedroom here in Oregon with lavendar, hydrangeas, and peonies. It smells absolutely heavenly. I spent time this afternoon reading a book on a swing in my parents' yard while the smell of wild jasmine wafted across the yard from time to time. The Lord God is surely creative. These pictures are just a small sampling of what I have seen. I hope you enjoy the beauty of Oregon as much as I am!

"The desert and the parched land will be glad;
The wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
It will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The splendor of Carmel and Sharon;

They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God."

Isaiah 35:1-2


Friday, July 6, 2007

Quick Update



Hello friends! Just a quick post to let you know what's been going on with me recently. I am still puppy training. Rori is so much fun, but I have decided obedience school is a must! She is very dominant and would rather chew on my toes, ankles, and shoes than obey my "no" command. This week she has discovered how much fun trash cans and toilet paper rolls can be. I have discovered that if I am busy running around the apartment working on something or on the phone, then she decides it's time to get into EVERYTHING she isn't supposed to. She has hit the equivalent of the "terrible twos." But, she makes me laugh everyday!

I am currently in Portland, OR spending 10 fabulous days with my parents. For those of you praying for my flight anxiety, thank you so much! The Lord blessed me greatly! It all went very well. I am looking forward to 10 very relaxing and fun-filled days ahead of me. The picture attached above is just a taste of the beauty I will be surrounded by during my trip. It is gorgeous here, and I am looking forward to many opportunities to eat AMAZING fruit while sitting outside in incredible weather! My sweet boyfriend will be joining me for the last four days of the trip which will be great fun as well!

May God bless each of you during this mid-summer weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

End of the Road

Who am I?
Who does Satan tell me I am?
Who does God tell me I am?
These are the questions that I, my co-leader, and our ten campers wrestled with throughout the course of last week. It was a hard week, but it was a week full of blessing. For me, it was hard to watch 10 15-year-olds come to terms with the idea that Satan wants them to believe all kinds of lies about themselves. It was hard asking them to be honest with themselves about who they think they truly are. But, it was incredible to be a witness as they realized that God loves them for who they are now! And, not only does God love them for who they are, He forgives them for what they've done; and He can wipe it all clean!
For me, though, last week was more than just watching these teenagers grow in the knowlege of God. I came to terms with a few things as well. Last Tuesday night, one of the camper groups was doing a skit about the things they had learned during the day. They mentioned a lady they had met at a nursing home during their service project. This lady was telling them that her husband had passed away not long ago, and she was now searching for her identity without him. As they continued telling this woman's story, I began to realize that that could have been me. Until about 6 months ago, if I had gotten married, it would have been difficult for me to separate my identity from that of my husband. I sat in that room in total awe of my Lord!
He has led me on a journey that was designed only for me. He led me into a painful wilderness knowing full well that I would emerge on the other side declaring Him my Prince Charming...claiming my true identity as His daughter and bride! The last several years (especially the last 10 months) have been purposefully scripted in order to teach me how to be in love with God before I fall in love with any man. He has also taught me about what my identity in Him looks like: what it looks like for Kristi Renee Lowery to be a daughter of the King. He has shown me how to cherish the gifts He has given me, and to be ready to use them in conjunction with the man He has for me instead of putting them aside for the sake of a relationship. What a mighty God I serve! He has been so patient with me as I have struggled and questioned His timing in my life. After last week, I emerged ready to say "the end" to this chapter of my life. This is the end of the road for that lesson. I will cling to Him as He continues to remind me His timing is best and His love is fulfilling. But, this journey is over! Praise the Lord for being faithful!!!! He has been good to me!
"Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him."
Ps. 126: 5-6

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Kadesh 2007: Identity

Tomorrow evening around this time I will be introducing myself to a group of high school students who have signed up to experience Kadesh Life Camp at ACU. I am thrilled to be able to participate in this coming week. I experienced Kadesh as a camper during the summers of 1997-99. The lessons I learned during those three weeks (one week a year) were life changing for me. To me, Kadesh wasn't just a spiritual high. Sure, there were elements of it that were the typical camp "high" where after a few days of being back home you kind of feel like you have plateaued emotionally. But there was something deeper about my experience at Kadesh. It was a time of spiritual formation for me. I was discipled at camp, not just spiritually entertained. Each week was spent in intense Bible study and real-life application. There are several passages of Scripture that became personal to me simply because of my experience at Kadesh, and everytime I reread those passages I think back to what made that truth hit home to me!

As of tomorrow, I get to experience Kadesh "on the other side," so to speak. I am going back as a group leader. I will be expected to lead kids on this spiritual journey...to guide them as they discover new truths about being a disciple of Christ. This week at camp, we will be focusing on our identities. Who am I? Who does Satan want me to be? Who does God say that I am? How do I conquer the lies I hear from Satan? Where is the victory in Christ, and how do I achieve it? These are just some of the questions we will be diving into in the coming days. As I have been studying and preparing for this week, I have realized what a special opportunity I have been given to be able to watch young hearts and minds discover how much God loves them! I pray that God will work in the hearts of my campers. I pray that my leadership will simply be an outpouring of His love for me and those students. I pray that God will work in amazing ways this week in the lives of every individual camping at Kadesh.

"They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land." Numbers 13:26
(see Numbers 13 and 14 to discover the significance of the camp name "Kadesh"!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Little Miss Rori Girl


As I jump back into the blogging world, I thought I would share a little about my newest addition. Yes, I recently became mommy to the sweet little Shih Tzu puppy you see pictured here. This picture was taken about 2 or 3 weeks before I got her, so she is a little bigger now. When I got her almost two weeks ago, she was just shy of 11 weeks old and about 3 lbs. She's growing already, and we are off to the vet tomorrow to see how big my little girl actually is.


Entering mommyhood, even if it's "just a puppy," has been quite the adventure. Rori (taken from the show Gilmore Girls) has, thankfully, slept very well in her new crate. She has only woken up once in the middle of the night! Many nights she goes 8 or 9 hours before whining to get up. I am very thankful for that. What I've learned about puppies is the constant attention they take. I was prepared for this, but being mentally prepared is still nothing like experiencing it. She will go to the bathroom outside, but only if I pay attention to when she needs to go as she is lacking the ability to remember to "ask." She loves her new environment so much that she just can't stop from biting every new thing she sees! Mostly she loves my toes and ankles. She is proving to be strong-willed when it comes to obeying the "no" that comes after biting mama's toes. To her, my brightly painted toes are the perfect toy! To me, they are a necessary body part that I would like to keep in tact!
Though time-consuming and at times frustrating, having a puppy has huge rewards. In a few short months, the rewards will be even grander. I love the companionship of a dog. The loyalty that has Rori whining if I leave the room and she can't get to me is priceless. She has a wonderful personality, and I am so excited to have this little one to call my own!
So, how about you? Are pets a big part of your life?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Class Dismissed!

"I'll miss you, Miss Lowery." "I love you, Miss Lowery."

This was the mantra I heard time and time again as I said goodbye to my students on Thursday. While these thoughts should have brought tears to my eyes, I found myself longing for the last car to drive away so that I could dance before the Lord for bringing me through this year! Now, I will miss some of them, but probably not for a few more weeks. This makes me think...did I try to really see each of my children for the child of God that they are?

This is a question that I need to meditate on for the summer before a fresh set of young lives grace my classroom in twelve weeks. But for now, I get to relax. The Lord brought me through a wilderness this year and has planted me on the other side. This summer I get to revel in the inexpressible joy of God's provision!

So, for those of you in a similar situation: just rest and relax. Delight in the Lord and he will bring us back to school ready for a new year! But for now-class dismissed!

"Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praises to my God as long as I live."
Psalm 146: 1-2

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lessons in Control

Today has been a day to meditate on God's control. I have found myself dwelling on what is my business vs. God's business. I am emerging from my thoughts with the sense that I still don't get it. After these last several months of letting go and letting God, I still have to make a concerted effort to maintain this philosophy. I wonder if this will ever just become second nature. Will I quit worrying about whether or not someone received just punishment for a wrong-doing? Will I quit mentally-formulating what steps I think would be best to orchestrate a future happening in my life? Will I quit exhausting myself by letting busyness and stress eat me up instead of clinging to peace?

I spent 24 hours this weekend at the Witchita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. While there I was overcome with the sense that these creatures that God spoke into existence don't worry about what comes next in life. There is a verse somewhere in the Bible (at the moment I cannot locate it) that speaks about how each part of the Lord's creation praises His name by simply doing as He created them to do. I sat and watched this weekend as buffalo, longhorns, prairie dogs, deer, and turkeys all peacefully went through life instinctively knowing that they would be provided for. And yet, I find myself fighting this at times. I wonder if dreams I have will happen in the way I have planned and dreamed. I wonder if I will be able to get through this last week of school without losing my mind. When these questions arise, I usually choose one of two things. I either start trying to force things to happen the way I hoped, or I go into survival mode and tell God I'll come find peace after I get through this.

Standing on a large hill overlooking the Wildlife Refuge I realized how incredibly selfish I have become. Each moment that I have is a gift of the Lord, and my gift in life is to use that moment to praise Him. He is guiding my steps as I walk along, and I don't have to concern myself with what comes next. My prayer is that I continue to learn these lessons in control until it becomes second nature. Jehovah God, keep teaching me and making it clear that you are the Almighty and I am the child!

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feed them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
Matthew 6:26

Monday, May 7, 2007

Letting Go of Fear

It's time! Time to let go! Time to stop letting fear govern so many parts of my life. Time to not fear an adventure. Time to plunge in with both feet into something new knowing that The Love of my life is right there with me every step of the way! In light of all of this I commit to:

-let God hold the reins of my life,
-pray fervently and earnestly for His guidance and direction,
-turn my anxiety over to my Creator who knows my innermost thoughts, and
-joyfully tumble into Scripture as I seek out the heart of my Father.

As I type this out, fear plagues me. Am I really ready to let go of fear? What happens if it doesn't turn out well? Well, it's going to take baby steps. Even then my adventure may not be as "thrilling" as someone else's, but it will be my adventure just the same! And I guarantee it will be thrilling to me! And, who can ever say they are completely ready to let go of fear? Isn't that why we call it a "leap of faith"? My adventures in life may not always turn out well. But, one thing I have learned in the last year is how amazing God is even in unpleasant moments. He brings joy through the suffering. I have now experienced that, and I pray that the next time life bites me I will be ready to look for the joy!

It's time! Time to let go! Time to let God! Time to become a fearless woman after God's own heart!

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Scene: 2nd grade boy and girl in the nurse's office after the boy has rammed his toe into the classroom door because he was angry. The girl has accompanied him to the nurse and sits beside him as his toe is cared for.

Girl: Do you know the fruits of the Spirit?
Boy: No
Girl: Let me see if I can remember them. (pause) Self-control. That's one of them. Self control is when God helps you not hurt yourself or someone else even if you get angry.

Girl proceeds to go kindly, calmly, and gently through each fruit of the Spirit explaining them to Boy.

Girl: Does Jesus live in your heart?
Boy Shrugs
Girl: Can I pray for you right now so Jesus will come live in your heart?

Girl prays for boy, and he repeats her petitions while the teary-eyed nurse looks on in awe.

Many of you have heard this story already, but for those of you that haven't...what I have just put before you actually happened at my school on Friday! I can't help but joyfully laugh at a Lord who puts himself right into schools where He is "not supposed to be." The nurse told me one of the most amazing things about the whole incident was the gentility and grace with which the little girl taught this young boy. I have been in awe all weekend as this story has rolled around in my head. What a mighty and awesome God we serve!! May we all learn a lesson from this humble and precious little girl!!!!

"From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise."
Ps. 8:2

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

When Did Life Get So Busy?

Why do we expect so much out of ourselves? Why do others expect so much out of us? How come, when I already feel spread thin, something else comes along to make me feel even more stretched beyond my limits? Is it my fault that I'm overwhelmed? Is it my fault that I feel pressure from all around me to keep doing, doing, doing, and while I'm at it...do it perfectly?!?!?

Let me just say that since it is May 1st, some of my ranting and raving can be attributed to the end of the school year and a longing for a much-needed vacation. And, yes, in many ways it is my fault. It is my fault for holding myself to perfection. It is my fault for trying to do more than I can. It is my fault for leaving out time with God because the rest of the world needs me right now.

And, that's the crux of the matter, isn't it? I'm too busy and spread thin because I forgot to invite God into this crazy time of year. I've gone into survival mode. As in, "I am just going to get through the next three and a half weeks, and then I'll take care of myself." I've forgotten that maybe God can equip me to be my best during this time instead of just surviving. The problem is I don't know how to draw on that power. What do I pray for in order to change my attitude towards one of opportunity instead of defeat? Maybe admitting this is the first step. Maybe I just need to lay with my face to the ground, and say, "God I am so tired and worn out I don't have it in me to do all I need to do. But, you placed me here for 'such a time as this.' Please work in me. Please give me your strength and power. Fill me with your presence and your attitude. I can't do it, but you can. And, I'm okay with that. Use me Lord...even now!!!"

"I can do EVERYTHING through Him who gives me STRENGTH."
Philippians 4:13

Monday, April 23, 2007

Recommendations from a Reader

It struck me the other day that for someone whose blog is titled "Curl Up and Read," I've sure made a lousy effort at recommending anything to any of you who may be readers. So, consider this my first post filled simply with book recommendations. These are some of the pages I've dived into recently, and I consider them to be excellent reads!

1) Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. This is a provocative, thought-provoking narrative on what it means to be a Christian today using an "ancient" book as our road-map. It's fascinating! Be prepared to have to stop and think.

2) Israel, My Beloved by Kay Arthur. This is one of the most well-crafted novels I have read in a long time. Sarah, the main character, leaves her husband to pursue other idols and lusts. As you read you begin to realize that Sarah embodies the nation of Israel and her husband is The Almighty. The novel begins about the same time as the attack on Israel by the Chaldeans and ends with Christ's return. It's strange and wonderful all at the same time.

3) The Measure of a Lady by Deeanne Gist. This is a great "fluffy" read if you just need to curl up and lose yourself in something. It's about a man who takes his three children to the west in search of gold. He dies on the journey over and the oldest daughter is left to make a life for her and her brother and sister in a land filled with greedy men and unkempt women.

4) Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark. If you are in the mood for suspense, this is the novel for you. Identical twins are kidnapped and held for ransom. One is returned with a note saying the other has been killed. The twist comes in when the parents discover the twins are communicating with each other...told you it's suspenseful!

I have read these within the last month, so I may post later on about some long-time favorites that are always worth looking into. Happy Reading!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Big Brother

Have you ever wished for a sibling that you didn't have? For me, I've always wondered what it would be like to have a big brother. I'm thankful for my family and wouldn't trade any of them. But, every so often I think it would have been nice to have a big brother. Today while spending some time in the Word, I had a fresh realization that I DO have a big brother. Jesus Christ is my big brother! And, He calls me His sister!!!

I was sitting out on my balcony enjoying some amazing weather when I came across a couple verses in Hebrews that address my relationship to Jesus as one of brother and sister. It was one of those moments when I went, "Hey, I knew that already...but today is just seems more awesome!!" A new sense of awe has come over me just in knowing that I can talk to my big brother about anything I want. I can get his opinion on my career, on dating (He's the hardest big brother to impress, I'm sure!), on my future, or just ask Him for a really good big brother "hug" if I ever need it! This thought is comforting to me, and leaves me incredibly grateful for the close relationship that I can achieve with my Lord because He took on my burdens at the cross.

Christ Jesus, my Savior and brother, thank you for taking away my sins. Thank you for establishing a relationship between me, yourself, and our Father that is close and personal! Thank you for freeing me to give up control of my life and place it in your capable hands. I praise your awesome name!!!!

"In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, 'I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.'"
Hebrews 2: 10-12 (emphasis mine)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Desiring God

A friend recently lent me the book Desiring God by John Piper. I delved into this evening, and just a few pages in found myself intrigued. Here are some quotes that have already made an impact on me:

"That God is most glorified in me when I am most satisfied in Him continues to be a spectacular and precious truth in my mind and heart."

"When delighting in God is the work of our lives...there will be an inner strength for ministries of love to the very end."

"But not only does the pursuit of joy in God give strength to endure, it is the key to breaking the power of sin on our way to heaven...I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God."

"I never tire of saying and savoring the truth that God's passion to be glorified and our passion to be satisfied are one experience in the Christ-exalting act of worship."

"The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever."

"In a matter of weeks I came to see that it is unbiblical and arrogant to try to worship God for any other reason than the pleasure to be had in Him."

Finally, Piper quoted C.S. Lewis as saying,
"But the most obvious fact about praise--whether of God or anything-escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise...The world rings with praise--lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favorite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favorite game...I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation."

"Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
Praise the LORD."
Ps. 117

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Random Thoughts

I've had several different things rolling through my head the last several days, and I can't pinpoint which one draws me the most for a blog entry. Therefore, I've decided just to list some random thoughts, and I will decide later whether or not to follow up in future posts.

1) I read in a book tonight that forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. This idea has decided to imbed itself in my head and percolate for a little while. If this is true, then what does forgiveness look like? Is forgiveness more for the "forgiver" than the "forgivee"? What do you think about the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation?

2) One of my struggles in life is dealing with anxiety. I have an extremely anxious personality which has recently required counseling and temporary medication. God is blessing me greatly as I learn to manage this struggle and give Him control of my life. But, one of the things I am particularly anxious about is traveling--specifically flying. Many of my readers know that I am terrified of flying-for reasons that I don't really understand. On Friday night, I was glued to the TV watching weather reports of tornadoes in and around the Dallas area. As I was watching all of this, I was struck by the realization that at one point in my life I was as terrified of tornadoes as I now am of flying. My fear of tornadoes has drastically subsided in recent years, and I'm left with the prayer that this will happen with my phobia of flying as well. Any thoughts?

3) I'm burned out from teaching. At the moment I can't tell you if I just need the summer or a career change, although, last week I would have told you I needed a career change. It's hard to determine, however, at this extremely stressful time of year. At this point, all I know is, I am praying that God provides me extra blessings along the way over the next six weeks...because I am exhausted. I also probably need to pray for an attitude change.

4) What does it look like to walk through the pain of a certain situation? What exactly does that mean? I'm not sure, but I am slowly getting an idea. I wonder if walking through the pain is the process through which one achieves the "acceptance" phase of grief. Maybe it's the final stage before one can say, "I can now accept this situation and fully move on." It's all a little uncertain to me. What I do know, however, is that the Bible is full of stories of individuals who had to walk through the pain in order to get to the joy on the other side. Those are the stories I am clinging to these days!

So, what do you think? Was that random enough for you? You just got a pretty good glimpse into the confusion that is my brain. Any thoughts? Feel free to comment on my thoughts or add your own thoughts to my random list.

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7