When you need to vent

With the way the local and national news is reported these days, no wonder Facebook has drastically changed. I mean, if the reporters can get away with being so rude during their interviews – why wouldn’t we follow suit? I may have disagreed with a lot of what former President Trump said (more like how he said it), but I agree with him 100 percent that most of the media stirs the pot. They create nothing but anger and hate – to the point it provokes revenge.

When I first created a FB account several years ago, I loved catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. I loved seeing pictures of their family and seeing what they were doing with their life. It was such a boost to receive a friend request from someone. It was like you were thrown back in time and someone new wanted to be your friend. Those were the good ol’ days.

After a while, people started putting very personal info out there. Their FB page became an outlet for them. Many were thrown under the bus because they were trashing their spouse, their ex, or complaining about their kids. I remember thinking how thankful I was that my parents weren’t on FB when I was a teenager!

At one point, a few of my friends started sharing funny, heartwarming, and serious life-lessons that made you aware that you weren’t alone on your journey or in your valleys. I hesitantly joined them and it felt so good to have the freedom to share. For me, it gave me a platform to share with others what I didn’t have the guts to say out loud — or in front of others. The only time I regretted being so open was when a FB friend stopped me out in public and asked me about my post. “Didn’t they realize that story was private?” ~ thought the one who posted it for the world to see. And then there were those who would jab at your spelling or grammar errors. Sorry, Karen, this wasn’t an English assignment for a grade. I think you missed the message because of your critical eye.

Then came the political posts. You know, the ones where people share articles that were sometimes true and sometimes not. The posts that had multiple reminders to do a fact check before posting. Comments were made from people they really didn’t know but were connected through a friend of a friend, that more or less said that person didn’t have a heart because they believed in what they shared. (FB post creator is thinking – WHO are YOU, anyway? How did we even become friends?!) And then there’s those people who steered clear of attacking a politician’s views because they knew their friends were tired of it. However, they very pointedly made fun of that politician because of their weight, hair, or face, or…… Yes, I’m pretty sure we all fall in one of these categories.

Thankfully, private groups became available and popular so that you could voice your political (or whatever type of) opinion until the cows came home. No more worries if someone is going to unfriend you because those who disagree won’t see your post! I agree that there’s something nice about talking with people who share the same views. However, there’s something powerful about being able to talk with someone who disagrees — yet you still remain friends or on friendly terms.

In a world that is demanding change, let’s hold on tightly to grace. It was given to us by our Creator when we didn’t deserve it. Let’s remember to do the same.

Think about THESE things

If you’re in the habit of waking up at 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00 am and then have a difficult time going back to sleep, welcome to my world. I don’t have nightmares, nor do I toss and turn. It’s like I’m in a sound sleep and someone whispers my name.

One early morning, I woke up with such negative thoughts about something that I became overwhelmed with anxiety. I stayed there in bed, praying that God would help me stop this – whatever it is. That’s when these words came to my mind: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

Believe it or not, I was able to fall back to sleep after quoting the above Scripture. Later that morning, I realized I’ve not just been battling low self- esteem and maybe some jealousy; I’ve been in a spiritual battle. Oh, friend. Let me tell you how real it is, and the only way to overcome it is to know Scripture. If you’ve never read the Bible, now is the time. If you don’t have a Bible, order one or at the very least Google it. You can look up verses for times of despair, grief, death, betrayal, happiness, jealousy, joy, love, sadness. or confusion. Whatever it is you need to live this life and live it to the fullest is printed out for you to read, to learn from, to memorize, and to say out loud if necessary.

Love, Liz

About 14 years ago, I received a call from the nursing home that my grandmother wasn’t going to make it. I immediately called my husband to see if he could meet me there. Saying goodbye was something I didn’t want to do alone. Unfortunately, he was working about an hour away and knew he wouldn’t make it there in time.

When I walked into her room, her beautiful blue eyes met mine. I pulled up a chair and sat there for awhile. My emotions were so overwhelming — I couldn’t speak. I would try to smile at her, hoping it would send the message that I loved her and that I was there for her. The nurse came in to take her vitals, and that’s when I decided to walk over to the hospital, hoping to see a friend who worked there. However, she was nowhere to be found. Deep down I was hoping I could persuade her to come back to the nursing home with me. There’s something about having a friend with you when you have to face something you don’t want to.

My stomach was churning and I really didn’t want to go back to her room alone. I didn’t want to say goodbye. However, I knew it was the right thing to do.

The interesting thing was, when I got there – someone had pulled up a chair and in it was grandma’s Bible. I never did ask, but I assume it was one of the nurses who had placed it there. I sat down – opened up her Bible, and that’s when I found this card tucked inside from her best friend, Liz, who lived miles away.

There was no doubt that I was supposed to read it. As I read the words, tears streamed down my face because I realized that God had given me the words to say before she took her last breath. Friendship is an amazing thing, and to be reminded that you are loved by your friend and by Jesus is the best send-off to eternity.

Friend, if you’re struggling with knowing the right thing to say — pray. God will give you the words.

Page One.

I’m thinking about writing a book that would reveal to parents exactly how many times it takes to get through ONE page of a story when you’re reading to 20 preschoolers.

Don’t misunderstand me, I know there are some who would sit and listen all day, however, those are far and few between. We should never give up on encouraging children to love books. One day they will want someone to read to them. Until then….

Once upon a time, there was a dinosaur who went to school.  It was about 30 inches tall (about YOUR height – pointing to students), and it LOVED to eat ….. (Johnny, please sit down on your pockets. Thank you.)

Page 1.

Once upon a time, there was a dinosaur who went to school. It was only about 30 inches tall (about YOUR height), and it loved to eat… (Johnny, please sit down on your pockets. Thank you.)

It loved to eat carrots ….. (Jeremy, please put your mask on. Thank you.)

It loved to eat….. (Betsy, please stop staring at Johnny. Look forward.)

It loved….(Eddie, please stop stomping your feet.)

It…(Yes, Cindy, you can go to the bathroom.)

(No, Camillia, it’s not time for lunch. We just had snacks.)

(Cindy raises hand. Cindy, you JUST went to the bathroom. You REALLY didn’t go, did you?)

It loved to eat carrots and students who don’t want to hear a story about dinosaurs.

The end.

Looking for Change?

There’s two lessons I’ve recently learned that are so good, I had to share.

I recently read the following in a devotion through YouVersion. It’s called, “Reset Your Mind, Overhauling Toxic Thoughts.” Here are the words that struck my heartstrings….

“Maybe you’re still focused on the broken and damaged thoughts you’ve been thinking for years. It could be that you’ve been playing an outdated recording in your mind that someone said to you during your childhood.”

BINGO! Nothing from my childhood, but still I want to say, “Alexa, stop that stupid recording – NOW!” I’m so tired of replaying those same hurtful, and frustrating thoughts through my mind – every day! I’ve often prayed that God would wipe those memories from me, but so far — it’s still there. The sting is still there.

However, I have finally discovered that rather than praying that God would just erase the memory that hurts me, I should pray that He would transform me. This has to be what He wants, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this piece. I know that transformation takes place when we know the truth and allow it to change us. Where is that, you ask. It’s in God’s Word. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Second, a lesson given by Todd Mullins, a Senior Pastor of Christ Fellowship in Florida. This is paraphrased, however, you will get the point.

We can all agree that we need water in order to live. The more we drink, the healthier we are. When we don’t drink enough, we suffer in many ways. The same with reading and studying God’s Word. We read one verse and think, “Ahhhh, that felt so good. I needed that!” However, reading one scripture is like taking one sip of water — it’s good, but not enough.”

In conclusion, studying His Word is the key to everything. It fills us with knowledge, hope, and love. It gives us the strength we need to overcome.

Start today. Study His Word. Be transformed.

Being Real

Hey, friend. I may not know you personally, but if what I share ricochets in your spirit — there’s no doubt you’re my friend through Christ.

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a difficult time being motivated to do just about anything. I hate feeling like this. Between all the political stuff, Covid, people drama, other crazy madness that goes on in our world — I am tired. It’s like I’m in a fog and I want normal more than ever.

We had dinner with friends tonight. We met at a restaurant. Abnormal. We’ve always hopped in a car together. We were only at the restaurant for about an hour and a half. Abnormal. We’ve always taken up at least three hours together to catch up on each other’s week, laugh about stupid stuff, and then discuss the problems of the world. With the way things are today, that could take FOR-E-V-E-R! Right?

I hate all the changes that this virus has caused. I desperately miss spending time with my friends and my family. Life feels so shallow – so empty.

I recently read a book that was written by Lysa TerKeurst. She made a reference in it that really stuck with me. It was something about how ironic it is that feeling empty can be so heavy. So very true.

So, that’s where I’m at tonight. Heavy. Tired. Desperately needing change. However, I’m hopeful because I’m a believer in the One who can move mountains.

My First Love

Many years ago, when I was in elementary school, I noticed someone was interested in me. I know this sounds young, but it’s true. He didn’t tell me directly, however, he sent a message of interest through other people. He became my secret close friend. He was someone I could pour my heart into without worrying that he would tell anyone else. My parents were always fighting, and my mother was always drinking. My mom left to be with another man. My life was torn apart. He became my safe place where I could receive comfort.

When I entered the 7th grade, I became interested in other guys. Mainly one. He was so different than the other guys. He invited me to his church youth group and always talked to me about God, Jesus, and the encouraging words that were found in his Bible. He was my first crush, but we soon learned that we could only be friends. And so here we are, 40 some years later — still friends.

I dated several guys throughout high school. However, I only became ‘serious’ with two of them. Those relationships were your typical teen relationships that involved a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. With one, I really thought I was in love. How I felt when I was with him told me so. However, when I left for college, I knew that my heart was lying and it simply wasn’t true. He was a wonderful person, he just wasn’t the one.

When I started college, things felt different. There I was, away from my friends, the house that I had lived in since day 1– away from everything that gave me comfort or security. I knew there was something better than finding another relationship with a guy. There’s more to life than that. That’s when I was reunited with my first love — the one who pursued me all those years ago. The one I could truly trust, yet I never pursued him. The thing is, he never gave up on me. He always sent little messages of love, wisdom, and caution through other people. True love. Jesus.

Joy

I am an IA at a preschool. I probably could write a book on things that kids say! Quite honestly, the specialness of everything can’t be captured in words. It’s their little personalities and expressions that truly make their comments, reactions, and sometimes silence unique and so uplifting.

School has definitely changed with all the restrictions. However, kids are still kids. Their innocence is like a beam of light that can pierce your heart some days. Although there are some difficult or challenging days, children sure do have a way of taking your mind off of the things going on in this world.

Student: Why are you wearing your bathrobe? (on our way out for recess) Me: This is my …. (student starts talking before I can finish explaining that it’s not a bathrobe. It’s my coat!🤣) Student: I have a bathrobe at home. It feels so soft when you’re naked! 😀

Me: Raise your hand if you had pizza over break. Several raise their hand. Me: Raise your hand if someone made your favorite food over break. A couple raised their hand. Me: Raise your hand if you got to sleep in over break. *crickets* One student raises his hand and asks: What does it mean to sleep in?!

Student from another class at dismissal: So did you miss me? Me: Of COURSE I did! Student: I missed you, too. 💕

Student: Take a guess what this is! (after drawing 3 objects on a whiteboard) Me: Umm, your family? Student: Oh, Mrs. Knapp, take a better guess than that!

One of our younger students wanted to learn how to write his first name. Normally he isn’t very interested in anything that involves sitting, if you catch my drift. He just has a lot of energy and loves to play. Anyway, one day he wrote the first letter of his name and the expression on his face was PRICELESS. He was so excited, he wanted to learn how to do the next letter, and then the next. Student: My mommy is going to be so proud of me!

Cutest moment captured goes to one little girl during a bathroom break. Side note: She was wearing a tutu like dress — this will help you get the picture. I took the group of preschoolers into the bathroom. Naturally, I stand back and just make sure no one is running, crawling into another stall, or playing with the soap in the sink. One student opens the door to her stall, and I notice that she doesn’t come out to wash her hands. I slowly push the door open to make sure she’s ok, and there she is with her little ballerina type dress on, lifting one leg as high as it would go, trying to use her foot to flush the toilet. Student: This is how my mommy flushes the toilet! Menot out loud: I’m thankful you didn’t fall in!

Lessons in the Wilderness

What is the wilderness, anyway? Some describe it as a period of time when God reveals our unGodly desires so that we will intentionally place Him above the things of this world. I guess you could say it is like a training period for whatever is coming next in life. No matter what, prayerfully, we will grow spiritually through it and our relationship with our Savior will be our rock. Not the things of this world.

When you’re in the wilderness, it’s like you wake up and realize that something is different. Maybe your world has been turned upside down, or perhaps it was you that changed. Whatever the case, Jesus seems quiet and distant. You begin to wonder what your purpose is. Questions like these surface: Is Jesus finished with me? Has my sin been too great? It’s not exactly a fun place to be, but hang on — He’s NOT finished with you.

Yes, I’ve been there. The funny thing is that I didn’t even realize it until I was near the end of my time spent in what I call the wilderness. That’s when I finally asked, “Jesus, what are you teaching me?”

I’m not an expert on this, but I do know that Jesus has a way of getting our attention, and what speaks to one person may not work with another. I think it may depend on how mature and obedient we are — spiritually speaking.

For example, If you’ve ever been a substitute teacher, then you know what happens when students realize their teacher isn’t going to be there and that they have a substitute teacher. I have learned from experience that the sub will see within minutes who is going to test them and who will be obedient no matter what. The same with God’s children. We either strive to be obedient, or we don’t.

Sin. Probably the only time we bring it up is when we talk about someone else’s sin. Am I right? “Did you know that so and so did this?” One thing for sure, we most certainly don’t like to tell others that we struggle with it. However, we were all born with it. The good news is there is a way to take care of it.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Its symptoms may not seem obvious at first, and If left untreated, it can take over your mind and your heart and possibly separate you from your family, friends, and your Savior.

If you find yourself in the wilderness, hold on. Take note of the messages God is trying to send you. Don’t ignore Him. This might be the most important part of your Christian life. Just listen.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Resolution

It’s about 10:00 pm here, and like most of you — I’ve been thinking about this year. It’s been pretty unusual for all of us. No matter how much you try to avoid it, you can’t help but think about all the sadness that has surrounded us and all the changes.

When I was asked if I make a New Year’s resolution, I answered no –mainly because what I need to work on constantly changes throughout the year.

However, this year might be the exception.

A blogger I have followed for several years died yesterday. Although I’ve never met him, I felt like I lost a good friend. He battled ALS for 24 some years and wrote his last article about 7 days ago. It was short, and as he mentioned — it was his shortest one because of how weak he was. He was able to write his thoughts down through eye contact and a computer. I really can’t comprehend it, but I’m so thankful for technology. I’m even more thankful that he didn’t let ALS stop him from encouraging others. His love for Jesus was BIG. It was REAL.

The thing is, he never stopped letting people know about Jesus and the hope He gives. That’s my resolution. I pray that I can be like Bill and let his legacy live on through me. Even when life is hard. Even when I don’t feel like it. I pray I will set my selfish self aside and proclaim the love of Jesus to others. Always.

Thank you, Bill Sweeney — aka Unshakable Hope. You will be missed.