Category Archives: Control

Wise Wednesday ~ 3/8/17

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”‘
Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

Time With Carson

My soul can get weary.  Been there? For me, it’s the striving I think.  Maybe it’s the same for you or maybe something else takes its toll on your soul. No matter how it gets that way, having a drained soul weighs you down. Joy is hard to find. Peace seems out of reach. And the energy to love as we should? Not there, disconnected, out of order.

I found myself in just such a place not too long ago. While blessings abounded around me, inside that most sacred place I felt hollow. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for all I have or don’t recognize God working in my life: I am and I do.  It may be those very things that shout and echo against the walls of my tired soul; “God has abundantly blessed you so Do more! Be more!” And then I don’t……I’m not…..My soul sighs.

It so happens that at the very time my soul felt depleted, I was privileged to babysit my wonderful grandson, Carson!  It may have appeared that I was taking care of him, but from milk and Mickey first thing in the morning until bedtime stories and goodnight prayers at the end of the day, Carson was mending my soul.

“And he said:  “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

Who’d have guessed that playing at the park, throwing sticks in a pond, or a walk along the creek would revive my tired soul? I watched as he stooped low to get an up close look at moss growing on a rock, spotted a bird gliding high across the sky, laughed at leaves on the wind, nestled in a pile of well loved blankets to fall asleep, and when afraid to go down the slide alone? He kept his eyes on me, let go of the sides, and sailed down into my waiting arms!

“Change and become like little children.” My time with Carson reminded me to: like him, engage in the world around me, find joy in little things, rest in the knowledge that I am loved, and most importantly:  to take my eyes off myself, loosen the grip I have on wanting control, and trust that even when I’m not sure what’s waiting for me; I know WHO’s waiting for me!

Children really DO heal our souls if we’ll only watch, listen, and learn to humble ourselves to become more like them.  Of course, this MiMi thinks Carson is the cutest, smartest, strongest, most talented child of all! (I’m sure you know one of those too!) When he puts his little hand in mine and looks up at me with his perfect tiny toothed grin my heart overflows with unconditional love and I want nothing more than to be sure he knows he’s treasured! And isn’t that just like God? He waits for us to put our hand with childlike wonder in his, look to him, and to know without a doubt that we are precious and loved.  To become more like a child, HIS child……now that’s refreshing to the soul!

One Word: Trust

"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 hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)

“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 hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)

It should be an exciting time. A time for looking toward the future. For planning and dreaming. So why is my stomach in knots, my throat tight with unspoken fears, and worry filling my nights? One word. Trust.

We’ve come to a place where our house isn’t able to be our place of refuge anymore.  Its age has caught up with it and the problems are too numerous to solve.  Those who know houses advise us to tear it down.  My reaction? You know me…..”Tear down the rooms where my children played and slept?” “Tear down the place where we’ve celebrated birthdays, graduations, anniversaries?” (Memory hoarder. Remember?) We’ve agonized. We’ve prayed. Talked to friends, family, and professionals. The answer has remained the same.

My husband gave me a “Wish Book” to encourage me to draw, write, and paste ideas that help create a new vision of home. And I have.  I’ll even admit it’s been fun.  But all the while, somewhere deep inside where I don’t like to go, a voice lists all the things that could go wrong. Chants the reasons it will never work.  Stirs up fears that lurk there.  The devil knows my weaknesses and he doesn’t hesitate to attack those vulnerable places.

So while our children are anxious for the work to begin and our friends are excited for this next adventure we are embarking on; I’ve dug in my heels and waited.  Waited for signs to move ahead.  Waited for signs to stop. Waited for clarity. Waited for peace. And in that waiting I’ve…..Failed. To. Trust.

Much to my dismay, I know that “Trust” is my word for 2016.  It challenges me.  How about you?  Are you like me?  Hesitant.. well more like desperate… not to let go of your own control? Reluctant to move forward? I hope not, but if you are; here’s the good news!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

I’m learning this lesson at an agonizingly slow pace but I’m sensing a shift.  A realization that I don’t have to “do” or “know”; but rather, I need to “be”. Be still. Be in His word. Be obedient. Be in His presence. Be loved. Change has never been easy for this ole gal, but to “be” all I can for Him, it’s vital.

Maybe you too, know exactly what I’m talking about.  You’re also facing a change, an illness, a death, a broken relationship, difficulties at work, a new baby, a longing for a baby, a wedding….good change or not so good, here is some encouragement I’ve found:

“Let’s face it-it can be challenging and sometimes scary to step out in faith, especially when we don’t know what lies ahead.  But when we trust God with our future and seek out His plans for our lives instead of our own, the blessings we receive will far exceed the things we think we are leaving behind.”

Tracie Miles, Faith Zone Challenge

Yesterday, we went to begin the final steps in ordering our new home.  We prayed before we left.  Boy, did we pray!  There were times I felt I couldn’t breathe. My nerves were on edge, but as soon as we pulled into the parking lot a peace seemed to come over me. And while we talked and planned excitement began to replace some of my fear. God is amazing like that!

I know that I’m not where I need to “be”….yet….there’ll still be worries, fears, and roadblocks to make me want to turn back. My plan? One word. Trust.  I’m determined to put my trust not in “my own understanding” but with God and to follow as He leads me on the path to not only my new home here, but someday to the home He’s prepared for me (and YOU) with Him.

 

Do you have a word for 2016? I’d love to hear what it is! Is there something I can pray about for you? Just leave either or both in the comments and I look forward to connecting with you!

 

 

 

 

M’m! M’m! Monday 3/28/16

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“I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2 (NLT)

There I was, standing in the middle of my kitchen shaking…shaking…shaking… but the cake would not come out of the pan and land on the plate like it was supposed to.  I’d followed the recipe and its not like I hadn’t made a pound cake before, but despite my aggressive attempts, the dessert I was to take to Easter dinner held tight.  Knife around the edges….shake again……no luck! Clunking on the counter…..knife around the edge again…..shake….shake….AND… out it came. Not only did my cake break free, it broke into many pieces! What an unexpected and unwanted mess!  Upon further reflection I realized that while I had greased the Bundt pan I’d left out an important step.  I had forgotten to flour it. My cake was doomed from the beginning.

Like a puzzle, I pieced it together the best I could and drizzled the glaze over the top which thankfully acted as a sort of sugary camouflage. Hesitantly, I placed it on the dessert table right next to a professional looking chocolate cake and a plate of fun, creative fudge. My best intentions lay on that plate reminding me that things don’t always turn out like I plan.

Isn’t that life?  We try and follow the “recipe” for being a good person and still Bad. Things. Happen. We’re stuck. Can’t move. Feels like we’ve had a knife through our heart.  Our whole world is shaken up and we fall to pieces.  WE were doomed from the beginning because we miss an important step.  Jesus.  We’re reminded that life is hard, our plans go awry and that we can never be good enough.  What a blessing that HE is! Jesus’ body was broken for us so that He can take all of our broken pieces and through grace, turn them into something beautiful! (No sugary camouflage needed!) That’s the Glory of the Resurrection!

Well, thankfully my cake tasted better than it looked so thought I’d share the recipe with you today.  Its hint of lemon and fresh strawberries make it a perfect Spring dessert. Just DON’T FORGET TO FLOUR THE PAN!!! Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of butter or margarine
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs (I use extra large)
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 oz. plain or vanilla yogurt (I used vanilla)
  • 12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and FLOUR a 10 inch Bundt pan
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs, then stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
  • Add salt and baking soda and lemon zest.
  • Alternate beating in 2 1/4 cups flour and the yogurt, mixing until incorporated.
  • Toss the diced strawberries with the remaining 1/4 cup flour and gently mix them into the batter.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool 20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a plate or rack to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, whisk together the remaining 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and the powdered sugar.
  • Drizzle over the top of the cake.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://www.myseaofthought.com/2016/03/28/mm-mm-monday-32816/

A Baby Bottle Lesson

 

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21 NIV

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 NIV

My baby bottle years have been way behind me, that is, until my grandson was recently born.  Now, I’m reveling in every moment of holding him close in my arms while he drinks from his bottle.  This precious time is a blessing and a joy and believe it or not it has reminded me of a truth about myself:  I am a planner. (That’s a nice way of saying I’m a control freak)  At home, when I was teaching school, on vacation, at church events, in retirement, and on and on; I’ve wanted things to go the way I thought they should go.  A lot of my energy has been spent organizing, designing, formulating, and figuring out how to navigate life with as few disappointments, unwelcome surprises, or bumps as possible along the way.  Now don’t get me wrong, in day to day life, my strategies have been useful in accomplishing many things that had to be done,  but being so wrapped up in doing things myself I believe has caused me to be missing out  in my relationship with God.  Here’s where a bottle feeding helped me see a little more clearly.

Being almost five months old, my grandson has started trying to help feed himself.  He clumsily brings his hands up and attempts to wrap them around the bottle,  In doing so, more times than not, his hands get in the way and the flow of milk stops or he pulls the bottle completely from his mouth.  The result is usually a leg kicking, arm flailing, red faced yell.   In my hand I have everything he requires to be nourished and to satisfy his needs.  I offer it to him freely and with love.   All my grand baby needs to do is open his mouth and accept the life giving gift.  Do you see where this is leading?  Here’s my ah-ha moment……

How often have my attempts at planning life out my way actually hindered my receiving what God was freely and lovingly offering me?  Thinking I know what’s best, have I pushed unseen blessings away?

Have I faced times of famine simply because I’ve strived to do things on my own? 

Watching Carson trying so hard to feed himself has caused me to pause and reflect.  I’m reminded that God has me, and he has you, cradled in His arms and He’s offering us His very best for our lives.  

Life certainly can cause us to kick and scream while teaching us that we’re not in control. It’s time for me to give up my clumsy attempts at directing my purpose and my path.  I need to do less planning and more praying.  Let go of my timelines and trust God to provide everything I need at just the right moment. Maybe you’re ready to give up your control too.  Together let’s loosen our grip and open ourselves  to “drink” in the life He has waiting for us.

I have written this post as part of #livefreeThursday.  The prompt was “I give up”. Want to read more? Go to http://www.tsuzanneeller.com

Wait and See

Wow!  It’s been since October that I’ve written a post!  I have many excuses…..I’ve worked on a couple  projects up at school, I’ve traveled a little, and getting lost in the holiday rush…..all good reasons for not having the time to write…..good, but not the real reason.

The real reason I haven’t written is my own disillusionment and fear.  It was eye-opening for me just now to go back and read my October post, “It’s Time”.  I talk about taking off and living my dreams but instead I have done the exact opposite.  Actually, I’ve been hiding.

I felt ready to retire.  I felt it was time.  I felt it was for the best for me and the school.  I felt God was leading me to a new life and I couldn’t wait. But waiting is exactly what I’m doing and I must admit I’m not doing a very good job of it.  Somehow I thought that my new future was going to emerge from writing this blog.  It hasn’t.  I was sure opportunities were going to knock on my door. The only opportunities I’ve been given are the spam messages to improve my blog that fill my inbox.  I thought I was going to fulfill the longing of my creative spirit and make a difference.  I thought I knew where I was going…..

Keeping busy hasn’t been a problem.  I’ve spent a lot of time back at school substituting, putting up bulletin boards, chairing special projects and I’ve enjoyed it.  It’s just that this isn’t how I envisioned it to be.  Have I made a big mistake?  Did I take my future into my own hands instead of following God’s lead?  I talk a big game but truthfully, I’ve been scared and disappointed in myself.  What have I done?  What am I supposed to do now?  I know…….wait.

So, here I am back to tell you that while I wish I was flying, sailing, climbing, or traveling on a new exciting adventure, I’m actually a little lost and still not sure where I’m going.  It’s a good thing I have a patient husband, family who support me, and friends that cheer me on.  Because really when it’s all said and done, it doesn’t matter where I’m headed.  What matters most is who’s along for the ride and I am richly blessed by MY “traveling partners”!  Am I a little anxious? Yes.  Is this how I pictured retirement?  No.  The reality though is life rarely happens the way we expect it to.  Once we realize it, we always have the choice to give up (as I sort of have been doing) or embrace the moment we’re in (what I’m now going to try to do).  Armed with the confidence that God has a plan, that He can see the whole picture, and the knowledge that I’m surrounded by people who care about me, I’m going to try and relax, let go of my preconceptions, and be grateful for this time of discovery.  Where will it lead me you ask?  Your guess is as good as mine.  I believe we’ll just have to WAIT and see.

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Dippity Doo and Red Hair Too

“Burr Head”, “Bozo”, “Brillo Pad”……..just a few of the names I’ve been called, none of which mind you, I’ve particularly ever cared for. They are names I was called because of the curly hair that grows in a ball on my head…..my nemesis for life! Oh how I have suffered because of it! Let me just enlighten you to life with naturally curly hair.

When I was elementary school age my mom didn’t know what to do with my wiry stuff so she did what any mother would do. She had it cut off. I’m talking short! So short in fact, that I was often mistaken for a boy. I have a vivid memory of being in fifth grade and sent to pick something up at the shoe repair store. The nice gentleman behind the counter politely said, “What can I do for you today, son?” I immediately burst into tears and ran from the store. The poor man.

Then came Junior High. It was the 70’s and all the cool girls had long straight hair. Not me! Oh I tried…..every night I would smear “Dippity Doo” all over my stubborn curls and then cover the slimy mess with a tight cap. Each morning was the same sad story. I would go to the mirror only to find that as I removed the cap, stiff, crunchy curls would pop up all over my head. In my preteen mind it was the end of the world. As my thirteenth birthday approached I wanted only one thing, a fall, a hairpiece that attached to my hair giving me long, flowing, straight locks. I begged and begged and when the day arrived with great anticipation I opened my present. There before me was the most beautiful long hair I had ever seen and it was all mine! As you can imagine I put it right on, added a wide headband to cover where it attached, and modeled for my unimpressed younger sisters (who both have straight hair, by the way). Sleep came hard that night as I pictured over and over how stylish I would look the next day with my new long hair. Alas, again I have a vivid memory of Anthony Powell (yes I still remember your name if you’re out there) walking innocently up behind me at the bus stop, grabbing a handful of my lovely locks and yanking with all his might. As you might have guessed, he ripped the fall right off my head along with a nice chunk of my real hair too. Bursting into tears again, I ran home my dreams of fitting in dashed once more.

During High School and College my stubborn hair took on a life of its own as I attempted to grow it out, hoping the weight of it would pull out some of the curl.  It grew out alright.  Out, up, sideways, just not down.  Like a Chia Pet the sphere of hair got larger and larger around while the curls were…well, curly. No hair gel could tame them. No hairstylist could style them.  No more tears or running away.  I surrendered.  Instead of fitting in I sort of stood out…..not in a good way either.

Fast forward to motherhood.  I was teaching, had two small children, volunteering, and didn’t have time for my crazy hair so I did what any mother would do.  I cut it off.  I’m talking short. Elementary school short.  My friend the hairdresser will tell you that she never thought I would return after she followed my directions to scalp me.  I look back on those pictures now (as do my children) and wonder what in the world I was thinking. The truth is  I had no time to try to be fashionable and fitting in took a back seat to being uncomplicated and quick.

The cycle has continued through the years.  I grow out the mop and then cut it off.  Grow it out and then can’t stand the poodle ears and cut it off again.  In desperation to do something with the diabolical, graying poof on my head, I decided to tap into my hidden wild side and dyed my locks red.  I’ve had several shades of red…..cherry cola red, Lucille Ball red, I even went so far to dye the front of my hair a bright, wear your sunglasses, red.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think it through first and afterward realized that not only did I have to go to school the next morning like that but I was also about to go on a trip with three of my friends.  You can imagine the stares they endured as people around us wondered why three normal teachers would travel with some woman who had a “FarmAll Tractor red” streak across her forehead. One man told me I had stood out in the rain too long and was starting to rust…..oh the shear horror of it all!  On a positive note, they didn’t lose me in the crowd.  I was hard to miss. Much to her relief, I shed THAT red just in time for my daughter’s bridal shower.

This past summer I realized that every time I looked at a vacation picture of myself my comment was always the same, “that hair”.  So once again, this past week I had it cut off.  Not only did I cut it off I also tried a new color.  I’m now a brunette (with a little red showing through).  It’s taking some getting used to but both the cut and color are growing on me.  More than that though, I have started to realize that for 50 years or so I’ve tried to control something that can’t be controlled.  It’s been frustrating, disappointing, agonizing, embarrassing, and so much more!  I wish I could go back and tell my younger self how much easier life could have been if I’d just embraced who I was, who God designed me to be.  I was born with and meant to have curly hair.  It makes me sad that for so long I have fought against myself and I can now see that it has carried over into other areas of my life.  I like control!  I need control!  I do not like to feel out of control!  Guess what?  Just like my hair, life can’t be controlled and trying feverishly to do so elicits in me the same feelings that fighting my hair has. It’s also occurred to me how self-centered and prideful worrying about my hair has been.  I mean truly, who cares what my hair looks like except me?  I want to shed more than the red.  I want to let go of all the insecurities I have felt about myself for so many years.  I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. (or should I say hair?)  I want to accept that I’m never going to have, the perfect body, the perfect life, or the perfect hairstyle and be ok with that.  I don’t know what it is about this new cut that has made me realize that it’s time to get to know my true self, hair and all.  But I do know that a trip to the hairdresser has opened my eyes and heart to the understanding that we can either cry and run away from who we are or we can shake loose those false expectations and stiff control, run our fingers through our hair letting it finally fall naturally, freeing ourselves to be exactly who we are supposed to be and love it!

 

The Story of My Life

The Story of My Life