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I'm... OVERWHELMED..

If you happened to see me in the past couple of weeks and asked me how everything was going, your question was likely met with a sentence including the word "overwhelmed".  Many of you know that I started teaching again, and no matter how prepared you are, the beginning of a school year is just. well... overwhelming.  
Overwhelmed with circumstances... and needs... and responsibilities... all the "things" I need to do. 
 I remember using those same words a couple of weeks after Clay was born.  We both had an extremely rough delivery, and truth be told, I got the worst of it.  Due to an infection, I ended up back in the hospital for an extended stay while Frank and my mom kept our home running barely missing a beat.  When I finally was able to come home, I was weary and exhausted -  overwhelmed with circumstances... and needs.. and responsibilities... all the "things" I needed to do. I felt totally out of control with little thought of how I would really get it all together and raise these precious four children...  My wise father reminded me that I really only had one option... lean on Jesus, and take one day at a time.

Just this week as I was headed somewhere to do something I needed to do, I was overwhelmingly reminded of God's presence and provision in my life and in my circumstances.  I was listening to the radio, not paying so much attention... but then I heard the words... "I am overwhelmed.."  The station I was listening to is a local Christian radio station, so I was intrigued as I heard those words repeated again...I am  overwhelmed... I am overwhelmed...by YOU...  captivated by Your beauty... God, I run into your arms, unashamed because of mercy...  I know the power of the cross...  All that YOU have done is so OVERWHELMING.  I delight myself in YOU;  You are GLORIOUS!!
In that moment my entire thought process was immediately focused on every tree, every bird, each sun ray.... I don't believe I heard the audible voice of our Father, but His Spirit certainly astonished me with gentleness, "Oh my precious daughter, it is MY plan for you to be overwhelmed... not by circumstances or your to-do list, but with MY presence."  I pulled my car over because I was so shaken by HIS reminder.  Isn't that HIS plan for all of us.  
I spent some time in Mark chapter 7 today as it is the only New Testament passage that I could find where most commentators agree that the word hyperperissos (which means beyond measure astonished).  Jesus had just healed many people, and now a man who was deaf and mute was brought to Him.  Jesus healed him after looking toward Heaven.  As He had done before, Jesus told the people not to tell anyone about the miracle.  My version says, "they just kept talking about it, because they were [hyperperissos] overwhelmed with amazement."  
I am overwhelmed with amazement when I think about the God we are honored to call Father, His power, His majesty, His unfathomable love for us, aren't you? 

I read again today Revelation 4-5 and just tried to breathe in the glory that John did his best to describe to us of the praise and adoration that will take place when we reach Heaven.  Thousands upon ten thousands of angels... singing in a LOUD voice, praising the Lamb of God.  
So my prayer is that in the coming weeks, when you see me or text me, call me, or email me, you will still hear me say... I am overwhelmed... not with my to-do list, but with the God of the Universe - His power, presence and provision in my life!  Join me in the world of overwhelmed, won't you?? 

 Please enjoy the youtube link below of the song I referenced... 

Video for overwhelmed christian songOverwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave

Speechless



The start of school is always an exciting time filled with nervous Kindergarten parents, anxious third grade students, confident hight school students, and brand new teachers along with the veterans ready to make a difference in a child's life.  I am teaching again - fourth grade - such a precious age of children ready to learn, longing to please their teacher, and full of questions, ideas and energy.
While many parents are leaving a young Kindergarten student in the care of someone they may not yet even know, just as many are leaving a young college freshman at a place they don't know so well, with buildings they don't know so well in a room with someone they don't know so well... to live for, likely, the next four years of life.
We thought we were ready when our oldest daughter started college. We had made numerous trips to Walmart, bought just the right bedding, purchased the dorm refrigerator and microwave, found a tv that wasn't too heavy (It was 2004!), stocked up on staples like microwave popcorn, microwave mac and cheese, plenty of gatorade/water/soft drinks... we were prepared.
 The same year she started college, our youngest started first grade...  a little more emotion than this one momma was expecting.  So off we went with the vehicle packed to the very top.  Did I mention that as we were eating dinner the night before she moved in, her words, and I quote... "You can't leave me here; I'm not ready for this!"  My first thought was, great, let's just head home - Frank agreed that we could figure out how to do "home college".  She was, after all, still a baby!!
We moved her in the next morning - and by midafternoon, the bed was made with each pillow in place, the floor was as clean as I could get it, the bulletin boards were filled with pictures of family and friends, the computer was set up and running... it was time to go.  No problem, we had a plan for that - Frank and I had rehearsed.  We would gather around in her room and pray over/for Katie, her roommate, her professors, her classes, her new friends, her choices... we had a script.  Somehow, it just didn't work out that way.  We ended up at picnic table outside her dorm, realizing she needed us to go.  No problem, we are flexible, so I suggested we just sit right there and pray - what a great witness we would be for those walking by.  Hey maybe some would even stop and join us!
We bowed, and I whispered... "Dear God", and then something that never happens to me did - I couldn't SPEAK; I could barely even BREATHE.  There are no words to clearly communicate my emotion - I WAS really leaving her here!  Even now, that feeling smothers me.  Frank did his best to take over and uttered a simple prayer of something like, "Lord, protect her, take care of her..."
Friends, I believe, in those moments, our thoughtful, loving Heavenly Father gently places His tender arms around us, and whispers our name.  In Exodus the Bible speaks of Moses as God's glory was going to pass by.  The Lord told Moses:
 "I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by."  
No one could look upon God and live.  So He protected Moses literally by covering him with HIS hand.  
Oh dear friends, He covers you as well.
This year that oldest daughter of ours sent her oldest son to Kindergarten - such a flood of emotion and uncertainty.  
If you don't currently have a child living in your home, would you find one - maybe a neighbor, maybe a family member, maybe one in your church to simply to commit to pray for during this school year - a 5-year-old headed to Kindergarten to a college freshman of 18, and all in between. Let them know you are praying for them - that God will lead, protect, and hold them in HIS hand!!


Excuse me please...

When our kids were younger, we tried many techniques to teach them NOT to interrupt when we were speaking with another adult.  The most effective strategy for us came as we encouraged them to simply place their hand on our arm.  We would acknowledge that we knew they needed us by placing our hand over theirs - it didn't mean we answered immediately, but they understood that we knew they needed us, and that we would get to them quickly.


Clay was a "full of energy", rambunctious 3-year-old... and 4-year-old... and, well you understand!  :)  So one day when I picked him up from preschool, he was not feeling particularly patient as I spoke with another mom.  He followed our protocol, and I acknowledged.. but it just wasn't working for him.  He began running around me in circles - that would have been okay... running off a little energy...it didn't work out so well.  You see, someone had just handed me an armload of dresses for my girls to try on.  I had the dresses, which were on wire hangers, draped over my arm.  Somehow that very active little boy of mine literally HOOKED himself with a hanger... in his left eye.  I know, you are cringing with me as I type it!  Well, I can tell you, he GOT my attention.
Thankfully, his eye was not damaged.  It had him like a fish on a hook, just had a hook on his eyelid.  With great care we unhooked him... he just needed to tell me that he had a great day!  :)


Now THAT was an interruption! 


So how do you handle those constant interruptions that we encounter daily... maybe not with the dramatic flair of a coat hanger, but unexpected, for sure.  I am trying with great intentionality to truly be present in each moment...  the challenge is that many moments come with additional, unexpected interruptions, so then does the interruption "become" the moment???
So, who better to look to for answers than our sweet Savior, Jesus.  The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) give us numerous examples of Jesus' moments of distraction and interruption in his day.  Luke 8 tells of one perfect example.  Jesus was welcomed by the crowd as they had been expecting him...  he was interrupted by Jairus whose only daughter was dying, so Jesus headed to Jairus' house to heal his daughter... but Jesus was INTERRUPTED  on the way to the first interruption in the crowds.  The Bible says there were so many people that Jesus was almost crushed, but someone in crowd touched Him.  Well, of course people touched Him... Peter reminded Jesus that there were people pressing and crowding all around Him.


Jesus knew this touch was different... "I know that power has gone out from Me." (Luke 8:46)  The woman who touched Him came trembling out of the crowd.  You see, she had been plagued with some bleeding disorder for twelve years, and the moment she touched Jesus, her bleeding stopped.  Jesus is the son of God, so we know that HE knew who touched Him.  He could have just gone on His way, but instead He stopped for just a moment to talk with her using that opportunity to acknowledge her faith... that HE was the healer.  He responded with, "your faith has healed you.  Go in peace."  Then He was on His way again. 


Do I take those moments to encourage and listen to others?  Do I ask each morning for God's guidance in each one that I will encounter during that day?  Am I in such a hurry to get to the next thing that I miss golden opportunities to share, to listen, to be interrupted?? 
I am thrilled with the opportunity that God has given to teach a classroom of 4th graders this school year. 


Lord, may I look forward to the interruptions...