life beyond the well…


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The Limit DOES Exist

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

I have limits.  I have limits, and that’s okay.

If there was one thing that constantly resonated with me over the course of my pregnancy, it was that I have limits.

I grew up being told (and believing) that I could do or be anything.  And so I worked (and continue to work) as if that is possible. Adding that work with a hint of perfectionism, and you can only imagine how easily one can spiral out of control.

When I was pregnant, and now in this new period of life with an infant, I’ve had to say no to things.  I’ve had to ask for help. I have, in many places, been confronted with the truth that I can’t do it all.

And after being confronted with that truth, I’ve been comforted by the reality that it’s okay.

It’s okay because:

  • It’s not for me to do everything.
  • It’s not for me to be everywhere.
  • I’m not for everyone.

To be clear, when I say “it’s not for me…”, what I mean is that it’s not God’s will for me to do everything, be everywhere, and be for everyone.  Our lives have seasons, and in this season, I’m having to reestablish my priorities to make sure I’m keeping the main thing the main thing.

This is challenging for me. There are things that catch my attention–worthy causes, opportunities for personal advancement, events and outings–and more than ever, I find myself saying, “no”. Not because I don’t want to, but because in this season, it’s not for me.

Sometimes I feel bad; I feel guilty for saying no.  And sometimes it’s hard to explain. There are times where it’s not a matter of logistics (i.e.: there’s not a scheduling conflict), but it’s a matter of energy preservation.  I have to recognize when my tank is full…and when it’s running low. I also have to recognize the situations and circumstances that may take me from full to empty very fast- and govern myself accordingly.

In this season, I’m constantly reminded that good things aren’t always God things. With limited time, energy, and resources, I MUST be purposeful about what I’m doing and why. This season won’t last forever, but if I want the seeds that I’m sowing to reap a mighty harvest, I must be intentional about what I’m planting, where I’m planting, and why I’m planting.  And I believe that with that intentionality, God will send others to water those seeds and provide the increase.

I’m grateful for this season, for identifying my weaknesses and limits; so that God may be glorified and strengthened in me.

Until next time…

Be encouraged! Peace and blessings!

 

 


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When Social Becomes Sinful

I love social media.  I especially love the ability to use social media to stay in touch with people and current events.  I’m always excited to receive a friend request from someone that I knew, and I love seeing pictures of people getting married, having babies, graduating, getting promotions, etc.

But…there’s also something that I don’t like about social media (and perhaps technology in general).  I really don’t like that social media seems to give people the license to be mean at the expense of others.

Here’s what I mean- far too often our social media behavior is making fun of others.  Talking bad about them; saying things about them that we might not ever say if they were standing in front of us.  Sometimes it’s about people we know, sometimes it’s about people we used to know, sometimes it’s about celebrities (who are people too), and sometimes it’s about strangers.  The whole “People of Walmart” or “World Star Hip Hop” phenomenon…to air someone’s less clean laundry bothers me.

Seriously- what is happening IN us that we feel the need to document, comment on, and share someone else’s shortcomings?

I love a laugh as much as the next person.  But, laughing and publicly sharing and shaming someone else? That’s not cool.

The great thing about social media is that it can be used to reach the masses.  With the same energy that we use to shame, we can encourage, inspire, uplift, and glorify God.  Here’s the thing- anything that we have can be used as a tool to lead others to Christ.  Social media provides us with this platform

I know that everyone may not agree with this, and I’m fine with that.  I know that there are people who may view social media solely as an outlet for expression.  And while it is absolutely an outlet for expression, here are my questions:

  • As I stated before- what is happening IN us that we feel the need to document, comment on, and share someone else’s shortcomings?
  • Isn’t there a way that we can express ourselves without it being at the expense of someone else?
  • Would you say ____________ to the person/people directly? (If the answer is no, why are you saying it at all?)

The word teaches that death and life are in the power of the tongue, advises us against unwholesome talk, and instructs us to encourage one another.

When I was in college (as social media just started to exist), a friend’s mom gave us some good advice on speaking, telling us, “Before you speak, ask yourself if what you’re about to say is nice, necessary, and the truth.” I think that’s all something we could stand to abide by now.

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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Worth the Wait.

I married Preacherman at 29- which was about 4-5 years longer than I wanted to be single.  In my perfect life plan, I would have been married at 24 or 25, with babies coming along around ages 27-28.  I’d have finished having babies by 32 (at the absolute latest).  And we’d live happily ever after.

So, based on my own perfect life plan, I’m a little behind.  And while I generally hate being behind on things, I’m okay with it, because it has been worth the wait.

I love that I know and see so many young women who desire to be Godly wives; who spend their time committed to their church, and pursuing God so that they can be who God has called them to be.  And while I know from my own experience that waiting to be found can be a struggle, let me encourage you- IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

I know that you get tired of hearing it. I know that while you’re happy for your friend, you’re not excited about adding another bridesmaid dress to your closet. I know the excitement of welcoming your friend’s newborn into the world, while wondering if you’ll ever have that life for yourself.  But please know, that it IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

There’s nothing wrong with you for waiting.  But don’t wallow.  Enjoy your single time.  Travel. Shop. Save money. Start your business. Finish that degree. Follow the dreams that God has placed in your heart while you’re waiting- because when you get married, it’s not the same.  Marriage requires a consideration that isn’t necessary when you’re single–a consideration of another’s thoughts, dreams, purposes, and plans, and you have to proceed with prayer and caution.

I wish that I could say that I waited patiently to be found by Preacherman. If only that were the case. There were times where I would be content with my singleness, and there were times where I tried to force relationships that I knew weren’t for me.  But once I truly committed myself to my singleness, and becoming the best person that I could be, things (slowly) fell into place.

Please know, you are worth the wait- and it’s better to be alone than in bad company. My prayer is that you are able to enjoy this season for the blessing it is and understand the purpose it serves in your life and for the husband and family that you will soon have.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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The Appointment

It’s not something that’s on my schedule.  If you were to check my iPhone and my Outlook calender, you’d notice that the space between 4:45pm and 5:00pm Monday-Thursday is always empty. It’s the end of the day, and during that time, I find myself doing two things: prepping for the next day and waiting.

Waiting for my appointment.

I don’t know when it became an “appointment”.  It kind of just happened.  She would get dismissed from her class and swing by my office before heading downstairs to get picked up.  Initially, it was just to ask a question about high school or college. But eventually it became more- the visits became more frequent and the questions (and conversations) became about life.  Real life stuff- the kind of stuff that can trip up even the smartest, most talented person if they aren’t equipped to deal with it.  She shares, and asks questions.  I listen- until she’s ready for me to ask questions or provide feedback.

After talking with Jesus, and praying with Preacherman, this is one of the best parts of my day. When working with students, you often wonder if you’re really impacting their life.  You wonder if what you do, what you say, how you teach and instruct is helping to move the needle; not just in the classroom, but outside of it as well.  Most days, I’m given this appointment- this 15 minutes to plant some seeds, water other seeds, and pull up some weeds in this student’s life.  It’s something that I cherish- and I’m grateful to God to be entrusted with this responsibility.  My life is better because of it- and I pray that hers is as well.

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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Respond with Grace…

I really struggle with rudeness and lack of manners.  Working with students, I realize that these often provide the opportunity for teachable moments.  But when I encounter these traits in adults, it is a harder pill to swallow.  Mainly because there’s an assumption that as an adult, one would know how to treat other adults.  But I’ve come to realize that isn’t always the case.  And sometimes people DO know better, but something has happened that has broken their filter, and their ability to appropriately manage their behavior and their response is in flux.

My solution: respond with grace.

This is NOT easy.  When I’m mistreated or wronged, my natural tendency is to want to respond in the same manner- even when I know better.  Even when I know that responding in the same way serves only to escalate a situation that doesn’t need to be escalated.  Even when I know that what is really needed in the situation is grace, mercy, and love.

But what does that look like?

That looks like: utilizing manners. Being overly respectful. Not raising my voice. Choosing to listen. Choosing my words carefully. Making sure the other person is (and feels) heard and respected.

I’ve learned that in MANY situations- their frustration isn’t about me.  It’s about a million other things that have brought them to this moment.  And since it’s not about me, I can choose to not take it personal and to respond in a way that is totally about them- by extending kindness.

I am a product of grace and mercy.  Every day, God pours these two over me, in conjunction with his love and as a result, I have been blessed.  In tough and challenging moments, I am given the opportunity to share this grace, mercy, and love to someone else.

Who could use some of your kindness, grace, mercy, and love today?

Be encouraged.  Peace and blessings.


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Celebrating TWO

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Dear Preacherman,

It’s been two years.  Why is the time going by so fast?  At this rate, we will have to live to at least our 120 years, so that I can feel that I will have had sufficient time with you.

You are amazing; more than I bargained for, beyond what I imagined, the answer to my prayers.  Thank you for your love and your faithfulness, your leadership and your kindness, your relentless drive to pursue and fulfill God’s purpose for your life. You are absolutely one of the best people that I know and I am so glad to call you mine.

In these short two years of marriage, we have changed jobs and addresses; gained and lost weight, traveled to quite a few states, partially eaten our way around Jacksonville, figured out how to make salmon in a way that rivals Vin Rouge, gone to our first professional football game (and made it on the big screen), and shared more laughs than I can remember, nor that I ever want to forget.

Year three is sure to be an exciting one for #TeamAlmond and I’m while I’m excited about the things to come, I’m even more grateful that I get to face them all with you. Love you to the moon and back, Boss.

E5


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Divinely Delayed

I really hate being late.  Well, let me not say that…because there are definitely areas of my life where I struggle to be on time.  Just keeping it real.

So what I really mean is that I hate for my routine to be interrupted, thus causing me to be late(r).  I know that it happens, and generally there’s nothing that I can do about it, so I’m good about rolling with the punches…after I get over the initial frustration.

Today was one of those days where my routine was interrupted.  Preacherman was having car trouble, so I had to take him to work.  The challenge is that he has to be at work an hour before I do…so my entire morning routine was thrown off by having to take him to work and struggle through the early morning traffic.  Adding insult to injury was the fact that my car was in DIRE need of gas.  I mean, to the point that I was praying that we would make it to his job, and I was REALLY praying that I would make it back home without having to call AAA because I was stranded on the side of some Jacksonville road.

After making it back home (thanks God!), getting dressed, and making it out of the house in a decent time to head to work (after stopping at the gas station), I received a phone call from a friend who I haven’t talked to in a while.  She’s struggling.  Going through some major stuff.  And while I’ve been praying for her, I haven’t had a chance to connect with her on the phone in a while.  So, it was good to talk to her FOR REAL and be able to encourage her in her situation.

On the way to work, I processed all that happened.  Had I not been delayed by Preacherman’s car issues, I would have been on my regular schedule and would have missed the opportunity to connect with a friend who so desperately needed to be encouraged and reminded of God’s love for her in the midst of her challenges.  And I would have missed God’s reminder to slow down and enjoy His delays because He’s always at work.

It’s so easy to be frustrated when our routine is interrupted.  I encourage you, in the midst of those interruptions to seek God.  What is it that He is trying to tell you?  How, in those moments, does He desire to use you?  I’m grateful for God’s nudging and gentle reminders of how He is always at work.  I’m grateful for being used to encourage someone else in their situation. And though I was initially frustrated, I can honestly say that I’m grateful for this morning’s divine delay.

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!

 


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Green is for Grandma

I hated the color green as I was growing up, and it was all her fault.  She loved it in the most ridiculous, passionate way.  She had green EVERYTHING.

Green sweaters.

Green dresses.

Green pants.

Green church suits.

Green church shoes (to match the green church suits).

Green LEATHER outfits (yes, outfits- as in more than one).

I should also mention that it didn’t matter which SHADE of green it was.  If it was in the green family, it was good as gold. I didn’t much mind the green for her. I mean, you like what you like.  But what I DID mind was the fact that she spread the green to us by way of our GREEN summer camp shirts.  You see, for a huge chunk of my childhood, my grandparents ran the Harriet Tubman Summer Day Camp in the basement of their church.  And we had camp shirts that we had to wear–and our camp shirts were green. AND, since my grandparents ran the camp, that meant there was no shortage of green shirts for me to wear. I could never ruin my shirt. I could never lose it. I couldn’t forget it. There was always a green shirt for me.

But now, things are different. They’ve changed. And I’ve grown and changed, the color green has become less of a subject of my distaste and more of a comfortable and familiar association with someone who I loved deeply, and who deeply loved me.

Now when I see the color green, I am reminded of faith, family, strength, dignity, purpose- all things that she embodied. I am reminded of the value and necessity of education. I am reminded of the responsibility of serving others and lifting as you climb, lest no person be left behind.

Green is for Grandma.

In honor of my grandmother, Mrs. Mildred Eleanor Roberts-Davis

August 20, 1935 – July 8, 2006

 


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Book Review: NIV Life Journey Bible

I love reading the Bible. It’s hard. It challenges me. It changes me. It pushes me to grow in my relationship with God and with others.  While I have a small NIV Thinline Bible that I carry with me to church (and I also use the Youversion app on my phone quite frequently), I love having a bigger reference bible that can provide greater help in navigating life and growing my faith.

Enter the NIV Life Journey Bible.  It’s already in my favorite translation (NIV), but what I really love about this bible are the practical inserts spread throughout–inserts on family, relationships, grief; with an overall theme of being emotionally healthy.  I think that this is hugely important, and in my own experience with church, I think that sometimes things can be so overly spiritual that there is not much attention paid to some of the real issues that people have.  Being emotionally healthy and learning how to be in healthy relationship is hugely important, and having a bible that highlights those principles as you go through it, is awesome.

I think this bible is excellent and I would recommend it to others. However, I would especially recommend it to new believers, people who enjoy devotionals, and people who value emotional and relationship health in conjunction with their spiritual health.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine


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First Day

It seems like every year the summer goes by faster and faster.  As a child, I enjoyed summers- they gave me time to read endlessly, play outside for hours, travel to see family members, go to camps to meet more new people.  Summer was a source of endless adventure, and I looked forward to it.

But…I also looked forward to going back to school.  I enjoyed the routine, I enjoyed the environment, and perhaps more than anything, I enjoyed learning.

I have spent all of my professional career in education, and I can honestly say that I STILL get the same emotions about back to school.  As much as I “needed” a break and a slower pace, after a little bit of travel and some extended quality time with Preacherman, I was ready to see the kiddos again.

Today, they were back.  And there’s absolutely no feeling like the first day of school.  This morning, I had the privilege to meet so many wonderful members of the Class of 2022.  This morning, I met so many little faces of hope, of possibility, of excitement; and I got overwhelmed with the same feeling I get every year when working with students: gratitude.

I am grateful that God called me to work in education.

I am grateful to have a job in education that I love and that contributes to my life’s purpose.

I am grateful for parents who trust me with their children.

I am grateful for previous students and parents who have shown me how to be better.

I am grateful for my current students who continue to defy statistics and prove what is possible.

I am grateful to work alongside (and to have previously worked with) some of the most caring, gifted, and talented educators.

Working education is tough. The days are long, but the years are short. It’s hard work, gut-wrenchingly tough work, that often times keeps you up far too late, or startles you awake far too early.  But it is SO worth it.  The time and energy spent investing in these lives is never wasted, and it is never in vain.  I can’t always see the results of the seeds that are planted, or being watered; but I can trust and believe God for the increase- in them and in me.

Day one down. 189 or so to go.

Cheers to the new year!