Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I am so thankful for a healthy, happy family. I am blessed beyond measure.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Praying Proclamations

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How do you define prayer?

Based on your prayer habits how would you explain it?

Is prayer a dialogue between you and God or is it a one-way lifeline you resort to when all else fails?

If I’m being honest my prayer life has been more of the latter. I’ve rushed through prayer because life is busy and so I get all of my requests off my chest and then move on. The piece I’ve been lacking is the part where I quiet my heart and allow God to speak into it.

Listening is a weakness of mine.

Something about being the oldest of three girls I learned quickly that if I wanted to be heard it would take A LOT of talking. Once I get to know someone I can talk their ear off. I’m well-aware of my addiction to my own voice.

But prayer isn’t a time for me to practice asserting myself. It’s not a relationship if I don’t pause and let the other party speak.  I pray in the car on the way to work and I talk the WHOLE WAY.

When it comes to prayer I realize that most of the time that I’m talking I am asking, asking, asking. “God, please heal”, “God, please help”, “God, please show me…” It’s all a bunch of requests, but not a lot of thankfulness.

I do praise God for amazing things in my life, but I don’t think it is something that He hears enough from me.

Last night, as I sat in the youth group where I am serving in my church, I listened as the speaker read through many of Paul’s prayers. She read aloud the first several verses of every epistle and Wow, those are powerful words. Each book is opened with a greeting to it’s recipient, but also with Paul proclaiming who he is in Christ.

Following Paul’s example, the speaker asked each person to write out their proclamation. It’s easy to lose sight of who we are in Christ so this practice really helped me to refocus not just my prayer life, but my entire attitude. Below is my proclamation that I prayed last night:

Lauren, a servant of Jesus set free from selfishness;

in order to make disciples of

God’s Chosen People;

through the blood of Jesus I was set free from the bondage of sin;

And though it may present itself daily I am able to overcome by His blood.

I was created to learn, to teach, to grow, and to thrive so that all might come to a saving faith in the Lord.

What an awesome practice this was for my faith. In this act I was able to focus on who I really am as opposed to the lies of the enemy. It also cleared my mind to then listen and receive from God in a great way. If you’ve never done something like that please give it a try. It is empowering. Start by reading the first several verses of the books written by Paul (Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians…) then write out WHO YOU ARE.

It may seem counter-intuitive that I said I need to listen more, but then also pray proclamations. However, when you begin your prayer time by refocusing your lens on who God says you are then the entire practice is flipped. You remind yourself of His goodness and suddenly all those requests you had planned to bring are trivial in the sight of His glory.

Finally, as a catalyst to improving my prayer life I am going to embark on a 40-day journey of written, honest prayer. Much of my time will be spent waiting on the Lord and listening as He speaks, but I want to record these prayers as a way of remembering.

Looking forward I’ve set some goals for my prayer life:

1. Listen and give God silence in which to move

2. Pray proclamations

3. 40 Days of written, honest prayer

Will you join me in this journey?

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

One: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

I can’t believe how quickly the weeks are passing. I feel like I just crafted last week’s post and here I am waking up to the excitement of joining my fellow writers for another edition of Five Minute Friday. This week our prompt is One.

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Over the past eight and a half months our family has undergone some change.

Our oldest daughter went from being an only child to welcoming a baby sister into the world. I’ve been blessed in countless ways watching her adapt to this change. She has become a second mom to the baby. It’s amazing the bond they have formed in such a short time.

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

I am thankful that in a world that will wound and sting that my girls will have each other. If one falls down, then the other can help her up. They can keep each other warm when they are surrounded by cold. When one is in need of backup they can provide defense for one another.

As an older sister myself I see the importance of the sibling bond. It is one not easily broken or overpowered. And I know that if everyone else turns their back on me that my sisters will still be there.

I can’t wait to watch the Lord continue to grow the bond between my daughters. I am blessed and I am thankful for the gift of true sisterhood.

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The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Operation Christmas Child

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Operation Christmas Child is an international organization that provides financial and physical needs all over the world. It is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, an interdenominational charity. This is the twenty-fifth year that OCC has impacted global needs. I love this organization and how easy they make it to teach my children about the importance of serving and giving to others. Every year since she was two my oldest has packed shoe boxes and she looks forward to it every Christmas season.

 

This weekend our church hosted an Operation Christmas Child packing party. They receive donations all year and during the party families come in and help pack the boxes. My daughter loved walking along the tables with her grandparents and hand-picking items for those in need of gifts this season.

This year we packed over 500 shoe boxes as a church!

It’s not too late to get involved. This is Drop-off week for OCC. If you would like to pack a shoe box and want to know where to take it check out their website for locations.  For directions on how to pack a shoebox check out their site!

 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

The Ameri Brit Mom

Veterans Day

Happy Veterans/Armistice Day!

One hundred years later, we are still thankful for those who fought to keep America a free nation. The men who fought to protect the safety and democracy of the western world were pivotal in preserving those very things.

We remember those lives touched by war. We pray for peace in the world so that the grip of hate will loosen. We teach our children about the realities of fighting so that we may one day achieve silence on all fronts.

On Friday, my daughter invited my cousin, a current army reserve, to be recognized at her school assembly. She is so proud of her special soldier and so am I.

For those who serve or have served their nation may you know this day belongs to you. Thank you!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Burden: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

Every Friday I love to join other Christian writers over at Five Minute Friday where we gather to share inspiration on a similar prompt. This week the prompt is Burden.

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 NIV)

If you are anything like me…

It’s been a long week and each day seemed to bring a new burden of its own. You’re scared of moving forward because with each step a new devastation is thrust your way. So instead of moving–you stand paralyzed with feet fitted to the ground and a load as wide as an elephant on your back.

In many ways 2018 has found me this way. Like a deer in the headlights I’ve been caught off guard a time or two and been unable to move. The fear, loss, and hurting that I’ve faced have lightened by the passing of time, but every new burden gets cast onto the ever growing pile accumulating on my shoulders.

At times I’ve been so focused on the things weighing me down that I’ve forgotten that my body was not created to take that on. No wonder I’ve been struggling with anxiety…I’m dragging the world’s largest trash bag of junk, but God is the only one who can lift it.

We can find help in physical rest, but until we give our burdens fully to God we will never feel lighter.

I don’t have to wait until 2019 for healing. I can let go today. In fact, my knees are bending now and my hands are opening and as I approach the throne of God I know He is waiting for me to give it all up.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Repeat: Five Minute Friday

I want to start this post with a few disclaimers:

  1. I spent a little longer than five minutes writing this post. If you read it you will understand why it warranted some rule-bending.
  2. This post contains some sensitive information. If you have difficulty reading about suicide or death you may not want to go any further.
  3. I normally don’t post things of this nature, but I need an outlet for the things I’ve been dealing with this week.
  4. I’m fine. But my heart is broken…

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I first met J my senior year of college. He was a first grader at the school where I was working part-time. Some days I dreaded going in to work after a full day of student teaching, but J always changed that. The moment I would arrive at his school he would greet me with a hug, goofy smile, and “Miss Lauren!”

J became my buddy.

When we had field trips he always asked to sit with me. We would play around with filters on my phone and pass the time making silly faces.

Two years later my husband got a job at that same school as third grade teacher. When he brought home his roster and I saw J was in his class I told him all about him. Throughout that year I loved hearing stories about J and I would ask about him often.

Over the past few years I would see J or his parents in the community and say “hello.” Every time I saw him I remembered those bus rides and his innocent laughter and hugs.

But this fall, something was different about J.

I was so excited when I found out he enrolled in my school. I even made a joke to a co-worker that I would trade J for any other student because sadly, he was not in my class. I told this teacher about my memories with J.

Now…to this week.

I found out early in the week that J had committed suicide.

My heart is absolutely shattered. I may not have known him as well these past few years, but whenever I thought about J it brought me joy. He made coming to work fun and he filled those long hours with jokes and giggles.

I will never understand why this happened. The why doesn’t even matter to me.

J is gone and he has left a path of destruction. He was loved. He was good. And he will be missed.

As a teacher, hearing this type of news is devastating. You spend so much of your time trying to connect with kids and build the element of trust. You want to see every one of your students succeed at life. A difficult part of this whole situation is that J wasn’t just someone who sat in my classroom for one year. No, my path has intersected several times with J since he was six years old. For almost nine years I’ve watched him grow.

My husband and I have been struggling with this news for days.

It has made us hug our own children a little tighter, pray a little longer, and repeat words of affirmation more often. I know from this situation that it could happen to anyone. J had parents who loved him and supported him in so many ways. So, I’ve been on my knees for my own girls this week.

Let the people in your life know that you care. Every child, student, adult that means something to you–let them know. Be there to listen when loved ones need it. Spread love when you sense hate. Don’t let an interaction go by without telling people that you care.

Life is short.

We have no idea what people are going through.

May J be a catalyst to help the world to choose LIFE.

J, you are gone too soon!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Every Day: A Book Review

Title: Every Day

Author: David Levithan

Publisher: Ember

Copyright Date: 2012

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For as long as A can remember he’s woken up every morning in a different body. He’s almost always in Maryland, but that’s his only constant. When he opens his eyes in the morning he must examine the body that will be his host until midnight. Some days that body is male and other days it’s female. A must learn about the life he is taking on as quickly as possible. Whose body is this? What are they like? Who do they care about? He must access his host to answer these questions, but the host must never know he was there.

Over time A has learned to set his own rules. When he borrows a body he tries to return it without having left a trace. He leaves clues to the day for the person when they return, so he can float to another body as if nothing ever happened.

But he’s made two mistakes: Nathan remembers being A’s host and A has fallen in love with Rhiannon.

Nathan has gone public with descriptions of “being possessed by the devil.” While much of the world thinks he has lost his mind, A is curious why Nathan can remember when no one else can.

After meeting Rhiannon A struggles with telling her the truth. For weeks he visits her in many different bodies, but will she be able to accept him? Can she love someone who changes like he does?

Longing for attachment causes A to break some of the rules that have guided his existence. And without those rules–who is A?

This is what love does: It makes you want to rewrite the world. It makes you want to choose the characters, build the scenery, guide the plot. The person you love sits across from you, and you want to do everything in your power to make it possible, endlessly possible. And when it’s just the two of you, alone in a room, you can pretend that this is how it is, this is how it will be.” (Page 175)

This novel is a touching, thought provoking tale that paints a portrait of one of humanity’s basic desires: to belong. The protagonist abandons everything and risks the safety of his rule book to find his true identity.

As the first book in a series there are some loose ends left at the end of the book, but overall the author did a great job raising questions that hook the reader for the next two installments Another Day and Some Day. The plot is very unique and I was intrigued to find that it was developed based on a conversation that the author had with John Green.

Follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading next!

The Ameri Brit Mom

God Is Working In My Obedience

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Serving youth has always been a passion of mine. I work in a high school where my aim has been to positively impact the students in my classroom since DAY 1. A year ago we took a step of faith and left the church where we had become comfortable and followed God’s leading to a church in the community where we live and work. The Lord met us in that place in a very real way and we have seen growth in our daughter, marriage, and faith as a result.

The Lord has blessed us richly.

Not only were we welcomed into the new church with grace, but God provided many opportunities for us to dive in and serve almost immediately. Last Christmas we helped pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, our daughter jumped in and fell in love with the Childrens Ministry and AWANA, my husband and I took foundational classes and our most recent venture has been my involvement in the Youth Group.

Every week I work alongside another female leader to coach a small group of girls in the church. We play games, listen to messages, read the Bible, and pray for one another every week. Last week, we finished our first book of the Bible since I started serving: Ephesians.

God has blessed me and grown me so much since I took the step of obedience to serve the youth of the church. First of all, I am able to work with students from the school  in a brand new context. I love being able to step outside of school curriculum and openly minister to these girls on Sunday nights.

Secondly, when I was approached by the Youth Pastor to pray about my involvement with the girls ministry I had so many thoughts run through my head. Lord, am I strong enough for this? I am coming out of one of the hardest seasons of my life. Can I really be the leader that these girls need me to be? But almost immediately my decision was confirmed when a student connected with me and prayed FOR ME. At school, I came back to my classroom to a letter from one of the girls from the youth group that talked about the ways in which she was praying for me.

I cried because here I was thinking that I needed to be strong for these girls, but the Lord is helping me heal by providing me strong girls too.

I’m learning that when we choose to be obedient God uses that to answer our prayers. He calls us out of comfort to perform His will, but He gives us the chance to respond in obedience first.

 

Moment: Five Minute Friday

It’s Friday and I’m doing a dance for having finished another great week at school. I feel like I’m getting into a rhythm at school and I’m enjoying the process of getting to know my kids a little better. Today I am joining my fellow positive writers over at Five Minute Friday, where we gather weekly to respond to a common prompt. This Friday the prompt is Moment.

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In this moment I am…

Thankful for my faith. It keeps me grounded when the waves of this world swirl around me. I will not sink because my God is bigger than the waves.

Rejoicing over the fact that I am clear of the nasty virus that compromised my body this week.

Singing a bit of Ed Sheeran as the Pandora station became my soundtrack while grading papers today.

Smelling the hand-sanitizer a student put on just before the final bell. It smells like a fresh batch of snicker doodle cookies.

Thinking about all the things I want to get done this weekend

Walking out the door of my classroom! It’s the WEEKEND!

The Ameri Brit Mom