Where: Five Minute Friday

I’m snowed in for another day in Ohio. I would be going stir crazy if it wasn’t for the week I’ve had. Today I am thankful for more time at home.

On Tuesday I awoke to my 11 month old having a seizure.

SCARIEST FIVE MINUTES OF MY LIFE!

The moments that followed her seizure were even scarier than the event itself. She laid unresponsive on the floor and police officers, paramedics, and firemen paraded into my home. Nothing can prepare you for moments like this.

God was with us that day. She spent most of the day resting in the hospital and slowly coming back around. She was diagnosed with febrile seizures which were caused by the onset of a fever. We didn’t even know she was sick! The thing with these seizures is that oftentimes the episode is the first indication that something is wrong.

So, yes, I am counting my blessings on snow day #6. I’m happy to be home with my babies and to have my baby girl back to herself.

For my Five Minute Friday post I am writing a poem of thankfulness for God’s peace through all that I experienced this week. To join the FMF community or to check out their posts be sure to check out the site. This week the prompt is Where.

FMF-Square-Images-Round-5-2

In the middle of the battle you were there

Wrapping me in your arms of care.

Time stood still and I was scared,

But You were everywhere.

You brought peace and healing

In Moments when my heart was reeling.

 Hopelessness was all I was feeling.

Thank you, Lord, for intervening.

sisley family-2018-3389

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

 

Cookies for Kairos

Serving alongside my family is one of my favorite things to do. Over the past week I’ve had several opportunities to work in the kitchen with both my true family and church family.

Since last Sunday I’ve been blessed to be a part of the process of baking close to 200 dozen cookies for the Kairos Prison Ministry. Our church is sending several representatives to a local prison where the gospel will be shared with inmates. That program involves sharing homemade cookies with those they visit. In the process of baking I learned so much about the Kairos ministry.

You get to know people even better when you are rubbing elbows with them in the kitchen. But even all those cookies later I am convinced that God is blessing our congregation with amazing people at Village Chapel.

The first 70 dozen I helped with was alongside the youth group. Watching a group of high schoolers sacrificing their time moved me. They worked together better than most adults and they kept themselves motivated with mini competitions and games.

I was able to witness God’s love being spread through the simple act of cookie baking. What may seem like a small luxury to us can make a lifelong impact in the life of someone else. I will be in prayer over the next few weeks for those participating in this ministry opportunity.

Be sure to check out more about Kairos Prison Ministry

The Ameri Brit Mom

Influence: Five Minute Friday

I’m joining the weekly link-up at Five Minute Friday today. Each week we respond to a common prompt and encourage one another as writers who share our words with the world. This week our prompt is Influence.

fmf-square-images-round-4-3

This year I’ve been working to refocus my writing goals. I’ve been influenced by bloggers I follow, authors I love, and programs like the DIY MFA. All of these things mixed with my passion for the written word have culminated in my plans for writing in 2019. I want to write boldly and with a confidence that is unshakable. After all, writing for me has never been about receiving anything, but rather it is about giving what is inside me life on the page (or screen.)

I have started working through the starter kit from DIY MFA which is a FREE program designed to provide subscribers with opportunities which mimic an MFA program. One quote that they sent me which has inspired me to focus my writing is…

“If there is a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison

I am praying that this year I will grow as a writer and be able to influence others in a positive way. I am praying that the book lurking in some corner of my mind will gain wings and soar. I am praying for a community of readers who will encourage me in this quest. Lastly, I am praying for God’s influence to be evident in every word, post, and book that is crafted by my hands. To Him be the glory!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Balance: Five Minute Friday

It’s a chilly Friday night in Ohio and I’m bundled up in my fluffy robe, fuzzy socks, and fleece blanket. This was one of those weeks that lingered beyond its welcome. Tuesday felt like Friday and each day thereafter was salt in the wound. I’m so glad to jump in on this Five Minute Friday because I’m in need of my community of writers tonight. I love plugging in and spending time in this group of encouragers. This week our prompt is Balance (how ironic!).

FMF-Square-Images-Round-4-2

Balance is one of those myths that we tell ourselves so that we believe that we will conquer chaos. Maybe I’m wrong and true balance does exist, but I feel like every time I take a step toward finding that perfect equation I get knocked off course. Part of me wants to believe that at some point I will realize that balance was there all along waiting for me to grasp. Another part of me is skeptical to its existence.

The problem is that I’m trying to balance way too many things.

Faith.

Family.

Friends.

Work.

Exercise.

Writing.

Etc…

The truth is that I cannot balance it all on my own. I go through seasons where I spend more energy in one area of my life than another. That’s the reality of balance. It’s an ever-changing concept. It’s a sliding scale. And the zen version of balance I’ve created in my mind is a pipe dream.

Balance is living each moment according to God’s plan. It’s listening to his direction and following his instruction.

Balance is saying “no” to myself and letting God take the lead. I’ll never achieve balance apart from Christ. Only He is both the Alpha and Omega.

He alone can make it work.

So for now I will rest in the knowledge that my life is in His hands. It isn’t up to me to find that balance. The only way I can overcome the chaos is through surrendering to God.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

The Faith of a Child

46622975_10218027774151984_8463048983059628032_n

Last Sunday as we were headed home from church my oldest daughter and I somehow landed on the topic of baptism. On a few occasions she witnessed others within our church as they declared to the congregation their new life in Christ. Her curious mind probed my husband and I, but before long she lit up and said, “I want to be baptized.”

I was so proud of her decision. The fact that she could articulate the purpose of baptism at six years old is unfathomable to me. She’s a girl on fire for Jesus!

Yesterday our church celebrated her baptism along with several friends and family. The entire children’s program also came in so they could support her. After she came out of the water she was all smiles and shivers.

I’m so proud of the way she has chased after Jesus.

On October 3rd she prayed and accepted Jesus, but he was active in her life long before that. Her heart is evidence of that. She has a beautiful soul and is kind to everyone.

God has big plans for her.

The Ameri Brit Mom

 

 

Value: Five Minute Friday

Happy Friday!

I hope those of you who live in the USA had an amazing Thanksgiving gathered with loved ones and lots of yummy food. Thanksgiving was a little different in my family this year as my youngest sister is living in Canada. Her empty seat at the table was a constant reminder of the miles between us. Thankfully, Mom and Dad are headed to Niagara today in a car packed with leftovers and cards from all of us.

Today I’m gathering with others that I am also thankful for as we meet up every Friday to share encouragement and life with one another. This week the Five Minute Friday community is writing on the prompt: Value.

FMF-Square-Images-Round-4-9

With the conclusion of Thanksgiving festivities our hearts turn in anticipation toward the Christmas season. I woke up this morning to a Facebook feed endlessly announcing Holiday sales. Like many, I spent time yesterday with the people that mean the most to me and being thankful for all the Lord has blessed me with. But, like many of you, I am so tempted to turn around–not 24 hours later, and cultivate a spirit of want.

Can we just have a day to simmer in the juices of thanksgiving? I mean, goodness, our turkeys marinate longer than us!

How can we so quickly switch from “Lord, thank you” to “Lord, I want”?

This holiday season I am praying to stay cognizant of my attitude.

I want to enter into this Christmas season with the same sense of thankfulness that I felt gathered around the table yesterday.

The promise of a Savior–that is why I am thankful and why I anticipate Christmas.

Please join me in remembering the true gift of family and placing value on the things that matter most this season.

The Ameri Brit Mom

Praying Proclamations

download

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

 

Operation Christmas Child

6b374fe5-223f-43e1-81f6-0fb9171defb7

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

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.

FMF-Square-Images-Round-4

“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…

FMF-Square-Images-Round-4-2

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