Not One Square Inch

Renee Ann Smith —  August 27, 2014 — 11 Comments

Christ is in control “There’s not a square inch in the whole of our human existence over which Christ does not cry, ‘Mine!’”

~Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) Dutch prime minister, journalist, statesman & theologian~

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“For from Him & through Him & to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” ~Romans 11:36~

“For everything, absolutely everything, above & below—everything got started in Him & finds its purpose in Him. He was there before any of it came into existence & holds it all together right up to this moment.” ~Colossians 1:16&17, The Message~

May these ancient words remind you that—
Even when it doesn’t feel like it—
God holds us, our loved ones & our world in His hands.
Blessings, friends!

***I’ll Tweet your post! I enjoy tweeting the posts and/or graphics of my visitors. If you’re on Twitter, I’ll follow you—if I’m not already. Let me know in the comments how to find you in the Tweet-world!

***Photo Backstory: I just had to share this view of our gorgeous Catskills, which I enjoy every day on my way to & from school. Isn’t God’s creation amazing? I snapped this iPhone pic last year. Now that school has begun, I can’t wait until the leaves begin putting on their fall colors! Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking the pic & adding the quote!

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A Life So Small

Renee Ann Smith —  August 25, 2014 — 20 Comments

Growing older doesn’t discourage me. But sometimes looking back does.

My birthday was last week. I turned 53. And on that day I asked myself, what have I to show for my half a century on earth?

I’ve seen some of my personal dreams come true, and some die. But other than that, I’m pretty empty-handed.

  • I don’t own anything that’s worth anything.
  • I haven’t seen the wonderful places in the world around me.
  • I can’t claim any impressive accomplishments.

Mostly I’ve lived my life at school, giving my time and energy and heart to other people’s kids.

Twenty of those years were spent sacrificing to help start a Christian high school, spending day after day, talking about the grammar rules no one remembers and trying to drum up enthusiasm for authors long gone and coaxing . . . bribing . . . prodding reluctant students to channel their thoughts into words.

Working in the summers. Doing without. Eking the last bit of life out of everything I own. So I could teach at a ministry school.

Watching cars break down and clothes fray and fall apart and my body grow worn.

And losing some of my best friends and loved family because they moved on to Heaven ahead of me.

Watching the school I loved and gave so much fall victim a shaky economy and oppressive culture and struggle and weaken and eventually die.

Now being the new teacher on the block, starting all over again to build a program and a ministry and a life . . . at my age.

Easily overlooked . . . disdained . . . forgotten . . . 

Even now, when I say the words aloud, they pierce my heart.

I’ve lived small . . . my life is so small.

And immediately, I hear ancient words reassuring me . . .

“He must increase. I must decrease.” ~John 3:30~

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He must increase

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.“ ~I Corinthians 1:27~

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I am chosen.God’s words remind me that I don’t need to be noticed here, when I’m remembered, watched over, and cherished by Heavenly eyes. 

I find myself turning to Psalm 73 to commiserate with the guy who lost all hope—until He let God give him a new perspective.

Here’s Psalm 73 from The Message . . .

“What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch?
Nobody’s tending the store.
The wicked get by with everything.
They have it made, piling up riches.

I’ve been stupid to play by the rules.
What has it gotten me?
A long run of bad luck, that’s what—
A slap in the face every time I walk out the door.
Still, when I tried to figure it out,

All I got was a splitting headache . . .

Until I entered the sanctuary of God.
Then I saw the whole picture.

You’re all I want in heaven!
You’re all I want on earth!

When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
GOD is rock-firm and faithful.

Look! Those who left you are falling apart!
Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again.

But I’m in the very presence of GOD—
Oh, how refreshing it is!
I’ve made Lord GOD my home.
GOD, I’m telling the world what you do!”

I think that guy’s got the right idea! So I’m telling the world—

What I’ve learned in half a century is that  . . .

Christ’s hand in mine makes letting go of everything else

So very worth it!

Thanks for encouraging me with a visit! Blessings, friends!

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***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics from iPhone pics of my niece’s beautiful garden. Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking the pic & adding the quote!

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Hope for the Overwhelmed Erwin Lutzer

That which is beyond our control is tightly in His grasp.
~Erwin Lutzer, Senior Pastor Moody Church~

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Are you feeling overburdened with the cares of daily life? Perhaps something completely unexpected has thrown you for a loop or you’ve been uprooted and tempest-tossed.

Is your aching heart making it difficult for you to function day to day? Or has the beginning of a new school year found you spinning your wheels and struggling to organize your kids or your home or your life?

Do any of these synonyms for the word OVERWHELMED describe you?
SWAMPED SUBMERGED ENGULFED BURIED FLOODED
INUNDATED VANQUISHED
CONQUERED

Here are 5 Bible Verses for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed to guide your thoughts and calm your heart!

Please pass them on to someone who needs a little strengthening today.

5 Bible Verses for the Overwhelmed

5 Bible Verses for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed (Click to Tweet)

5 Bible Verses for the Overwhelmed: “When you’re between a rock & a hard place, it won’t be a dead end!” (Click to Tweet)

“Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders & He’ll carry your load!” Bible Verses for the Overwhelmed  (Click to Tweet)

“Put God in charge of your work & what you’ve planned will take place.” Bible Verses for the Overwhelmed (Click to Tweet)

Thanks for encouraging me with a visit! Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics with photos from my account at RGB Stock Photos. Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking the pic & adding the quote!

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In Perfect Time

Renee Ann Smith —  August 19, 2014 — 4 Comments

Sarah Sundin’s novels always remind me why we call the men & women of World War II,
“The Greatest Generation.”

Her most recent book, In Perfect Time, tells the story of flight nurse Kay Jobson and C-47 pilot Roger Cooper, who work together in Italy and southern France to evacuate the wounded and deliver paratroopers and supplies. They are hard-working, courageous, and quick-thinking. In their down-time, Roger entertains the local kids by playing the drums on any available surface, dreams of auditioning for a Glen Miller type big band, and stays far away from girls. And beautiful, high-spirited Kay, who can’t seem to break through Roger’s quiet reserve, appreciates him from afar.

Of course, we readers can see that Roger and Kay would be perfect for each other, but these characters have personal issues to work through before they can become a real team. Both Kay and Roger are damaged by families who did not cherish them—and even deemed them worthless. After years of being told they would never measure up, they are haunted by their parents’ hateful words.

Kay and Roger help each other wage powerful inner battles to overcome the negative messages of their youth and see themselves as God sees them. Their personal struggles and growth—set against the backdrop of the fierce fighting around them—make this a riveting, romantic story.

What I liked best . . .

  • How Sarah brings the World War II settings to life
  • The great dynamic between Roger & Kay
  • Roger’s marked up old Bible
  • Catching up with Georgie and Mellie (from previous books in this series)
  • A beautiful scene where an old hymn works truth & healing in Kay’s heart
  • The action—an especially harrowing capture
  • The USO war bonds tour
  • The Nightingale Sisters
  • The sweetly satisfying ending
  • How much my students love these books, as well!

My favorite quotes . . .

Sarah Sundin In Perfect Time“I think the heartbeat itself is a drum message from God. With every beat, He sends His message. His life, His love. His life, His love.”
~Lt. Roger Cooper, In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin~

In Perfect Time Sarah Sundin

“Something warm and light stirred in her soul. Her earthly father scorned her, but her heavenly Father—oh, what He had done for her. He loved her, forgave her sins, and gave her gifts too numerous to count.”
~Lt. Kay Cooper, In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin~

What you should do next . . .

BUY THE BOOK: Take “A Sentimental Journey” today! All you have to do is follow this link to purchase In Perfect Time for yourself. ***Thanks to Litfuse and Sarah Sundin for providing a copy for me to review.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Click on the graphic below to enter Sarah Sundin’s contest to win a Kindle HDX!

Sarah Sundin Litfuse Kindle contest

READ: Follow this link to check out Sarah Sundin’s previous novels.

WATCH: Follow this link to check out some great World War II movies.

So has this put you “In the Mood” to re-visit the heroes & heroines of the Greatest Generation through books or movies?
Then my job here is done!

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics with photos from my account at RGB Stock Photos. Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking the pic & adding the quote!

Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.) Continue Reading…

Man’s Best Dreams

Renee Ann Smith —  August 13, 2014 — 14 Comments

Elizabeth Barrett Browning Quote

God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning~

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both Britain & the United States during her lifetime.

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***Photo Backstory:
Warning: Nostalgia Day Re-post!

This iPhone pic shows the beach at Ocean City from two summers ago.
It’s raining here today. But when I look at this photo, I can almost feel that sun . . .


Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking the pic & adding the quote!

Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.) Continue Reading…

A Good Talking To

Renee Ann Smith —  August 11, 2014 — 30 Comments

I awoke anxious and afraid almost every morning during my school-age years.

Nothing traumatic had happened in my past. No one in my family had died. Two stable parents left for work every morning & returned home every night. We always had a roof over our heads & food on the table. The bullies at school didn’t have time to bother me.

Yet still I woke with a sick feeling in my stomach and the urge to hide from the world and the certainty that no one could protect me from the fearful things that were coming my way. My morning alarm was the signal for my current “What Ifs” to begin circling in my brain . . .

 . . . “What if I miss the bus again & this time Mom gets mad? What if the history teacher gives a quiz on the chapter I didn’t read? What if I can’t find anyone to sit with at lunch? What if I do something embarrassing & the whole class sees? . . .”

Somewhere along the line, I learned to give myself a “good talking to.”

Back then, my early morning mantra went something like this . . . “You’re fine. Everyone you know is fine. This is just life. You can handle it. And when you can’t, it’s okay to ask for help . . .”

I didn’t realize until after I became a Christian, what a valuable lesson my young self had learned.

As a dear friend who battled depression for years told me, “When I started talking to myself instead of listening to myself, that’s when I began to heal.”

Talking to Myself Inspre Me (Click to Tweet)

In the dictionary, talking & listening are opposites.

When it comes to our inner life, not so much.

But in the Bible, we see that men like David understood the subtle distinction. Psalm 42 shows us the conversation he had with himself . . . 

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

How freeing to learn that we don’t have to be the victims of the fearful, anxious thoughts that try to take up residence in our brains. Are you experiencing fear & anxiety?

Maybe it’s time to give yourself a good talking to!

Here are a few verses & quotes to start you off . . .

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ~II Corinthians 10:5~

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” ~Colossians 3:2~

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8~

“For God has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” ~Hebrews 13:5b~

“When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” ~Psalm 56:3~

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.” ~Isaiah 26:3~

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~William James, philosopher, psychologist, physician, 1842-1910~

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” ~Corrie ten Boom~

“When fear comes knocking at your door, send faith to answer.” ~Joyce Meyer~

Fear and faith Joyce Meyer(Click to Tweet)

What are some of your favorites?

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made these graphics with backgrounds from my account at RGB Stock Photos.
Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking the pic & adding the quote!

Feel free to Pin, Tweet, download & share. (Follow this link for more Free Graphics.) Continue Reading…

C. S. Lewis quote lunatic sun

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him
than a lunatic can put out the sun
by scribbling the word darkness
on the walls of his cell.

~C. S. Lewis~

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Words of wisdom to inspire you, brave ones, as you shine for Christ in every corner of our world.

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made this graphic from an iPhone pic of the pond on my school campus.
I love how the touch of the sun beautifies every twig, leaf & pebble in the landscape.
Of course, PicMonkey is my tool of choice for tweaking the pic & adding the quote!

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Even the Least

Renee Ann Smith —  August 4, 2014 — 26 Comments

We teachers sometimes say that we’d get so much done—if we didn’t have students.

Of course, we’re joking.

Mostly.

In my early years of teaching (can you believe thirty years ago?!), I so wanted to be an A+ teacher and thought the way to ensure my goal was through paperwork. So I gave much time to benchmarks and reports, to redoing worksheets, quizzes, and tests until I deemed them good.

And I chafed when my class was slow to learn or made messes in my perfectly organized classroom or wanted to discuss life more than they wanted to answer my reading recall questions.

Somehow in the midst of all my efforts, I developed tunnel vision.

I failed to see my students—the questions in their eyes, the hopeful smiles on their faces, the needs in their hearts.

My vision was filled with benchmarks and bell curves, with the small neat squares in my gradebook and with the large empty rectangles in my lesson planner.

Fortunately, back then we took time to attend a yearly teaching conference held by Association of Christian Schools International. It was always a highlight of our year. The seminars informed us, challenged us, and gave us more ideas than we could manage to implement in a lifetime.

One professor was decidedly different from all the rest. He had us laughing in moments by asking all kinds of crazy hard Bible questions, which ended up having clever answers.

Then he said, “Who can—right now—tell me the name of every child in your classroom?”

I pictured that list of names I’d painstakingly inked into my gradebook and scribbled furiously, certain of victory—and maybe even a prize.

Then after far too short a time, the professor said. “Stop! Okay, folks, are you ready? Here it is . . . 

The name of every child in your classroom is Jesus Christ.

Because the Lord said, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine—even the least of them—you did it unto Me.’”

Matthew 25 The Least of Them

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Those words pierced my heart.

I don’t know why I had never thought of teaching in those terms before, but I vowed to never make that mistake again

I bowed my head and prayed that God would change my hard heart.

And I began my quest to actually see my students for who they are—children of the Great King,

Precious souls it’s my privilege to know and cherish,

My fellow travelers as we journey towards Heaven

And to allow God to guide me in meeting their needs through the work we do together . . .

Even if that means He changes my lesson to fit His eternal plan.

Father Jude of Saint Gregory’s Priory put it another way. When he disdained kitchen duty over the other higher, more orderly duties of prayer and Bible study, he realized he needed God’s help “to invest ordinary, everyday actions with spiritual significance.”

If you can’t relate to my teacher story, the words Father Jude prayed as he served might hit the mark for you . . . 

“The body that I am helping to keep alive is destined for a glorious resurrection. The person to whom I am carrying a plate of food is someone whom it is an honor to serve. For he has been invited to eat and drink at the table of the King.”

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Let us seek to ascribe Jesus’ Name to all those we serve—Amen?

Thanks for stopping by today. Blessings, friends!

***Photo Backstory: I made the 1st graphic from an iPhone pic, which shows a bunch of my high school students and a few fellow teachers at a retreat we attended in Pennsylvania last fall. Isn’t the camp beautiful? Of course, I added the Scripture with PicMonkey.

I made the 2nd graphic with a fun, new site called Spoken.ly. Click on the link to check it out!

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