Food For Thought

The other night Robert and I were having a conversation before bed.  We found ourselves in a deep conversation about our relationship.  Don’t fret it wasn’t about our relationship with each other but our relationship with God.   We talked about where we felt we were and where we wanted to be. Then, Robert made a comment which has been thought provoking for me and has been an avenue for God to really speak and work with me.

As many of you know Robert and I promote Thrive by Le-Vel.  We love the product and want others around us to find the benefits from it that we have .  The past few months we have really been pushing Thrive with all of it’s benefits.   I am actually surprised  no one has de-friended me on Facebook over how much we promote Thrive. Yes, it has seriously been that bad but we have been able to get family and friends to try Thrive.  We feel like we are helping change their lives.

All of this being said, back to what Robert said during our conversation earlier this week.  Robert and I had talked about our desire to be closer to God in 2017 than what we were in 2016.  We talked about what we could do to grow closer:  read our Bible more, pray more, attend church, and even get involved in small groups.  These are all things we do anyway but we knew to grow closer and to draw others to God we needed to increase these activities.

Then Robert blurted out, “What if we promote God as much as we promote Thrive.  Think about how many people we could win for the Kingdom!”  This quote got me thinking.  Had I gotten so caught up in changing people’s lives I forgot to make sure they had God in their lives?  Don’t get me wrong I love Thrive and we will continue to promote it BUT at the same time we have to spend just as much energy on promoting God and growing our relationship with him.

Many people make resolutions for each New Years, my resolution for 2016 was to lose weight to which I have lost about 30 pounds!   It is now time to think about my resolution for 2017.  While  I will keep losing weight, taking and promoting Thrive  – these will not be my resolution.  My resolution, and I am sure my husband will join me with this one, is to promote God and grow closer to Him!

By the way I took my first step in this today by reconnecting with a close friend and starting a Facebook group where we will be able to connect with others who are Saved by Grace.   I will be sharing more about this group over the next few weeks and months.  I am looking forward to the roll Robert and I will play in this group with discussions, Bible studies and various other outreaches!

 

Belong

Have you ever wanted to simply belong?  Belong in a group? Belong to a specific family? Have you had that longing to simply feel like you were a part of something special?  Is there that longing or a nagging that won’t go away?

I see it everyday in my classroom.  I have little girls and boys that want to be friends with other girls and boys, they want to “belong” to a special group of kids BUT they feel as though they are left out.   These little ones will do everything possible to belong but I always find myself having to talk with them about the type of friend they want and do they want a friend that treats them good only when they feel like it or do they want a friend who wants to be around them all the time and like them for who they are.

Well, it not only happens to little ones but it happens to adults too.  We want to feel as though we belong.  Tonight, as I write and open up to you, I find myself wanting to belong.  I want to feel as I belong in a place where I have always felt I belonged, I have a longing and desire which is hard to put into words but I know that many of my readers will understand.

My entire life, or from the time I was about 5 years old, I had a certain routine every Sunday morning.  There was a certain path I took once a week and many times up to three times a week.   I am sure by the time I was grown I could take this path blindfolded.  Not only did I have a path but I had a special schedule I followed each of these Sunday’s for over 30 years of my life!  I had a specific place to sit, stand and even a job(s) I did for the most part.  I belonged!   I am sure you probably know where I belonged, don’t you???  I belonged to a church family.  I knew without a doubt when I woke up on Sunday mornings I would be attending a specific church where I would see specific brothers and sisters in Christ.  I, also knew when I missed church there was a piece of the church missing.  I was part of a family bigger than me.

Two years ago I lost this feeling of belonging.  When we left Cedar Creek Church, I for the first time in my life did not have a church home.  I  embraced the opportunity to seek God, listen to where He wanted me and actually take a back seat and enjoy simply being a “seat warmer” for a while. I took this as my season to be fed and not to help feed others.  Well, here I am two years later and on my second church since Cedar Creek, finding myself wanting to belong!  Since leaving the place I called home for so many years, I have not found another place to call home and here I am now desiring that place to belong.

Tonight when Robert and I were running an errand around town, we had a conversation about things we needed to do tomorrow.  I had for the past month felt like I didn’t belong where we are currently attending but did not know how to address it to my husband…. Well tonight, I couldn’t hold it in any longer… I blurted it out, “I am ready to find a church where I feel like I belong!” I think I totally surprised him by my words.  My own husband didn’t expect to hear me say, “I want to belong”.  So if he was surprised I wonder how surprised God is by me longing to belong?

Here I am at almost 40 years old, taking the advise I give my students on a daily basis. I am asking the same questions I ask those third graders but instead of the word “friend” I am using the word “church” because I am ready to feel like I BELONG!

 

“I Am Proud of You”

Many of you are aware, Robert and I set out on a journey yesterday.  This journey was very out of character for me!  It put me in a place of exposure, a place I wasn’t sure I was ready to be.   Yes, you know we auditioned for The Biggest Loser! Robert and I woke up yesterday morning around 3:00 and headed to Atlanta where we stood in line for over 5 hours in the heat and humidity.  The line for the audition wrapped a city block, which in Atlanta is gigantic!  While we were waiting for hours on end we were able to talk with individuals around us, hear their stories, and simply people watch.  The people watching was so much fun, LOL!   I realized while standing in line that no matter how rough our past 2 years have been with our up and down struggles there were people out there who had worse struggles!

I know and believe there was a reason we went to Atlanta.  There were too many details which had to fall right into place.  Then when we were praying and seeking God the hardest about if we needed to go or not, we received a phone call!   The phone call came from California and it was the producers of the show asking us to attend auditions! Looking around at all the people in line, I began to wonder if all of this was for nothing BUT then I reminded myself that God had opened a door for us and only He could close it.  Now, looking back, I wonder why did God open the door for us, what is He trying to teach us?

Finally after FIVE long hours in the sun and heat we made it to our interview!   Our interview with ten other individuals, WHAT?!?!?!?!   Surely this had to be  a mistake, nope, no mistake!   I found myself in a daze, here we had stood in line all this time to have an interview with The Biggest Loser and we had to share our time with ten other people!  The biggest shocker was we only had seventy seconds to tell our story!   Seriously!  Seventy seconds is not enough time and was not enough time to tell our story, to show our personality and to persuade them we were the next Biggest Loser!   So, after sitting down, hearing others stories, it was time to share my story.  What should I say, what would I say, what did I say?!?  I simply told the truth, the simple truth!  This was my story, my shortened story (I had more to tell but in less a minute what all can you say):

I have been overweight my entire life.   I actually weigh now what I weighed as a freshman in high school.   All of this extra weight leads to one thing in school and that is what I seemed to get a lot.   From being slapped in the face every afternoon on the bus , to always being picked on by students and teachers — much of it was hidden and not visible to everyone.  Many times I felt as though I was invisible and worth very little.  Now, I find myself teaching in the county and school district I escaped from after graduation, the one I swore I would never come back to.  I want to be a role model for the students I teach, after all I teach in the unhealthiest  county in Florida.  I want to show these little ones I teach, that you can overcome your circumstances of growing up in a low income community and an unhealthy community and be SO much more!

I wondered from the time I left the interview room  if I said enough BUT I mean I only had a few seconds to talk — actually less than the seventy seconds, I was told I would have.  I pondered if my story of wanting to give back was enough!   Robert had assured me it had to be!   He said I was the only one who even mentioned giving back — everyone else simply mentioned their struggles!

 So when I went to bed at 1:00 A.M. this morning, waiting on a phone call back from the producers, to which I am still waiting on (we were told they would be making call backs between Saturday and Monday) I felt a peace that no matter what happens I placed myself out there.  I did something, I normally wouldn’t do — I made myself vulnerable!   I did what I knew I was supposed to do — I went through the door God opened for me.

But to make sure I understood He was pleased with me and I did what I was supposed to do, this morning – early, very early – I heard these words directly from God, ” I Am Proud of You!

Robert and I.  Our second anniversary picture.

Robert and I. Our second anniversary picture.

Taking Steps – Almost A Year Later

It was roughly a year ago Robert and I realized we were heading down a path in our lives which neither of us had ever been.  We were starting on a journey which few would understand and yet many have been down in recent years due to the economic issues our nation has faced.  We realized we would not and  could not afford to keep the house we were renting, our first house as a married couple and a house which we had made our home even if we were renting and we would have to rely on family to have a place to rest our heads at night.  During the past year we have been able to grow as a couple and at times we wondered why we were sent down this path, why we had not been able to find a house to rent, why every road we had taken to get into a house had been met with a dead end.   There were times I seriously began to wonder what we had done wrong and what we were being punished for.   Little did I know that these were not punishments but trials to increase our faith and to set up a miracle from God.  A miracle which would help others who may be struggling just like we were and still are at times, see just how BIG of a God we serve and what He will do for His children.

What better time for God to start revealing His miracle –  but a year to the day Robert and I made a decision to give up our rental!   You know what our God did for us?? Singing… We met with a builder….We met with a builder….We met with a builder!!  I am so excited we finally have been able to meet with a builder.   I really never thought this day would come.  I know we are still several months away (we will have to clean our land up and allow for the house to be built) from actually having a house of our own but this is a big first step.

Right Place, Right Time

Last night I had the privilege of attending Robert’s Sports Banquet with him. Getting use to being a coaches wife has really been a struggle for me. I have to admit it is going to take some getting use to. If you know me you know I don’t like strangers and having to attend events and games with him means there are ALOT of STRANGERS!!! Some of the strangers are slowly becoming friends BUT I have to admit I am WAY out of my comfort zone. Talking about being out of comfort zone, last night after the banquet we were placed in a situation which was well out of my comfort zone!

Robert and I didn’t stay around long after the banquet because Robert understood I was uncomfortable around all the people, yes I am such an introvert it is unreal! As we were walking to the car we decided an ice cream from Powell’s Dairy Freeze was definitely on tab for the night. Off to Starke we go, talking about the Sports Banquet and the other events from the day. Before we could make it all the way to Starke we saw this maroon colored car on the side of the road, or actually half on and half off the road. I made a comment to Robert about being careful because of the car on the road. Not 30 seconds later we noticed this elderly couple getting out of the car and starting to push the car out of the road. Immediately Robert flew into action, pulling off the side of the road and running to their aid. We quickly discovered this elderly couple in their 80s at least had ran out of gas with their great granddaughter in their car. They had been moving all day into a small trailer and on their way home forgot to get gas. This couple ran out of gas within 3 miles of their house and were about to walk home before we stopped to help them. Knowing this elderly couple was struggling really touched me in a way words hardly can describe. God placed me in this uncomfortable situation with strangers to learn lesson. Here for the past 6 months I have been complaining and questioning, “Why me?” and here was this couple who in their 80s did not have a house of their own, didn’t have family to help them move and was stressing over money to get gas in their car! What right did I have to having a pity party when God had blessed me with SO much? It really got me thinking and I quickly discovered God had placed me in the right place at the right time in my life to help me learn a valuable lesson I needed to learn. I learned a lesson which only made me stronger and helped free up so much within me. Yes, by the way Robert and I were both lead to help this couple out beyond just a ride to the store. All day today we have not been able to get them off of our minds.. I have been thanking God all day for allowing me to be placed in an uncomfortable situation.

I am fully believing that this lesson has freed up blessings to Robert and I. All I had to do was be thankful even in the toughest of our storms!

Did Robert Find A Job?

I know it has been a little bit since I have posted — but everyone should know I survived Third Grade Camp Out 2014!!  Now things have settled down I will be posting more frequently to keep everyone up to date on our journey.

When last I wrote Robert and I were facing the end of  October and he still didn’t have a job.  When we reached November we knew without a doubt we could not afford to stay in the house we were living in anymore.  We realized we had to do something and we had to act fast.   Our lives began revolving around how to make a house payment, we weren’t able to get out and go anymore.  So Veteran’s Day week we began our move out of our house and into a small room at my parent’s house.

Now, that we no longer had the stress of a house on our shoulders Robert was able to give a little more focus on a job.  This focus and attention introduced him to the public library in Lake Butler, Gainesville, and I believe Starke.   He and I both searched and searched.  Then one Thursday when we picked up the county paper there was an add for a teacher at Northside Christian Academy.  This seemed too good to be true, a job just a few miles from where we were now living and a teaching job also!   Robert emailed his resume and quickly heard back from the Principal at the school.  The Principal wanted to meet with Robert and talk to him.   I knew this had to be the job Robert was going to get, it had to be.  Well, one week turned into about three weeks before we heard anything back from the Principal.  They were interested in Robert coming in and shadowing teachers in which he would get paid!   He and I celebrated — this meant we could buy Christmas for Haynes and our family!  We knew God had answered a prayer.  The school allowed Robert to shadow and substitute for two or three weeks prior to Christmas in which time he had interviewed for the teaching job.   He unfortunately didn’t get the job BUT the school wanted him to stay on as a substitute.  Robert seemed to be working almost every day as a substitute and it always seemed to be in the same class, Spanish/Computer Class.  Was this another appointment from God??  Was God up to something that we didn’t realize?  What path was God placing Robert on and what did this Spanish/Computer class have to do with this path?

Facing my fears

I really was hoping to write every day but, with state testing right around the corner I find myself exhausted at night.  Last night was one of those nights, I was so tired after a day full of last minute prepping my students for state test I couldn’t find the mental and physical energy to type.  Here I am tonight I will try and get on with Robert’s hospital stay from my cliff hanger the other night!

Leaving Robert laying in the hospital hooked up to machines and IV’s scared me beyond compare.  I wanted to stay by his side 24/7 but I was forced to leave by the doctors and nurses because in ICU they only had visiting hours during certain hours each day.  I knew I was leaving Robert in hands of professionals but still I was worried that when I left what would I come back to but I also knew deep down I would use the next few hours to cry to God.

Cry to God I did!!   My drive home to rest up for a moment, get a change  of clothes and make sure I had all the lights and appliances turned off was where my cry began.  My cry was out of fear.  I was allowing my fear of my husband being sick come to life.  I prayed asking God to restore his health, make him stronger and allow the doctors to find out exactly what was wrong with him.  Of course, with Robert being in the hospital and the word getting out I also had to answer phone calls during my 20 minute drive home for those calls I had to try and sound all together, I really didn’t want anyone to worry! By the time I got home I was ready to let out all my frustrations and worries/fears.  I can to this day (8 months later) remember word for word what I cried out to God.   I couldn’t believe He would allow Robert to come into my life only to take him away from me.   I asked God what we had done wrong to allow us to go through this situation at this moment, after only being married a short time.   I even questioned if God remembered what He had promised me?  Being BOLD, I reminded God (Of all things to do, who was I to remind God?) of His promise to bring Robert into my life, allow us to minister together in music, go into the mission field together and to allow us to have Ella Rose and Liam Nathaniel!! I remember asking why God would have me wait  SO many years to find Robert, and to get  marry to the man of my dreams ONLY to do this !  At the same time I was angry and hurt I also was begging God not to take Robert from me.   I even at one time ask God to allow me to change places with my husband.  Ultimately in my conversation with God I prayed he would allow Robert to come home to me!  ( I know my prayer / conversation with God will take many, especially my husband by surprise – it has taken many months to be strong enough to allow this conversation to come to the surface and expose how weak I was during this scary time of my life.)

The next week Robert grew stronger, family and friends from Georgia and Florida visited, and most importantly all the test the doctors ran came back clear.  I knew God had answered my prayers even if I was being a brat praying the way I was!   My husband was getting better and I had God to thank for it.  I knew we had a long way to go because Robert was weak and had to rebuild his strength to get back to 100%, but we could deal with this journey.  Robert and I knew we could handle all things.  I think Robert learned in his hospital stay that I was strong enough to help him recover, especially after I had it in with one of his doctors (let’s just say that wasn’t my best moment).   Together Robert and I discovered in our first month of marriage that with God we could face our fears even if it was the fear of  our soul mate being taken from us.

To blog or not to blog

Sitting here watching my husband of 9 months sleep, the thought occurs to me not to go through with this blog.  But I keep hearing God tell me to share our story and our journey with the world.  So here I am beginning a blog several months or maybe even years in the making!

To help everyone understand what is going on, I must go back and build some background knowledge, yes the teacher in me is coming out. Robert and I have been friends for several years; we met through a Christian singles ministry called Singled-Out by Grace.  We both enjoyed our friendship, conversing about our travels and families.  Then one day things changed when I simply sent a message checking on him.  The words, “Are you okay?” led to Robert surprising me at church a few weeks later, a whirlwind/storybook romance and us being married 8 months after I checked in on him that Friday evening.

We had a fairy-tale wedding with friends and family surrounding us as we started a new, exciting  chapter in our lives.  We felt like we had the whole world to conquer. The best of our lives were ahead of us – or was it?  I guess looking back our first clue that our journey to a happily ever after was going to be a road paved with illness, depression, joblessness, and homelessness should have been after we finished counting the money we received from our wedding along with the money we had left from planning the wedding. We went on our week long honeymoon with only $300.00!! Yet, even with this we felt the best was still to come. We were happy and carefree knowing we had the rest of our lives together and our love would conquer all!

 

This is just the beginning of our story – there is so much more to come, please come back often to see more of our journey and a look back at how we got where we are today – happy, in love and planning a wonderful future together!

 

Our wedding day!

Our wedding day!

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sharpe

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sharpe

Our first dance.

Our first dance.

DSCN0420

Fun in the sun on our honeymoon

Love is radiating from our eye like they have since day number one!

Love is radiating from our eye like they have since day number one!

Honeymooning lovebirds

Honeymooning lovebirds