Sunday, August 26, 2012


“While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."  John 9:5
 “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:1
My Dad, Mr. Mercer aka "Uh" 1986-1987

~ Starting Junior High was scary enough as it was, but the thought of having my dad as one of my teachers was horrifying!  Not only was I afraid of getting lost trying to find my way from classroom to classroom, trying to make new friends, having more homework, learning harder material, and doing all this during the most difficult and awkward developmental stage of my life, but then I also had to worry about what everyone was going to say about me having my own dad as my teacher.  Oh, the drama!  Now normally the administration would not allow a parent to be the teacher of his own child, but in this case, they had no choice.  My dad was the only advanced math teacher in the 7th grade, and I was placed in advanced math.  So, my dad became “Mr. Mercer” to me or, as my dad remembers it, I just called him “Uh”.  I would say “Uh, can you help me with #3?”  or “Uh, can you help me get my locker open?”  (Of all the places for my locker to be in that big junior high, why would it be right next to his classroom? Hmmmmmm…now that I'm a parent, it really makes we wonder if my daddy just wanted to keep an eye on his little girl maybe??). 

My 7th Grade Year- 1986-1987

It was challenging to be labeled as Mr. Mercer’s daughter, and because I was a good student, it was difficult to ignore the whispers from others about how my dad “gave me an A”.  Yeah, right.  In fact, it was the opposite.  My dad was even harder on me that year than he ever was.  Plus, he even quit helping me with my math homework at home which he had always done.  In good conscience, he didn’t want to help me with any homework or study for tests because he wanted to make sure that I was not given any special treatment.  It was tough, but I understood completely, and luckily, my brother was able to step in and help me when I needed it.
Entering junior high knowing that I was going to have to face the challenges of having my dad for a teacher, made me prepare for the negative side of that experience.  But what surprised me, was how much I enjoyed it and how much of a positive experience that it turned out to be.  Once I got past all of the other stuff, I soon realized that it was actually nice having him around to give me advice, give me rides home so I didn’t have to take the bus, and be there for me when I didn't feel well.  But, even more than those things, I had the unique opportunity to see what an amazing teacher my dad was.  He was smart and funny and goofy.  In fact, I even had a classmate write in my yearbook:  "To a friendly girl with a weird dad."  It was so true.  He was weird, but in a good way and it showed all of us how much he loved to teach.  All the kids loved him... and so did I—as my dad and as my teacher.
~ What an amazing opportunity that I was given to see my dad in a different light. Are you ready to start seeing life in a different light too?  This week, I pray that God’s light will shine on a challenge you are facing and give you a new perspective. God’s light transcends all negativity, so instead of focusing on the negative, allow God’s light to shine on the positive side.  When you begin to see things God's way, I truly believe that you will experience a whole new appreciation for something or someone that seemed so difficult or unpleasant.  Let God surprise you! 

**I’d like to dedicate this blog to all the teachers out there.  My dad inspired me to become a teacher.  My brother also became a teacher, and I married a teacher.  Teaching is a tough job, but a very important one, and it's a profession that holds a dear and special place in my heart, so I’d like to say a special blessing for this new school year.  May God’s light shine on you, your students, your administrators and your students’ parents.   Have a great year!**

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dry Rye

"Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. "  Matthew 17:20.


My mom and dad could be a reality tv show.  The title would be simply “The Rick and Sharon Show”.  They would entertain America with all of the unusual things that happen to them and the laughter would roar as everyone witnessed their hilarious interactions with each other.  Some of the things that happen to them I’ve never heard happen to anyone else.  They are really comical as a pair, but they are also equally funny individually too.  Today, in honor of my mom's birthday, I want to share a quick story about her.  For some reason, my mom never seems to get quite what she ordered in a restaurant. Maybe you've had a similar experience...
In 1998, my mom, dad, and I traveled to Vermont together for my cousin’s wedding.  My older brother, Brian, couldn’t make the trip with us, so he made me promise to write down all of the funny things that mom did or said so that he wouldn’t miss anything.  Let’s just say, I had a whole notebook full of stories by the time the 3 day trip was over.  One of the stories that I wrote is an example of something that would only happen to my mom.  She and I were sitting at breakfast at a quaint little Vermont hotel.  Along with eggs and fruit, she orders “dry toast” with the expectation of getting a nice wheat toast with no butter.  The server misunderstood her and brought her “rye toast with butter on it.”  My mom told the server, “Um, I ordered “'dry toast'”.  The server takes it back and then brings her “dry rye”!  Wrong again.  She really didn’t care for rye bread, but she didn’t want to hurt the server’s feelings or embarras me anymore by sending it back again, so she just ate it.  As it turned out, my mom actually liked the dry rye!  Plus, we both got such a good laugh out of it, especially when we got to share the story with my brother when we got home. 
~This is one of many Sharon stories that I have.  She was hoping for dry toast but instead got rye toast with butter.  In her second attempt to get her order right, she still ended up with the rye toast only this time without butter--the dry rye.  It was not at all what she ordered, and it got me thinking about how many times in our lives where we pray to God to give us exactly what we “order” and how often it seems that He rarely gets our “order” right.  Even though we are so specific and ask for dry toast, He may know that we need rye bread somewhere in our diet, so that’s exactly what He's going to put on our plate.  No matter how many times we send it back, we are still going to get the rye bread.  It can be so frustrating not to get what we ordered in a restaurant, but it’s even more confusing not to get what we “order” from God.  And this can really test our faith in Him, can’t it?  But, we can choose to spend our time being so upset about what we didn’t get and getting angry at God and questioning why He would give the dry rye to us, or, like my mom, we can make the best out of what we did get.  What will you do with your dry rye?

~This week, I pray for a renewed faith in what God is serving you.  I pray that you will trust that God knows exactly what you need exactly when you need it.  I pray that even if you don’t understand why He gave you the dry rye, that you will trust that He knows what He is doing and wouldn’t give you the dry rye if it weren’t exactly what He wanted you to have.  And even though it was not at all what you ordered, He will use it to nourish your body and strengthen your soul.   So, accept the dry rye.  Be thankful for the dry rye.  And don’t be surprised that you may actually start to enjoy the taste of the dry rye more than you expected. 

Happy Birthday, Mom!  Thanks for always teaching me to enjoy the dry rye in life.  You always make the best out of and have faith in every situation, and I love and respect that about you.  I love you!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

God's Plan: Part 2----GPS


"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"  

Jeremiah 29:11

I love to mess with my GPS.  I love to type in a destination and then take a totally different route.  I find humor in seeing it constantly say, “REROUTING.”  Then it recalculates a new route and I turn a different way again.  And again it will say, “REROUTING”.   Maybe I find it way too entertaining to make my GPS reroute, but I call it payback for all the times it laughed at me when it took me miles and miles out of my way.   It does bring me a strange amount of joy to frustrate my GPS.  Sometimes I think my GPS would say if it could, “Why are you even using me if you’re not going to listen to me?”  And then it hit me…don’t you think that God thinks the same thing about us?  And then God got me thinking just how many similarities there are between how we follow a GPS and how we follow God’s plan for our lives.  And then my brain just came alive and took off with this look out!

First of all, I believe that God has a plan for us right from the beginning.  He enters our "destination" into our life’s GPS and sets us on our path, and it is up to us to follow it.  Humor me, if you will, as I share with you a list of what I will call the "GPS Personality".  Read each of the 5 personalities below and see if any these hit home to you.    
What is your GPS Personality?
1.        The Truster—This GPS user types in a destination and follows every step.  This person has complete faith and trust and doesn’t even know or care if the GPS takes him/her out of his/her way.  This person will follow it whole-heartedly, and enjoy every minute of getting from point A to point B. 
2.       The Complainer---This GPS user types in the destination, follows every step but is dissatisfied with the way the GPS is taking him/her but just goes along with it and chooses to complain about it every step of the way.  This person will not be happy about any part of the trip. 
3.       The Controller---This GPS user types in the destination and doesn’t follow every step.  This person will try to take control and make random turns here and there trying to find a better way and cause the GPS device to constantly reroute.  This person may or may not end up at the original destination and has to be careful not to get lost.
4.       The Distracter---This GPS user types in the destination, and gets totally distracted by all the attractions and, in fact, will end up going to a completely different destination than what was intended. 
5.       The Give Upper---This GPS user will reluctantly type in the destination, and head off, but will most likely turn around and come back home especially if the route becomes too confusing.  In fact, this person may not even get in the car to begin with out of fear of getting lost and just decide to stay home.  

Now, humor me even more as I've connected the type of "GPS Personality" you are with how you may follow God and His plan for your life.  You may see yourself (like I did) in several categories especially during different seasons of your life.

Are you the Give Upper?  Do you let fear stop you from going anywhere?  Do you find it easier to just do nothing?  Do you have apathy about life in general?  This is a place that can lead to depression.  I lived with depression for several years, and I still battle with fear often.  I pray that you will be released from any fear or depression right now, In Jesus’ name, and start living and get moving.
Are you the Distracter?  Do you constantly fall into the temptations of the world?  Do you let satan lie to you and bring you down and take you down paths of destruction and constantly bully you away from God’s perfect plan for you?  This path is a scary pit.  I’ve been here.  Satan only wants to destroy us.  I pray for freedom from this and for complete focus as you make the choice to stay on God's path no matter what satan tells you. 

Are you the Controller?  Do you try to go your own way and not follow God’s plans?  Do you constantly take a new path and cause God to do nothing but “rerouting” for you over and over.  This is where I used to be and admittedly still fall into this category quite often.  I pray for you to release any need to be in control.  I promise that your life will change when you stop being so stubborn and controlling and just give everything to God.  It feels amazing to surrender to His will and be completely obedient to Him.  Try it.
Are you the Complainer?  Do you stick to God’s plan for your life but doubt it and complain about it? Do you do everything with an ungrateful heart and get angry at God for every bump in the road?  This is a dangerous place to live.  I’ve been here too.  It’s so ugly to be so negative.  You will never be happy as The Complainer and you will never fulfill God’s true purpose for your life.  I pray right now for a heart of gratefulness and an overwhelming sense of joy and happiness as you continue to follow God.
Are you the Truster?  Do you stick to God’s plans?  Do you follow Him no matter what?  Do you take his path with trust and faith and do it with a smile on your face because you know that God has it all in His hands---no matter where He takes you?  Even if it feels risky?  Even if it feels way out of your comfort zone?  Do you just completely trust Him?  This is where we should all strive to be!  I’m happy to say that I am more of the Truster today than I’ve ever been.  I’ve been the Give Upper, the Distractor, the Controller and the Complainer.  God doesn’t want any of those paths for us. 
So, what does God want for us?  How do we know that we are following God's path?  Well, it's so simple.  It doesn't matter what job we have or where we live or how much money we make or what we look like or if we're married or single or have kids or don't have kids.  We can follow God's plan anywhere and in any conditions!  I like to call it “God’s Plan Simplified”.  It’s the new GPS!  What is God's simple plan?  To be in a relationship with us!  It’s that simple.  Once we do that, His plan for us will unfold.  No matter what our circumstances are, our purpose will be made clear.  We can all follow that plan, right?  
-This week, I pray that we will have the faith to follow the new GPS.  With this upgrade, God will not only give us our route step by step, give us reminders when our turns are near, take us around the pits, the bumps, the twists, the turns, the difficulties and hardships along the way, but He will also constantly be rerouting for us no matter how many times we try to turn a different direction.  Plus, and, most importantly, with His plan, we get an amazing Father and Friend and Teacher and Guide to take us down the path He has chosen just for us.  Get the new GPS today!

Monday, August 6, 2012

God's Plan: Part 1

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."  Proverbs 3: 5-6

I looked like Bozo.  Seriously...why this hairstyle was ever popular, I will never know.  I was only 18 years old in this picture.  I was getting ready to graduate from high school, and as the saying goes... "I had my whole life ahead of me."  Now, here I am 20 years later, and, just this past weekend, I celebrated my 20 Year Class Reunion.  Go MHS Class of 1992! 

I know that it is such a cliche to say that life doesn't always turn out the way we plan, but it really does apply.  I look at this 18 year old and besides seeing that silly Bozo haircut, I see such purity.  I see such hope and possibilities.  This girl had no idea what was ahead of her even though she thought she had her whole life planned out.  And yes, she had a plan and many lists at that.  If she had followed one of her lists she had made when she was in 8th grade, she would have written a popular song about not drinking or doing drugs, she would have traveled all around the world especially Italy and Greece, and she would have been married to her junior high crush and had 2 kids by the time she was 25.  Well instead, she drank and used drugs at one point in her life; she still has never traveled to those places and can't even afford to do so, and she didn't marry her junior high crush and wasn't even engaged by the time she turned 25. really doesn't turn out the way we plan it. 

Let me say that doesn't turn out the way we plan it.  And that's ok, because it's not really our plan anyway, is it?  It's God's plan for us!  Oh, we can make plans and make lists all we want, but God knows better than we do.  I have to laugh because sometimes I feel that the more I plan and make lists, the more God will mess with me and say, "Are you kidding me? No, you're not going to do that, I want you to do this."  We may not always listen and follow God's plan and that's when our lives can really be led in the wrong direction.  I definitely got off God's path for my life many, many times, and my life felt empty and meaningless and frustrating and confusing.  Somehow, He would always find a way to steer me back on it, but I had to choose to let Him take the wheel. 

When I made the decision that I was going to follow Jesus and trust His plan for my life, that's when it all started to turn around.  When I quit trying to be the one in control, my life completely changed.  When I made that choice to trust God and allow Him to lead me where He wanted me to go and live my life in true obedience to His plan, I had a completely different outlook on life.  It was only then that my life started to make sense.  My life had meaning.  My life had purpose.  I found true happiness and joy, and I want that for all of you too. 

Do you feel like your life hasn't turned out exactly the way you planned it?  Do you feel that you are following God's path for you?  One of my favorite bible verses is Proverbs 3: 5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths."  I also find comfort in Psalm 32:8--"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."  These are promises to us, and all we have to do is let God do what He wants to do.  It's so simple and yet it seems to be so hard for us.  All we have to do is trust Him.  Stop making lists.  Stop making plans.  Stop trying to control every situation.  Stop comparing our plan to someone else's, and give everything to Jesus.  His plans are going to be much better for us anyways, so why do we ever try to control our life in the first place?  It really doesn't make any sense.

This week, I pray that you will give your life to Jesus and truly surrender to His plan for you.  When you do that, you really will have your whole life ahead of you.  Your life will be like my high school yearbook picture---full of purity, hopefulness and full of possibilites...minus the Bozo haircut, I hope.  

Dedicated to Mattoon High School Class of 1992---Thank you all for being a part of my life.  I have such great memories of all of you from our school years together and even though those years are so small compared to the rest of our lives, they are so meaningful.  I thank you for being there through those awkward, exciting, confusing, fun and very memorable years!  I know that not all of us feel that our lives are exactly where they should be.  Some of us are married...some of us are not married...some of us are divorced...some of us are remarried...some of us have older kids...some of us have younger kids... some of us are continuing to have more kids...some of us have no kids...some of us have a job we love...some of us have a job we hate...some of us have no job...some of us have a college degree...some of us have no degree...some of us are going back to get a degree...No matter where you are, my classmates, I pray that you will all find God's plan, path and purpose for you.  I pray that you and yours will find happiness, peace, joy, love, generosity, kindness, gratefulness and lots of laughter.  May God bless you all.  See you at our 25 year.