Archives for September 2011

Where Did I Begin? (Follow-Up to My Struggle with Weight)

After my blog post about my struggles with weight, I heard from so many of you who share the same struggle.  From Michigan to Florida – to a friend from my church- I’ve talked with ladies throughout the week who are walking the same tough road I am.

As I’ve emailed or talked with these ladies, it’s become clear I need to clarify a few things about my journey.

I didn’t just wake up one day, walk/jog 13 miles, and buy smaller size jeans.  In fact, I just didn’t surrender to God out of the blue one day.  I am too stubborn for it to be that easy.  Really, nothing in life is that easy.

I think my journey can best be explained using a plant’s life.  Seeds had been planted in my heart.  Each struggle or triumph in my weight loss journey – including my first reading of Made to Crave – was a seed.  Small roots were taking hold, but nothing ever pushed through the surface.  I knew I needed to change, but I was doing nothing toward it.

God planted the first seed about nine months ago when I went through a stressful period that caused some weight loss.  I wasn’t trying to lose weight; I was just so upset all the time that I ate very little.  That season was a seed.  It made me think, “Am I making excuses?  Can I really lose weight?  Do I eat more that I admit?”

Then, I was asked to fulfill a ministry need at my church.  I said no because I lacked self-confidence in that area due to my weight even though I had lots of experience.  When asked again a month or so later, I said yes because I felt God was clearly telling me to do it.  Deep down, I’d never been more excited.  This was an area of ministry that I missed so so much since moving and changing churches.  A week later I was unasked.  I assumed it was my weight.  I overheard a conversation and got some second hand info, which added to my belief that the “unask” was directly related to my weight.  Even if it wasn’t, it was a seed – one I needed as it caused me to consider God might have plans for me that couldn’t be fulfilled if I continued to ignore this stronghold in my life.

In the midst of these two events, there were some other highs and lows.  But, a few blows to my character where tough to take and process.  My self-confidence, which had always been so strong, was being broken down. Still, I am so thankful for each blow.  These trials were seeds- trials that eventually led me to purchase Made to Crave in May.

Summer was coming, and I wanted to lose weight.  But, I’d given up, convincing myself that my pituitary tumor was to blame for my inability to lose weight.  Yet, I couldn’t help but think that if the God of the Universe was truly interested in my weight he could overcome a tumor.

I read the book.  I tried to apply it.  I failed.  But, it was a seed.

I knew the truth; I was just choosing to ignore it.  As one woman wrote to me this week, “I was afraid that it would work…and I wasn’t ready to give up my food and lifestyle.”  I wasn’t either.  It was clearly disobedience to God on my part.

As I said in my previous post, a meeting in late June in which we were asked to fast and pray was the game changer for me; I decided at that moment to change.  Finally, the roots were growing…the seedling pushing through the soil.

Please note…before that meeting in June, God had planted at least six months of seeds.  He’d been slowly but surely tilling, planting, and watering seeds in my heart…poking, prodding, and speaking to me about this issue through stress, disappointment, false accusations, and more.

Still, the pivotal step was rereading Made to Crave and staying plugged in to my church, care group, and friends.

On days that I struggle – which is most days- I cling to God’s word and pray, pray, pray.

The Scripture that’s sticking with me this week is Psalm 103, which begins (1-6): Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

I never want to forget all he’s forgiven – all my iniquities and disobedience.  He’s redeemed my life from a pit and continues to pour love and mercy on me – even when I mess up.

I encourage you to read all of Psalm 103.  I am committing it to memory, so it gently reminds me when I am tempted, ungrateful, or doubtful.

As many of you begin  – or continue – your Made to Crave walk, I pray you aren’t discouraged if it doesn’t click immediately.  If you feel resistant or fearful, don’t give up.  Keep asking God for seeds.  I promise with prayer and time in His word, those seeds will take root and begin to change you from the inside out.  After a time below the surface, those seeds will begin to push through the soil – that’s where I am now.  And, I am praying that in the next few weeks I can brush off the dirt and begin to grow more and more in Him.

God bless you:)

NOTE:  I have begun a list of those who have asked to take this journey with me.  I am working to (hopefully) create an online group with real time chatting, so we can journey together.  If you’d like to join us, please leave a comment or email makingmuchofhim365@gmail.com.

Have You Ever Witnessed a Miracle?

Our Weekend of Miracles….

Have you ever seen a miracle?  I asked Hannah and Owen this question this morning.  Both said they’d never seen a miracle.  I then asked for a definition of miracle.  Hannah said, “Something only God can do.”  Owen said, “When I can lift a 1,000 pound rock.  Jesus has powers; he can perform a miracle like that.”

We turned to dictionary.com next, which said that a miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause; such an effect or event manifested or considered as a work of God.”

Better yet, we turned to the always-reliable Wikipedia (sarcasm:), which defined miracle as an event attributed to divine intervention.

Again, I asked my kiddos:  Have you ever seen a miracle?  Hannah, “I am unsure now.  God does intervene in people’s lives.”   Owen stuck with “I really think if I dropped a vase and it didn’t break then that would be a miracle.”

I gave them some options…

Oh, maybe we’ve seen miracles, Mom.

Yes, yes we have.

Do you notice the “miracles” – the instances of divine intervention taking place in your life?  While I’ve never seen water changed to wine or bread and fish multiplied, I have seen evidence of God’s work in my life and through my life.

Sadly, I often don’t pause to notice – much less tell others.

Both my kids were baptized on Sunday.  We discussed this “act” by Mr. Tony (our children’s pastor) versus the“miracle” of salvation and baptism.  We concluded that salvation and baptism are “an extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all know human or natural powers” – miracles!

And, as humbling as it was, I talked to my kids (for the first time) about my struggle with weight.  Owen quickly agreed that Mom walking 13 miles is miraculous:)!  Indeed it is.  Just three months ago I could not walk two miles, and I had no desire or motivation to do so.  In fact, most days as I get out of bed while my family sleeps and head out to walk, I still wonder how and when and why my life changed so dramatically.  If you know me, it’s nothing short of miraculous.  I know with absolute certainty that God is working in me.  Otherwise, the change in me is inexplicable.

Today, I am finally believing (and living as if I believe) that God can do what He says He can do.  (Fellow Beth Moore Bible study gals will recognize that!)  By that, I mean if it’s in His word, He can do it- period.

He’s still performing miracles – in my life and in your life.  Look for them.  Take note of them.  Share them.

My prayer today is that  “We live by faith, not by sight. (NIV)  We walk by faith, not by sight. (KJV)”

God is at work; I hope you notice and give Him the glory He so deserves.

 

 

The Answer to My Struggle with Weight

Tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. I have a date with two supportive ladies and 13.1 miles.  I can hardly believe I am planning to walk/jog that far.  Just three months ago, the thought of walking 13.1 yards didn’t seem particularly appealing.  While I am not lazy, I just didn’t like exercise.  Ok, I still don’t love it, but I have grown to like feeling great, which I do if I exercise.

What changed?  What made me go from sedentary to half-marathoner?

God.  A book. A conviction.

I have struggled with my weight (literally) my entire life.  My birth weight was 11 pounds 3 ounces!  I’ve lost weight many times.  In college I lost 65 pounds my sophomore year.  I’ve tried every diet and program:  Weight Watchers, high carb/low fat, low carb, Atkins, South Beach, no sugar, soup only, and on.  You name it, bet I’ve tried it sometime in my life.

Except for the 65-pound loss in college when I was boy crazy,  I was never successful at losing weight because I have always lacked motivation. After all, my weight has never held me back from goals, dreams, friends, or anything.   Why lose weight?  I have no health problems, take no medications, and my family and friends seem ok with my weight.  I can fit in stylish clothes, participate in most activities, and fit in an airplane seat.  So, really, what’s the big deal?

Before June 26, there was no deal big enough to prompt change in me.

Then, a seemingly insignificant comment from a pastor in a meeting changed my course.  He challenged those at the meeting to pray and fast.  I’d studied fasting in May as I participated in the 30-hour famine, but hadn’t given it much thought since.  But, at this point, I was struggling with lots of decisions both in and out of my control. As I sat in the church service that evening, a broken record played in my ear, “pray and fast.”

So, I did.

No, I didn’t go without eating.  On the advice of a friend, I chose one food /food group that I NEVER thought I could go without:  sugar.  If you’re food pyramid savvy at all, you know sugar includes carbs – my only food group:)   (I did/do eat fruit though.  I just avoid all things white and processed.)

It was excruciating.  And, in the excruciation, I turned where He knew I would – to Him. But, I still felt as if I was trying to control this area of my life and knew God was after me to give it to Him – something I do not do very well.  In fact, because I am terrible at giving God control, I began desperately looking for help. So, I did what I always do – I went to amazon.com.  Books solve all problems…usually:)

The best book?  Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  But, this book had been sitting on my bookshelf for a few months.  In fact, I’d already read it.   Still, I walked to the shelf and started from the beginning.  Something in me knew the answer was in that book.

I finished reading and confessed to God and my husband that weight was/is a spiritual issue for me.  I lean more on self and food than God.

I can’t begin to describe how this book spoke/speaks to me and my issues.  Really, it’s still too personal, and I am still in progress.  I’ve lost 20 pounds, but have about 50 more to go.

To lose the first 20, I’ve done three basic things:  changed my eating habits, started exercising, and leaned into God every minute of every temptation.   I know, I know.  Eating differently and exercising works every time.  Yes, it does.  But, I now know that eating differently and exercising is not possible (for me) without motivation and divine intervention.

Allowing God to satisfy my deepest desires, not food, now serves as my motivation.  I use the temptations and struggle to draw close to Him. My weight is no longer about how I look or feel.  My weight is about being a good steward of the body and life God’s given me.  I have learned that “Everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 10:23) when it comes to food.  So, when I “crave” or  want something outside of my eating plan, I use it as a prayer prompt:  I stop and pray.

Does this work?  Mostly, yes.  I am continually amazed at the food I can resist and the exercise pace I can maintain if I pray through it.  Have I messed up my eating plan and my exercise schedule?  Absolutely.  But, when I do, it’s not the end of the world or the end of my new habits.  It’s a mistake I take to God and pray through – instead of giving up.

I know I am made for more than this.  I know God has a plan that requires my surrender in this area – and my loss of weight.  He wants to use me in a way that’s not possible as long as I am overweight.  I have already been passed over for a volunteer opportunity I truly desired because of my weight, which helped me to see that while God made me who I am and loves me just as I am, I have been made for more.

And, I take comfort and motivation from knowing God loves me just as I am.  It makes me want to be more for Him and in Him.  As Lysa says in her book, “Life as  a Christ follower will always be a learning process for depending less on our own strength and more on God’s power.”  And for me in this season, “The testing of (my) faith developed perseverance (which) must finish its work so that (I) may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3-4).

Many have asked me about both my weight loss and half-marathon training, so I hope this post sheds some light.  When asked in person, I often give a quick answer or avoid the topic because it’s still quite emotional for me.  I have so much more to say/details to give, but will leave those for another time./post.  Yet, if you have questions or need help in this area, please ask me or a friend.  I could never walk through this alone.  I depend on my husband and friend Ashley to keep me going most days.  I’ll let you know how I progress:)

Resources

 

What Will Your Kids Say About You Someday?

Tomorrow is my mom’s 60th birthday.  There is no way to begin describing how wonderful my mom was and is.  I had a wonderful childhood.  My parents loved me, provided for me, supported me, and went to the ends of the world for me – my mom still does.

My mom, Diana, is an amazing example of love and generosity; she would truly give you the shirt off her back.  I know of no one else in the world as giving and as generous – even if the giving is to her detriment sometimes.  She’s simply selfless.

This birthday is bittersweet for my mom – as all her birthdays have been since my dad’s death in January 2008 – because my mom was married on her birthday.  So, tomorrow as she celebrates 60 years of life, I am sure she’ll be keenly aware that she should also be celebrating 41 years of marriage. Not just any marriage either.   A solid, love-filled marriage.

When I decided to slow my family’s life this year, my upbringing and my parent’s example were motivating factors.  I remember our family dinners and camping trips with friends to VAA and big family gatherings.  I don’t remember feeling deprived or slighted at Christmas, birthdays, or ever really.  I don’t remember busy evenings and Sundays.  I remember watching the Wild West or the Lone Ranger and football with my dad while my mom fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and snapped beans.

These are the memories I want for my kids, too.  I want Hannah and Owen to remember our family and friend time.   I know they’ll remember many experiences, but I truly want them to remember and value relationships most.

I pray my kids see Steve and me as I saw my parents in 1997.

I was 21 years old, and  I wrote an essay, which earned them the 1997 Mountaineer Parents of the Year at West Virginia University.

I want to share this essay because it demonstrates clearly how thankful a 21-year-old college student can be for her family if a firm foundation has been laid in her heart.

In essence, this essay describes best how I pray Hannah feels about Steve and me when she’s 21.  And, if that’s going to happen – if Hannah is going to respect, honor, love, and appreciate us  – and our faith – as much as I did and do my parents, we have to do something now.  We have to begin pouring into her now.  We have to show her what my parents showed me – love, acceptance, and sacrifice.

As you read my essay,  I hope you see the greatness of my parents in the midst of my young words. And, I pray this is how your kiddos feel about you when they turn 21 and think the world is theirs for the taking as I did:)!

Every morning, she prepared breakfast.  Every night, she tucked me in tightly.  Every week, she washed my clothes to be worn again the next week.  Every month, I watched her struggle, wondering where the bill money would come from.  Every year, she pulled us through as a family. My mom, my mentor, and my friend trusted God through the tough times and gave my family many happy memories. 

Every morning, he gave a kiss goodbye and encouraging wish for the day.  Every night, he spoke a reassuring word as he patted my head.  Every week, he mowed the lawn.  Some months, I’d watch him job hunt as he filled in as “Mr. Mom.”  Every year, he protected and guarded us as our family matured together.  My dad, my friend, and my hero survived two disheartening layoffs and never gave up on himself or his family.

This is only a short description of the two extraordinary individuals who made me the young lady I am today.  Words can never express my love and indebtedness to my parents; however, I overwhelmingly feel they deserve to finally be honored for their perseverance through tough times without every denying my sister or me all we needed, or thought we needed. Although I remember a teary-eyed mom as she said no time after time because we didn’t have the money, my parents never said no to higher education, and for this reason, I am a WVU student today. 

When I began considering college, my parents looked fearful but assured me that together my family could work it out.  Although neither of them have a college degree, their dream was for me to become a Mountaineer.  They encouraged me to excel academically with the hope I would earn scholarships, so I did.  They encouraged me to develop good leadership and social skills, so I tried.  They took me to the library to use financial aid resources, so I went.  Together, we filled out application after application, and I received enough aid to attend college. 

When it came time to choose a college, I knew my choice would be WVU – for them.  I grew up listening to Mountaineer football and basketball games on the radio, so I hoped this decision would make my Mountaineer-fan parents proud.  After all, my dad mows lawns on weekends and my mom works overtime in case I need extra spending money.  

Even though I feel I have made them proud, I think it is their turn to be proud of themselves, for they have encountered many hard times.  My mom is a secretary in a law office, and my dad is a clerk in a tire store.  They still live in the same trailer park in which I grew up; however, they have never resented those who have more or relinquished their faith in God, who puts food on the table and hope in their hearts.  No one has ever patted them on the back and simply said, “Good job.”  Therefore, it is time for me to properly thank my mom and dad, who never missed an elementary school social studies fair, a middle school parent-teacher conference, a high school band performance, or a college awards banquet.

Every morning, I think of them.  Every night, I pray for them.  Every week, I receive a card or note from them.  Every month, I go home to visit, or they come to Morgantown.  Every year, I see more pride in their eyes as my college graduation approaches this May.  Their support of me and my education has been unending, and although they may not be outstanding for some wonderful task they’ve performed, their 21-year commitment to my life is worth more than I or you could ever give.  Regardless of whether or not my parents are honored at the football game, I honor them in my heart and thank God each day he chose them to be my parents.  I could not be the person I am today without their unending love, strong support, firm discipline, inspirational guidance, and continual reassurance.

I wrote that 14 years ago, and I still feel the exact same way.  I pray this essay gives you a reason to slow down and reflect on what you hope your kids write about you someday.  Perhaps you could write a letter from your grown children to you and your husband.  Date the letter 10 or 15 years from now.  What do you want them to say about you?  Your marriage?  Your family life?  Your priorities?  What can you do now that will direct their paths that way?

(Happy 60th Birthday, Madre:)

The Man in the Tunnel

This morning as I left my house to walk, my first thought was “this rainy and dreary day fits my mood.”  I had a fitful night’s sleep and have been unable to shake a recent blow to my confidence.  Honestly, I was just sad.  As I reached the bridge where I meet my friend, Kelly, her good morning and smile made me feel better.  We launched into our usual pace filling every footstep with conversation.

As we neared the tunnel on the bicycle path in Marietta, we stopped abruptly.  A person was lying on the path – the blanket covering his head while his socked feet stuck out.  All I saw nearby was a pair of shoes – no other belongings.  As we walked by, he didn’t move.  I felt compelled to do something, but had no idea what that “something” might be. Obviously, he’d chosen the tunnel as a refuge from the rain.

I know it sounds trite – so often said in meaningless fashion with little thought, but I was overwhelmed with thankfulness- mixed with conviction.

I slept in a dry bed last night – even if it was fitful.  I didn’t have to search Marietta for a dry place to sleep as rained poured.

I love God’s reminders even if I wish I didn’t need them so often.  No, life often doesn’t go as we planned.  Some days it rains, some days it pours, and some days the sun shines brightly.  Some days we get good news.  Some days the news is bad.  Some days we’re surrounded by friends and those who love us. And, some days we feel no one sees us or cares at all.

But – rainy or sunny, sad or happy, good or bad, lonely or loved – God’s love endures forever.  I know so well that He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

I also know God’s called me to be thankful and joyful in all circumstances.  Sometimes it’s just so hard to remember that when it’s raining outside or when life’s thrown me a curve ball.  If you’re feeling less than thankful and joyful on this dreary day – as I was –  I hope you’ll cling to these promises from God.

Psalm 107:1:  Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 118:24:  This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 136:1:  Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

1 Thessalonians 5:18:  Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Colossians 3:17:  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Hope you have a great day – it’s almost Friday!

Do You Have a Not To-Do List?

About a month ago, I read a blog by Michael Hyatt called “Do You Have a Not To Do List?”  While the blog didn’t exactly fit my situation, I felt a little convicted about my overflowing to-do list.  After all, I am supposed to be de-busying my life!  Still, I am the queen of justification and explanation, so my self-talk sounded like this:  “I don’t have a real job now, so I have plenty of free time to do it all.”

That weekend, I sat down and scribbled a not to-do list.  Actually, most of it was in my head.  It was laughable.  Things like…don’t sit in the dance studio and wait on Hannah when I can be grocery shopping or taking care of other errands.  Really?  As if a few minutes chatting in the studio is keeping me busy.

Yesterday, I found myself complaining to Steve about something that I generally love.  When did this happen?  When did everything get so jumbled and rushed and “listed” that I began to see a love as a burden?

As God would have it, last night at church we took communion and had about 10 minutes of prayer time – something we had not done in that service for a few months.  As soon as I bowed my head to seek God, those words I’d whined to Steve bubbled up.  Deep down I knew – I have so many proverbial irons in the fire that I keep getting burned.  I am tossing all the to-do items around like hot coals – juggling more than I should.  Most importantly, I realized the things I like OK are snuffing out the things I truly love.

In fact, somewhere in all the “yes, sure I’ll do that’s” – I had lost sight of what I love most.

So, I resolved during that prayer time to make a not to-do list.  As I read last night – every time I awoke in the night  – and throughout the morning, I prayed, “Lord, lead me.  What have you called me to in this season?  What am I doing that is good, not great?  What new things do you have in store?  Are there things I may have to say no to some day because I’ve answered with a yes too often in the past?”

As I tried to sort this out – what stays to-do and what goes to don’t – God reminded me that I was neglecting my personal filter – the lense through which I use to view all decisions:  Will this make much of Him?  Does this choice glorify God or have God-glorifying potential?  It all boils down to…

What makes much of Him – not me?  After all, if I am making much of me – or anyone else – and not Him, my service is completely pointless.

I think to truly de-busy life, you have to make a not to-do list for each family member.  Everyone has to drop something.   Doing it for Hannah, Owen, and Steve was easy.  But, making a list for me today was incredibly difficult.  Having the tough conversations and pushing “send” on the “I can’t do this anymore” emails was emotional and painful because I like to say yes.  In fact, one of the emails still sits in my Draft folder.  I plan to push send today if it kills me:)!

What needs to move from your to-do list to your not to-do list?  Moving is never easy.  It requires lots of heavy lifting, reorganizing, and often sadness.  But, in the end, it’s almost always for the better – for you and for your family.  Happy list making:)

What Would You Do if You Couldn’t Fail?

I am sharing this link from Jeff Goins because it is so closely related to my post from yesterday  – and I loved it!

After reading the post, I thought “deep down, I gave up my dream because I feared failure.”  That’s definitely not the only reason.  But, when all those who said they’d help backed out, decided it wasn’t cool, or moved on, I realized I’d be the sole “fall guy” if things didn’t work out.  Yikes!  Who wants to  fail?

After thinking about it today, the answer is me.  Well, I don’t WANT to fail, but I am OK with failure.

My effort to finish the half marathon that I am participating in next month?  Could end in a DNF (did not finish:)

My effort to homeschool and shepherd my kids?  Could end in disaster – we’ve had a few disaster days already.

My effort to reignite  my dream?  There’s more of a chance at failure than success.

My effort to Make Much of Him every day?  Sigh…trying but not succeeding every day.

But, in this post, Jeff Goins encourages each of us to go for it – failure smailure!  Really?  Who cares?  It’s worth the risk:)

What Would You Do if You Couldn’t Fail?  by Jeff Goins

Why Does God Choose 3 a.m.?

I have so many partial posts on my desktop that I have had some trouble deciding what to finish/write about next.  Nothing seems ready to publish.  Nothing seems to be clicking.  I have gotten lots of texts and questions about homeschooling (mostly how’s it going?) – and that post is coming.  I have also gotten lots of questions about my weight – and the journey I am on – that post is floating about too.  But, this post gained some clarity this evening.

This morning I woke up at 3 a.m.  I woke up feeling an urgency that I can’t exactly articulate – like I had to get something done.  I tried and tried to go back to sleep, but I finally just got up.  Those who know me are probably thinking…Sarah getting four hours of sleep is no big deal.  True – a few months back – but I’ve been sleeping 6-7 hours a night on a regular basis.  So, this was odd.

I got up, opened my computer, and nothing.  Nothing jumped off the screen, nothing seemed urgent. So, I sat in silence thinking, “ I am not asking God because every time I do something changes; I am done with change for awhile.”  I’m sure you all know where this is headed, right?  I ended up askingJ!

He reminded me of a forgotten project; a passion that once burned  – but one I extinguished because – well, I let life and people take my fire.  So many “no’s” and naysayers – so many empty promises of “I’ll help” that I just gave up.  So many people telling me what to do and what not do that I stopped listening to God and praying about the situation and just stopped – end of story.

I’ll admit – giving up on this particular dream was a relief in many ways – as selfish as that sounds.  But, here it was – front and center at 3 a.m.  Me saying, nope, nope, and nope.  God saying listen, listen, listen.

Fast forward to 10 a.m.  I reluctantly headed to my first women’s Bible study.  This study is being let by a good friend, but I was still apprehensive, unsure, skeptical…and a host of other adjectives.  It’s a Beth Moore study – and I have/had a thing about her.   I went (mainly) because all my friends were going – great motive, huh?

First, Beth mentions being awake at 3 a.m.  – no kidding!  She said, “these are the things that matter at 3 a.m. when we can’t sleep.”  She was referencing our definition of blessing, and in the middle of the night, I am surely not thinking of “prosperity” or “cultural” blessings:  a new car or outfit.  No, my mind was on service to him, and how he seemed to be giving me a second chance.

Regardless of motive, my attendance was not coincidence.  Beth Moore asked us if our theology merges with our reality. Do I really believe and does my life really demonstrate that

  • God is who he says he is.
  • God can do what he says he can do.
  • I am who God says I am.
  • I can do all things through Christ.
  • God’s work is alive and active in me.

Yes, I believe all that, but does my belief merge with my reality?  Does my life reflect this faith I profess to have?  I think not.

I begin to think…what if I take him at his word?  What if I (or you) really believe him and live it out?  I know.  It seems trite or obvious or simple.  But, the answer if we take these questions to heart?  I’d/we’d pursue the impossible and improbable.  For me, the project that can only be completed by leaning on and trusting in God completely can be revived.

In fact, Beth noted that the number one hindrance to our calling is unbelief.  And, that’s my issue.  I don’t believe it will ever work out, come true, be real.  Why?  I don’t feel capable. That’s exactly where God wants me – incapable without him.

Today’s study included so much Scripture that I can’t begin to include or explain it all.  But, each and every verse connected for me as I wrote in my book and notebook, trying to catch each reference for later lookup.  Here a few that spoke directly to my 3 a.m. situation:

  • Ephesians 2:10:  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
  • Ephesians 1:18-20:  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms
  • Hebrews 3:7-18 (A warning against unbelief)

I feel as if this post is a bit disconnected.  There’s so much God’s saying to me, but I am simply unable to articulate it all. Still, I am posting because I pray if there’s something God has called you to do or if you’re struggling with unbelief that you seek, listen, study, pray, and follow.

Am I going to follow?  Am I going to begin pursuing the dream again?  Yes – albeit reluctantly.  The dream looks a bit different now, and I have no idea when I’ll make time to do the work.  But, I have to.  He said so:)

 

 

 

 

Miss Jamie by Hannah Farish

Miss Jamie was a great camp counselor.  She was my favorite out of the eight I had at Camp Cowen.  When I was in her cabin, she made us feel very special.  The cabin’s name was Pop Collins and she made it look like it was a princess’s castle inside and out.  Every girl was jealous of her bed because it looked like a real princess bed and I got to sleep on the bunk bed right above her.

She hung princess things everywhere!  We did a princess craft and devotional everyday.  She also had a little fold-up princess castle full of snacks even though there were not supposed to be any snacks or food in the cabins.  She also had face paint and was a good artist.  Our faces were awesome!

She just made everything fun.  Even when we had to have quiet time.  She let us do whatever we wanted to do as long as we didn’t make too much noise.  And when we had to clean the cabin, she made it a game.  That year was my favorite year of Camp Cowen EVER and I have been four times.  Miss Jamie was very special to me.

Today I am going with my mom to the funeral home to say goodbye to Miss Jamie. I know she’s in heaven but I will miss her very much!

 

 

No Use Crying (or Reacting) Over Spilled Coffee

Yesterday Owen spilled my entire cup of coffee on my MacBook Pro.  The keyboard, my iPod (which was connected to my computer), my phone (next to my computer), my calendar, and my clothes – all covered in coffee.  Was it an accident?  Yes.  Should I have had a lid on my coffee?  Probably.  Still, my reaction was less than Godly or motherly.  This hit me when Owen said, “Geezz, mom, how many times do I have to say I am sorry?”  Sigh.

Just after coffee clean up I got an email response that was no big deal – just a time change for something I was supposed to attend, but my reaction and response – less than stellar.  In fact, it was a bit mean.

My poor reactions reminded me of a blog I’d read about a month ago by Lysa TerKeurst called The Reactor Factor.    Around that same time I had also listened to Lysa’s message from Elevation Church on the same topic called Reaction Determines Reach.

This line from Lysa’s blog gave me pause:  “My reaction short circuited my reach.”  Her reaction kept her from leading a group when she was in college, for she lost her “reach” as a result of her poor reaction.  Her peers didn’t trust her as a leader because of that one reaction.

Her blog post hit home for me because some of my past reactions have resulted in a short -circuited reach.  When I reacted poorly or without thought or in defense, it labeled me – for better or worse – so when I do have a valid point or opinion, it’s taken less seriously.  While that makes me sad – and is a bit frustrating – it’s a consequence of my reactions.

Lysa’s message also included this:  “If I react out of my feelings then my flesh is going to be evident.  If I react out of the Spirit then the Spirit becomes evident.”  Ugh!   This is so true, but my life sometimes doesn’t reflect it.  My reactions to Owen and my friend’s email yesterday certainly weren’t examples of reacting out of the Spirit – definitely “feelings” reactions.

As I thought about “feelings” this morning, I turned to Galatians 5.  My favorite online ESV Bible labels Galatians 5: 16-26 “Keeping in Step with the Spirit.”  That sums it up.  I have to keep in step with the Spirit – daily, hourly, maybe even minutely (if that’s a word 🙂 ).

So, this morning, I am clinging to these verses:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”

My reaction to sweet Owen?  Patient? Umm….no.   Kind?  Gentle?  No and no again.

Do you struggle with your reactions when someone spills milk (or coffee), fails to communicate, falsely accuses you, etc.?  Deep down, I really want to stand up and fight, but I know that is often pointless even harmful…and doesn’t show the Spirit but the flesh.

As I try to make much of Him today, I know I have to lean further into God so I won’t react with feelings but with the Spirit.  My reactions matter; please, Lord, never let me forget that.

NOTE:  The same boy who spilled coffee while goofing off, wrote this sweet letter to his buddy, Jackson, who fell while they were playing tag.

 

Links

Lysa TerKeurst’s Blog

The Reactor Factor

Reaction Determines Reach

Galatians 5: 16-26 (ESV)