Saturday, December 13, 2008

Soooo what's next???

My husband and James headed off to Washington DC to do this year's missions trip to Urban Outreach. God provided just enough for them to go. He is so good to meet our needs. John, Peter and I have had a great few days together and by all reports, Erik and James have had lots of great Daddy-Son time too. They come home tomorrow night and I will be glad to have us all back under one roof.

OK, today is almost over. It has been nice. Snow day, baked cookies with John, played with my boys, laughed a little, cried a little (grieving for baby Owen, Jake, and my baby Joy), enjoyed the Christmas music, looked at the tree, a friend brought John and I dinner just because, and I plan to curl up with a blanket on the sofa and watch a movie - or paint my toenails red - or both before the day is done.

But what is next? Bed of course, but really, the Lord mapped out my day nicely for me. Will He map out the day tomorrow as well? Sure. But will I listen? I hope so.

All that to say, I am thinking about Christmas and how, when Jesus was born there was already a plan in place for what was next. The Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit had it all mapped out. They had a plan. Joseph, Mary, Peter, James, John, Paul, and countless others would play an important role in the plan but they had no idea what was coming.

My point? God has a plan. I don't have to know what it is. I just have to wake up listening for His voice each morning trusting Him to reveal what I need to know when I need to know it.

I miss my baby. She would be 15mos old right now. Owen should be just about 9 months old, and Jake should have just turned 21. But God has a plan. Some of the reasons for our losses will be revealed here on earth. Some won't. But trusting the character of the Creator of our life will be the only way to survive with any kind of peace in the storms.

I love my Peter. He was God's plan for "what's next" after I lost Joy back to the arms of Heaven. He is a priceless gift that reminds me every day that God sees me. He knows my heart and every breath I take. He is just one example of the "what's next" that can happen as we wait on the Lord. One of my favorite songs that my friend Fay sings is:

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord, as we wait upon the Lord, as we wait upon the Lord

Waiting in faith brings strength. We, most of us at least, don't like to wait. BUT, when we do, there is a blessing. Our faith is strengthened, our focus is directed at the One who loves us with an everlasting love and we receive peace.

Try not to look too far past this wonderful season and wonder what is next. Fix your eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith and let your strength rise as you wait on Him to see what's next!

Friday, November 21, 2008

To Go or Not to Go... that is the question....

Every year for the past 4 years we have traveled to the inner city in Southeast Washington DC to be a part of the Urban Outreach (UO) Christmas Stocking Outreach. We have been involved with UO for about 12 years, making 1-2 trips each year (if you want more details on the history of our relationship with the ministry please contact me). Here is the link to their website: http://www.urbanoutreach.org/

Year 1, Erik went because I was newly pregnant with John, our oldest and wasn't up to traveling. Year 2, we took John (6mos old) with us. Year 3 we brought John (18mos) and James (4 mos) and a friend with her daughters. Year 4, Erik took John (3 1/2) with him since I was too pregnant to fly, and a friend and his kids. Each year we felt passionate about our children having access to a lifestyle different from our own. There is not much cultural diversity in North Idaho to be sure!

Anyway, all that to say that this year, with all three boys (John 4 1/2, James 3 1/2, and Peter 10mos) the issue of finances to make the trip, the challenge of the trip, and the impact we will have while on the trip (since lots of time and energy can be spent chasing our precious 3 and trying to keep on top of their antics - my daily challenge :) is all unknown.

We are neck deep in Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University right now and we feel like we are not to put the trip on our credit card like we have in the past and then wait for the funds to come in to cover it. God has never left us hanging - there are always funds that come, but this year we are convicted to do it differently.

So, basically I covet your prayers and seek your counsel on the situation. We do not want to take our kids into the war zone that southeast DC can be without express direction from the Lord and we need Him to provide the approximately $3000 it will take for us to make the trip. We are eager to hear His voice on this and though it seems like last minute in the planning stages for the trip (we would leave Dec 10 and be back Dec 14 - the actual outreach is Dec 13), we are still waiting on Him for what we are to do this year.

Thanks so much for caring enough to read what I have written and I look forward to your response as you feel led. God bless you!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Full"ness...

Are you empty? I am. But I am here to remind you that that is the best place to be.

My empty = God is full in me. The more empty I am the more FULL He is in me.

The more full I am of myself the less space for the Creator who belongs on the throne of my heart. He is so loving and gentle He never does what my son's do when they want the seat one of them is sitting on - Yank with all their might and land the other brother solidly on the floor smack on his caboose! Sure, some days I am positive I could use a swift drop on my caboose. But, my loving, patient God wants me to choose to love Him more than myself and remove myself from the throne of my heart and allow Him to take the seat that belongs to my Lord and Savior.

And I do call Him Lord. That means I bow... to Him alone. Not to others opinions of me, not even to my husband's opinion of me. Only He matters. When I am focused on seeking Him first, serving Him before others, and allowing Him to stay seated on the throne of my heart, the rest of my world remains in order.

I am committed to living in His "full"ness. I love being full of Him. My life, in my own hands under my own "leadership" is empty. So, I choose Him. As often as I can, to the best of my ability, every day, I need more of Him and less of me.

Do you need Him on the throne of your heart? Daily? Ask Him. He wants you to be full of Him in every way, in every part of your life. He loves you.

God bless you, beloved of Christ.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fat thoughts while fasting (say that 10 times fast!)

I am currently focusing on a full cleanse of my body and mind. These are a few things that have occurred to me... It is pretty REAL, so beware...
It is meant to be funny, serious, and honest. Think of it as dictionary definitions (sort of). I pray you will be blessed for taking the time to read it and that the Lord will use it for His glory.

Resistance – what happens when there is something you don’t want to do, you waste a bunch of energy not doing it and then give in anyway.

Why am I so attached to food? How disgusting. I actually don’t like it much. But apparently I do. Maybe I just resent it? Can you resent an object? Hm... when I fast, like today – all I can think about is food and will I be different tomorrow because I starved today?

Pressing in – Diving deep into Christ knowing that the alternative would be disastrous.

Desperation – wanting so badly to change and yet wondering if I am desperate enough this time for it to last.

Fear – looking good, looking bad, being run by food or lack of it, annoyed by its side effects, transient, random, and wasting my energy on things that I can’t control.

Resentment- looking in the mirror feeling frustrated that I have to deal with this issue – and yet prevailing wisdom is “thank God it’s just fat and not some other scary issue!”

Fat – the presence of extra “medication” that works against one’s well being, mind set, and physical abilities. Acts as a hindrance to playing on slides and swings with your children and being able to make love in confined spaces.

Crazy – the act of continually expecting change without the pain of accomplishing it.

Power – nothing a human possesses for any length of time. Something only God possesses ALL the time.

Grace – what you say before you eat whatever you want and what you pray will keep you from reaping all the Ding Dongs you have sown.

Hungry – the point at which your body decides to grumble along with you while you are fasting. A place your spirit must be to motivate change.

Happy – Knowing that you know that you know that tomorrow will be a better day because God’s mercies are new every morning!

Need – a fluid term that can be swayed by hormones, mood, desires, cravings, and comfort level. The real life, no kidding, recognition that you want God to take over because you are making a wreck of things yourself.

Thorn - the place in your life that is a constant ache designed by God to draw you into Him on your knees so you don't get too full of yourself and think you don't need Him. This is not His form of torture! Only a consistent reminder that only His Grace is sufficient (2Cor 12:9), only His mercies are new (Lam 3:22-23), and only He can restore, heal, and reconcile all things (Col 1:19-20).

Love - the Cross. Designed by God for us to bring freedom to be intimately His in relationship and lead by Him in our actions.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Praise Him all creatures here, below! Praise Him above ye heavenly host! Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A life in progress...

Wow! So, I am in progress. Not a startling revelation to most of you. I wanted to share with you the parenting insights I have received and then in another blog I will give you an update on the "me" stuff...

Since we are each "a life in progress" and we are old enough to read and Lord willing, learn, then we easily assume that things may be hard but we can handle them. The things we think we can't handle we either ignore or try to figure out some new ingenious plan to fix it. As if there ever was a "new" plan!!

I have forgotten that my boys are also "lives in progress". Each day I spend with them, engaging with them, enjoying them and teaching them to become the godly men they are destined to be is going to be fruitful. The days I refuse to connect with them, focus on my friends (where the emotional payoff seems bigger and is certainly faster), and attend to the busy work of my life is going to be only marginally fruitful. I know that the people in my life are put there by God for His glory and the blessing of friendship and encouragement. The busy work must be done. BUT, is it really all it is supposed to be if I am ignoring or at least disconnected from the most important calling I have ever had? NOPE!

My little "lives in progress" need more than half of me. They need all of me. Yours need all of you. Look them in the eyes (you know the one's you couldn't wait to see when they were kicking around in your belly) and SEE beyond the right now to their destiny. Call it out. Declare it in their presence. If you don't know exactly what it is - ask God to give you His vision for your child. Each one is going to be different - as different as they are. See beyond the naughty attitude and behavior and declare the truth of Christ over them - OUT LOUD. Speak the Word over them and call forth the destiny God has designed them for. Take a step back from the day -to -day and focus on the big picture of who God is building in your family - Under your very roof!!

We bought a sweatshirt one year for James when we were in DC. It said "Future President of the United States". I have had different responses from different parents concerning that title. "I would never wish that on my child" and "good for you little guy". I bought it with the intention of blessing my son. Who knows what he will become? God does. The tighter I stay to the Living, Loving, Life giving, Destiny creating, Designer of Life itself, God, the more likely I am to lead my child into his destiny. If I get tunnel vision in the midst of the day and fixate on the "leadership skills" gone awry then we will never really get there.

So, my input is this: You have been given "talents" like the Master gave his servants before his journey. You are responsible for the investment your Master gave you. Will you just "get through it" or will you invest all you have and see the multiplication of your investment in the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your child and in yourself? That question is just as much for me as it is for you. Trust me. I am a life in progress... just like my kids, just like you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I thought I had it all together ...

Until I realized my pants were on backward. Yes, that's right. Now, don't get me wrong, I was NOT wearing blue jeans, that would have been ridiculous. But my knit black Capri's were feeling pretty loose in front that morning and I just assumed that my weight loss was continuing to be a success without massive effort on my part.

Not so much.

Here is how something like that could have happened...
My trip to see my sister and parents in Hawaii was wonderful. However, I have yet to recover my regular routine or household order so every day I am just trying to get it back - apparently not very well.

I was so proud of myself that day. I woke up, got the kids dressed, breakfast, ready to go and out the door - ON TIME! Whew! I was thrilled to have them each checked into their classes and get to my own before it began. I enjoyed every moment of the worship before my bible study on Shepherding a Child's Heart. I had received a verse from the Lord to meditate on and even some clear direction on how to involve scripture in the lives of my very little boys.

And then, I needed to use the rest room. Not a big deal usually, but as I was pulling up my pants I noticed the white tag - in front. I laughed. Out loud in the bathroom alone. Yep, go figure. Pants on backwards. It just cracked me up. I felt beautiful that day and had received many compliments... thankfully they could not see the drawstring ties right above my rear!! Anyway, it was funny. Not at all dampening my mood, just a reminder that just when I think I have it all together, take another look in the mirror, just to make sure!!

Then it happened - would I still be laughing by the end of the day??? NOPE. Wish I could say that my sense of humor carried through the next half hour, but it really didn't.

One of the sweet child care workers came to get me about 10 minutes into our discussion time. Apparently my dear little #1 had gone #2 in his pants and required attention. The wonderful gal to my left said she had a pull up I could use and some wipes, so I didn't have to just pack up and leave. I went down to his class and called him out of the room (with some distress on his part since it was "snack time".) I took him to the main restroom, noticing that the other study group was still in session so I could just quickly clean him up and get back to class.

Not so much.

The #2 could only be described as some sort of intestinal explosion that coated all of one leg, sock and shoe included. Suddenly overcome with a wave of humiliation and frustration I began to cry. Why does my kid have to do this, especially today when I thought everything was going to be great-even if my pants were on backward!

A dear woman came out of the bathroom and offered to help. I blankly looked up and said I could manage, thinking are you kidding? YUCK! even I don't want to do this! I said no, but she offered to pray and of course I started crying for real now. She stopped, got a wad of paper towels, coated them in soapy water and began to help me clean up my son. I know Jesus washed the disciples feet and that was no picnic, but this beautiful angel came to my rescue and helped me scrape poo off my boy. She was loving to him and me, tended to us both, prayed over us and headed back to her bible study. I knew her in passing, but not well. Now, I see her as one of the delightful members of the Body of Christ who truly sacrificially SERVED me and my dear son. There were several other women who stopped in to do the usual thing expected in a restroom that were tender and concerned and even helped with a towel and replacement pants. Their compassion was wonderful, but I have never experienced the kind of ministry before that helps clean up that kind of actual mess. Most often that kind of mess is metaphorical. Not this time.

I would love to say that the day got easier. But, it didn't. But, we all survived. I cried more and never quite recaptured the sense of humor I had at the beginning of the day. But, one thing I was sure of - My God not only saw my pain, but provided for me someone to come alongside me and share my stinky load. I praise Him for His provision yet again.

The following day brought some more parental stress, but this time with a different twist. I called out to leadership for prayer, then two godly women met me in the nursery to pray for me while my boys played, and revelation took place. It seems that often at our lowest point, the very end of ourselves, God reveals clearly what is next. I will follow up more with what His Word revealed to me about my parenting issues and the scriptures He brought to life to bring about the transformation I have been longing for.

Again, thank you for your time. May God bless you with a sacrificial servants heart and also the ability to receive that kind of ministry should you need it. I LOVE Jesus, how about you?!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Where do I start????

It has been a while since my last post because my juggling act has not included blogging. I am just juggling daily life, mind you, not really anything impressive. But, then, maybe my life is impressive? Probably not. Well, here's the update...

The weight loss thing is working out slowly. The product is still fantastic and I still feel great overall, but my old "issues" are messing with my progress. I haven't given up though. Still keeping my focus on what God is working out in me. Some days the process feels like a NASCAR event and sometimes it feels like a buggy ride with Almonzo from Little House on the Prairie. The important thing, like any major life changing process is that I choose to return to focus on the task God has called me to. One day, or one minute at a time.

The parenting has been REALLY tricky lately. I actually felt the tender, loving conviction of my heavenly Father today when I was yelling at my kids for not obeying Mommy and telling them that I would not do what they were asking me to do because they were being rude and disobedient. I am sure my Lord has felt my treatment of our relationship has been rude and disobedient over my lifetime and yet, He withholds nothing from me that is a part of His plan. He faithfully reminds me that His blessing does not depend on my attitude or actions but only on His divine love for me as demonstrated on the cross. And since that point of conviction I have been seeking His insight on how to attend to my sweet and challenging boys in a different way.

I think Paul says it well in scripture (not sure of it's location) about doing what we don't want to do, and not doing what we don't want to do... that is the essence of parenting. THEN God's grace enters in and covers a multitude of my sins. When I had a particularly tough day with the boys and I was really at my wits end (before 10am, mind you) I was sitting on the chair crying. My #1 says to me, "stop whining, Mommy!" And after I contemplated whacking off his head for a split second, I told him I was crying because I was tired of his being so disobedient and didn't know what to do next. He put his hand on my leg and said, "I am going to talk to Jesus about you." He got up, went over to the couch, put both hands over his face and prayed, "Jesus, please bless my Mommy and help her feel better." Then he looked up at me, came over and gave me a hug, immediately expecting Jesus to have fixed me. Gotta love that kind of faith! I cried some more and thanked him for praying and hugged on him and my #2 and told them both how much I loved them and I thanked God that I had modeled at least one useful thing to him over the past few years --- always pray when you aren't sure how to fix it. Then I was humbled by the fact that even though I don't do a lot right - he got something important from me.

My ministry is interesting no doubt. While feeling like a failure as a mom, I am often praying for others and drawing them to Jesus with an awareness of how useless I am and how powerful He is. It is easier in a lot of ways for me to pray for others right now because it keeps me from fixating on my flaws and failings and often, as I pray, I hear God's Word for me in the midst of something I am praying for another. It is good because God is so Good!

We still have our home on the market, but with the current economic situation, we aren't really sure what will actually happen. We are waiting on God and are thankful for what we have. I am trying some new ways to make my space work better for me in the meantime, and yet I am constantly begging God for a different space to raise my family.

So, another day comes to a close. I am committing tomorrow to the Lord and trusting for His will to be worked out for the day. One day at a time --- that's all I've got!
God bless you. May you sense His pleasure and delight in you today.
Much love to each of you!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Me and Jr (Mints that is...)

So, after our toilet flooded, arguing with the insurance company, it flooding again, the tub backing up with the boys in it, and trying to get clothes washed, towels laundered (from cleaning up toilet overflow, kids re-bathed, groceries bought and put away, I was so done with my day.

So there I sat watching one of my favorite movies (Grosse Point Blank) playing computer games and mindlessly devouring an ENTIRE box of Junior Mints - that is medicating! Yikes. I thought I only at half the box until I picked it up to put back in the freezer and it was almost empty. Four left. I threw them in the garbage to punctuate how unnecessary they are for me to use for "medication". I was so startled. Not. It had been a busy, exhausting, and stressful day and instead of looking to the Lord for my comfort and peace, I found it temporarily in a box of candy and a movie. Not great for my lifestyle change. More like "same old, same old"!

I am not sure how to change the habits of the past except to hand them over to the Lord and trust Him with them. And the added bonus --- no calories are consumed in this process!

My amazing boys are really funny these days, sitting nicely for haircuts so they can have a cookie, playing with their Thomas the tank engine tent and finding out how much ceiling popcorn can fall on them when they set it up on the top bunk. They are doing better with potty training and cups without lids. My # 3 is now crawling and has cut his first tooth! Progress is happening. Growth is happening and soon, dinner needs to happen, so TTFN --- Ta Ta For Now (quoting Tigger from Winnie the Pooh)!
God bless each of you!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

So what's the plan...?

Do you know? I am not sure, but I have a few thoughts...
Right now I'm trying to sell my house, lose weight, get exercise, set up a family schedule/routine, be a good wife, and be a good mom. But not necessarily in that order. It has been said "Fail to plan, Plan to fail". When does that actually apply to all of the above? Yes, I can keep on the housework so I can show the house when someone wants to see it. Yes, I can plan to eat well and work out so my body reveals on the outside the work God is doing within me. Yes, I can schedule my day so my children and I can play, learn, and enjoy each other. Yes, I can make sure that I attend to the needs of my hubby and family. I keep trying to figure out what the top priority is and the fact is they are all top priority. So how do I plan that???? Ugh!

I made a trip to the Healing Rooms in Spokane a few weeks ago with all this on my mind. I just asked for prayer for focus and direction because I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. The prayers of total strangers can be really cool - since they don't really know you - often it feels like a direct Word from God.

So, this is what they said: Don't try to look at your life thru binoculars, take a step back and enjoy the big picture. That is what the Lord would have you focus on - enjoying all He has given you TODAY. Children, hubby, housework, friends, etc are all blessings. Look at them, be with them, do the tasks set before you, and walk.

We get so bogged down with what the plan is or what plan we need to make that we often forget to look into the eyes of our children, spouse, friends, and even enjoy the tasks that are a part of every day life.

So what's the plan? LIVE! Get out of bed, pray for wisdom and courage (that's what I need right now) to walk thru the day with my eyes on Jesus and the blessings He has provided for me. RIGHT NOW.

I am sure that some seasons of our lives require planning beyond just making notes on the calendar, but right now, in this season of my life, I am sure I am to focus on vast blessings (large and small) God has provided for me and walk. No need to run, unless I hear the boys in the bathroom and the water is running again...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Down but not out...

It has been a while since my last post. I have been battling one of the worst head colds I have ever had. A sinus and ear infection and bronchitis. Yuck! Thanks to my Supermom-Sallie, Nana, my friends Leslie and Laurinda and most of all my sweet hubby, I am back on the mend, finally! I still have a cough, runny nose and rough voice but I am back on track with my diet and exercise program.

I must admit I have been pretty discouraged about walking out the practical reality of changing my life patterns regarding food. It is pretty frustrating to discover how dependant I had become on something so basic to meet my needs instead of the most basic of all - the God who created me. It is hard to receive from the intangible God who can provide for all my needs beyond what I could ask for or imagine (Eph 3:20) and has in many ways already instead of tending to my own wants or needs myself.

We are a self-satisfying people. Satisfying the flesh over the Spirit. Being driven by our flesh - what makes sense to us at the time (which, let's face it, doesn't always work out very well) instead of what the Spirit of the living God inside us is saying about what lies ahead in His perfect plan. I am working on hearing His voice and determining when it is Him and not my own "wisdom" speaking. I admit, there is a lot of trial and error. Sometimes I really screw up in what I think I am hearing and I hurt myself or others and sometimes I hear clearly and directly and it is a blessing to me and to the people in my life. I believe that the closer I am to God and my relationship with Jesus the better I am able to hear from the Holy Spirit what God has for me.

Erik and I will have been married for 17 years this year. I know him. He knows me. But we still make mistakes in reading the other's needs. But, because of our relationship (most of the time :)) we can stay at peace with each other and give each other grace for misunderstandings. God does that for us too - perfectly and always. The deeper the relationship, the more understanding there is of the heart intention and the best desires for one another.

In relationship with Jesus there is my very favorite passage of scripture that talks about this: John 10 talks about the shepherd and the sheep. Sheep know the voice of their shepherd. I never understood the significance of this until someone told me that the sheep are all kept in one big area together at night. Then they are separated when their shepherd calls to them. They follow the voice of their own shepherd! The more time we spend with the Lord the more we know His voice. When He speaks to us, we can respond only to His voice and not to others who would lead us to the wrong flock.

All that to say - I am working on hearing only His voice. That means I have to filter out all the other voices around me so I can hear Him. I need to watch less TV and make sure that the input I receive from my friends and family is consistent with God's Word and where He is leading me.

May God pour out His grace upon you as you learn to hear His voice over all the others who want to distract you from the very best, most important relationship you will ever have - with your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Special friend remembered...

In my bio I made mention of losing a dear friend. It was 6 months ago last Saturday. I was deeply impacted by his life. The following are my thoughts and feelings about him. I praise God for the difference he made in my life and the things I am aware of now because of my relationship with him.

It has been six months since Jake Chissie died of an accidental overdose. My heart still aches for his laugh, his voice, and the smile on his face. I see his family still dealing with the trauma of his seemingly unfortunate departure.

But, here’s the deal. Jake was a mighty man of God. When I think of David’s mighty men in scripture I think Jake would have fit right in. He wasn’t perfect. He had major struggles and major pains. He had, hmmm, a heart like David. Always wanting to do right by the Lord and yet… mistake ridden in his performance.

Who, in your life, is a mighty man or woman of God? Are they falling all over the place, sinning and wounding you? Are they so wadded up in a ball of grief and despair that they have isolated themselves from life? God has a purpose for their presence on this planet in this time. They need to hear the Love of Jesus in your actions and not in your words or judgmental attitude.

Some people knew Jake as funny, athletic, and full of spunk. Others knew of his deep internal struggles and passionate faith in Jesus. He was a true hunk in every sense; strong, passionate, driven, deep in thoughts, and light in laughter. That is who he was. That is who God designed him to be. Did he fulfill his destiny? Absolutely. We will never know this side of Heaven the lives that were impacted by his life.

Only God knows each of our days. He knows the mistakes we will make before we make them. He knows the people in our life that will be there to celebrate with, to hurt, to laugh, to cry, to mourn, to sing right alongside us. Are you standing back or are you alongside someone who needs you? Are you trusting God with the people He put in your life and asking Him what your responsibility is in those relationships?

There are many men and women out there who are mighty in the Lord and do not realize the call on their lives and the incredible destiny that awaits them. Will you tell them? Will you encourage them to seek another’s help? Or will you ask God if you are to help them? Christ-followers and those who are still seeking both need to know about the never ending love of Christ. Both need to hear your encouragement, receive your prayers, and be blessed by the Body of Christ (the church). Judging them by only what you see or hear is not going to cause them to be embraced by the kind of Love that Christ has for us. He DIED. He loved so much He died. He calls us to die to ourselves and our understanding so we can freely pour out His love for the many out there who still don’t believe in the core of their being that they are priceless treasures in the eyes of God.

Jake was no different than the rest of us, except he was uniquely Jake. You and I have a destiny, unique to us. Will we walk toward God? Will we allow our struggles to dictate our response to life? Will we remember how important it is to laugh and bring joy to others? Will we really believe that we are mighty in the Lord – whether we can see through our present circumstances or not – to the destiny we have been called to in Christ.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

In the middle... actually more like the beginning of the middle...

You know how when you start something it is easy to be all fired up about it? Well, I am now past the fired up stage of my weight loss and starting to struggle with the "I still have so far to go!" feelings. Yes, I am doing more right than I am slacking still, but I am constantly fighting the desire to just bag it because even though I have lost 29inches and 26pounds I am still fat.

So, here is the deal, I don't want to stop. Not when I really think about it. I want to press on toward the prize of the new abundant life God has called me to. I want to go on the swings and slides at the park with my boys and dance and kayak with my husband. I want to wear a bathing suit without feeling self conscious and not be annoyed with looking at photos of myself. I want to allow God to work this process out in me. I could go one forever listing these things - but what is my real focus when I am staring down at the fridge contemplating something unhealthy?

Feelings.... feelings... naughty, tempting, feelings! Ugh! Feelings can really screw you up and they can be a big blessing. When it comes to food, my feelings still often dictate my choices. That has got to stop! I am not sure how to stop it other than the moment by moment choice to choose fact and long term goals over how I feel right this minute. Because, let's face it, a lot of feelings don't last longer than a few minutes or even an hour. So, if I can shift my focus for just that little bit of time... easier said than done! But, still working on it.

As a Star Trek fan I sometimes think of Data from the Next Generation show. He used to say "processing" when he was in the middle of figuring something out. I am "processing" a lot these days and probably more than I should be. I should be giving it to the Lord more. Then I would be less stressed.

A Prayer from the Beginning of the Middle:
Lord, thanks for getting me this far. Thanks for surrounding me with people who encourage and support me. Please help me lay the concerns I have at Your reliable, capable, wise feet and walk away and wait for Your further instructions... So, now I choose to release my flaws (as I see them) as a person, wife, mother, friend, and minister of the gospel of peace. I release my home to your hands to sell to whoever needs to live here next. The home we have an offer in on may not be your best for us, so please, take that too and let Your will be done. I release my concepts of what is to come in my life in the next few months and surrender my agenda to You. I want Your will, Your way, Your plans for me to be fulfilled in every way. Please help me have the courage to obey and not chicken out and settle for my own understanding. I trust You to get me to the end of this season. Whatever that may look like, whenever it will come. I love You, Lord. Amen.

God bless each of you for coming along on this journey with me!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Humility 101

So, this is about my need for humility. Brace yourself - this is never a fun subject to address, but it will be worth it in the end - just like anything else of value.

As I have been working hard to lose weight (some days harder than others) I have found myself struggling with my pride. You see, so much of my identity over the years has been in "spiritual counsel, insight, and prayer". My insecurity about my appearance and my choosing to focus on the gifting God gave me instead of the temple He gave me has thrown my life out of balance in many ways. As I am trying to come into balance God is revealing how much I have leaned on my identity in my gifts instead of on my identity in Christ.

A few days ago I wrote a particular timely note to a dear friend. I waited impatiently for a response to my note, admitting to myself it was to build myself up (when the response is thanks so much for that great word!) and not for God's glory alone. I prayed about it. I asked God to forgive me but still felt a rush when I was told the note was very special. So, even aware of my motives, even repenting in advance, I still, get this, failed to acknowledge God first when the person finally did respond. Nice, huh? I had to follow up the phone conversation with a text message mentioning that it was God's message for the person, not my own words.

I hope this is making sense. The punchline, I guess, is that all my motives are still questionable. Even when I know better. Even my motives to lose weight are being questioned by the Lord. Do I want the approval of man? or Do I seek the approval and blessing of God by choosing to walk in the healthy, full functioning life God created for me? Not that God's blessing is removed from me when I am not choosing to walk in obedience. I rob myself of walking in abundant life when I choose not to obey.

I need to be motivated by my love for God alone. Motivated to pursue Him above all other gods, like me (building myself up), the food I choose at times to love over His path for me at this time, and entertainment before pursuit of Him.

Lord, please forgive me for all the ways I pursue my own glory instead of Yours. You alone deserve glory, honor, and praise. All things must bow to You alone. I am vapor and dust without you. I beg again for Your mercy and grace to walk each day, submitted to Your will and seeking to bring You glory. In Jesus name, amen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Testing...testing...1,2,3...

"A crucible for silver, and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart." Proverbs 17:3 (NIV)

He doesn't test us to torture us. Just like how working out improves your strength, His testing increases our faith and trust in Him and challenges our motives.

Praise God that Jesus took the final test for us. He passed because there was no way we ever could. His real life blood dripped down that wooden cross for me so I would never have a doubt about His love for me. Yes, there are people here on earth we think deserve His love more than us - but that is not true. Ever. There are people in our lives that have affected our ability to believe in His love for us but that doesn't change the FACT that His love is not based on whether we believe in it or not.

The verse above has been floating in my head for weeks. I feel as if I am being tested. Not on a pass/fail basis, but on "Do you, Jennifer, trust Me or don't you?" The honest answer is "Sometimes". It seems so silly to question the trustworthiness of the Creator of the Universe doesn't it? Silly I am. Do I have the faith to change my current behaviors to pursue Him over my own comfortable habits? Am I motivated by my love for Him or by my need to be considered valuable? Again, silly... of course I love Him and I am valued. But do I feel that way? Not always. Does anyone? Only if they really believe and take to heart God's Word on who we really are to Him (see Eph 1).

I am having a hard time dying to my own understanding of what I need. Not that I actually know what my real need is... and like so many of us I need to believe Him and what He says about me.

Example: Today was rough. The kids were busy, unsettled and restless. They did not want to go to bed at nap time or bedtime. It was stressing me out. I became impatient and even yelled a few times. After over an hour battle at bedtime, instead of crashing in my own bed, I leaned on food. I had several "snacks" - not any of which were horribly unhealthy, but they certainly weren't included in my daily calorie allowance. I heard the Lord tell me I should just go to bed. I didn't. I just kept eating. I wanted to soothe myself instead of letting Him soothe me. I wanted my own choice of comfort rather than letting Him comfort me. I leaned on my own familiar sin instead of on my Savior and Friend. The testing that took place was "will you obey and trust Me to meet your need?" Not tonight. In my choice to go my own way I missed the chance to experience His best for me tonight.

Maybe tomorrow.

This road is hard. God is always good. I love the fact that we have a new chance every day to walk differently than the day before. Maybe tomorrow I will skip. Or take my own advice and dance! I'll let you know what happens...

Thanks for your prayers. I hope this makes sense. As always, I would love your feedback. My sweet littlest guy is stirring so I'd better go tend to him. God bless each of you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

At a loss...

I feel compelled to write about loss today. My current weight loss is 16lbs and almost 22inches. That is great. But there has been a lot more loss than I really want to admit. I have discovered how much pride is related to my weight. Weird huh? I want to be like all my thin friends who can eat whatever they want. After all, I'm not really "That" fat anyway... yeah, that has actually crossed my mind, a lot. Pathetic. I am. I am "that" fat. Sure some of it is genetics, and some is having 3 babies in 4 years, but I was overweight before the babies. I really just want to be like everyone else (whoever that is). OK, back to the pride thing. I pretend I am thin. I focus on other people's thin-ness and ignore my own fat-ness. Nice huh? Then it comes time to really look in the mirror, or buy new clothes, the illusion has to die. Grrrrr... humiliating to admit.

So, I am a fat woman in the process of becoming thin. I am not built to ever be skinny, but I believe that when I fully get a grip on what I really look like, and what changes I really need to make (which is happening), the process will become my passion instead of a challenge or something I have to defeat. Kill the fat, bury the lifestyle that will bury me, destroy the habit of using food for anything but fuel, and enjoy the pain of it. I know that sounds a bit nuts. But, pressing into the pain works well in a lot of situations - this is one of them.

Honestly, a few of my friends have caught me more than once in tears because I was hungry in the past few weeks. Not so much stomach growling hungry, just hungry for what I used to lean on for support and sustenance. This diet is working amazing for me physically, but so much of my eating issues are emotional and mental that it is pushing me to the limit and beyond what I think I can handle in my head. I am so thankful that I KNOW that God has called me to this season so I can't deny the timing - I just need to walk out the obedience of living a new way and trust the reward will be more than I could ever ask for or imagine.

I don't remember a time when I felt like I looked good. Sad huh? I look back at some old photos and think, gosh, I looked good back then, I wish I knew it! So, I press on, not knowing what I am aiming for, what I might look like when I get through this process, and trusting it will be good. And in moments when I am choosing to eat instead of have a shake, or a healthy snack, I know that I will choose - ultimately - God's will for me to die to this old thing that has run my head and body for way more years ( I think since the 4th grade) than I care to recall. However, something I am always saying to others is that "you are never late, God has, in His perfect plan, factored in your humanity (your mistakes), so you are never outside His plan when your heart is for Him". I wouldn't say that without a doubt that is theologically correct, but from my experience with the Lord, that is what I have felt He has shown me.

I know I will be walking this road for a while and part of killing my pride is admitting in this blog what is really rolling around in my head, what I am eating from time to time and staying in an attitude of worship because when I keep my eyes on Him and His desire for me (instead of my own selfish desires), I feel like I can really do this.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you that I matter that much to you. Thank you for your prayers as I walk in this new place - trying to learn how to show my love for the Lord in how I treat my body, the one He gave me for the rest of my life.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Onward and upward...

So, I just finished consuming a bratwurst. Yes, the whole thing, when my defenses were down from a day of "cleansing" and now I am going to go to bed polluted. Ugh! Well, here I am. Just me. Struggling with my sin of self-preservation instead of going to bed like the Lord told me to.

So, tomorrow is another day. Another start. Another chance to choose Him over me. One moment at a time. One day at a time. Keeping my feet in motion, one step at a time, eyes toward Heaven and the Author and Perfecter of my faith.

I am so glad my God is not as fickle as my flesh! What a mess my life would be.

Going to obey now and go to bed. Wish I had done it sooner. Heard a quote at church tonight that stuck with me (apparently not quite enough yet) "Repentance is sorry enough to quit."

Lord have mercy on me. Please save me from my self serving and self preserving ways!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Never a dull moment...

When I walked around the corner and saw my middle son drinking from the construction helmet his Nana bought him a few months ago I knew some sort of water hazard was in the making. Sure enough, the lake below the sink required my entire bath towel to clean it up.

The previous day it took 3 washcloths, 2 bath towels, and one rag to soak up the milk that had made it's way to the floor while my oldest was drinking from the carton. When I asked my husband if he had drunk from the carton in front of them he said no, so I must only conclude that somewhere in the male genetic makeup is the desire to drink milk from a gigantic jug.

My reflexes have improved over the past few years. I know from the above comments you might think I was in another room ignoring the antics of my little guys. Nope. I move from one room to the next in record time pretty consistently just for the above reasons. It is AMAZING what can happen in just a couple of minutes! When I am trying to choke down the anger I gaze into their innocent (or not) gaze and thank the Lord for the chance to be a mom. Today when I was yelling at my oldest because he had not picked up the 3 items I asked him to pick up easily 2 or 3 times already I caught a twinkle in his eye. For a split second I couldn't imagine why he was about to laugh. Then, taking that ever so important step back to imagine what he is seeing , I yelled "Am I yelling at you?" then I started laughing. He started laughing. We were both cracking up for a moment. Then he picked up the toys. I am sure he was laughing because it certainly wasn't possible his mom was so angry over just a few toys on the floor!

I am sure I left a mark on their psyche the other day when they were flinging books off their shelf and I went running in, fresh from the shower (don't hold that thought too long!) to remind them that if they made a mess they would be very late to the fun activity we were going to go do. O, that I would not take things so seriously! Sometimes I think I need to dial it down a few notches, then other amazing and creative disasters come along and I think "Nope, I'd better stay close on them so no permanent damage can be done.

I LOVE the activity. I even don't mind the disasters from time to time. I love having adventurous and exciting children. I just think I would be a better mom if I slept at night. I am not sure. I haven't had a chance to find out. When my youngest sleeps for 6 hours, my middle guy doesn't and then some nights everyone is up and I feel like a human pin ball in my own surreal machine.

Before my children arrived, life occasionally threw me a curve ball or two. It would cause me to make a few changes, jump to attention and get busy to do something new. Now, especially on my new diet, because I feel so much better physically, I am embracing all the craziness and trying not to lose my temper over spilt milk, water hazards, or toys on the floor. I am not entirely successful, but I am thrilled to report that we have more fun than drama. Praise God!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ahhhh Guilt…

I really didn't understand the power of guilt until I became a mom. Then everything I do or don't do can cause the feeling of guilt. Did I discipline correctly? Did I move the baby from the bassinet to the crib too soon? If they aren't sleeping at night and my friend's kids are, did I do something wrong or did they? Will anyone have a lasting scar from that choice I made to do the dishes instead of keep a promise to play Candyland?

Then there is another layer of guilt that comes with taking care of yourself as a mom. Will I really go insane if I don't get a break? Will they have lousy eating habits if they have fast food once a week or more? If I take the time to do what I want, what other important things will get put off?

All of these questions roll through my head fairly often. I have a wonderful husband who is an excellent father. He often reminds me that everyone will survive. Do I think I have too much power? Most days I feel like I don't have enough. Negociating with my boys for toy clean up and trips to the potty, when I am sure that most mothers out there just tell their kids to do something and they just do it.

The trouble with guilt is that the enemy (satan) has taken the truth of Holy Spirit conviction and added a twist. With the conviction that I did not follow through with my promise to play Candyland comes the awareness that I am setting the example of following through (or not) with commitments. The enemy's twist on that is my children will be heartbroken because I selfishly decided that they were not important enough to me to sit down for 15 minutes and play with them. On the surface, it seems ridiculous to believe the latter, and yet, often I am following that line of thought for a few minutes or even hours before I realize I have wasted time and energy on feeling guilty. Having asked the Lord to remind me if I am indulging in such ridiculous thoughts I have become more aware of responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, asking for forgiveness for my unwise choice (both to the Lord and my children - those are great teachable moments) and then moving on with life.

My current struggle that has had me in tears is weaning my youngest just before he is six months old. The guilt of not giving him all he needs of my milk, seperating myself from him that way so early, and forcing him to adjust to the bottle of stuff he acts like will kill him is breaking my heart. The truth of the matter is that I have been praying for years about my weight and what the Lord would have me do about it. He has finally answered my prayers and is providing for me the time, opportunity, and healthy products to take the step of breaking down a stronghold in my life that is easily 15 years old. I KNOW this is my time. He has clearly told me and confirmed it. SO - part of that process is weaning what will likely be my last child earlier than I ever would have thought. BUT, if the Creator of the universe can provide for me, surely He is well aware of the needs of my children! I must trust Him to meet their needs in spite of my failings as a mom anyway, why not in the area of weaning too?

I also took another major change a little hard last night. I started back on the birth control pill. For some of you that would not be a big deal. However, I have not taken the pill since December of 1992. Since that time I have spent years trying to have babies and trying to have some sort of normal cycle. My whole world has been about having babies. Now I have 3 and it is time to move on. Again, I know it is the Lord calling me to make the change-even going back on the pill (He knows I can't handle a permanent solution at the moment)-and focus on what is next - becoming an energetic, healthy, fit woman who is a mother of 3 sons, wife of my beloved husband and minister of the Gospel. I can't completely explain what this transition will be like - I don't dread it. I am just very aware that the many changes my Lord is calling me to is for His glory and for the benefit of my family.

So, as usual, please keep me in your prayers and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I am thankful for your time in joining me along this journey.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Challenges and Changes...

Well, I have sucessfully managed to survive the first few days of my "diet". My children are happy and doing well and so is my husband. Only by the grace of God and this amazing product He led me to. If you want to know more about the business I started and what I am taking you are welcome to ask via e-mail. I just don't want this to be an advertizement. This is about my process.

The Lord has shown me in the past few days how habitually I go to food for just about everything. Exhaustion, reward, friendship, etc. He has also shown me that my being overweight is incredibly selfish. My lack of energy, my lack of fitness, my overall emotional and mental outlook are overwhelmingly affected by my weight. Not to mention my family. My husband adores me but I know he would love it if I was more confident in my self and how I look and he would love it if I was smaller to do more stuff with him. I know my boys would love to have me run and play with them more. Even though I know they aren't aware of anything different - I am.

Everytime I have been hungry ( I am still finishing up nursing my youngest) and everytime I have wanted to reach for a snack I have asked the Lord to remind me of His provision for all my needs. Not just for food, but for the things I get from food that aren't nutritionally related. I am so thankful for a God of grace who never changes and can see the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning.

He is so good to let me walk through breaking down the walls of self protection and self preservation with food. He is revealing how much damage was done when I was in a relationship over 18 years ago that was all about " you'd look better if..." and a childhood friend that kept trying to make me into her. UGH! It is amazing how big some of this baggage is and yet it is even more amazing how much BIGGER our God is. I used to have the feeling that every bit of healing God does is intense, painful, and exposing my sin is critical. That is not true. God can heal without any twisting or turning of my guts, He can heal wether I am paying attention to my wounds or not. He can heal when I sleep and when I am awake. There are never any limitations on Him other than the ones I try to pin on Him and fail to see the work He is doing in my life.

Dear friends, I have been on this diet for 3 days and though I have lost just over 7 pounds, I feel like I have gained so much more. Besides the time I am spending on the treadmill reading the Word and building up my physical body, I am learning how to walk more and more in the power and strength God has already placed in me instead of using food as my source. The vitamins and whole foods that make up the stuff I am taking is infusing me with the health God created me for and He is infusing me with the faith to walk out the life He created for me. In response, I am often in a state of worship in my spirit, knowing He is restoring me in every way. I am repenting for my sins of seeking my own self sustenance and pride of spiritual over-focus while my temple is in ruins.

Our pastor said that it is often our greatest weakness God uses for His greatest good work in us and for others. I am wondering what God will use my weakness in this area for... no doubt for His own Glory!!
Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The journey begins today...

Today I am starting a major life change and knew I would never make it if I didn't journal it where others could walk through it with me. My writing is my expression and it gets pretty real. So don't say I didn't warn you!

Today I started a weight loss plan and a new business. I am convinced that this is God's timing to deal with an issue (my weight and food in general) in my life that is an old friend, comfort, and reward. I have been cranky, but I am not sure if it is the lack of calories or the lack of dependence on the familiar. Probably both. My close friends are cheering me on, my husband is waiting to see results before he gets too excited, and I know that my God is looking on with delight at my submission to His current plan for me.

I will post some entries from my journal today as well. I am trying to focus on life as an adventure and not as a crisis to be managed. Let's face it, sometimes there is a crisis to be managed, hopefully not daily, but sometimes, like in my raising 3 little busy boys, crisis is a mindset that can easily make you feel victimized by your circumstances instead of laughing at the antics of your little people.

So, off with the victim mentality that makes me feel hopeless and helpless and on with the power of a living God breathing life, humor, and hopefully providing an extra large package of wipes to clean up the messes my little guys create.

Who am I?

My photo
I am a wife and mother of 3. I have been married to my best friend for over 25 years and our children are 12, 11 and 9 years old. I have struggled with infertility, suffered the loss of a baby by miscarriage, and endured multiple career paths. I have experienced a crisis of faith that shook me to the core and lost a dear friend to a tragic death. I have had a personal relationship with Jesus for most of my life. The Bible and my relationship with Christ has been essential to my surviving and even thriving in my circumstances. I hope you will be blessed by joining me in this process of life. I thank you for showing up to read what I have written.