Friday, December 21, 2012

Introducing Little Miss Abigail Paige


 It has been brought to my attention that when I became a granny this past summer, I excitedly hopped on my keyboard and blogged the exciting news; but when my second grandbaby was born in October, I didn’t blog about it. In fact, I haven’t blogged since just before she was born. It’s not that it hasn’t been on my mind, it’s just that instead of writing, I have been spending the last 2 months holding that sweet one. She lives only 4 blocks from me and I get the pleasure of seeing her almost daily.

So, without further ado, (and since she is out of town visiting her other grandma and I cannot cuddle her this week) let me introduce you to Little Miss Abigail Paige. Isn’t she just adorable? I sure think so! I am so blessed to have 2 little granddaughters and I truly love love love being with them.

 
Being a grandma has colored my view of life in a new way. Carseats are even more important to me now. Comforting them when they cry seems more urgent somehow with these little ones than it was with my own. I can get to worrying about my Grands and their lives ahead and the dangers that I am sure lurk in the shadows. A grandma can go straight out of her mind envisioning such things! How will these babies make it through life with so much that can go wrong?

The only way a granny can stay sane is with prayer. Prayer has become a lifeline to me. Not that it wasn’t important before, I just feel the importance more now. Prayer is a gift I can give my little ones. The best gift I can give them. A double gift, really. God’s protection and guidance on their lives, and a sane granny as well!

I pray that Hailey and Abi will accept Christ’s gift of salvation at a young age. That they will have hearts that love and follow God. That God will give them strength to stand strong and not blend in with the world. That God will use them as lights in their generation. I pray for their parents, too. That God will give them wisdom and that they would be drawn into deeper relationship with Him as they parent these girls. May God richly bless their lives through their children!
I'd love to hear from you.....What weighs on your heart for your family, what do you pray for  them?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is Praying For Safety a Good Thing?


It was 5:30 a.m. and with coffee and chocolate muffin in tow I was driving to a doctor appointment. I tuned into KLOVE and settled in for the two hour drive on that early January morning.

 My husband reclined back for a little nap which worked perfectly because I began to talk to God- silently, but I can’t help moving my lips when I pray. With him sleeping, I felt freedom to talk to God without fear of being declared insane.

I love time with just me and God. No distractions except for a few deer and occasional bright headlights from oncoming cars. I babbled on and on to Him, whatever came to mind, I talked it about to my Father.

I prayed for my children- for safety and blessings… for a family who recently lost their mom…for safety as I drove…and I praised Him for the lack of fog that morning.

My prayer came to a halt. God seemed to say “Is that all you have faith to thank Me for? No fog? Is driving safely to an appointment the most weighty matter on your mind? Is the safety of your kids all you really want for them? Don’t you want more? Trust Me for more.”

Humbled, my answer was of course “Yes.” How easy it is to get pulled into “safe” mode, as if God’s goal for us is to live in safety until we die. In David Platt’s book “Radical” he poses a very pointed question. “What if being in the center of God’s will is the most unsafe place to be?” In his book “In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day” Mark Batterson makes the statement, “Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.”

God doesn’t call us to be safe, or happy, He calls us to give up our lives, pick up our cross and look up to the example in Christ and follow Him. Is it wrong to pray for safety? Absolutely not. But when the desire for safety overshadows the desire for God to refine us, to draw our hearts to Him no matter what it takes, then safety becomes an idol.

Would I truly rather live a safe, happy, all-American life with good friends and enough to satisfy, or would I rather give up, pick up and look up and enjoy a relationship with the Savior… even if that involves some hardship?

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

Father, may you direct my heart to seek Your kingdom first and to place my safety in your hands, knowing that you are out for my good and growth.

What are your thoughts on this? I'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I am so excited to share these giveaways with you!

Sheila Wray Gregorie is a fun and knowledgeable author and speaker and she has just published another book....this one is on sex! The Good Girl's Guide To Great Sex (and you thought bad girls have all the fun)."



Courtney over at Women Living Well is giving away 1 of these books. Hop on over to her blog for details.

You can check out Sheila's website as well. Be sure to note the title of her site - makes me laugh every time - I love it!

Darlene Schacht is giving away 3 of her books as well. The Good Wife's Guide encourages us to joyfully serve our families. I know I can use encouragement to serve joyfully. Especially on "those" days! You can find the details here. It's available in e-book form too!


These giveaways are part of the Revive Your Marriage Series. Check the series out, it's a great encouragement for us married girls no matter the years under your belt be it 6 months or 60 years. We all can benefit from fresh perspective in our relationship with our own Prince Charming. All too often the fairy tale turns real life and we lose the heart to be a helper to the one we pledged our heart to.


Check these out and get some good fall reading to snuggle up with as the weather turns chilly!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thirty-Something


The last little bit of warm weather is lingering, and I wanted to know how many more days I had to drive Barbie (my convertible) with the top down, so I hopped on the internet to check the weather. An ad caught my eye.  You know the kind.  There on the right-hand side of the screen.  They flash, wiggle and nearly beg for your attention.  I am usually annoyed by them, but this time the attention getting method worked on me.  “Senior Singles”  the banner read.  “Find your perfect mate”.  I’m not looking for the perfect mate, I’ve got mine, but I noticed the faces of these “senior singles”…they sure looked younger than seniors… and their ages….. This has to be a typo… 42..43..46!  Seniors?!  So much for checking the weather, my mind was on to other issues. 

Since when is 40 considered senior?  When did this happen?  How can this be? Who gets to decide when a person enters senior-hood? The fact that this bothered me so much…bothered me. Why did I care? Age is only a number. Right? Ok, so I’ll choose my number. I will stay thirty-something.

In one stroke of the minute hand, I went from “thirty-something” to forty. Just one day on the calendar shoved me into the next age group. I don’t want to be rude to all you in your 40’s, this has nothing to do with you personally, its just that 40 sounds so much… well, older than 30-something. And so, I decided to stay in my thirties. I understand, this does make shopping for a birthday card for me somewhat difficult – this year you will need to find one that says “Happy 30-fourteenth”. 30-fourteenth. It’s still thirty-something, even if it is thirty-a-lot-of-something.

Age is such a touchy subject for some of us. They say never ask a woman her age and I’m coming to agree with that. There was a time when I did not mind being approached with that question, feeling young and unafraid of age. I even readily supplied an answer with honesty.

But, alas, the years have come and gone and left in their trail enough evidence that the same question now is not so welcomed. We can fight age, deny it, slather firming cream on it, wear longer sleeves, longer shorts, tuck, pinch and suck it in, but the truth is, we all age. It’s inevitable. And it is not all bad. There is blessing in the aging. Knowledge comes with age (even if we don’t clearly admit what that age may be.) My growth came something like this:

At 18 I thought I knew everything and definitely more than my parents or any other adult for that matter. I had the firm belief that “I we can do whatever I want, I’m 18.”

At 21 I was wise enough to realize that I knew nothing at 18, but still foolish enough to think that now, I knew everything.

At 25 I was ready to admit that I did not know everything at 21. Ah-ha! 25 was the age of knowledge.

At 30…Wow! What was I thinking, I didn’t know anything at 25, how foolish to think I did. 30 is the age of enlightenment. Feeling very smug and full of knowledge I let people know of the genius in their presence.

By 35 I had come to realize that just when I felt I knew everything, the reality was that I knew nothing, there was still so much to learn in life. This would be a continuous cycle. So much more exciting than achieving know-it-all status and coasting from there. There is always something new to learn. My Grandma Ready once told me that you can learn something new each day. She is right. It is a challenge to open my eyes, smell the coffee and look for what each day presents and learn from it.

No matter how clever I get and how hard I try to avoid it, I am aging. In the past few years, God has been leading me to a new-found maturity in my heart –no, I do not know it all now- but He has been showing me the petty, shallow things I’ve searched after and is bringing me to a quiet peace and security in Him and life. I'll take this instead of youthfulness. Aging has its benefits. Who knows, maybe soon I won’t even mind giving up that “thirty-something” charade, but give me a little more time, He is not finished with me yet.
 
How have you grown through aging? I'd love to hear your story! Leave a comment for my birthday! 
 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On The Tip of My Tongue


Yesterday while doing some cleaning with a few kids at the youth center where I work, one in particular kept stopping work (my pet peeve) to ask questions totally unrelated to the work we were doing. Then, to top it off,  two of his cousins came in needing change. These boys know they are not supposed to be in the building unless they are working when it is not open. Irritated at being interrupted once again, I spoke the first words that came to mind. I told the boys (without asking what they wanted) they could not be in there, we were not open, and we need to finish our work. Period. Now, I did not yell, but my tone was not kind and I should have stopped to ask what the situation was. (His grandma wanted to give him some money for food and games for the rest of the evening.) And I could have communicated the same thing in a kinder way than speaking through my irritation. 

Funny thing is, when someone else communicates in that way, I immediately notice. And I think to myself “I wonder if they know what they sound like…. They should say that in a kinder way… with more grace…” and then I go on about my life assuming that I don’t sound like that. But I do sound like that. At least at times I do. Probably more that I want to admit. I just don’t listen to myself; I’m too busy listening to my rationalizations on why it’s acceptable for me to speak that way to one of God’s creations. Not nearly enough thought goes into what I say and how I say it.

A sizeable amount of thought, however, does go into what I wear everyday.  Comfort, weather, the day’s activities ahead, my mood, whether it’s a “fat” day or not (you know what I mean, girls!)…all these things play into what I choose to put on each morning. It’s something I go through daily. And sometimes I get all ready for the day and I’m just not feeling the red striped top I chose so it begins all over again. As if the success of my day depends on my clothing jiving with my mood. (Well, ok, it does make a difference just like my coffee mug coordinating with my look for the day (I’ll have to fill you in on that oddity about myself later, but not one of big importance.)

So, as I was going through my morning routine of thinking through the more important points of what to wear today, it dawned on me, what if I put this much effort and thought into what I speak each day? What if I thought through the day’s activities ahead, the people I would encounter, my mood (which can easily throw me off), the “weather” with those around me and planned to put on a heart attitude that would help me to beautifully speak into each situation and life as would please God? What if? Then I would be a perfectly coordinated woman. Coordinated with Proverbs.

What I wear really has no effect on those around me, but what I say, how I communicate can make or break their day. It can affect their heart in strong ways. What I say has the power of life and death. It’s that serious. If I wear an outfit that just doesn’t “feel” right that day, there is no lasting affect. It doesn’t matter. On an eternal scale, it doesn’t even show up. But what I wear on my tongue, what comes out of my mouth, has affects I may not even realize this side of Heaven. On an eternal scale the weight is huge. Mega. Colossal. 

Proverbs 12:18
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 18:21
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 16:21
The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.

Proverbs 16:24
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 10:20
The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value.

Proverbs 15:4
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 31:26
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Lord, may my words be gracious and faithful, may they bring healing and promote instruction. May my speech be a soothing tree of life to those around me, soothing their souls and healing their hearts. Bring to my mind each day the power I have right on the tip of my tongue and guide me to be pleasing to you in how I use it to minister to those you place in my midst.

 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On Being a Grandma


I would like to introduce you to Little Miss Hailey Ann. Don't you think she is just adorable? I sure do! This little precious one is my first grandchild and I am so looking forward to having a part in her life.  All the thoughts and feelings that come with a new baby seem somehow exaggerated as a grandma.  I now realize even more than I even felt as a mom what is involved in raising a child.
Hailey was 3 weeks old before we were able to travel to see her and so as I sat in church after she was born my eyes were glued to Presley, an adorable 8 month old little peanut who sat on my lap. That’s how this Grammy got her baby-fix for the day. Presley’s little eyes just drink in all that is going on around her. Her head bobs and turns as she tries not to miss a thing in her surroundings. She pauses to intently study each person and action she sees.

As I watch her I am reminded of a song we sung in Children’s Church years ago. “Oh be careful little eyes what you see….” This little tune carries so much truth. What little eyes see, they soak in. It shapes how they will see life. It shapes their thought processes and views. And it begins early.

A few months ago my MIL (Mom-in-law) gave me a book titled “A Car Seat in My Convertible?” (A book I have yet to finish – each time I begin to read, tears come to my eyes because I so badly want to be a godly grandma!) Inside the cover the author, Sharon Hoffman, had written a note to me. “I pray blessings for you and the godly impact your life will bring in the hearts of your little ones.” That’s the kind of grandma I want to be.

As I step into this role of Grandma to Hailey Ann and Little One (due October 16th I can hardly wait!) I know I must be prepared to be a godly influence in their lives.  I can think of no better way to prepare than to focus my own eyes on the Savior and drink in the surroundings.

Psalm 121:1
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?


Psalm 123:1
I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Forgiven Much



I do not have one of those super-cool, tear-jerker, emotional testimonies. Mine is rather… well, boring. I came to Christ at the age of 6. No “big” sin to turn from. No dramatic change, just a young heart answering God’s call on a cold wintry night.
I have always rather envied those with exciting, dramatic stories of leaving a life of sin and clinging to the hope of a Risen Savior. They love Him much, you can see it in their teary eyes as they share their story. According to Matthew 7:27, they love much because they have been forgiven much.

Does this mean that I have no hope of loving God much? Does it mean I will never know the passion that intense love brings? Sadly, this is what I assumed for years. I believed that that kind of love was just something I would never have.
But as I reflect on sin and forgiveness and more specifically my own sin and need of forgiveness, I realize it is really not about the amount or depth of sin but more of a matter of understanding how filthy our sin really is. Just one little “white lie” is dark enough to separate me from the God of the Universe for all eternity. Sin is sin and no matter the amount, it leaves us in a condition of hopelessness.

Do I realize just how priceless God’s forgiveness is? Do I realize the depth to which I do not deserve it? Do I realize the extent that I deserve hell? Do I realize how my sin is a direct affront to God?  Wrapping my mind around this truth can only leave me in one posture. On my knees. Loving Him, praising Him, thanking Him. This love is in direct proportion to the amount we feel indebted to Christ. It doesn’t come from the amount of sin forgiven, but the knowledge of the ramifications of that sin.
He did not leave me as I was- a sinner in need of a Savior. Christ, my Knight in Shining Armor, rescued me by taking the blame, the shame, the pain for me. I am a sinner saved by grace, left with a heart of gratitude. What a blissful place to be. Loving my Lord, the Savior of my soul.


Monday, April 9, 2012

The Inspiration

The tune streaming from the radio station sent me into an 80’s flashback. Blending in perfect harmony, the lyrics took on a different meaning for me than when I was 15, wearing neon and sporting a poodle perm.

"You should know everywhere I go
You're always on my mind, in my heart, in my soul.
You're the meaning in my life, You're the inspiration.
You bring feeling to my lkife, You're the inspiration.
I wanna have You near me, I wanna have You hear me sayin'
No one needs You more than I need You.
When you love somebody, through the end of time,
When you love somebody, always on my mind...."
(“You’re the Inspiration”  sung by the band “Chicago” in 1984)

As my hands gripped the steering wheel at 10 and 2, my heart soared with the lyrics. “YOU are the meaning in my life – without YOU, there is no meaning, this life would be nothing….YOU are the inspiration that keeps me loving others…..I want to have YOU near me, I need YOU, Lord. May YOU always be on my mind and praise to YOU always be on my lips. This world calls my heart to love things, to love self, to love life here and now, but YOU call my heart to so much more, to a love divine and true and through the end of time.”

Psalm 73:25-26
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.


Psalm 63:1-5
You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
 Psalm 42:1-2
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?


Psalm 139:17-18
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.


Psalm 119:20,47,97,131
My soul is consumed with longing
for your laws at all times.

for I delight in your commands
because I love them.

Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.

I open my mouth and pant,
longing for your commands.


Psalm 77:12
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”



My prayer for you and me today is this: "Lord, don't let our hearts be distracted by things and desires, only let me be fulfilled with YOU."


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A New Look!

Hey! I'm glad you stopped by! I hope you enjoy the fresh look, it was time for a makeover! I am HTML illiterate and oh so trying to learn, so please bear with me as I continue to finish working on the new look of things around here! Have a look around, read some posts, leave a comment (I absolutely love hearing from you!) and I hope to see you again!

Blessings,
Sharon

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

More Growing

Contentedness:

I can be content with what I should eat and not feel deprived because I “can’t” have everything my eye beholds as delicious. (Like a scotch-a-roo… or a Strawberry Cheesequake Blizzard…or chocolate cake with cool whip frosting...) Attitude is everything. I can choose to view it as “I can’t” or “I can”.

Contented, as in the state of being satisfied with what I have and not desiring more. It doesn’t come naturally; it is a learned trait. And it flows into all areas of my life. This was a great refresher course to re-learn to be content with what I have been given. And it goes hand in hand with thankfulness. Contentedness is a heart condition. It’s difficult to praise God when my heart is occupied with wanting more. (Philippians 4:11, Hebrews 13:5)

Self Denial:

In the first week of our diet, we hosted a birthday party for a friend. There was a lot of talk, laughter… and of course food.  I was dying to have some cheesy hash brown hot dish or some ice cream cake. An intense inner battle was raging as I kept up cheerful conversation. I chose not to indulge - it took a lot of self-coaching, but I did it. I could have cheated on my diet for one evening, sure. It wouldn’t have ended it all. But the character I gained is more valuable than an entire ice cream cake. This view point, of course, came only after the party was over, everyone had left, and I had time to reflect.

Self denial. These two words bring a certain connotation with them. Work. Effort. No fun. Strong’s defines “deny” as “to deny utterly, disown, abstain.” Kind of sounds depressing, like a kill-joy. That’s not it at all. When I received Christ, my old self died. I am not a slave to sin. I don’t have to give in to my sinful desires which lead to death. I am free. But it’s not that easy. I have a responsibility in this. Following Christ includes living for Him, not for me. As I look forward to the blessed hope in Christ who redeemed me from all iniquity, my part is to say “no” to ungodliness, to not even think how to gratify any desires that do not honor God. Abstaining from anything that leads to ungodliness, which, by the way, also keeps me from harmful consequences. God is protecting me in this; it’s not a burden to bear, it is a benefit to enjoy. (Titus 2:12-14, Mark 8:34, Romans 6:6, Romans 13:14)

The Need for Water:

Allowing water to feed my body, letting the fluid nurture me is new. I am accustomed to using food to fill that feeling. Chocolate…fruit…candy…pop…chocolate milk… I get caught up in how yummy food is and forget what my body really needs and the true goal of eating. To allow my body’s need for water to be fulfilled feels clean…my innards (I love that word by the way- it’s so goofy sounding…innards.) feel free and uncluttered.  

This is like letting God’s word fill my soul. Not allowing media like books, TV, movies, music, You Tube, Facebook, Pinterest, (I could go on, but you get the point) to fill the space. It’s so free and uncluttered, so pure. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with media. Too often, it just gets in the way and leaves no space for time with God or mental clarity to focus on things of eternal value. I get all wrapped up in the fun and forget the real reason I’m here. When I’m filled with things of this world, I will feel no need for things of God. God says I will be blessed and satisfied if I hunger and thirst for righteousness. My heart will flow with rivers of living water when I allow my thirst to be quenched by Him. Isn’t that what we are all looking for to begin with? Not letting anything in life quench my thirst except the Living Water will bring the fullness to life I’m searching for. (Matthew 5:6, John 7:37-38)

Attachment to food-

It is true that nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.  On my birthday, in the middle of this diet, I decided I could have brownies and ice cream. When I took a bite, I felt disappointment that the moment was not accompanied by lights and music. It was not the ah-ha moment I had anticipated. Could it be that my attachment to food was gone? My taste buds had moved on to other more healthier preferences. Now that calls for lights and music.

Just as this diet re-directed my eating habits, the kind of things I treasure in my heart can be re-directed as well. I can choose to treasure things of this life, things that perish, or treasure eternal things that endure. Planning is a prerequisite for this. If I don’t plan where my treasure will be, my heart will naturally gravitate to the pleasures of the here and now and miss the there and then. (John 6:27, Matthew 6:19-21)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Building Strengths

(Continued from last week. See below to read part 1.)

While following this strict (and I mean strict in the strictest form of the word) diet regime, I was reminded of the good eating habits I once had.  It is a very freeing feeling. Some foods I like had gotten lost in the sea of junk food. Take rice cakes for instance. I actually like them. They have lots of munchiness packed into a handy and tasty little low calorie treat. I hadn’t eaten one in years. And veggies. Veggies rock. They are delicious and nutritious. But when was the last time I had reached past the Doritos for the relish tray?

A Snickers bar used to be too much for me to handle and I would take two or even three days to nibble my way through it. I would eat a portion of it, then tuck it away in my chocolate stash to be finished another day. I used to pour out the last half of a can of pop because my stomach just couldn’t handle the whole thing. Seconds at dinner was not even a thought. 

So when exactly did I change? Since when am I able to handle not only a candy bar but also a pop in the same day? When did I start loading my plate with seconds? When did I give up the ice cream once a week rule and head to Dairy Queen whenever I feel like it (which is often)?  When did I start eating junk whenever I am with someone else who is?

At first, I want to say “Never mind when you started this bad habit stuff, lets get it changed now.” But one must look where they have been to more carefully plan where they are going. By looking back and evaluating the mistakes and bad decisions, we can avoid the same blunders in the journey ahead. Gradually, little by little and nibble by nibble I have let my guard down. Living by desires instead of wisdom has been my downfall.

 As I begin the journey of this new year, the things I gained while losing on this diet give me a renewed sense of direction and inner growth to build upon.  Strengths that can be applied to my walk in daily life. Yes, it is important to be healthy, but it is even more important to walk worthy of the calling we have received. Though each strength was learned from a health point of view, the lessons do not stop there, their true value is eternal.  This is good, since I sometimes need reminded of the goal of my life - to please and glorify God.

I will share a few:

Self Discipline:

The sheer discipline required to hang in there on this diet has produced an inner strength in me. Immediate gratification does not have the hold on me that it had pre-diet.

The grace of God, growing self-discipline in me, teaches me to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. Adding this quality to my faith will keep me from becoming ineffective and unfruitful in my walk and can help me prepare my mind for action so I am ready for the spiritual war waging around me. (Titus 2:11-13, 2 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 5:8)

Patience:

5 homeopathic drops 5 times a day with nothing to eat or drink for 15 min before or after….. When was the last time I purposely went 30 minutes without putting something in my mouth? The first few days this 30 minutes seemed so long, I actually needed a timer!

Patience doesn’t come naturally to me, or to most of us for that matter. It is so difficult to wait for what we want, to kindly wait for others, to slow down and wait for the Lord’s timing. An essential element of faith is learning to wait on God’s timing, not my own. As we put off the old self, patience is part of putting on the new self. God calls us to be patient with others as well as patient for His coming. (Colossians 3:9-12, James 5:7-8)

Endurance:

For the first couple of weeks, the calories are restricted to a bare minimum. As my stomach and body learn to adjust, I must endure hunger pangs, especially the first few days….. I have to pull myself into an inner strength and quietness to make it. I can feel the character building here.

Endurance is among the list of things we are to pursue, to seek to build in our lives. It is the ability to keep going even when the going seems monotonous or difficult. Where we get the inspiration to endure is key; it is to be inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. In this life we will have trials. Those trials come from many sources; endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures will give us the hope we need to make it through. (1 Timothy 6:11, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, Romans 5:14)

Appreciation for food:

When calories are far and few between, each bite is savored…enjoyed…truly appreciated. I eat slower. I fully taste each morsel and sense each texture. I do not overeat in my gusto to get more. I am thankful for the food. When was the last time we Americans living in the land of plenty were truly thankful for our food?  It’s a good feeling.

Too often, I forget to slow down and just be thankful. Thankful for a Savior. Thankful for His love. Thankful that He chose to reach down for me. Thankful my debt has been stamped “Paid in Full”. Thankful for each and every blessing. We are told to continue to live in Him, and end up overflowing with thankfulness. Overflowing with thankfulness. I’m not sure anyone would describe me with those words, but that is what I am called to be. Overflowing. That’s a lot of thankfulness. But but if I never stop to reflect on who God is and what He has done and worship Him, there is no way I will overflow with thankfulness. This brings so much of life into perspective. There is so much room to grow here. (Colossians 2:6-7, Hebrews 12:28)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Growing Through Losing

Ugh! I had noticed a few extra pounds. You know what I’m talking about… Baggage that left no bag in my jeans. Clearly, my eating habits had changed. I used to mentally gauge my food choices. I only ate when I was hungry and chose wisely. I employed the give and take principle. A balance between calories, flavor, serving size and cravings. Somehow, this morphed into eating what I wanted when I wanted – which was a lot and often.

Case in point: Jeff and I were out and about running errands and picked up donuts and strawberries for our lunch. Next we headed get some coffee to go with them. On the way, I wrestled with myself. Just get a black coffee, it will balance the calories in the donuts…but I really want an iced coffee… they’re so good… but black coffee has no calories and will be good with donuts… but the iced coffee is so good…you’re already eating a ton of calories and fat…black coffee it is…end of discussion.

Still wavering as we approached the cashier, I changed my mind to milk, arguing with myself that it would provide some protein and fill me, rationalizing that I would then consume less donuts. Ok, I would order milk, then when I heard Jeff order a Frappe, the “me, me, me” piped up…But what I really really want is a vanilla iced coffee…

I returned to the car carrying a milk…and an iced coffee. And once again I had given in to desires and ended up with too many calories. (By the way, my idea that I would eat less donuts with the milk proved a theory…I gobbled 3 donuts, strawberries, the milk and the iced coffee…It did not amount to less in any way.)

Enter the diet. As in THE diet. Let’s admit it, no one truly enjoys diets. No one is really eager to start a diet. Until you come across someone for whom a diet has truly worked. Then you pick their brain and get website info. And so it was for us as we visited with some friends who were staying in our home this past June. 

Suddenly my husband, Mr. Anti-Diet himself, was encouraging, even pushing me to learn more about the diet so I could put him on it. Shocking, I know, if you know him at all. I didn’t even know that the word diet was in his vocabulary. Hostess Ho-Ho’s and Coke Cola, yes, but diet? It seemed so strange. But alas, he had decided it was time to make some changes. (Apparently he had noticed some extra baggage on himself as well.)

Dragging my feet at first, I reluctantly researched this diet of diets and pressed “confirm order” on the website.  I’m not really the diet sort of person, instead, I strongly believe in moderation. “Moderation in all things” could be my life motto for eating. And when I say all things, I mean all…. As in cheesecake, brownies, ice cream…. Nothing is off limits, just consumed in moderation.  I have done ok with this method for years, except for the times I have thrown moderation out the window and adopted the “eat whatever I feel like” plan (as of late), which has brought on this nice package of excess I’ve been carrying around with me.

This new diet is strict. Instead of being Miss Moderate, I have to be Miss Extreme. I’ve got to be tough. It’s trying me. I can’t make any excuses or rationalize. There is no room for situational ethics of the munching kind. Not even the famous “just one little bite of brownie won’t hurt…”  It is working, though. And it is working in places that have been difficult to lose it before (Girls, you know what I’m talking about.) Despite the difficulty, it is worth it.

The same principle applies to my faith walk. This is how we should live our lives as followers of Christ. Excuses don’t cut it. Rationalizing doesn’t hold up. Situational ethics just doesn’t fit. He doesn’t want wimpy moderation-ists. He wants extremists. Followers who are done with excuses. Who will give up the triple latte comfy life to fully obey and follow no matter the discomfort. Being a follower of Christ requires us to follow instead of sitting on the sidelines eating donuts and wearing WWJD bracelets.

This has been good for my walk. Just like my eating habits, I tend to give myself an inch and take a mile where my walk is concerned. I get lazy, I rationalize, or make excuses where I know I shouldn’t. I replace the goal of pleasing God with pleasing self. I know that living for self gets me where I do not want to be, but still I give in to indulgence. Getting back on track, radically following my Savior feels good because I know its right. Its what I was made for.

More on this next week…..