The Battle of the Bulge

I am once again in a very familiar place in my life...a bit heavier than I'd like and than I should be so I am jumping back in to the weight loss mode. Today has not been good since we had a birthday in the office and everyone brought in something yummy to eat and you know you've got to try a little bit of everything....oh, mercy, I have got to show more will power than this. My goals are realistic and within reach so I don't have any grand plan to lose a ton of weight and suddenly become a vegetarian or something. I want to lose 25 pounds, fit back into my favorite jeans and gain my strength and energy back. I am getting in the exercise but now I've got to get my eating habits cleaned up. Why does it get harder as we get older? It is so easy to gain weight, and so much harder to lose it. I hear in the back of my mind and in the forefront of my heart that my body is the temple of the Lord---so I know I should care for it in a way that enables me to be the best I can for His purpose for my life. I am setting a short term goal for myself to lose 25 pounds by the Barbados mission trip in October. I have done it before, I can do it again. I know what I need to do, so now I just need to do it. There are so many reasons surrounding me to do this. Talking to Mom last night we agreed it is just one of those things we get lazy, and then we realize for the sake of our long term health we must choose to make these changes in our lives. The battle rages on.....

How's your heart?

How's your heart? You know, the condition of your inner being? Are you daily absorbing the Word of God, pouring your hurts and joys out to the Father and listening to Him speak to you? Or, have you become numb, uninterested, desensitized? Sin can do that, or what we would label "the current condition of our society". So many of us have excuses, and typically it is our schedules, our commitments to all these things and it is just what we feel we need to be doing whether out of obligation or because "nobody else will do it, so I might as well". This is another one of the lies being fed to us by that stinkin' guy down under. Satan has his ways, I'll give him that but----I will daily refuse to allow him to influence my life. I think most of us in our comfy Christian lives develop this mentality that we must do all these things to be in right standing with society and with God. With society, because we feel the need to keep up with everyone around us, prove that we can do all these things cause it makes us look responsible, like we can do anything and we are to be admired. With God, because we think somehow if we are in all these classes, doing all these events, mission trips, programs, committees that it will look good to our church family, and especially when we stand before God one day. All these things are lies being fed to us from any number of sources but they all funnel to one--that stinkin' guy down under. Blame it on our churches, blame it on our friends, blame it on our families, blame it on anyone or anything you can come up with but ultimately we all have free will and we choose what to do with our time--nobody can make us do anything. I have tried to balance this for years, this need to do so much more than I should be doing. I found years ago it stemmed from this feeling of obligation to help when nobody else would do it. At some point after having my second child I had an epiphany--well, it was probably a mid life crisis/depression of sorts, but ultimately God spoke to me about finding peace and balance in my life. I learned to say no and not feel guilty about it even though there were some good Christian people around me questioning why. We should never feel the need to defend ourselves, because it is between us and God. My decision to maintain balance in my life while serving the Lord is my decision alone. I am thankful for that peace that passes all understanding, regardless of the reaction of those around me. Often when we are right in the palm of His hand is when we will face the greatest ridicule. God is all I need, and so in those moments I run to Him and cling to Him for the extra strength I need. So, how's your heart? Are you completely surrendered to His will for your life, choosing balance over busy? I am certain there will be moments I return to this in my life, a need to check my heart and my focus once again. I am so thankful that God never changes, and He is always there to provide the peace and focus that I need.

We are known and we are chosen

Romans 8:29 is a reminder from the writer, Paul, that we are known and chosen by our Maker. We are to be like Him, striving toward a life that is righteous. How do we get there? Well, we will be working toward it all of our lives. We will get there when we stand before Him one day. We will get there when we hear Him say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." It is going to be sweet to hear those words, although I don't believe I deserve it. It is a healthy humility that I carry knowing that I can never be as perfect or sinless as Christ was, but I can daily work toward being more like Him, drawing from the strength He gives me to be the best example of Him I can be to the world around me. I was challenged to day in my devotional to examine where my feet are planted. Am I splashing one foot in the pools of the world while attempting to plant the other foot on Christ's solid foundation? It is not possible and it is not what God desires for me. I need to shake off the things of this world everyday, and make sure both my feet are firmly planted on the solid foundation Christ has given me. I know the opportunity to serve with my church on mission this fall is just one way He is teaching me to completely trust my life to Him and serve so that He can teach me something I need to learn in my Christian walk. I am inspired and amazed by friends who have chosen a sacrificial life of service in areas that I don't know that I could go. Regardless of where we are called to serve, there is no need for comparison because we all serve the same God and He promises to use us in every opportunity He gives us. What a mighty God we serve!

We were made to live for so much more....

I love that song by Switchfoot. The words are piercing at times, because I realize I am not always living the righteous life God has intended for me. In my morning devotional today I was reminded of how important it is to daily put off my old self, and live as the new creation God has made me to be. But this is not something we can attain instantly, or over a short period of time. It is something I will strive toward for my entire life. I am not defined by what I've done, who I am, or who I'd like to be one day. I am defined by grace, by the precious gift of eternal life that has been given to me through the Son of God. I am daily in awe of the sacrifice for me, Jesus' life upon the cross for all my sin past, present and future. How could I ever earn that or deserve that? It can't be done. How do I live more perfectly, more righteously? Let go of the things that are not lasting, temporary, of material value only. I don't want to dwell on the things that are consuming the hearts and minds of everyone around me. I want to clear away the clutter and dwell upon my Lord, His will for my life, and how I can somehow make a lasting impact on those around me. We were made to live for so much more...have we lost ourselves? Yes, we have! I see it everyday in people around me who have no hope, are simply moving about with lack of true purpose and direction in their lives. The simple life, forced upon us by our poor choices in the past, has given me and Ryan a new perspective on what matters most. I am so thankful for my life, for my family, and for the basics of life: a home, food on the table, a job, transportation, and sweet family and friends to love and encourage me. There are so many people in this world with so little, and nobody to help them get through just the day to day stuff. I desire to be set apart, make an impression on those who are less fortunate and need more in their lives than what they have now. I know God will use me if I am willing to be filled up and poured out for His purpose. We should be so open and useful to Him at all times, not just when we feel we are able to do it. Coming before Him, ready to be used, means to expect the unexpected and expect change. What will He call me to do today that I may not expect or anticipate? How will I respond? He's got a plan, and I need to be ready to move. I was made for something more...and I am looking forward to it each and every day.

Life is sweet, and I am so thankful!

The past couple weeks have been a whirlwind, but a whirlwind in which I have found my focus once again. Funny how seeing a portion of your life come full circle can bring a sweet peace to the heart and soul. We have entered this year on new ground, and it has begun by filing for bankruptcy. Our financial history has not been healthy one to this point, so we are turning over a new leaf. We are beginning new, a clean slate of sorts. It comes at a cost though, as we will have to rebuild our finances and our credit over a period of time. We realize what we have done and cannot undo it, but we have learned from it and we are moving forward with confidence. God is our Provider, and we have learned over the past few years that our complete confidence, trust and obedience is due to Him. I am so incredibly thankful for the God we know, love and serve, and everything He has blessed us with. We have loving and supportive families, and we are so blessed to have friends literally all over the country that have prayed for us and supported us. It cannot be said enough just how very blessed we are. I know that God will continue to bless us according to His purpose and for His glory, and so the difference at this point in our lives is that we are more in tune to Him than ever before. God has a sweet song to write upon our hearts, and we are in a glorious portion of the song right now. Our ministry in Brazil has just begun and we are so thankful for how He is using us and will continue to bless our time here. This is one of those moments when I literally have come home from time with family, friends near and far, and with my precious husband and children and I am going, "Ahh, God is so good!" It feels good to be His, to be loved and to be exactly where He intends for me to be at this very moment in my life. Cindy Morgan is one of my favorite artists and she does a beautiful song, "How Can I Ask for More". I love these words:

If there's anything I've learned from this journey I am on,
Simple truths will keep you going, and simple love will keep you strong.
'Cause there are questions without answers, and flames that never die.
And heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise.
Thank You Lord, how can I ask for more?

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...