Monday, October 29, 2012

Perceptions and Comfort...

I would like to control and adjust your perception of me. Yes, I just said that. I have no idea how many other people feel the same way. BUT, I do know that this same topic has come up at least 3 different times this weekend. One friend shared her struggle with it. And, she's reading a book about it. Another friend told me about an issue that she's dealing with that centers around how others perceive her. Yes Lord, I get it...the struggle is not just theirs. It is mine. I own it and I'm 100% responsible.

As I went to run this morning (in the frigid temps...well compared to a month ago anyway), I had Madison take this first pic....this is how I would like you to see me (loving life and ready to run at 5:30 in the morning)...please pat me on the back now:

But, truthfully this is how I felt and how I really desire to get out of bed or run or study God's Word:

I would like for you to perceive me as a Christ-centered, giving, caring, loving woman who supports and encourages my husband and kids....a woman who devotes her time to homeschooling because God told her to do who rises early to spend time in His Word and take care of her body in a way that honors the Lord...etc, etc, etc. The truth is that many moments/hours/days I am not Christ-centered. I care more about my own comfort and selfish desires. I do not care in the way I know Christ would have me to. I am ugly to my family and bitter about certain responsibilities. I have asked God to put my children on the bus some mornings (if God calls you to do that, obey Him. He has called me to obey Him by homeschooling, but there are days when I just don't want to do that). I struggle with teaching when a child doesn't "get it" or when learning is not happening. I want to stay in bed snuggled up under the warm covers. I want, I need, I, I, I, I...see the common theme!

I want to be comfortable! I looked in Scripture and guess what I found? 1 Corinthians 1:3 says that God is the "God of all comfort." Well, there it is. God WANTS me to be comfortable because He is the God of ALL comfort. I mean you can always find Scripture to back you up. Right? Nope, wrong. HIS COMFORT and my comfort are two totally different things. We, as Americans, have manipulated and changed the definition of comfort to be relative to each person. My idea of comfort is a beach bed in the Cancun with my husband, a good book, my children playing gloriously and quietly together, and the ocean waves. While it is restful, it is PURE laziness for me....which, of course, is a sin. God has NOTHING to do with sin so this is clearly not talking about my comfort.

My brutal honesty probably makes you think less of me, and I hope it does. You should think less of me. We should think less of people. Our minds should focus on the only perfect One there is. I am a sinner...plain and simple. I sin every day. I am selfish and unkind. I want things to be my way. I am critical and hateful. I want to avoid difficult people. I forget that people are starving. I think of myself and my needs. I detest lies to the point of detesting liars....instead of loving them with God's grace. I get easily frustrated. I lack patience. I seek friends over the Lord at times. I don't study His Word enough. My prayers are shallow. Uuuggh. Please think less of me. And, think MORE of Him. I must decrease and He must increase.

Today, my challenge is to get past my desire for comfort and for the perception of others (of me) to define who I am. I am a sinner who struggles daily to glorify Christ in my life. I am the woman who wanted to stay in bed today to sleep and stay warm. But, what I want submits to what He He told me to hit the alarm clock and get out of bed. He told me to study His Word. He showed me my sinfulness in 2 Peter. He showed me His glory and excellence. He told me to admit my sins. He told me to put on my shoes and be thankful that the weather is not hot. I will not control how others see me...I will, however, obey what He says. Ultimately, my life is about Him and not you OR me.

I am grateful to each of you who follows my ramblings and allows me to confess my sins each week. You encourage and challenge me in ways I cannot describe. I am grateful for you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ready to Give Up?

You want to give want to give up want to give up desperately. Been there? Are you there right now? The fight doesn't seem worth the effort, and you are just tired of trying. You don't see the results you want or the changes are not coming quickly enough. So, why not give up now?

I OFTEN feel like giving up...pretty much every day at some point. I wonder if what I am doing is making a difference in my life, the lives of my husband and children or for eternity. Does it really matter?

It does. God allows us to breathe and live for His glory alone. So, if we are still here, we still have some glorifying to do. Giving up is not glorifying (unless you happen to be giving up things that don't honor Him). It is for cowards (of which, I am one) and it is not for fighters.

I like to succeed. I like to win. I love accomplishment (marking items off a list may make me a little giddy). Giving up doesn't lead to any of those markers. It does just the opposite and brings disappointment, rejection and hopelessness.

So, how do we combat that desire and feeling of giving up this battle with weight/food/health issues?

1. Remember! Time and time again in God's Word, He tells His people to remember a particular event or time. He instructs them to build altars to remember. Why? Because we FORGET so easily. Remember the disciples picking up the baskets leftover of bread? The very next scene sees them crossing the river and complaining about being hungry. What? How easily they had forgotten the Lord's provision. Go back and look where you have come from and the progress you have made. God will remain faithful to you no matter what you choose to do!

2. Plan. People without a plan and goals will rarely succeed. If you are aiming at nothing, you will hit it. Write down your goals and mark down your progress daily. I have a color coded spreadsheet with my half marathon training schedule. If I meet the goal for the day, I color it green. If I don't meet the goal, the box is yellow. And if I surpass my goal, I code it blue. I can look over the chart and see many green and blue boxes which reminds me that I'm making progress on the plan.

3. Seek support. We are not meant to do life alone. The people of God and the early church lived in community. They shared everything they had in common....this doesn't just mean their food, houses and means EVERYTHING! They gave each other encouragement and wisdom. Perhaps someone has conquered this battle in their own life that you are facing. Seek him/her out and ask for mentoring and wisdom. Find others who struggle with a similar battle and share your hearts.

4. Pray! This is the MOST important. We will fall flat on our faces if God doesn't win this battle for us. We must rely FULLY on Him and Him alone. We do not win the battle...He does. It is when we take control that things go awry! Surrender to Him daily and admit your weakness and desire to give up. Ask Him for strength and endurance to face the battles!

I'm totally with you on wanting to give up. But, my God is stronger than my desire to quit. He is greater than my wishes. I will NOT give up because the Holy Spirit within me spurs me on for His glory and my good. Do not give up my friend...let's battle this together!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another Confession...

Laying my sins bare was the instruction I heard the Father say. And I have. But, there's more...there's ALWAYS more, right? Oh, how wicked and depraved our hearts are. How many of us really WANT to confess our sins and show people the sin in our lives. Not me!

But, here's another one for me to let loose...I'm lazy. Yep, lazy. I fight it EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.OF.MY.EXISTENCE. I despise it but it's true. I learned it early in life. I learned that you can tell someone else what to do and do nothing yourself. Work still gets done and you get to sit on the sidelines. I specifically recall hearing, "Let's rake the yard." Now, first you would have to know that we had hardly any was mainly dirt. I think my mom just wanted us out of the house, but it was the notion that "Let's" specifically means Let US... I quickly learned the benefits of being lazy. Perhaps it was just my home life, but my mother was actually rewarded for being lazy. I saw it as a negative way to get things done...but things got done nonetheless.

Fast forward to just last week when I was sick. I slowly began feeling the sore throat which led to my eyes being swollen and full of allergies. Then, the fatigue set in and I felt like my muscles were loaded down with concrete. I wanted to stay in bed every day and do NOTHING! And I realize that I did need to body was screaming for it...I needed rest to heal. But, because I fight laziness I have to be extremely cautious even when I am sick.

What I want and what I do must be different. In fact, I gave it to the laziness tendency when it came to exercise. Instead of stretching or riding the stationary bike or even walking slowly on the treadmill, I just did nothing. I went five days without exercising at all. I realized that I had succumbed when I went running yesterday. God convicted me of my laziness and reminded me that resting can include exercising as well.

I need to see the common ground in resting and exercising. I can exert energy and be healthy while resting from other work. I must fight the desire to be lazy and stand firm in the truth of God's Word about honoring Him in all that I do.

Do you struggle with laziness? What do you do to combat it?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It Takes a Plan

Recently I have been swamped with messages from people who want to know how we REALLY lost the weight and how are we keeping it off. When I say "swamped," it's a good thing and not negative at all...I am totally surprised by how many people face the same struggle. I wish I had known (or at least paid attention to) where to turn when I realized I had a sin issue with food/health/discipline!

Most people have strangely asked for our daily schedule, so here it is:
(keep in mind that JT works from home unless he's on a trip and we homeschool all five of our kids)

4:00 Wake up (I am not by nature a morning person...more of a 10:00 am - 2:00 pm and then again 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm kinda person. )
4:15 Eat a small bowl of instant oatmeal and 16 oz of water (this is the only thing I have found that works for my body - EVERY person is different and you may or may not need to eat prior to running. My brother eats Captain Crunch. Madison has bread with honey. JT eats nothing.)
4:15-5:00 Quiet time
5:00 Stretch and out the door for exercise. Prayer time.
7:15 Breakfast - 2 eggs, plain yogurt with fruit (we add cinnamon, vanilla and local honey to our yogurt), 16 oz of water, green tea. Every other day we have a muffin or oatmeal. We also have fruit with breakfast.
8:00 School (around 10:00, another 16 oz of water)
1:00 Lunch - grilled meat (usually chicken or fish), salad and veggies or 2 other veggies (one raw and one cooked), fruit, yogurt, 16 oz of water
3:30 Snack - protein bar or nuts with 16 oz of water
6:00 Dinner - fish/chicken/turkey (occasionally beef or pork) with at least 2 veggies, no carbs, no fruit, 16 oz of water
8:30 Green tea

Of course I am not including everything on our schedule but only the items that seem to be important to everyone. We have appointments, work, extra-curricular activities, ministry administration, etc that have to be worked into our schedule as well. Just like everyone else, we know that we prioritize our lives based on what is important. If someone invited us to an important event, we would make arrangements and adjust our schedule to be there. The same is true with exercising and health. We MUST take the extra time to address these areas.

God has shown me personally several areas where I needed to adjust in order to walk with integrity with Him: Planning, Preparation and Implementation. Here's what it meant for me:

Planning - In order to have the groceries that we need on hand and avoid eating unhealthy foods, I have to plan for our menu one to two weeks in advance. I simply use a spreadsheet on my computer and make sure that I include any appointments/special items that we have for that day. I purchase all of our groceries once a week based on this menu.
Planning doesn't just include food though. I have to plan ahead for exercise. In our house I am the first one up but am followed quickly by Madison. We both exercise before the sun rises. JT waits until an hour after breakfast and runs/bikes while the kids are working on school with me. Kaitlyn likes to exercise after lunch but changes up her schedule based on her workload. If we have a race or a long run approaching, I have to plan ahead for the younger kids as well.

Preparation - When I come in from running, I untie my shoes and put them on the shelf in my closet. I immediately take out the clothes that I will run in for the next day. When I get up in the morning, I see my outfit ready to go. I also have to make sure that my phone is charged and ready to go!

Implementation - This is the are where I struggled the most in the beginning. I would SAY that I wanted to do something differently. I was tired of clothes not fitting and not having energy and seeing my kids gaining weight, but I was NOT doing anything. What I proclaimed with my heart and mouth were NOT affecting my behavior. I would rather sleep in or eat what I wanted than to truly make the change. God has graciously extended His forgiveness and has changed my heart in this area.

Now when I wake up, I ask the Lord how to spend my time. He directs my steps. There are few times when He doesn't direct me right out the door!

I challenge you today to see where you are in life when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. How are you honoring the Lord? Does He want you to make a change? Then, what is stopping you????

Monday, October 1, 2012


Last week I was running when God puts this thought in my head: "Lay your sins bare." The conversation went something like this...

God: Lay your sins bare.
Me: What? Lord, are you serious? (yes, that's me questioning the Lord and not in deep respect either)
God: Lay your sins bare.
Me: Haven't I already done that?
God: Lay your sins bare.
Me: Okay, Lord. I do not understand but I will.
God: Here's one...stop allowing people to boast in you but point them to boast in me.
Me: Ouch. You are right. All praise and honor belong to You alone. I get it.
God: It may feel good when people are praising you but you are stealing from Me.
Me: Yes Lord.

Ummmm, okay where to start? Let's just start where He pointed out the sin. I am guilty of pride and wanting to hear compliments about our healthy lifestyle and how good it looks. I am totally and utterly sinful. I want to hear good things. I like it (a lot) when people say I am skinny (although I do NOT see myself that way at all). I enjoy the compliments. I do...I really do. But, no man is worthy of praise. None!

Encouragement is one thing, so don't get me wrong. I long for encouragement and need that too. But, praise is NOT mine for the taking. So, if you must boast, boast in Him alone. He DID this...and not me! I am weak and unworthy and so undisciplined. I want to give up regularly and make excuses and whine and complain. He graciously accepts me with all of my faults and pushes me to be more like Him. He knows what I can do because He formed me. He made me like this. He is worthy of all the praise and honor and glory.

Let's give Him the glory and point the success to Him alone. I will boast in what He has done! Praise Him!

More sin baring to come....uuggh!