Friday, January 31, 2014

Southerner Do's and Don'ts

(Photos courtesy of our first-born, Kaitlyn Turner).

I was born in Thomasville, Alabama…that’s the deep South people. I think we had two red lights or maybe three until I was in high school. And our railroad tracks didn’t have those fancy lights and bars…you actually had to STOP. Everyone knew everyone. And what church so-and-so went to (or if they didn’t…bless ‘em). It was the South. And I liked it.

I liked it so much that I stayed and went to college here. I have lived here for almost 44 years. Even though our ministry organization has allowed me to go to other continents, this is my home and I love it. I could list so many things that I love about the South, but let’s focus on what went horribly wrong this week.

SNOW. We don’t do snow. AT.ALL. We do tornadoes and hurricanes and thunderstorms and straight line winds. We don’t do snow or ice. We are not equipped for it because we don’t have to be. It doesn’t snow here often. The great city of Alabaster, Alabama does not own a snow plow BECAUSE WE HAVE NEVER NEEDED ONE. We do have storm shelters. Thank you very much. We can hunker down in basements with helmets and food for ten days. We rebuild tornado-ravaged cities. We clean up hurricane damaged houses. We DON'T do snow.

And so the ice and snow we received this week left us paralyzed - parents couldn’t reach their children at school, doctors walking miles in the snow to perform operations, children sleeping at schools, people taking refuge in businesses to spend the night. Havoc, I tell you. It was bad. And it was sad.

Many of our friends to the north laughed and joked. And I get it. It was humorous to people who see snow all the time. But, we live in the SOUTH where we DON’T DO SNOW.

But, we are SOUTHERNERS, and we do many things. Snow and ice are just not them.

We welcome strangers into our homes who are cold and hungry. We serve them dinner and show them to the guest room. For however long it takes.

We serve food to those who are stuck in their cars. We offer blankets and snacks and gas.

We see a pregnant woman or a lady with kids walking in snow? We pick ‘em up on a four-wheeler and whisk them home.

We pull out every pot we have in our kitchens and make as much soup as we can to distribute to those truckers who have nowhere to eat and are stuck on the side of the interstate.

We build fires on the side of the road to keep other stranded drivers warm.

We get out our 4WD vehicles and pick up people walking on the side of the street to get them up the hills in their neighborhoods.

We take to Facebook and Twitter to get strangers to pick up our loved ones to bring them home.

Our restaurants give away free food to people who need it and don’t ask for anything in return (thank you Chick-fil-A, Panera and a host of others).

Our teachers stay with children through the night at school while watching movies, cooking dinner and breakfast and wiping away tears.

Our companies put sand out in front of their buildings and offer free coffee and snacks to drivers waiting for hours (thank you Home Depot).

Our grocery stores stay open and take meals to shut-ins (shout out to Publix).

Our emergency personnel work around the clock to rescue people, deliver babies and get people to safety.

Our meteorologists OWN their bad calls and offer no excuses (is there anyone else in the US who does this?).

Our churches open their doors to anyone without a place to stay and offer food, beds and comfort.

We don’t do SNOW but we do SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY. And if you are ever driving through here with no place to stay, no money to your name and need some help, drop to your knees and thank God that you are in the South. We can help you. Just pray that it doesn’t snow while you are here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Ending of a War...controversial, I'm sure.

I am weary. I wake up at 4:00 every morning to have my quiet time with the Lord and work out. I take a shower and get dressed for the day. Clothes are immediately placed in the washer, and the laundry room will pretty much hum all day.

Breakfast comes along with family Bible reading time. Then, it’s school time. My name gets called more times than I can count. I break up arguments and serve as the court system if an agreement cannot be reached. I pick up toys. Continue to do laundry. Answer emails for the ministry. Lunch. More school for some people. Chores, Playtime. More courtroom duties with children. Discipline. And the list goes on.

EVERY woman and man I know can make a similar list. Some longer. Some shorter. All have the same 24 hours in a day. Yet, we as believers LONG to make our lives count for the glory of God. We want all glory, honor and power to be directed at Him…for His name to be praised. In the exciting times…the mundane…all of it.

However, as I look at Facebook and blogs from people I know and love, I sense that I am not measuring up. In fact, I am failing in multiple categories. However, where I am now failing seems to be a matter of opinion and is not based on God's Word. Because...

There is a BUT (and this is a BIG BUT) - there has been something brewing in our society that has made its presence well-known via social media. It’s called the Mommy Wars (although I would argue that you could call it the Parent Wars or just People Wars…it applies to ALL of us). The arguments have looked something like this:

Vaccines vs. No Vaccines
Herbs vs. Oils vs. Medicines
Hospitals vs. Home Births
Public School vs. Private School vs. Homeschool
Mommies at Home vs. Mommies Working Outside the Home
Santa vs. No Santa
Nursing vs. Breastfeeding
Mommies vs. Daddies (staying at home to take care of children)
Organic vs. Non Organic
Co-Sleeping vs. Child in a crib
Strollers/Carriers vs. Slings
Cloth Diapers vs. Plastic Diapers
ESV vs. any other version of the Bible
Traditional vs. Contemporary Music
Birth Control vs. No Birth Control
Mega Church vs. Medium Sized Church vs. Small Churches

The list could go on and on and on. And it does.

Even as I type this, I realize that people find themselves passionate about these topics. I am equally fond of some of these! And I GET IT…I do. What I love I want to share with others. If only they knew…if they would just educate themselves on this topic or that one. But, let us be honest with ourselves:


And this: NONE of these things impact your relationship with Christ (unless you are being disobedient to something He has instructed you to do which certainly disrupts your fellowship with Him). They do not gain us favor in His sight.

So, let us find this: BALANCE! Do we really need to give our opinions to every person on our friend list? Or do we need to post our thoughts on the latest controversy? Do we really need to do that? Does it honor the Lord? Does it draw people to Him?

Let us swing our pendulums to the middle and stop shaming other people into doing life the same way we do. If you send your kids to public school (and most of my friends do), praise God! If your kids attend private school, amen! We homeschool because it is what God has called us to do…nothing more and nothing less. I fully support all of my friends who are obeying what God has told them to do. May we encourage and love one another in such a way that God’s name is lifted high.

Can we just pause the madness? It's not helping other believers. Start praying for and encouraging other people. Meet for coffee. Have a conversation. Find out one another's struggles. Step away from the Like and Share buttons. Stop the shame people. It’s really getting on my nerves.

(This post was written last Monday before I came down with mono. I've had a full week of looking at blogs to discover that this is truly a new trend that is destroying the joy we find in Christ alone. We are turning our opinions into a mockery of the body of Christ.)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Reporting In...

I ‘m dressed in army fatigues…well, if pajama pants and a t-shirt count as military wear…and I’m heading into my superior’s office. “Weakling reporting for duty…checking in with details about last week.” That’s how I feel. Pretty much like a dog with his tail tucked between its legs.

Before some of you suggest I’m being tough on myself and it’s okay, this is NOT self-deprecating. I NEED accountability. We all do. I know when I’ve made mistakes, and for too long, I’ve chosen to run to people who will say, “It’s not a big deal” or “You are doing the best you can” or “You are doing so much better than other people.” While that all sounds great and feeds my ego, that makes this healthy eating about ME…and IT IS NOT. If it was about me, I would eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to consume it. I cannot do that and honor the Lord with my body. I need people who will find out what I really ate and whether I exercised or not. I need strict. Soon enough my body will again crave healthy things including the right foods and exercise, but for now, it does not.

The eating plan I am going with is the 17 day diet which I have done before and can handle. It’s easy enough for me and there are tons of ideas out there on how to make it work. It’s not so much a diet as it is a healthy eating plan. I’m working on cycle 2 because I need additional carbs for energy to work out each day.

Here’s what I ate …it’s the FIRST time I’ve ever really recorded what I ate to where I can see it. It makes it harder to dismiss little bites of one thing because I have to write them down. I need to see the details. There were three occasions that I found especially difficult. The first was on Tuesday. I took our oldest daughter to a class, and so I had 4 hours to hang out while she did the whole learning thing. Errands did NOT take my mind or stomach off all the temptations at hand. I found myself desiring EVERY single thing I passed - doughnuts (the “Hot Now” sign was on people), chocolate, ice cream (even in sub-freezing temperatures), and even Chuck E. Cheese pizza (it was at this point that I realized I was clearly desperate). Then, our family usually eats out on Wednesday nights before church - they chose a Mexican place. When the chips and salsa came to our table, I wanted to pull my hair out…one piece at a time…and light it on fire. But God was faithful and handed out some self-control. I ordered the fajitas but only ate the chicken, onions and peppers with a little guacamole….cue the choir). The final challenge was at a birthday party for some friends on Saturday. I knew it would be around lunchtime and I should have prepared for that….a protein bar, some fruit and water. But alas, I did not. So, I ate 1/2 a sandwich, 1 piece of cheese and 6 sliced pickles. It wasn’t that it was bad for me but that I was still hungry. I chose water over eating chips or all the cupcakes I could see (and I wanted EVERY single one of them). Lessons learned from all three occasions.

(All photos of things I had the opportunity to eat but said no to. Now that is by God's grace alone.)

I realize that my body is rejecting the healthy eating again, but who’s in charge here? My body or my mind? I know that Christ wants to be honored with all of it, so self-control is crucial. I envision priests in olden days beating their bodies into submission, and I feel like that with food…so I completely realize that I have made food an idol in my life. I think of it often. I want it. I crave it. And not the good stuff either. I must continually submit to the Lord’s leadership and say no to processed foods and sugars.

Well, I made it through the first week back to healthy eating and exercise. I am feeling better. I know that the sluggish feelings are due to the withdrawals from sugar and overeating. I am suffering because of lack of control for the past month. It will not be easy. I will carry on.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Familiar Territory...I Hate It!

Standing here in familiar territory yet feeling so out of place…again. The fall and the beginning of this year have brought so many surprises, hiccups and changes in our family that we have forgotten what God has already taught us about food. We have been eating out of convenience and speed. It has resulted in a 20 lb weight gain for me.

I have no excuses or justifications. Just reality. So, I’m back on track with the Lord (meaning I recognize how far I’ve fallen and where He desires for me to be). Although we have continued to exercise, which is the bright spot in this dismal confession, our eating has been garbage-like. Lots of sweets, processed foods and just junk.

It’s harder and slower to run when I’m 20 lbs overweight. As JT and I ran yesterday, I could feel every extra pound with each step. No fun. Lots of regrets. Guilt. Shame. And do you know why I feel guilt? BECAUSE I’M GUILTY. That’s why. Easy enough to understand that correlation.

So the plan is simple. Reread Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst. Soak in the Scriptures about honoring God with my body. Eat healthy and make wise choices. No sweets as they are just a downhill train wreck for me personally.

And then there’s exercise. Continue to run 3 days a week and Crossfit the other three days with one day of rest. I will push harder for His glory and my good. As I wrote out my goals for the year, I pinned the following under Exercise:

Run five 5Ks
Run a 5K in less than 30 min
Run 2 half marathons
Prepare for a full marathon in January of 2015

Yeah, I’m pretty much scared to death about that last one. I never saw that coming. I doubt myself completely. I don’t think I can do it. But, I’m willing to write it so that’s the first step.

It’s the new year and time for some changes. What are you going to do in 2014?