Thursday, February 23, 2017

Take the Hits... and Keep Believing

I want to share a little something you may not know about me... I am really a big fan of the Rocky Balboa movies. There's a little part of me that may inwardly groan when the remote finds the movie on again, but the truth is, I really am a sucker for that character.

 Why? Because something about his story inspires me a little. His determination displayed in the movies gives me a sense of wanting to overcome the odds, just like he does. Cheesy? Perhaps. But I enjoy watching the scenes unfold of his goal setting, training, and fights in the end. I can't say I think all of it is realistic, but nonetheless, I feel like I can relate a little bit to his character.

Recently one of the more current films of his was on, and he gave this amazing inspirational speech to his son. He was "old" and training once again to fight. His son didn't like that because of the effects it brought on to his own life, but Rocky gave his son a speech that I felt a little bit was meant for me. He said that the hits of life will keep coming, but it's about getting back up every time. It's about believing in yourself. It's not about what others try to make you to be... it's about being who you are and standing up for that. (I paraphrase...)

 How can a fictional movie sometimes seem to be sharing words that are spoken to me?

 I have to admit that this winter has been a challenge when it has come to my fitness. I fought an infection for a month. On top of that, I got an ear infection. I had some shin splints- minor, but enough to irritate me. And now that I am back up and going strong, I will be down for another weekend getting my wisdom teeth out. I don't say all of that to complain... I share all of that because I want to share a real struggle.

 It is hard for me to not compare myself to others around me much of the time. Now, I have come a very long way in this department. However, when my fitness is taking a back seat, those ugly comparisons seem to crawl in to the dark corners I thought had been cleared of the cobwebs. The super skinny mom in my TRX class. The runner twice my age running twice my speed. The mom who has it all together seemingly. I can keep going really, but there is no need for that. Why?

Because those things/people don't matter. I don't mean they don't matter in life, but I mean that as a comparison, it is irrelevant. I don't know their story, they don't know mine. And this is how I am made. I just have to believe. I have to dig a little deeper at times. I have to take a hit and get up and keep going. Because the truth is, that is me. I am a fighter. I believe that's probably one reason I love the Rocky movies so much. Because while I don't get inside a boxing ring, life can be a boxing ring. And I get up every day and throw my own punches. Quietly. Not rudely. But even just for my own self.

 I punch away those ugly comparisons that are so unnecessary. (What would we all be like if we just stopped comparing ourselves to others?) I fight against those thoughts that want to knock me down. I hit the opponent (metaphorically) who wants to tell me I'm not good enough. And I get up and I believe. And every time I am a little stronger for it. Not for my own sake, but for His.

 This is a spiritual growth time as much as anything else. Because while I may not always be the best one out there, I am learning every day to be the best me that I can. I am learning to be who God has made me to be. I am learning to grow more in His words instead of the world's comparisons. And when my vision is on Him and the path He gives me, I can take a hit, get up and keep believing.

 It's not about a number on the scale, the size of my clothes, the speed of my run, the definition of my muscles or any of those physical aspects we as a society tend to place so much value on every day. It's about the heart. It's about serving others. It's about faith. It's about letting go of fears. It's about believing.

 Really, I'm telling you a little bit of my journey. Not to make it about me, but hopefully so you can see a little glimpse of Jesus through my story. I do struggle with the comparisons like so many others. But that is not what God says about me. And what He says is truth. Don't let others form your thoughts of who you are for you.  Take a hit if you have to. But get up and keep swinging and believe in yourself. I'm learning to.
 It's part of why I am who I am.

 In case you've never seen it, here is the clip from the movie that I was inspired by this week.

Friday, February 17, 2017

My Heart for Colombia

As many of you know, I traveled to Colombia a year ago.  That experience was so life-changing for me. There, I found healing from hurts. There, I learned to love deeper and serve greater. I found truth in the Bible verse that when we lose ourselves is when we truly find out who we are. I remembered truths there that had long lived in my heart but had been swept into a dusty corner of my soul.

  Leading up to my time in going to Colombia a year ago, I had been spending much time in prayer over the trip. I had absolutely no idea what God wanted me to learn or what to do with it, but I was willing and open. I came home with a perspective so difficult to explain to those around me. Upon my time there, due to some of the prayer I had been praying leading up to the trip, God opened my eyes to something I still ask Him about some days. He led me to go back to school. I had once had the desire to get my degree in Spanish and become a translator as a career. When I was there, I remembered how much I love the language and helping others by being able to speak it. And so I came home and started my journey back to school - to get my degree in Spanish, finally. There are too many things He did in my heart during that time. But as the team just left this week to go back, it has been fresh in my spirit again. And here is some awesome news... I get to go back in June!!! I will be traveling once again to Brisas del Mar, Colombia in June. (14-21). If you are interested in knowing how you can help me, please feel free to send an email to me.

 In the meantime, I share an excerpt from my journal last year as I went into the village of Brisas del Mar and was transformed in so many ways.

 February 2016....
  "My heart was not fully prepared for this day. I had no idea exactly what was going to unfold. We saw so many areas of what to us are run-down houses, but to them are home. Bunched together, thatched roofs, mud sides and people sitting outside in almost every bungalow. We are spoiled with our cars and homes and every day needs. My heart strings are being pulled on already.
  I felt at home from the very first moment, welcomed with open arms. I adore the children. 
Their feet are dusty and dirty, but their smiles are bright and nothing else shows. They are rearranging my perspective every second I am with them. 
    As we were able to help the clinic by providing a few supplies, I was once again so humbled. They have nothing and every thing is a gift. Again, what I find as every day life I take for granted and don't even realize it. 
They do an amazing job communicating to us, 
  Shovels and picks and wheelbarrows- things we rarely find ourselves using anymore- are what they know to get a task done. There is no complaining, no wishing... only hands eager to work alongside us, happy for us to be in their small village. Again, the kids with no shoes, but full of laughter and smiles. 
  I came to serve and somehow I am finding myself being served. It's an unreal experience and one I never want to let go of. I wish time could stop for just a moment... and perhaps it is. As I try to capture these experience in words, I pray that I will forever hold them close in my heart and take them home with me. 
  As much as we are working, I don't even feel tired because my heart is so full. More full than it has been in ages. It's being touched in areas I forgot even were a part of me. Perhaps I will feel the exhaustion at some point, but I don't want to miss a moment of what God is doing here in Brisas. The moments are few and sleep can come later. 
    I got a small cut on my arm today and my blisters on my hands are breaking open, but I don't care. I haven't felt this happy in a long time. Ironic- when minimized to almost nothing, one finds some of the most joy. Living in the moment, instead of buried in technology. Learning to laugh at myself as the kids laugh at my attempts to speak with them. Serving others instead of being so involved in my own pursuits. This is what life is about. I don't worry about how I look or what's going on... I'm just being me. 
 In the dusty days of our construction, dirt gets caked on the skin, and a little water goes a long way. So many every day things we experience that are taken for granted. What the people of Brisas are teaching me is something I'm not even sure I can explain to myself, let alone others. Today, a little boy sat next to me in church, grabbed my hand, and smiled up at me. He held my hand most of the church service. 
   Tears fall easily at this point, unashamedly. I am forever changed because of my time here in Brisas and I pray that the Lord will allow me to return. But as I go home, I hope that I can carry on these lessons I have embraced. "   





Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bad Things Happen Part 2

*I actually did not mean to post bad things happen part one yesterday... I had not finished it, but apparently posted anyhow...*

 So, Part 2.

 The truth is, I am no expert at why bad things happen to good people. It is a very difficult question to answer and explain that even though bad happens, God is still so good. I can only say that if we allow Him do so, God will use all the ugly in our life for His glory.

 I, myself, have made bad decisions at times. Those results were at times messy. But God used them to teach me about grace and love and forgiveness at a depth I never could have explained without the experiences through which I walked. I can now talk to others and share and truly relate to grace. As  I said, losing my mom to cancer was a devastating event for me. It reshaped me. I miss her every day in a way very few can understand. However, God has used that to give me a sensitivity for others walking through grief. He has given me an understanding of what it is like to literally watch someone you love die and say goodbye to them.

 The people in Brisas del Mar, Colombia, did not ask to be a village ravaged by the drug wars. But as I stepped foot into their home, I learned what love looks like in the face of adversity. I learned about service and sacrifice. Their bad situation and how they respond has taught me how to be better.

 God says in Romans 8:28 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

 I have been called for His purpose, and I know that. So I hold on to that promise, knowing that even when bad things happen, somewhere, somehow, He has a reason for it that will be used for His good, His purpose. While the verse can often be abused or misinterpreted, I believe Paul was telling us as believers that those of us who follow Him and seek Him... we may not always understand why what happens happens. But we can be confident that God is in the midst of our life, no matter what. And if we allow Him to do so, He will use the bad "thing" happening for His glory.
 In my life, He has done that, although it is not always evident in the moment. I often times have to cry, be angry, process, pray, journal, talk, and work out whatever might be taking place.... but He is always in it. I do not always see the "why" of it, but I can look back and and see how sometimes... How He has used it all to keep molding me into who He wants me to be.

 I close with an analogy I heard from a christian band. Tenth Avenue North was speaking in between songs at their concert. And the lead singer was addressing the idea of why do bad things happen to good people. He was sharing about a hard time and talking about how he essentially was praying about that and asking God why...
 And the thought he said God brought to his mind has stuck with me. I'm not sure I can convey it quite as well as he did, but I hope it can be made sense of in my translation.

 He said in his prayer time, God basically laid on his heart this thought when he asked "why do bad things happen to good people..."

  God impressed this on him... "Why do they call it Good Friday?  Because in the end... I won. Good Friday was a very dark day. But I had victory in the end, 3 days later."

  Meaning... we call the Friday before Easter Good Friday. I had never thought about that. But why is it "Good" Friday?* There was not much good about that day. Jesus was crucified, put through horrible physical pain and suffering we can't even begin to imagine. But it is called Good Friday.
    Why? Because in the end... while that day was dark and painful and unimaginable to us today.... He ultimately had the victory. He won. He rose from the dead! He did not stay down.

 So, every time this has been asked of me lately, I recall that story. Bad things do happen to good people. And sometimes, we lose a battle. We face death and grief and hurt and job loss and change. But... God has won the war. And I do not have to fear because His is the victory!

 (*I am not a historian or a theologian. There may very well be another better, more sufficient answer to the reason it is called Good Friday. I'm not saying there is not. I simply liked that explanation and it has stuck with me.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bad Things Happen....

"Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is good, why does He allow so much bad to happen?"

 This question was asked of me by my 14 year old daughter recently. You want to talk about a challenging conversation, my girl is a deep thinker like I am... and often times has a way of asking a question I really have no idea how to answer. She's done this often lately.
 But the question of why do bad things happen to good people is one which I have often crossed. Since I hold on to a faith in Jesus, the question has come up more than once in my life.
 I am no theologian or a woman who has a super deep understanding of the scripture. I am a girl curious and interested in my growth, and so whenever that question has been asked of me, I have always struggled to answer it accurately, but desire to have a better understanding every time.

 To be quite honest, I have been wrestling with writing this blog. It's sort of been running around in my mind the last few weeks. I really don't know that I am very qualified to be sharing it out loud for others to take in and read. However, I know writing helps me process what I am learning. And this is a question that has come up too much lately for me to avoid.

 My daughter has a beautiful sensitivity to what others around her are facing. She has a gift of empathy. She feels what her friends face. That is what began this conversation. She has a best friend who's parents have separated after 22 years of marriage. She has a best friend here who has been in the foster system and was in a really good home, but due to a messy scenario created by a person out to get the foster family, her friend was removed from them and has been bounced home to home the last couple of weeks. She's seen some family members lose their job recently. And therefore, she has been questioning the ever-popular thought about "if God is good, why do bad things happen..."

 So, I have began to study this a little more. I think  one of the best answers a parent can give at times is "I don't know... but I will help you find that answer." And then proceed to investigate it more and circle back. So Elizabeth and I have been talking this one out. I'm not really sure I can answer it in any kind of elegant way. But what I do know is that God is good. All the time. Even in the midst of pain. He didn't create evil, but yes, He allows it to happen.

Sometimes evil is created by others' doing, because God offers free will to us, and not everyone chooses the right option. Those choices then hurt others around them, creating bad things to happen to good people.
 For example, Elizabeth's friend in the foster system. She didn't choose to be a foster child. But her birth mother has made poor choices, leading her daughter (Elizabeth's friend) to feel the consequences of those decisions. A (I will not use her full name) has been moved home to home - she did nothing to deserve that, but it has happened because her mom chose bad over good. Why is that fair? It really is not. So, why would God allow that to happen? Sometimes we don't learn the answers to these questions. But other times we can see answers later down the road. What is happening to A is affecting all these other people in her life, too. My daughter being one. But this bad opens up a door for good. A got placed in a home with a very loving family who loves God and can give her stability. As A receives that, she can grow up and help others who face the same situation. She can help her sisters, who are also part of the foster system.  As mentioned above, the situation has another twist. The loving family with whom she lived was falsely accused (already has been cleared now...) but in the process A was removed from there. She is once again facing bad because of someone's ill doing. In the process, though, this loving family who has gone through an awful time of investigation, has been very open and has had an opportunity to shine their faith to everyone around them. God has taken this painful scenario and is using it to spread His good word... and how He takes bad things and uses them even when we don't understand them.

 Another example would be cancer. My mom was the most amazing woman I have ever known. She lived her faith out like no one I have ever seen do. I didn't always recognize that or appreciate it, but I learned to the older I got. My mom had rarely ever been sick. And all she ever did in her life was help others. So, why did she have to get cancer? Now, that is a difficult question to ask. She didn't do anything "bad" for that to happen. But it did. For me, I was never mad at God that she got cancer. But I did not understand it. I know that she is better off in heaven now, but why did that have to happen? It created a hole in my life no one else can ever fill. In this case, that is not the result of someone committing evil and the trickle effects taking place. In the case of this, I think yes, this bad thing happened to a very good woman. But she was never angry or bitter or even scared. She walked through it with the greatest spirt and testimony of faith and that will be a living legacy to me, to my children. God used that bad to teach me and my kids that no matter what we go through, we can choose our attitudes. We can choose to hold on to our faith and cling to God. We can choose to become angry and run away or we can choose to cry, grieve, laugh, embrace and grow in our faith through the difficult time.  The other aspect to this is that now that I have walked through her death, the amount of times I have been able to walk through grief with a friend in their own has been a blessing. Not a blessing that they face what I once walked through. But a blessing in the sense that I could truly relate to them; I could help them see it would be OK. I could hold their hand, let them cry, write them notes, and allow them to talk to me in a way they wouldn't with others, simply because I had walked through that same sorrow. God has used my mom's death countless times for me to recall stories of her faith to help me stay strong in mine. He has used my mom's death more times than I wish were true for me to help a friend through their own loss.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

I Love a Challenge


You may not know this about me, but I have a very hard time turning down challenges - especially physical ones. I am engrained with a competitive side that may not show in my every day interactions (although my coworkers laughed when I said that, so perhaps it shows more than I thought.) I am more competitive against my own self than anything.

 I don't ilke to be told I can't do something, and when someone does say that, it makes me want to prove all the more that I can.

 I don't like being told "You're a girl, this isn't for you."

 I don't like the feeling of not pushing myself.

 I enjoy a challenge. This helps me be part of who I am. I am a goal setter. It is true I don't always achieve what I set out to do. However, I generally grow and become better in the process, regardless of the outcome. That is part of why I love to run. Running allows me to set physical challenge goals and work towards them and learn about myself in the process. TRX does the same for me. Just when I think my body/muscles are used to an exercise, the instructor pushes it to  a new level.

 I love a good challenge. I don't always talk about the competitive goals on which I am working, but I suppose that is in part because I think what if I can't do this?Then what will people think?  But that is silly.  As I said before, I don't always achieve the goal towards which I am working.  But every time along the way, no matter how detailed or simple or big or small my goal is, I do always become better in one way or another.

 If it doesn't challenge me, it probably won't change me. I found that saying last year with my TRX and I have thought about that often. A challenge does reshape me every time.  And God has a way of using even the physical challenges to teach me spiritual truths.

 January was not kind to my body. I fought a few different infections, have taken more than one round of antibiotics, battled minor shin splints and the ups and downs of the temperatures have played havoc on my sinuses.  I did not give up in any of those, but I finally feel my body regaining its normalcy to a degree, so I have begun working harder once again towards some new fitness goals and participating in a challenge.

 #pushupforwhat presented by my TRX instructor for the month of February presents a challenge I am struggling with, but I am working hard to accomplish nonetheless. The challenge was put out to everyone, but obviously not a requirement. But, as I said to start, I have a hard time turning down a challenge. Perhaps it is a downfall of mine, but I see it as a bettering quality. The challenge is to do 100 pushups/100 sit-ups week one. 200 week 2. 300 week 3. 400 week 4. They can be spread out through the day, it doesn't have to be all in one sitting. I have made it through week one! I told Steck, the instructor, I wasn't sure if I could make it to 400....doing 100 is a struggle for me. He said "That's alright. That's why it's called a challenge. You push your limits as much as you can and it's still an accomplishment." However, I feel strength building through this already, and there is a satisfaction that comes with completing a challenge. So, we will see how this goes. And no, I don't even do the girly pushups. I push myself to do them for real. It's taken me years to get to that place, but TRX has done wonders for me. So that is my current challenge.

 Along those lines, what are the rest of my challenges? Most of them are goals I aim to reach by the end of the year.

 1. I would like a PR in my half marathon. My PR was in 2010 (ironically on the Air Force Marathon course!)  It's time to break that. For me, this is really hard. I don't like speed workouts or hill training, which one of those will be what helps me push towards a new time goal. I am paying attention to my heart rate, which is a pain, but it does make a difference. And every time I push towards this, my body tends to call Stop- and shin splints in January were the first obstacle. But I am not quitting.  Now I feel slower because of taking several weeks of very low key fitness, so it's sort of like starting from scratch, but... here I go.

 2. I hope to better my plank challenge time every month. (To hold a plank for so long until I have to drop.) Obviously that will get harder the longer I have to hold it. But even if it is one second longer, that will be an improvement to me.

 3. I want to do a pull up. I'd really like to do more than one, but I will take even one. Why are those so hard??

 4. We have this song-challenge thing we do in TRX. It's sort of hard to explain. But one would be the song Roxeanne. Or the song Proud Mary. We are in the straps with our feet in. Like this, as one example: (PS- I definitely do not look that good doing this! )

 But Steck calls out through the whole song all different things for us to do. Mountain climbers, planks, pikes (shown in the photo), side planks, atomic pushups... the list goes on. I have yet to be able to make it through a song challenge without dropping somewhere in the middle of it. It is HARD! So my goal is to make it through the song challenge without dropping. Those song challenges may be one of the times I sweat the hardest in TRX.

 there is one more TRX challenge but it's complicated to explain. I aim to make it through another Ab challenge of sorts without dropping. It isn't easy. There are 3 others in the class who have done it and I am setting out to become a 4th one :)

 These goals may take me all year to get there. Or I may not even make some of them. But the journey towards them is always healthy. I learn more about me, I help reform my mindset, and I do get better physically one way or another in the process.

 If it doesn't challenge me, it won't change me. Perhaps that is one reason I love a good challenge. Growing is important!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Free from Fear

One year ago I was just about to leave for my trip to Colombia. The time leading up to that event reshaped me as an individual, not to mention how life-chaninging the trip itself was. Over the next few weeks I will reflect on those events, as one year has passed since that time.
  I recently read something I found interesting and very true for myself. It was written that "Writing down your thoughts is important...because the actual process of writing consolidates the memory and clarity to what you have been thinking about." Dr. Leaf goes on to say, "Revisiting what you have written will be a revealing processes." (Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf)  I found this to be so true for me. This is partly why I write. Because it helps me process what is happening, it helps me digest events and grow in them and put them into practice. I don't always sit and read through my old writings, but I have been revisiting much of my journal entries from the time leading up to and during my trip to Colombia. That being said, that moment in time was a pivotal one for me to set me in a new direction. Today's blog is actually going to be a piece I wrote a year ago.
 When I wrote this, it felt so close to home, too personal to post here. But I have decided it's time I share some of these pieces. I forewarn you, it is long. But I want to take these lessons I learned and make sure I am applying them still today.

 February 1, 2016

The tears silently began to fall, much like quiet raindrops on a rainy afternoon. My lip quivered, in an attempt to hold back the emotion threatening to bubble out. No one will understand these tears or what this moment means to me….but I choose to stop fighting it and let them fall. Crying in front of others is not easy for me, I’ve sort of been non-verbally taught not to do it. 

 For the first time in so many months, though, these are not tears of sadness or hurt or pain. No, these are tears of release; tears of joy; tears of peace. I can feel God’s presence all around me, wrapping me up like a mother would swaddle her child. For me, this moment will stand clear in my mind for years to come. It is a marker in time. It is a moment which is so difficult to put into words, and yet I so desperately want those around me to understand it. 

This is the most beautiful communion I have ever taken part in. First of all, my church does not do communion on a regular basis, so I take in every heartbeat of these precious moments. Second of all, I have never taken part in a communion that is so intimate, so deep. As I said, the presence of God was evident. As Pastor Ed began, he says to Paula, as she takes the bread and breaks it and dips it in the juice, “The body of Christ broken for you, the blood of Him shed for you…” his words were more specific, but this is my first experience like this, and that is what I take away from it . Then Paula turns to James, and so on…. I felt immersed in the grace of God like never before. I can barely whisper the words as I turn to Gil and pass the bread and the juice to him. I accept the tears that are falling, but I wish to hold it together while I pass this along. 

I can’t even remember if it took place before or after the communion- I think before, but the moments are blurred- but as this beautiful, simple bracelet was placed on my wrist as passing of the mantle, with the Colombian colors on it, I once again knew without a doubt that God has been laying out this path before me for a very long time. As the verse goes, “For I know the plans I have for you…. “ in Jeremiah 29:11, He has had this plan for my life for a very long time. I am ready. I have faced some spiritual opposition like never before in the last 6 weeks. Work has brought me down; depression has knocked at my door; my marriage has been in the battle field. But tonight…. tonight it felt like all of that came to a screeching halt. perhaps for just a moment, or maybe for longer… only time will tell, but tonight I felt God in every way, shape, and form. I know God is with me all the time, I don’t doubt that. But tonight, tonight I felt Him in a new way. 

 When I left the meeting, I put the worship music on in my car. One of my all time favorite songs came on, and I just let the tears fall as I drove. The lyrics say this: 
       Take my heart, I lay it down
       At the feet of you whose crowned,
      Take my life, I’m letting go
     I lift it up to you who’s throned
    And I will worship You , Lord, Only You, Lord
     And I will bow down before You, only You , Lord

Take my fret, take my fear
  All I have, I’m leaving here
 Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
 Be all my delights, be my everything
 And it’s just you and me here now
 Only you and me here now
 You should see the view 
 when it’s only you……

I cannot imagine having heard another song in that moment. That was a God-thing. Part of the marker of this evening that will forever sit with me. The tears fell, as I attempted to sing out to HIm between the near sobs….. In 2015 the Lord taught me about letting go. Now, He’s teaching me new lessons. But as I listened to these words…. Take my life, I’m letting go… I lift it up to You who’s throned…. Take my fret, take my fear, All I have, I”m leaving here….
   I felt free. Free as I have felt in years.

Tonight a new lesson wrapped its arms around me…. Grace undeserved. As I sat in communion, and as I sat through the passing of the mantle moment, and as I listened to worship in my car, I felt so unworthy. I can’t believe He has chosen to let me be part of this team. I long ago asked for the forgiveness of my sins. But tonight…. tonight the reality of God’s forgiveness and love sat with me in a new way. The leaders tell me I am special, and many days it’s a battle for me to believe those words. But…. tonight I believed it. Tonight I know that I was chosen to go on this trip by God. I am unworthy, but He tells me I am. Because He died for me, and those sins that people or Satan hold over me no longer have a grip on me. I am free. He wants to use me. He does not want those things to bind me and hold me back. This trip…. this trip is about so many different things for me. And I have sensed alll along that God is wanting to use it in my life. And tonight was one slice, but one very important slice, of that journey. Tonight, I let go of my past. I will not let it bind me any longer. Tonight, I felt special. Not because someone was telling me that, but because I could feel God whispering it to me. My heart is one that wants to serve, but I alway feel held back by the past, by my insecurities, by my fears. But tonight, I will do what the song says… take my fret, take my fear, ALL I have, I’m leaving here….. 

 Like a person takes off their coat and hangs it up in the closet, I feel like tonight I shed a layer of fear, hurt, and insecurities (aka my past). I took it off, and I hung it up. I left it on Hwy I-75. I threw it out my window and said good bye to it. I told Satan he can no longer steal my joy with it. I stood up in God’s mighty power and strength (Eph 6) and fought and I will not let Satan win.  God can use the scars of my heart. Satan has tried to pick at the scabs of my insecurities for the last 6 weeks. And while I know the battle isn’t over, those things are scars now….wounds Jesus has healed. And I pray He can use my scars to tell His story as time moves along. Jesus bears the scars of the cross….. He could have healed those. but as He showed up to Thomas, the doubter, He held out His hands and showed His scars. My scars are invisible to the world, but they are there…. and I want to be used through them as well. 

Grace renewed. Love felt. Acceptance acknowledged. Fear gone. Fret fading. The picture of God shines in a whole new way to me today. I have believed for many years of my life. I have never stopped believing in my God. But as I He has been preparing me for the last year, with letting go and now with needing to sit still a little bit…. He has wrapped His loving arms and presence around me in a new way.


 The tears can fall, it’s OK. Because they are tears of peace, tears of acceptance, tears of joy, tears of feeling lost in the presence of my God, my Savior, my best friend. My prayer today? Today I let the song be my prayer…. Lord, Be all my hopes, be all my dreams, be my delight, be my everything.  I am strong in who He has made me. And I will stand firm in that. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

#TheLittleMoments


#TheLittleMoments

 When I have been sick all week, it makes me realize the things for which I am grateful. For one, I have a little more time to think. And Two, when I am sick, obviously I don't feel well and therefore I realize how good I have life sometimes. So, even though this week I did not have a lot of events take place and I spent a lot more time resting, there are always ways to find moments for which to be grateful- little things that make up smiles and memories and gratitude.
  My body has a way of saying STOP to me a few times a year. Yes, the weather plays a role in all of it, with the strange ways of Ohio going from 60 degrees one day to 30 degrees the next. However, may other factors come in to play with my body breaking down. Stress builds up and after a certain amount of trying to handle it, it gives way to a weakened immune system. Going until I can't go anymore always plays a role as well. When life is kind of crazy, I suppose I have a way of making it more crazy by filling it up - not just with thoughts in my head, but stuff to do. Illness is miserable. But it is also a time for me to stop and re-evaluate. So, although I could be much more sick, this week has given me the time to be still. Forced rest. I suppose I make it sound as though I had a deathly illness. I certainly have not. But I will say that when I do get sick, it tends to knock me out hard. And that has compiled some of my little moments this week....

 1. A loving daughter who made me hot tea and said she wanted to take care of me while I was fighting this illness.

 2. My son who has shown a great interest in cooking took on making our dinners the first few nights this week so I could rest. (And he did a great job!)

 3. Michael brought me soup. And took care of getting the kids everywhere they needed to be. While that doesn't sound monumental, to me it was. Those are tasks usually I handle.

 4. A boss who is so understanding when it comes to this. I tried to work because I can be rather stubborn about that aspect that has long been engrained in me. He took one look at me and said go home. :) Seriously, I am grateful for that. I also am grateful for a job that offers sick time hours. I have not always had that. It's appreciated.

 5. My Bible. I should be grateful for this all the time. But this week I have had time to read it more. And it is so refreshing and rewarding to spend dedicated time in it. Not that I don't read it otherwise, but I was able to read and re-read and record and I know God knew I needed that.

 6. ColdBlaster. So, Starbucks has a drink called a ColdBlaster. I guess not all of their baristas know what it is, but at any rate, it's worth it. It has 2 teas in it, half hot water, half steamed lemonade and honey. It truly is refreshing to a body not feeling wonderful.

 7. Antibiotics. When you have a double ear infection (yes... that is the diagnosis) medicine does wonders. I am grateful that this is a thing and that I can afford it.

 8. Health. Listen, the point of this is not to tell you I was so sick this week. The point is to say that really, I am a very healthy person. And when I do get sick, it makes me realize that. I have missed my workouts so much this week and can't wait to get back to them. (I am really actually chomping at the bit to put my running shoes back on...but I am listening to my body) But I realize how healthy I am. And I am thankful for that. The number on the scale is not important nor is my pant size or all the number of comparisons I can make. I am healthy. And that is a gift not everyone experiences.

    It was a long week for me... but a good one, nonetheless. God is good. All the time. And I look forward to a new healthy week next week :)