Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Really? So soon?!

Can I just vent for a second? Why is being a responsible adult so...so...full of responsibility?! My quest to be Miss "Planned & Organized" for the start of the New Year is pressing all the anxiety buttons from within. I'm realizing, I guess, just how many areas we have to improve in! Kind of depressing. I thought it's rather interesting how I was so gung-ho about this yesterday, and now the wind has already been knocked out of my sails. Of course, I guess there's nothing wrong with just floating here for a little while.

Hah. That's actually not a bad idea! Just float around in this spot of acknowledgement and stay focused on God until He shows me the next step in the process.

Floating. Now that makes me think about sunshine and swimming pools. At first I smile as I think about being in Florida in March. Just chillin' with the family and enjoying the warm sunshine and relaxing pool. Then I start to get those same anxiety buttons pushed as I remember that we bought a used pool this fall that will require a LOT of work (and more money) to get it up and approved by the Township and ready to use next summer. Ugh. Why does my brain do this to me?!

Have you heard of the book: "Men are Like Waffles Women are Like Spaghetti"? The book description says: "Bill and Pam Farrel explain why a man is like a waffle (each element of his life is in a separate box), and why a woman is like spaghetti (everything in her life touches everything else)." I think that's why my brain jumps from the blissfulness of a family vacation in Florida, to the stressfulness of installing & paying for said installment of our pool. And probably also why I need this blog to spew all the thoughts out and then have the ability to process them clearly.

Hmmm. Waffles. Those sound really good right now...
(See, my brain really is like spaghetti! And, no, I'm not going to eat any...it's past 7PM so the only thing passing my lips is water).

I do feel a bit better after venting. I kind of laugh though at the enemy's attempts to squelch my momentum. I might be floating around a bit right now, but it's not without a purpose. (And, yes, I know it's been less than 24 hours...I just hate losing steam so quickly!) God is just giving me a chance to wait on Him. Goodness knows that's something I'm not always so good at. Funny, though, how I never looked at the wind being knocked out my sails analogy quite the same way before. But then, this is a time in my life where God is giving me LOTS of new perspectives.

Praise the Lord for THAT one! Watch out 2011...HERE I COME!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Purposefully Planning

I'm purposefully taking time this week to prepare for the New Year. The busyness of Christmas has passed (sigh), and the schedule has lots of "down" time in it the next few days. For the first time in quite a while, I'm actually excited about the New Year ahead. Normally, it's a time where I regretfully look back over the last twelve months and all of my un-reached goals. This year was different though.

I read something on a home planning blog that may help explain why 2010 has been a more productive year. This particular organizing dynamo reminded her readers that in order for any home planner to be useful, you need  to take regular time to pray and ask for God's direction in your life. Take regular inventory of what you're doing well, and in what areas you need improvement. Ask God to help you make the best decisions. As parents (or just as "people", for that matter) we can't just "make it through". We have to be purposeful about our actions. Purposeful about our life's goals and priorities. Purposeful about making a difference in the lives of those we interact with. Well, for the first year in a long time, this was one area I was VERY purposeful in.

Maybe it was the fact that our first year of homeschooling last year allowed me to have the time to do this. Or maybe it was that our first year of homeschooling REQUIRED that I do it. There is no way we could have taken the journey into becoming a homeschooling family without regularly turning to God for direction, encouragement, and strength. At least not if we wanted this journey to be a successful one. It may sound funny to those of you who don't homeschool to hear me say that homeschooling has acquired me MORE time. I think before I was a homeschooling Mom I would have thought just the opposite would be true. But it's amazing how much time is opened up on your schedule when you're not tied down to the traditional school's timeline. All that time I used to take getting the kids ready for school, taking them there, picking them up, fulfilling my role as a good parent by being involved with their classes, and attending all the school-related activities...is now put to good use at home. AND (this is maybe the best part), me and the kids get to explore God's Word and His will TOGETHER! Homeschooling has actually de-stressed our family.

So for 2011, I am hoping to take this home planning thing to the next level. I am spending time between now and January 1st to pray over and plan everything from our weekly cleaning schedule and daily to-do lists, to our family menu and memory making moments. I don't want to look back a year from now and see all the ways I could have been better. I want to look back and see all the ways we were purposeful about living. Purposeful living doesn't mean there won't be mistakes or not-so-successful moments. But it does mean that we can live without regrets. Live knowing God is right here with us...even in the mundane.

As I sit here typing this, I'm watching Luke play with one of his new games he got for Christmas. I look at him now and see this remarkable young man. The character traits that I've seen develop in him since we started our homeschooling journey are truly remarkable.  Thank God we had the courage to step out on faith and bring our kids home! God has blessed us beyond our wildest dreams. The ways God is working in my children's lives is astounding!. Breath-taking. I know that one of my goals for 2011 is to be more purposeful about praying specifically for my children. The power of prayer is an awe-inspiring thing. To see the God of the universe touch our lives on such a personal level is humbling. What a shame it is when we don't take time to pray for our children. I hope to make that a much higher priority next year.

I'm excited for the ways God is going to inspire me as I take this time to pray over the New Year. God-directed goals are the only ones I hope to have for 2011. What about you? I hope you have time this week to pray about where God wants to lead your family next year. We can pray for each other to cling closely to God and allow Him to use us to further His kingdom in awe-inspiring ways!

Happy New Year friends!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Mary Did You Know - Clay Aiken

Merry Christmas!

Ahhhh...can you hear it? That's the sound of serenity. Christmas vacation has officially started at our house, and I think I'm even more excited than the kids! For the next two weeks, the title of "homeschooling Mom" is not on my wall. Of course, there are others that take its place: Santa's helper, baker, "hostess with the mostess"...you know, things like that.

This time of year is full of extremes. Have you ever noticed that? It seems that no other time of year can make us this blessed, this stressed, this happy, or this sappy. We're all kind of living life on full throttle right now! It's funny how my opinion of the Christmas season has changed since I was a kid. Then I was all about the fun and magical feeling of it all. Now I see all the work that goes into the fun and magic...and I'll admit it stresses me out! Not to mention the togetherness of family. That's not something I really want to discuss at the moment, but I'm sure you would share similar feelings. Oh to find reason to be thankful for all the little blessings even in the midst of chaos. I'm making sure I take extra B-Complex as needed this week. (It's the stress vitamin.)

So, I have to share a fun experience I just had. As part of one of my presents from my parents, I was sent on a mission to find a piece of clothing for them to wrap. Most women may get excited about such a thing - the trying on of new clothes. For me, it's usually an experience I don't enjoy. Well, I knew that this would be a slightly more enjoyable experience than last time, since I am down 20 pounds...but I still wasn't getting my hopes up too high. Turns out it was actually an encouraging endeavor! I liked what I saw in the mirror (comparatively at least) and was also happy with the size I was able to fit into. In fact, I even had a hard time narrowing down my choices! (Gasp!)  It's usually more of choosing the lesser of two evils, if you know what I mean. Of course the enemy quickly pointed out all the things I still dislike about my body (as I was standing there seeing myself from WAY more angles at one time than any woman should EVER have to do)...but I could respond to the enemy's feeble attempts at discouragement and confidently say: "I'm not there yet, but I'm on my way!". It was a little pat on the back experience that I needed to have. How fun that my parents' generosity allowed me to have it!

I want to take this moment to wish each of you (whether there are 5 of you reading this or 50) a very blessed and Merry Christmas! I pray that each of us will make time (notice I didn't say "find" time) these next few days to really appreciate the fullness of what Christmas means to Christians. Without the baby in the manger, there would be no Savior on the cross. This time of year the song that captures the moment for me is always "Mary Did You Know?". Just imagine holding your precious newborn baby boy and knowing that He's going to someday save the world! Gives me goosebumps every time. I'll post it on here so you can hear my favorite version.

Merry Christmas, friends! Enjoy yourselves and all those wonderful treats...but not TOO much. ;-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Unwrapping...Me?!

As I'm getting ready to start wrapping Christmas presents, I have to share this with you: I'm feeling a bit like a Christmas present myself. I know, I know. I have lots of splaining to do on this one. Check it out:

I'm on an incredible journey right now. Not only am I losing weight (which I've done before to certain degrees), I'm also changing my thought life. In particular: my personal self-talk. God is not only slowly transforming my body, but He's doing a BIG work in my head as well. This is where I'm starting to feel like a Christmas present. Maybe the image should be more of comparing my journey to the layers of an onion (or an avocado, or a rose petal), but for the current time of year a Christmas present just seemed more appropriate. Let me continue...

What is it about opening a present that we all get so excited about? It's finding out the surprise within the wrapping paper. Right? Finding out the unknown (and knowing that most likely you're going to be VERY happy with what you find inside) is very exciting! That's where I feel like I am with God on this health journey right now. I am slowly being introduced to a new me. A me that I've always hoped was in there, but just never could seem to get all the necessary elements to align themselves at the right time to find her!

I am someone that has been overweight (literally) my whole life. Picture my little Hannah but with a chubby face (and chubby everything else, for that matter) and you have what I looked like as a little girl. There has never been a time in my life where I could be considered thin. Never. In fact, even the thinner times of my youth where I look back now and wonder why I thought I was overweight...I was TOLD by others (many within my own family) that I WAS fat. Along with never being thin, I've also never had a healthy self-image. It was learned behavior from my Mom as well as acquired because of how I was treated growing up. Both of these things combined to make one pretty messed up adult! In the past when I've had minor success at weight loss, I've never had much success at overcoming the head stuff. I've always been my own worst enemy. I've always spent the whole weight loss journey telling myself all these lies...and then proceeding to make the lies a reality. But THIS time, things are different. God has lovingly gotten ahold of my head. He's gently pointing out the areas that I need to improve on. He's graciously allowing me one-step-at-a-time victory. This time IS different!

So as I walk through this journey with myself and God, every little victory - both in my body & my head - is cause for excitement. It's God revealing a side of me I've never met before! It feels very much like I'm slowly unwrapping the best Christmas present ever...me!! Shedding the pounds and the emotional baggage is so incredibly freeing. In fact, shedding the emotional baggage is WAY more freeing at this point than the weight is. God is getting some very huge monkeys off my back! He's truly done a 180 transformation in the way I treat myself.

I know that the road ahead to my goal weight is still very long. But as I watch my total weight loss hit 19 pounds (hoping for 6 more down by the end of the year), I can actually start to imagine myself at that goal. There are many small goals between here and there: things like being down to what I weighed when I got married before we go to Florida in March, building up enough physical endurance that I can run the 10K with my husband in May, seeing the 50 pound mark by Memorial Day, fitting into a gorgeous new sleeveless dress (in a MUCH smaller size) for my nephew's wedding next July, etc. Each of these goals is exciting! And scary. And filled with a lot of hard work between now and when they're achieved.

For today, I'm just so thankful for the success of the journey so far. I've had my many bumps in the road so far and know that there are certainly many more ahead. But God is doing a BIG work! And this girl is excited for each new thing He reveals!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Deep Water Faith in the Shallow End

What do you think about the title of today's post?  If you listen to the Casting Crowns song I posted under this, you'll hear that line. It's another one of those songs that is on my MP3 player and I hear it regularly when I'm working out. That line keeps rolling over and over in my mind. The gist of the song seems to be someone who is on fire for God...but only so hot. "Somewhere between the hot and the cold."

When I first think of having deep water faith in the shallow end, I think of someone who is ready. Ready as they'll ever be (until they actually GET into the deep end). But they think they're ready for whatever life has to throw at them. They're in the shallow end only because they just don't want to be anywhere else right now. But they're ready for the deep end. Or so they think.

But I don't think this is really what the song is getting at

I was reading in the book of John today and I was struck by just how often Jesus was scoffed at. For the most part, it seems that people walking the same ground as Jesus were more apt to think He was a crazy lunatic, than to believe He was the Messiah. Normally, when I think of all the stories of Jesus' life, and how I would have behaved if I were there, I always pictured myself as one of His followers. I mean, knowing what we know now, how could that not be the case...right? Well, today I was struck by the opposite. I was thinking what I would think now if someone were to walk next to me, and say the kinds of things that Jesus said to them. I'd think he was crazy! How in the world could I have had Jesus as my next door neighbor, known His parents and His siblings, watched Him grow up, and yet believed a word He was saying when He started talking about being the "Son of God". I am sure that even to walk beside Jesus, it took some deep water faith to truly believe.

THAT'S the kind of deep water faith I think the song is talking about.

I think it's talking about someone who is so passionate about their faith that nothing they experience on this earth is going to dampen it. They have full-on faith. They are sold out to the Savior. When you look at their life, it doesn't mean it's all a cake walk. But no matter what life throws at them, their faith does not waiver.

There's also the whole idea of having deep water faith out of necessity. You know like...being thrown in before you're really ready but you VERY quickly acquire the faith you need. Kind of like arriving in the deep end of a pool without willingly putting yourself there. Or, you put yourself there willingly...and then the waves come.

Kind of like this:  I was at Michigan's Adventure several years ago and, even though I'm not a very strong swimmer I thought, "I can handle the wave pool. It's not so bad." Mind you, the waves were turned off at this point.  Also a key to this story: I was in the pool with a friend who was a trained lifeguard. And he knew I wasn't the best swimmer. But he let me do this anyway. What a friend, huh? Anyway, I was swimming in the deepest end of the wave pool with the waves turned off (i.e. calm water) and I was thinking I was actually doing pretty good. (Well, duh!) I thought, "Hey, this isn't so bad! I am a better swimmer than I thought!" And then they turned on the waves. Ruh!-roh Raggy! This girl went from "I'm OK" to "HELP ME!" instantaneously. And my lifeguard friend was of NO use to me at that point. He actually told me to let go of him when I tried to use him as my life preserver. So, I frantically got myself to the side of the pool and started to climb up the ladder. The lifeguard on duty told me, "Sorry, you have to exit in the shallow end." Uh, not if you don't want me to drown I don't!

That was the last time I was ever in a wave pool.

Did I learn something about deep water that day? I learned that I was an OK deep water swimmer, as long as I was on calm water. Me in deep water and waves? Not so much.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be caught in the middle when it comes to my faith! I don't want to be flapping my arms in the deep end of life! I want to be fully prepared AND fully willing. I pray we can acquire a deep water faith without having to spend too much time in the wavy deep end. But I also know that when life throws us there, we can count it pure joy.

James 1:2-4 ~ Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

"How close can I get, Lord, to my surrender, without losing all control?
Fearless warriors in a picket fence.
Reckless abandon wrapped in common sense.
Deep water faith in the shallow end.
And we are caught in the middle.
With eyes wide open to the differences: the God we want and the God who is, but will we trade our dreams for His...or are we caught in the middle?"

Let's not get caught in the middle, friends. Oh, and I promise I'll throw you a life preserver if I see you flailing around in the waves.

Somewhere in the middle - Casting Crowns

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fresh Snow!

The first snow. That's what we're enjoying today. And enjoying is really what it is. There's something quite special about that first snowfall, isn't there? The kids couldn't wait to go outside for recess all bundled up in their winter weather gear. By the time they came inside, there was barely any spot of snow in the backyard that didn't have a footprint in it. They were enjoying every snowflake that fell on their noses and melted on their snow pants.

Fresh snow is just one of the many special gifts from heaven. Each flake is unique. It's as if God is having art class and sending His creations down for us to enjoy.

Fresh snow does everything from put you in the Christmas spirit to remind you of the joy of a clean slate. We get one of those every day, you know. But I think it's all too easy to forget it.

Lamentations 3:22-23 ~ "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

His mercies are new every morning. A clean slate He offers us...every single day. Isn't that refreshing?!

Today as I enjoy this first snowfall, I am treasuring God's mercies. Lavishing in His grace. Loving this new day. Clean slate. It's not that yesterday had anything wrong with it, mind you. There's just something really refreshing about a clean slate.

May we each take this opportunity to let go of all of yesterday's disappointments, failures, and regrets. Grab ahold of this fresh start today. Enjoy the beauty of God's creation. Oh, and go ahead and play in the snow today. Show God how much you appreciate this day.

Blessings friends...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lots of Blessings

Are you enjoying this long Thanksgiving weekend? I pray you are. It's sure been an unusual one around our house. Mom had her 2nd hip replacement surgery on Monday, so we celebrated our family Thanksgiving last Saturday night. Thanksgiving Day we brought Mom home in the morning and then hung out at their house most of the day. Our Thanksgiving Day meat of choice was beef roast instead of turkey. Pretty reminiscent of the day Hannah was born. Six years ago on Thanksgiving Day, we welcomed our little Hannah Banana into the world. Dave and I ate beef roast that day too before we headed to the hospital. This year Hannah's birthday was on Thanksgiving Day again. And we had beef roast again. Maybe that will be our tradition every year her birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day? Probably not. But it was worth thinking about for a second.

Would you like to hear my weight loss total? Up to 16 pounds. I should feel great about that. But instead I am feeling guilty that I haven't gotten on the treadmill in a week. The reasons are legitimate and just part of life. And sometimes "life" just happens. I may still get on the treadmill for a bit tonight. I'm just finding it interesting that I haven't been able to fully enjoy being able to mark off that 15 pound mark on my weight loss chart only because I'm laying an exercise guilt trip on myself! And because I'm still regularly struggling with doubt that this is really going to be different this time. As if I didn't already fully recognize this, it's just been SO obvious that the biggest part of this weight loss journey is dealing with the head stuff. And putting the enemy and his lies in the corner. In some ways, though, it is getting easier. However, I think the enemy has caught me with my guard down a bit lately. Not good! That's part of why I thought it was time to update the blog. It helps me to get my game face back on.

So maybe you're wondering what weight loss program I'm following (I've had a couple people ask me). Well, it's just a compilation of everything I've learned over the years and the dozens of diets I've been on. It's listening to my body and figuring out what really works for me. For the most part, the three biggest keys are: portion control (I realized I was eating WAY too much and thinking it was OK), regular exercise that makes me sweat bullets and makes my muscles burn (not taking the easy way out and thinking that just putting in some time on the treadmill is enough, whether it really pushed my limits or not), and not eating past 7PM. This last one is hard. The time of day where I most want to eat (and probably feel the hungriest) is right after the kids go to bed. Well, that's usually about two hours past the point of when I stop eating for the day. It's definitely gotten easier as I go along. But I'm telling you, breakfast is now my FAVORITE part of the day. I allow myself to eat and enjoy it and not count calories. Now, of course, I'm not pigging out on Krispy Kremes or something. A lot of times my breakfast is a Shaklee Cinch meal bar. But if I feel like eating something a little different, I give myself permission to do that at breakfast. Trying to follow that old adage of eating a big breakfast, medium size lunch, and small dinner is helping out a lot. I know that the better I eat from noon to 7PM, the faster I see the weight loss on the scale.

One more quick note on the whole not eating past 7PM thing. Do you remember a few years ago when Oprah was promoting her trainer's book and exercise program? I'll never forget what he told Oprah. She was complaining to him about how hungry she felt at night. He told her that skinny people know that's your body burning fat. Really?! Do all skinny people know this? Probably not. But, I've never forgotten that fact. So now when I feel like gnawing my arm off at about 9:30 PM, I think of those fat cells getting eaten alive. Makes me almost look forward to that feeling every night! I know if I don't have a slight sensation of hunger when I go to bed, then I ate too much too late in the day.

Which brings me to one more thing: knowing when you're hungry. If you don't have a weight issue, then you may not realize this: most overweight people have no clue when they're really hungry. Why? Because most overweight people never allow themselves to go long enough without eating to feel hungry. And, most overweight people (particularly those of the female persuasion) are huge emotional eaters. Emotional eaters don't eat because they're hungry. They eat because they're: sad, scared, lonely, excited, happy, etc. I tell you, it's a real novel idea to not eat until your stomach growls. Humph. Stomach growling, you say?! Why in the world would I want to make that happen? Because perhaps that's the internal clue God gave each of us to know when it's time to eat. Wow. News flash, huh?! God makes me smile sometimes.

You know another thing I've really been embracing? The fact that I'm not doing these changes because I'm "on a diet" or for a short period of time. I'm adopting a new way of living that is going to stick with me even after I reach my goal weight. In a lot of ways, that has made the step of feeling "empowered" and not "deprived" a whole lot easier. If I'm making good choices for my body that I'm planning to do for the rest of my life, then there's nothing to feel deprived about! I don't have to say no to all kinds of things. I can say yes, and just make sure I have a small amount and eat it earlier in the day. That's empowerment!


There are other things I try to do too (lots of water, good Shaklee vitamins, limit the unhealthy carbs, eat more raw veggies, go organic as much as is feasible)...but those first three things are the biggies that are making a difference on the scale for me. What works for you? Figure it out and do it. I think we can all agree on handling our head stuff together...but the nitty gritty program that works for one of us, might not work for someone else. Find the program you like, stick to it as best you can, and come here for some regular encouragement on the head stuff. Or, better yet, buy the book "Made to Crave" when it comes out in January and participate with me (in person or through this blog) in the six week study. You might be surprised how much God comes alongside you on this journey when you do. And that, my friends, is the ONLY way we'll ever achieve success on the scale and in our minds.
 
Have a wonderful finish to your Thanksgiving weekend! Until next time...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Truths

I have to preface this post by saying I have no time to be writing this. My to-do list is growing by the minute. My day is off to a slow start. Yet all I want to do is take a few minutes to sort out my thoughts. It has been a bit since I last blogged. All those pent up words just HAVE to come out!

Since I last wrote, Dave and I got to FINALLY have our mini-getaway. We were originally supposed to do this in May, but my Mom's first hip replacement surgery got re-scheduled (a familiar problem) and then everything happened with my Dad in July and suddenly it's November. I won't say much about the getaway, but just that it was so wonderful to be alone together and have the chance to re-connect. Can I get an Amen from other parents of young children? Who knew 10 years ago that time alone would be such a treasure?! We don't get it very often, but it was just what the doctor ordered. I came home thanking God all the more for the wonderful man He's blessed me with and for the wonderful gift of marriage. I was reminded of our wedding and how our pastor spoke about how, if our marriage would go as God intended, someday people would look at us and see that we are both better people together than we were separately. (That's the quick gist of it...it was actually much more eloquent.) Well, I can honestly say that Dave has made me a better woman. His love for me will never be the same as God's love for me...but most days it's a pretty close second. Dave makes me feel like a princess. What an amazing legacy Dave is leaving for our children to see: for Luke to know how to treat his future wife, and for our girls to know how they ought to be treated. I just LOVE that man!

Starting on Friday, life is going to get REALLY crazy around this house. Between a homeschool party, basketball pictures, Hannah's birthday sleepover with 1 friend and party with several more, early Thanksgiving at my brother's, and my Mom's (fingers crossed) surgery finally taking place on Monday...my brain is going 100 mph. My to-do lists are on overdrive, and my mind can't even seem to prioritize it all at the moment. Today and tomorrow need to be filled with school, housework, planning, grocery shopping, etc. But as I sit here watching the rain pour down outside...all I want to do is hide under the covers. Today is just kind of an emotionally "blah" day. I'm feeling lonely (even though I am so busy I don't know how I can have time to feel that way), and I am struggling with having to say goodbye to some things/people (even though I know it was a change that God 100% directed). The fact is, I have NO reason to feel lonely or sorry for myself. I am blessed with so many awesome people in my life. I guess the enemy is just trying to sidetrack me a bit today. But since I know my feelings are not what should determine my mood, I'm trying to filter my emotions through God's Truths today.

A dear friend that I was privileged to meet during the Lysa TerKeurst filming, shared with me a wonderful handout on Truth. (I'm happy to e-mail it to you if you're interested.)  It has three columns: what I feel or think about myself, what is true about me according to the scriptures, and some scripture verses to back it up. Today I'm going to pray over these truths. What a great resource to have on a rainy, blah day like today.

Oh, and as for the weight loss journey, it's going painfully slow but I am up to 14 pounds lost now. I was hoping for 20 pounds by Thanksgiving. But I am not going to let the slowness of my journey get me down. I'll just rejoice over every pound!

I'm going to pray over some Truths from God's Word and then move on to conquer the day. I pray that the Son is shining on you today even if the sun isn't shining outside. Talk to you again soon, my friends!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In Awe!!

I just had to share my awestruck-ness with you today. (Yes, I'm sure I just made up that word.) God is knocking my socks off right now! I really shouldn't be in awe, I mean not in a surprised kind of way. But certainly a reverential awe would be perfectly acceptable. Well, you get the idea. God is awesome! And today I'm basking in His greatness.

I don't know if it's the catalyst of the "Made to Crave" experience, or the fact that I turned 39. But the fact is, my attitude towards: food, exercise, my body, my failures & struggles...has done a complete 180! God is freeing me from strongholds that I've held onto for so long I thought they were destined to stick around forever. For one thing (and, hold onto your hats here my bloggy friends), I actually ENJOY working out now! I look forward to it! Whoa. Did I just say that?! I went from having my husband occasionally remind me how much better I'd feel if I'd just get on the treadmill for a few minutes, to him telling me "you know, Jen, you really ought to give your body a break for a day or two to let your muscles repair themselves." Did you hear that?! I'm working out so much that my husband thinks I need to take a break! "OK, God. What is going on here?!"

I'll tell you what's going on: God's up to what He does best. What He's been wanting to do all along! Free me from some huge shackles. I just never took Him up on the offer before! Take a listen to this song by Mandisa:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svRqFGJ-aC0

Praise You, Lord!

Walking in new found freedom is an amazing and awe-inspiring experience. Have you experienced this recently too? I'd love to hear your "freedom stories." Please leave me a comment and share them!

Praying for each of us to accept this marvelous gift of freedom EVERY SINGLE DAY of our lives! Oh what a marvelous God we serve, friends!

Take off those shackles...and put on your dancing shoes!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Resting Assured In Who I am in Christ!

Yesterday afternoon I had the most amazing luxury...time alone! For 20+ minutes I was all alone in the van. As a busy homeschooling mom of 3 that doesn't happen very often! I was so thankful to be able to use most of the time praying out loud to my Abba Father. What incredible peace and joy comes from those moments!

I love how God is teaching me right now. What I came to realize yesterday, is that God is requiring something of me that He's been teaching me my whole life. Something that applies to almost every area of my life! He wanted it when I was a sad & lonely high schooler, He wanted it when I was trying to find my place in life those long & lonely years after college, He wants it every time I start to question who my friends really are. God wants me to want Him. To want Him more than I want anything else in life. To care about what He thinks of me, and not what anyone else does. He wants to be enough. Wow!

In a current situation we're walking through as a family, it would be very easy to think we need to justify ourselves to others. To not let certain things go unresponded to. To make sure that the truth is understood. But what God's asking us to do, is to let Him handle it. To keep our mouths shut. To only care about what HE thinks, and not what anyone else does. It takes a lot of grace, forgiveness, humility, and trust. Some moments in the day I do really well. Others, not so much. But God is really making His wishes clear. What a blessing that is!

A friend reminded me yesterday of how many times Jesus was treated unfairly, yet He said nothing. Who am I to think that I have the right to act any differently? Certainly my circumstances will never come close to what Jesus endured. Any time we're confused about how to walk out our faith, we should always look to see Jesus' example. We'll never do it perfectly, but He gives us a clear example of what to strive for. He was tempted in many ways, yet He never sinned. He felt all the emotions we do, yet He kept His focus on the Father's plans. Just what we're supposed to do.

There is a lot going on in my life right now. Lots of changes and growth opportunities. Lots of chances to rely totally in my relationship with the Lord! What I love so much right now, is that the more I reach out to Him the more He pulls me closer to Himself. The more He reveals His wishes. The more He surrounds me with peace. Isn't it amazing that the Creator of the universe has THAT personal of a relationship with us?! Mind blowing.

Praise the Lord that I know who I am in Him! My confidence comes, not through my relationships (with people or food or anything else), nor through my personal achievements or earthly successes. My confidence comes because I'm a daughter of the King of Kings! May I never forget that for a second. And may you never forget it either.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's Been a GREAT Week!

This has been a really good week. For many reasons, it's been good, but want to know the biggest reason? My thought life. God has been showering me with such grace and love and teaching me how to shower myself with the same. For me...that's HUGE!

I don't normally do this on here, but I just have to make a short list of some of my biggest blessings this week:
  • worked out on the treadmill five days in a row and actually looked forward to it each time!
  • lost enough weight that I'm down to the next 10's bracket on the scale! (YEAH!!)
  • I'm finally (after over two years of this hanging on the wall in my bedroom) within 4 pounds of being able to start marking my progress on a chart! (I'm motivated by such silly things)
  • God has been helping me to change my internal dialogue (a short statement for a VERY BIG deal!)
  • got to enjoy coffee and great conversation with two different friends on two different nights this week (and had a husband who was excited for me to be able to do that!)
  • got to meet Mikayla's new basketball coach and team...I'm just continually SO impressed with all the homeschoolers I meet. Homeschool families are (for the most part) so down-to-earth, genuine, big-hearted, outgoing, caring, hospitable people. I LOVE being part of the homeschool community!!
  • God reassured me of some things in a very clear way. LOVE it when that happens!!
  • Dave and I made the decision to take a mini get-away in a few weeks. Just the knowledge that we're doing it, is incredibly exciting. I just love my husband and am extra blessed every time we get some special time together (which doesn't seem to happen often enough anymore).
  • I've been blessed to see my kids interact with others, get excited about new adventures, and just make their momma proud this week!
Can you tell it's been a good week?!

I need to get off the computer and get some housework done before our BIG night/weekend of basketball kicks into high gear. I just had to take some time and share my blessings with my blogger friends. When God is setting me free from some strongholds that I've had most of my life...it's hard to contain my excitement! I know the road ahead is long and full of lots of twists and turns...but I'm SO excited to be off to a great start. This time IS different. Want to know why? Well, I've never been 39 before. God is doing a BIG work in me (mentally and physically) and I can't wait to be a few months ahead on this journey and be able to look back and see all the progress. But I'm also going to enjoy each day as it comes. I am living in the moment over here!

Thanks for praying for me and holding me accountable. Leave me a comment and let me know how I can pray for you this week!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oh How Much I Love You, Lord!

So, this is going to be brief (LOTS to do this morning), but I just had to give a quick shout-out to the complete awesome-ness of God. (Yes, I really said that.) In my last post I was sharing the difficulty of some changes God sometimes asks us to make. Well, He knew I was having a few minor doubts on whether our family's new path was indeed God-directed. Thankfully, He gave me 100% reassurance out of the clear blue yesterday morning. Thank you Lord! I sure needed that. Boy, did I ever.

Isn't it awesome when you feel God that closely? It makes me fall in love with Him all the more. Makes me want to shout His greatness from the tallest rooftop! We serve an incredible God. There aren't enough words to describe Him. I think I'll ponder all His majesty while I get busy with the morning's to-do list.

As you go through your Wednesday, I pray you're constantly reminded and reassured of Who God is. May your love for Him grow immeasurably this week.

Blessings friends!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Following Him

Oh, change is hard. Isn't it? Some changes, like the ones made on the road to getting healthy, are hard but they produce exciting results. Not immediately, of course, but at some point. Other change, however, is downright stinky. I mean, I'm sure God has a perfectly wonderful plan in all of it...but at first it just seems 100% lacking in any amount of fun or even good reason.  But...sometimes God doesn't ask us to do the fun or reasonable thing. He asks us to do His will. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)

In the midst of hard things, it's easy to get caught up in emotions. Feelings. Let our hearts rule us. But, my friends, our feelings often deceive us. In fact, more often than not, that's the case. I'm walking through one of those times right now where my feelings are having a rough go. My feelings, if I allowed them to, could totally get me off the path God is leading our family down. My feelings would much rather I stayed on the easy path. (Or at least the path that looks easy to me right now.) The "easy" path, is the path of least resistance. It's the path that you choose when you don't like change or having to get out of your comfort zone. We've been stuck on that path for quite awhile.

But, now we're stepping out in faith and following God down a new path. A path we're sure He's leading us down...but one that's full of hard choices. And we've left the comfort zone far behind. FAR behind. I'm sure there are great things on this new path, and that a new level of comfort will eventually return. As of yet, though, the path is a bumpy one.

What do you do when God asks you to leave your comfort zone? And how has He asked you to do that? Has He asked you to step out and share your faith with someone? Has He asked you to begin a new journey as a family, like homeschooling? Has He asked you to remove something, like TV or certain movies, from your free time? At some point or another, God WILL ask us to do the hard thing. He WILL require that we move out of our comfort zone. Thankfully, though, our obedience in these areas always leads to us growing in our faith.

How much are you willing to give up for God? How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go? To be honest, it scares me to even think about that question. Sometimes (like right now) I feel like He's stretched me far enough. At least for a while, I don't want to be stretched any more!

I've been hearing a lot from God on this new journey. Here's some of what I've been comforted with:

Matthew 19:26 ~ "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (so the hard path isn't so hard after all!)

Philippians 1:6 ~...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Deuteronomy 31:6 ~ Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

James 1:2-4 ~ Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.


2 Peter 1:5-8 ~For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You see, this journey we're on, while not currently easy...has a purpose in God's plan. As long as we stay grounded in Him, He will continue to make us more like His Son. We can't let our emotions determine our direction. We have to cling tightly to the garment of Christ and allow Him to guide our path. Remember, His Word is a "lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105) That means it's lighting up just enough to get us a few steps ahead. It's not daylight. It's dark. It's not flipping a switch and having the whole path lit up. It's a small lamp lighting up just enough to see what's just ahead. Don't run ahead of God, friends. Allow Him to guide your way, one step at a time.

So my hope today is that if you're also being led by God down a path that isn't an easy one...you'll find encouragement to stay the course. One step at a time. Covered in prayer and His Word. Allowing Him to do a good work in you. That makes even the most uncomfortable of journeys a whole lot more exciting, don't you think?!

Be blessed along the journey...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Ready, Set, Go!

Friday mornings seem to make me want to write. I was just thinking about all the things God is teaching me this week, and I thought I better get it on the blog before He reveals much more. My brain can only process so much at one time! I just love how writing helps me organize my thoughts. And my prayer is that maybe some of this will encourage you as well.

As you may already know, I'm on a mission over the next 11+ months. That mission is to become "fit at forty". Turning 39 a few weeks ago means it is time to crank this mission into high gear! Thankfully, my participation in the Lysa TerKeurst "Made to Crave" filming in August got my brain thinking in a new way. And trust me when I say this: my #1 stumbling block on the road to weight loss is my brain. Is it yours? I think women are definitely more prone to struggling in this area. I won't re-hash the whole head game thing (that was a previous post). I'll just say that praise the Lord...God's doing a BIG change on me already! Can I get an Amen?!

Let's back up to the "Made to Crave" idea. First off, as an FYI: the book and its DVD's and participant guide won't be released until January. But, you can pre-order them now at: http://tiny.cc/2iyo0.  If you want to join me in a 6-week Bible study of "Made to Crave", let me know. I plan to have one beginning sometime in the end of January. So what is my "Aha" moment from what I've learned so far (just from participating in the DVD filming)?

Not taking care of my body is a sin.

Poor eating habits (and food addictions) are a sin.

A poor self-image joined together with negative self-talk is a sin!

Have you ever thought of it this way? It sounds so simple, yet I hadn't looked at it this way before. I'm always focused on how I can be living a life that is bringing glory and honor to God. Yet, somehow, this aspect of my daily life never registered on the "sin scale." It seemed like a personal struggle that was definitely a huge roadblock in my life. But I'd just never considered that God was calling it a sin. But , here's the deal: God doesn't want us to crave (or think about) anything more than Him. Not money. Not success. Not our family. Not sex. Not food. Nothing.

So how often do you think about: the number on the scale, the food you want to eat (or can't eat), the way you look in the mirror? Do you think about that more than you think about God? Do you filter your thoughts on all these issues through the truths of God's Word? How does God want you to talk to yourself? How does He want you to treat your body? These are the types of things I'm thinking about right now. Thankfully His Word is very clear...and thankfully He's overflowing with grace.

The last week has been a good week in this journey for me. God has really healed my hurts on a lot of my past failures. He is showing me how to offer myself the same grace He offers. He is showing me how to have a positive self-talk. He is gradually taking away my unhealthy cravings, and filling me with more of a craving for Him. And, slowly, the scale is showing some reward too.

It's all a process! I am confident that no matter what date this goal of mine will be achieved, it WILL be achieved. Just having that amount of hope and assurance for me is HUGE! I am so thankful for the changes God has already given me. And I'm excited for the changes that are yet to come.

So many more great things swirling through my mind. You'll just have to stayed tuned for more on another day. Have a blessed weekend!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I Need This Reminder (Again!)

I'm really struggling with fear today. Remember how I said I wasn't going to live in fear anymore? That it's the opposite of faith? Well, it is rearing its ugly head big time right now. Some is related to our financial journey, some is related to my own personal health goals, but mostly it's related to the fear of losing the ones I love.

My Dad had another appointment with his cardiologist today. I find that every time he has a doctor appointment, I sit on pins and needles waiting to hear the latest news. I can usually tell by the sound in my Mom's voice when she answers the phone whether the news was good. I guess today's news wasn't necessarily bad. The results from his latest cat scan on his lungs showed there was no change from the one he had done in the hospital on July 9th. That's especially good considering that we were worried about some long-term damage from a particularly strong heart drug he was on. The doctor referred them to a new pulmonologist. The good of that is that hopefully this one is better than the previous one he went to. The not-so-good news is that it means we wait longer for an answer of how to help him. His breathing has improved slightly, but it's still bothersome.

Last night I had a dream that someone close to me had died. It wasn't my Dad, but the raw emotion of the dream stuck with me even after waking up. I hate those kind of dreams! As I go through my day today, I keep trying to filter this fear through the truths of God's Word. I even have been thinking (once again) about what the people in the town of Blessing, North Dakota (Lauraine Snelling's awesome book series) would be doing in moments like this. It all goes back to trusting God to do what He says He will do. Trusting that nothing is a surprise to Him. Trusting that even when the things of this earth crumble and fade away, He is still right here with us. Praise God!

So, I don't like waiting. I don't like the unknown. I don't like the thought of losing the ones I love.

But. (and this is a BIG but)

But God reminds me to make the most of today, and let tomorrow take care of itself.

But God reminds me that He is my Rock and my Fortress and He will hold me up during the rough times.

But God reminds me that today is an amazing gift. Make the most of it. Treasure the ones you love.

But God.

Ahhhh. I can feel His peace surrounding me even as I type. Thank you Lord for allowing me to feel Your presence.

Now it's time to enjoy this amazing day and the wonderful things God has in store for us! Have a great weekend everyone!!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lessons I've Learned from the Bjorklund Family

So, my Mom and I have been devouring a series of books by Lauraine Snelling. They're all about a Norwegian family that immigrates to North Dakota and settles there in the late 1800's. This family (the Bjorklunds) are addicting. I'm very sad to be coming to the end of the books. The latest one was released in March of this year, so I'm crossing my fingers that she's not done writing about them though.

It's funny how we even came to know about these books. It was from one of Dad's nurses in the hospital. The fact that Dad is Norwegian brought up the topic one day while she was in his room drawing some blood. I went to the library and got the first one that night I think. Almost three months later, I feel like I'm part of the Bjorklund family.

My Mom says that reading these books is kind of like doing a Bible study, and she's kind of right. The author, a Christian, has created the Bjorklunds to be a very devout Christian family who quotes scripture and prays continually. Through all their blessings and hardships, they bring everything to God. Well, I have to admit it, I've learned a thing or two from the Bjorklunds. Or at least I've been doing a better job of waiting on the Lord lately because of the example I see by that family.

Waiting is hard. It's much easier to quickly pray about something and move forward on what you think God is saying (or would say). That's probably what I used to do. Rather than truly praying and waiting and praying some more...I would just pray some and leap into action. Now, admittedly, some things don't need to be waited on. Some things either require quick action or just aren't the kind of matters that require some big answer from God. But lately in our home, we seem to have a number of things where the right answer just isn't obvious. That's when we know it's time to wait on the Lord.

As I've been putting this into action, I've been so comforted by God. I mean, He doesn't just make us sit here in a completely anxious state as we wait on His answer. He gives us peace. He gives us little answers that guide us, ever so slightly, down the path He's trying to lead us to. I may not fully know where He's leading us quite yet, but I can look in the rear view mirror and see where we've been and where's He's already brought us. I know He's faithful and will continue to guide and direct us even more. Fact is, He's going to be guiding and directing us every step this side of heaven. This thing that today seems huge and is heavy on our minds, will someday be replaced by something new. That's just life. And, thankfully, that's just God.

So this week, if you have something weighing heavy on your mind, I encourage you to start the week out by bringing it all to God. Then wait. Trust Him for His complete guidance and perfect answer. Listen to the quiet leading He will give. Oh, and be prepared to have your socks blown off. Because our God isn't big on "comfort." He's big on change. I'm actually rather excited about that one! Per my last post, I'm looking forward to lots of positive changes before my 40th birthday. So let's get this Monday started, shall we?!

Here we go...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Giving Myself the Best Birthday Present Ever!

OK, I'll admit it. I am not all that happy about turning another year older tomorrow. The good news is, I still have an entire year before the big 4-0. The bad news is (and I do this every year) I feel like in many ways I haven't made much progress in my life this last year. Do you do that? Both at my birthday and on January 1st, I always get really sappy and start thinking about the year that has passed. Whether it's another year of my life, or another year on the calendar...I'm prone to let the aging effect get me down really easily. I guess even when my kids get older, it's kind of a bittersweet time. I hate how fast they're growing up! Aging and changing...that's just part of the cycle of life. Doesn't mean I have to like it though.

I took the kids to see Shrek 3 yesterday morning. The overall moral of the story is to appreciate where you're at and what you have. What a great reminder for me this week! Be thankful for today. Count all my blessings. What's that saying? "Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery, but today's the day." (or some variation thereof)

Why is it so easy for me to beat myself up over the failures and disappointments of the past? I mean, even if it just happened last night or last hour...it's the past! If God can forgive and not hold these things over my head, what gives me the right to do that to myself?! So silly. Oh how the enemy has me in bondage in this area. He can mess with my mind and help me condemn myself  like it's his full-time job. Oh yeah...I guess it kind of is.

I'm reminded right now of when I did the study by Caroline Leaf called Who Switched Off My Brain?. She talked about how when these negative thoughts come into our minds, we have a choice. We can choose to accept them as true and let them grow roots in our mind, or we can call them out for the lies of the enemy that they are and banish them from our thought life. We have a choice! It's not that the condemning thoughts won't ever come into my mind. But I have a choice of whether to let them set up house there. Isn't that refreshing?! I have to remind myself of this on a regular basis, because I struggle with this so much.

So here's my birthday present to myself this year: a fresh start.

Grace. Forgiveness. Freedom. Peace. That's what a fresh start for this 39th year of my life means to me. Learning to live in the fullness of God's abundance! Accepting everything He offers. Not losing out on the benefit of breaking free from these chains. Oh how I can feel the peace and excitement growing in me already! Will you do me a favor though? When you think of me and this specific area...will you say a brief prayer? I know that this gift is going to take a lot of work and a lot of prayer and a lot of daily reminders to myself. If you're a prayer warrior, I covet your prayers for me on this. Thank you in advance for going to the Father on my behalf.

I am just so happy that my birthday falls on a Saturday this year. And the weather looks to be a pretty nice fall day. Maybe I'll see you at Robinette's or Art Prize or somewhere else around town. But in the morning you'll find me in my PJ's enjoying a nice lazy morning with my 4 favorite people. Oh it sounds heavenly! I am so blessed. And, may I say, I'm SO excited for what this next year of my life has in store. May it be more full of laughter and blessings, than tears and sorrow. I pray that is true for each of you as well.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Change...It's One Bumpy Ride!

I feel like I'm inside an hour glass filled with sand, and someone just turned my world upside down. I can't stand up because my footing is slipping away...faster each moment. Life in our home is full of a lot of changes right now. Some are changes that have come upon family members and are just the inevitable sign of age, while others are changes that we as a family have begun to make because of the leading of God. But none of these changes are all that fun. All of them can fill me with fear and trepidation if I allow myself to get caught up into them and forget where my assurance lies. I'm having one of those moments right now.

The seemingly downward spiral of my Dad's health is filling me with such fear and even bitterness, I just don't know how to process it some days. Because my parents are the age of most of my friends' grandparents, I've always struggled with knowing I was going to walk this path earlier than most of my friends. And earlier than my brother. My brother and I grew up in practically two different generations. And no matter how long my parents live, I know that my brother will have gotten them 16 years longer than me. That has always bothered me (even though I know I can't change it), and with the current struggles of my Dad it's bothering me more than ever. I am extremely close to my parents, and the mere thought of losing them makes the floodgates open. Throw into that some actual health issues that are getting more and more a struggle for my Dad, and I turn into an emotional train wreck.

I think what is bothering me the most right now is the not knowing what we can do to help. His pulmonologist yesterday was a real jerk. The voice of doom and gloom. Doctors really shouldn't be pessimists, ya know?! Tomorrow he has another appointment with another doctor. I pray that doctor doesn't repeat the pessimism of yesterday. I pray for hope. God is the giver of hope. I pray for optimism. With God ALL things are possible. I pray for healing. God is our Jehovah Rapha.

My Dad turns 80 in a couple weeks, so I'm rounding up some older pictures to make a collage for him. They brought me back, that's for sure. I tell you what. Never mind that I'm going to be 39 in 3 days. I want my Daddy! I'm not ready to walk this path. I want my kids to have their Grandpa around for many more years. To be able to know him as well as my nephews do. I want him to kick this current problem in the butt and be around to see his 90th birthday! I want life to be normal again. Not this new normal. The old normal. Too bad it doesn't work that way.

The other changes going on in my family seem minute compared to this, but they're still fairly stressful. Change is often not fun. But I'm trying to remember that despite all these upheavals...God hasn't changed one bit. He IS my Rock and my Fortress. He has all these issues fully under control. I just need to cling to Him and let Him lead me to the next safe harbor. I know He will. That's how He rolls.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

FEAR Not!

I just love it when you see God moving (even when you can't tell just what He's up to quite yet). The last two days I've been one of 20 lucky ladies who got to be part of Lysa TerKeurst's studio audience. She was filming the DVD sessions for her brand new Bible study (coming out in December), called "Made to Crave." It was evident to me from the moment I found out I was going to be part of this that God was up to something. He ordained each of us to be there...and we each had our own personal reason of why.

My reason seemed obvious: my lifelong struggle with weight. The funny part though, is that when I offered to be part of this, I had NO idea what the Bible study was even going to be. I just knew I loved Lysa. Well, God has spoken to me in so many ways during the last two days, that I am still processing all of it.

Here's what really struck me on the way home: I was able to be refreshed. I mean, if you know me and have kept up with the happenings in my parents' lives this summer...you know I haven't had much of a "refreshing" summer. It's been a pretty emotionally exhausting one, to put it nicely. But over the last two days, I was able to have some "me" time. Time to be quiet and listen to God. Time to make connections with an incredible group of women. Time to be blessed by Lysa's teaching. Time to be without my children. (You knew I was going to include that somewhere.) Time. For. Me. Yeah! It felt great.

So as I'm going the short distance from the church to home, I was reflecting on all the snippets of conversations I'd had since yesterday. Some of these conversations were external and happened with the precious group of ladies I got to share this experience with (including things Lysa shared with us). Many of the conversations happened internally between me and God. Here are some of the things flying through my mind:
  • having the COURAGE to allow God to do an amazing work in my life in terms of my relationship with food
  • having the COURAGE to sign up for and attend the Proverbs 31 Ministries "She Speaks" Conference next summer
  • having the COURAGE to step out in faith in the direction I feel God leading me and not be held back by: insecurity, financial worry, moving away from my comfort zone
  • having the COURAGE to truly give all my gifts back to God and allow Him to do an amazing work through me
Are you seeing the pattern? Yes, I know. I made it pretty obvious. God hit me right between the eyes this afternoon with one simple fact: Fear is holding me back. In pretty much every aspect of my life. Fear! False Evidence Appearing Real. The opposite of faith. A giant roadblock sent straight from the enemy. Fear.

Well, guess what?! Not anymore it's not! I am ready to push off from the comfort zone of the dock, and set sail into some new areas with my Jesus. Oh friends. It's going to be scary! But it's going to be the most fun adventure.

Stay tuned as I pray and process my way through this. I just know God is up to something good! He always is.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yahtzee Anyone?!

Have you ever had one of those times in your life where you feel like one of the dice in a Yahtzee game, and God just took you and all your "well-thought out plans" and shook you around for awhile and then tossed you onto the table? I kind of feel that way now. Well, no, that's exactly how I feel now. My summer did NOT turn out anything like I thought. And now summer is almost over, and the beginning of year two of homeschooling is NOT turning out how I thought (for starters, I'm not mentally prepared for this yet). And then add to that several other things in my life that I feel are being tossed and turned upside down. I feel like I can only think about one day at a time. Or maybe one half of a day at a time (depends on the day).

As I'm pondering all these forks in the road and uncertainties, I'm reminded of something very reassuring: God is still God. He hasn't changed one bit. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He just IS! The road of life is going to throw us all kinds of detours and potholes and bumpy rides. But that's OK, because God is God!

Oh, and let me tell you something I'm sure of: just when WE think we've got things figured out (or under control), God sends us a reminder call of just WHO is in charge. Don't get too comfortable, friends. And don't get too far away from our Abba Father either. 'Cuz when the storms of life come and the boat starts rocking, I want to be within arms reach of my Savior! Notice I didn't say "if" the storms of life come. No, rest assured...they WILL come. Are you ready? Are you holding tight to the only One who can truly save you? I think I needed that reminder lately.

It doesn't matter how foggy the path ahead gets. If I'm holding tight to my Rock and my Refuge, I'll be perfectly safe in the storm. Praise Jesus! What an awesome reminder of God's awesome truths. Let me tell you what: I'm holding onto His shirttail right now and letting Him lead me onto the next "safe" place. What a wonderful thing to know He is there to lead the way. And He knows EXACTLY where He's going!

Aaahhhh....can you hear that? It's called peace. Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Scary Journey

Oh what a crazy 11 days this has been! I'm an emotional train wreck. I don't even have the energy to fully re-cap the events of the last 11 days. I'll just say this: Dad had a small heart attack on the 9th, went by ambulance to the Zeeland ER, found out everything going on and was transferred on the 10th to the Meijer Heart Center, spent 7 days in the hospital waiting for his turn to have open heart surgery, had a quadruple bypass on the 16th, and is now in the very slowly progressing and highly painful recovery process. Wow. Even that mini recap wore me out.

As I was preparing to spend all day Friday at the hospital for his surgery, one of the things I did was look up a bunch of Bible verses on fear and comfort. There is one that really jumped out at me. It was Zephaniah 3:17 ~ The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.  It brings an image to mind of a Mom rocking her crying newborn to sleep as she cuddles the baby and sings a soothing song. That's what I want to have happen right now. I need my Abba Father to scoop me up in His arms, and quiet me with a loving song. Just when I think I'm all out of tears, a new update comes from the hospital and the emotional roller coaster starts rolling again.

I have been clinging tightly to God's Word and His promises throughout this. Now I need to work on my endurance. I so badly want tomorrow to be eaiser. I want my big, strong Dad to be himself again. I hate seeing him this way. I've never seen him in this much pain or this weak or this helpless. And to think that the whole week he spent in the hospital before his bypass, he was his normal self! Dave keeps reminding me that this surgery probably gave Dad another 10 years of life. I just want this horrible recovery process to be behind us.

So, again today I will be driving my Mom up to the hospital. Again today we'll be trying to hold ourselves together and be strong for Dad. Again today, all I want to do is curl up under the covers and wait for this storm to pass. I do see lots of blessing and answered prayers though, don't get me wrong. The fact that this problem with his heart was even discovered is a total God thing. The fact that we live so close to the state of the art Meijer Heart Center is a blessing. There are many answered prayers and blessings all ready. I just think we're currently walking through the hardest and scariest part.

Thanks to all my praying friends out there. Each of you are encouraging me in ways you may not even know. Your prayers are holding me together like when Aaron and Hur held up Moses' arms so the Israelites could see victory. Please keep them coming. Victory is on its way.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Let the Summer Fun Begin!

So what do you think of the new blog colors? Thought it was time to play around with the look of it. Maybe with all this pink I need to stick to black for my font color though. Kind of gives it a very hip look, don't you think?

I am currently enjoying some time at home alone. Alone! I'm so happy. I had thoughts of doing some housework and even taking a nap, but blogging sounded like a better idea at the moment. Maybe I can actually have an insightful thought without anyone interrupting me! Well, there is the dog, but he's currently napping under my chair. Oh, and I have the garage door closed, so maybe the neighborhood kids won't think we're home either. Aaahhh...

Well, yesterday we did something we hardly ever do as a family: go to the beach. I've never been much of a beach fan, but I put "going to the beach at least monthly" on my summer goals list. I just decided that it is silly to live this close to beautiful Lake Michigan and not take advantage of it! I think especially with homeschooling now, and having the kids around me so often (which I'm normally perfectly fine with)...I've decided that this summer we need to be purposeful about doing certain things. And in particular, certain things that are outdoors and appreciating the beauty of this state we live in. Michigan IS a gorgeous state. Yes, I do hate living here from about January 2nd through March 31st. But the rest of the time I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. So, yes, we hit the beach yesterday.

I must say, it was actually quite enjoyable! I've gotten over the bathing suit hang-up (because I found one that has surfer shorts for the bottoms, so I don't have to be self-conscious wearing it), but I'm still not a huge fan of the sand. Oh, the sand. It goes everywhere. Literally. Nothing like taking a bite of our sandwiches and gritting the sand in my teeth. Or getting it stuck in places on the kids that only a bath would help wash off. I guess, though, if the sand is the worst of our problems, then that's OK. And, I'd say that was the worst of it.

Now that the twins can swim and Hannah has her life vest on, I was able to relax a fair amount yesterday. Of course it helped that Daddy was in the water with them most of the time. But Lake Michigan still scares me. It's a big lake and the conditions can change in a flash.  If it weren't for Dave being there, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed the time nearly as much. Thankfully everyone was safe and tons of fun was had by all. The funniest was when we got out our big inflatable sea monster. I got lots of laughs watching the kids (and sometimes Daddy too) floating around on that thing. Hannah most enjoyed using it as her personal beach bed. But we left the beach with lots of color on our skin, smiles on our faces, and sand in our...well, sand everywhere. Pictures will come on Facebook soon.

I guess it's about time to get off the computer and start packing Luke up for camp. Camp, you say?! Yep. My little boy decided he wanted to go to Bible camp for 5 days with a friend. I really don't think I'm ready for this! He leaves tomorrow after church and will be home on Friday. The twins both went to this camp with friends for 2 days a couple summers ago. Somehow knowing that they had each other there made that experience seem easier to handle. Plus, it was only for 2 days. I have to do a lot of praying between now and tomorrow afternoon to be ready for this one. Leaving my baby boy for 5 days?! Oh heaven help me. I hope I can hold it together when we drop him off.  I'm sure he'll have tons of fun and be perfectly fine. It's just a whole new road we're taking here. I guess it comes with the job (parenting, that is). If he has the confidence to spread his wings and go to summer camp for 5 days, then we must be doing something right. The girls and I will do some special things together while he's gone. I'm thankful that the camp posts pictures of the campers during the week. You know I'll be checking that website several times a day!

Before I go, let me be accountable (per my previous post): I have been doing a smidge better. I still have a hard time getting enough of the veggies and getting in enough exercise. Although my trips up the dune yesterday at the beach sure wore me out! I think I've only lost a 1/2 a pound so far though. I hope to kick it into high gear and start to see those results accumulate quickly. I need some encouragement for this long road ahead! You can pray for me as I continue to change my thinking on this topic. That's all where the problem is, for sure. Still trying to convince myself that I really can do this. Too many failed attempts make me leery of even trying again.

Well, until next time...enjoy your blessings!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Time to Switch on My Brain Again!

Well, I did it again. I lost focus of my goal. And it wasn't a temporary loss of focus, it was like a month (or more). How do I do this? I feel like the fish, Dorie, in Finding Nemo. She's so easily taken off track on their journey to find Nemo. It's pretty funny all the clueless things she does...until you see how upset Nemo's Dad is and how much he just wants to stay focused on finding his missing son. And, after all, who can blame him? But poor Dorie just can't keep it all together. That's how I feel.

The goals I have in life (like most everyone, I suppose) are many. But this one goal that keeps slipping from my eyesight is in the area of my personal health journey. This weight that has plagued me since grade school. This weight loss goal that has changed dates so many times, I hate to even put a date on it anymore. I have a very BIG weight loss goal in mind for my 40th birthday (in 15 months). But a mini weight loss goal in mind for my 39th. I've had this goal for quite a while now (at least since New Year's Day). So why is it the end of June and the goal is no closer (and may even be farther away)? Because I can't keep my eyes on the finish line. I'm reminded of this verse today:

I Corinthians 9:24 ~ Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

I want to get the prize! In this case, it would finally (after over 30 years of struggle) be winning the battle of the scale. It would be feeling younger in my 40's than I have in my 30's. It would be finally slamming the door on this stronghold in my life, and telling Satan he did NOT win this fight. Take THAT Satan. Oh, how I can't wait to say that!

So why do I keep losing focus on the goal? Part of it is lack of faith that I can even succeed. Apparently somewhere in my brain, it feels less painful to "give up" than to "fail trying." Why do I think I'm going to fail? Because that's all I've ever done in this fight. Lose. And not lose weight. Lose confidence in myself. Lose faith in the science of "move more, eat less." Lose the will to fight the fight. Lose hope. Lose...well, you get the idea.

And another reason for taking my eye off the goal is all the other "goals" I have my eye on. There's the goal of being a good homeschooling Mom, of being a good housekeeper, of being financially smart, of being a good Christian, of being a good wife/friend/whatever else I am. Sometimes it just gets to be too much! I often feel that I can only do one thing really well. Well, that's probably a huge lie from the enemy, but if it's even remotely true...I know that I need to make that "one" thing focused on me this summer. Yes, I said it. I need to be a bit selfish with my goals right now! I need a huge jump start into this weight loss journey before fall. This summer is the time to do it. Has to be. I can't keep losing focus and NOT losing weight.

So what am I waiting for? I know it's not easy, but it should be simple. Move more. Eat less. Drink more water. Stop eating after 8PM. Eat more vegetables. Eat less refined carbs. Eat healthy protein. I know the drill! This journey is SUCH a head issue for me. An emotional roller coaster. I've allowed (yes, allowed...I choose what I think about) this issue to grow so big in my brain, that it's ugly weeds are killing all the healthy thoughts. Do you have such an issue? I have a book & some DVD's by Dr. Caroline Leaf called "Who Switched Off My Brain?". She does a great job of showing how negative thoughts literally grow thorns in our mind. Whereas healthy thoughts look like healthy trees. We CAN control what we think about. The enemy might try to throw some ideas into our heads, but we have the choice of whether to continue dwelling on those negative thoughts or whether to discount them as false and move onto something else. Well, I need to stop dwelling on negative thoughts! That is true of all areas in my life, but ESPECIALLY in areas related to the topic of weight loss.

I think I'm going to re-watch those Caroline Leaf DVD's and refresh my knowledge on how to re-train my brain. I promise to be accountable to this blog in regards to my weight loss journey. Accountability is kind of a scary thing! I know what to do though. It's time to just do it. Keep that goal in my mind and pray about how to daily make wise choices to get me successfully across the finish line. Time to take daily, purposeful actions towards success in this area. The mountain I have to climb seems WAY too big. But the reward is great. Probably greater than I can even imagine.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Enough with all the Worry!!

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I've been sucked into the land of worry. I know it is a waste of my time and I know God commands us NOT to worry. I also know that worry/fear are the exact opposite of faith. Yet, here I am fighting this worry bug so strongly that I wish they sold "worry bug spray." I thought if I took a few minutes to write about this, I'd get some clarity and peace of mind.

Here are some great verses on the topic:

Proverbs 12:25 ~ An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

Philippians 4:6-7 ~ Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:27-30 ~ Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

I Peter 5:7 ~ Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

I guess these verses say it clearly enough, don't they?! Stop worrying. Trust God enough to let go of all the frets and fears. Does God care about me? Of course. Does He know exactly what I need? Of course. Then Who should I be taking my fears to? Duh.

I think perhaps my issue with the current list of things that have me so bothered, is the guilt and shame and anger behind their existence. We're talking financial worries here. As much as I have tried to forgive myself for the stupidity that caused these things, I keep coming back to them over and over again. And what is it that causes me to keep beating myself up over the same issues? When I start comparing myself to others. I see others who are able to do the things that we should be able to do if we hadn't been so stupid in the past. Things that we now have to postpone for who knows how long while we dig ourselves out of the hole we created. It's downright maddening. Sickening. Frustrating beyond belief. Once I start to get caught up into that mindset, it's all downhill from there. That's where I am now. I guess it's kind of a pity party for myself. Not helping too much, now is it?! Time to change my mindset and get back to my happy place!

The person who gave the sermon on Sunday night said something that really struck me: "Stop blaming the enemy for where you're at. Most of us aren't doing enough for God for the enemy to bother attacking us. We sabotage ourselves so well, we don't need the enemy's help!" Wow. So true, isn't it?! I have a lot of great lies that I continue to believe and to feed myself. I don't need the enemy to feed them to me. He has me trained well enough to do it all on my own. Or maybe I've just been a foolish Christian long enough to have trained myself to do such things. I love the verse above that says we should "thank God for all He's done." That is one easy way to find peace in the midst of any worry...particularly a financial one. I can look back and see the debts we've paid off. I can see the period of unemployment that He got us through. I can see that He always takes care of us. All of His past provisions ought to be enough to ease the worries today. But instead I succumb to looking at the whole big scary picture and start to throw out those "what ifs." That's a killer. A big no-no.

I want a quick and easy fix. Well, that's not going to happen. I need to pray for endurance and contentment along the way. Pray for continued knowledge and discipline in the area of our budget. Trust that God is going to supply what we need when we need it. Plan enough for future expenses, but don't focus on all the things that will be heading our way down the road. That's just too much to take in. Find that balance between budgeting and planning, but not dwelling and worrying. It is certainly a fine line at times, isn't it?!

Because, guess what...in the midst of our monthly budget is this big thing called LIVING! Sometimes, I can get so caught up in the bottom line of where our progress is, that I forget to enjoy the daily moments God blesses us with. Living in fear of what the future brings to us financially, is sucking my enjoyment out of the daily life I have been given to live. After all, this life is a gift! Every second of it. God gave us every blessing. He didn't give them to us so we could sit around and worry about how everything is going to pan out. He gave us these blessings to treasure every moment. It is time to learn how to separate my daily living from my Quicken program. Sounds dumb, I know. But I truly find that my peace only comes on the days/weeks where Quicken is showing we're doing OK. Life's not any fun at all on those weeks where Quicken shows we're in the "struggling side of the month." (We have that, do you? Where one half of the month is always much easier to get through financially then the other one? Can you tell which side of the month we're on right now?!)

Goodness knows this life is going to continue to throw a lot of "worry-able" moments at us. It is time to get this worry bug under control! I must be purposeful. I must change my thoughts on this topic. I must bathe myself in prayer and Scriptures on the topic. Enough is enough. Worrying is just no fun at all!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Gettin' a Grip!

I have to start out by saying how blessed I am for the amazing friends I have in my life. It was so awesome last night to share the evening (all of it...'til midnight!) with two of our favorite families. Our kids all have a blast and the adults do too. It's just so nice to be able to "chill" with some great friends. No pressure. No hype. No expectations. Just fun. Love that!

Well, if you read this &/or my facebook page lately, you may have noticed me venting and being very stressed/overwhelmed. Can I take a second to vent about my venting? I process things often by writing or talking them out with my husband or venting on my FB page. I was told by someone on Friday to basically get over it and shut up. Well, in time, I always do "get over it". But can I just say...if you don't want to hear me venting, no one is making you read my posts! Please don't tell me to stop venting on my own FB page or blog. It's my personal therapy at times. If you find me annoying, then feel free to ignore my posts. I won't mind. But I will try to limit my venting to places not quite so public from now on. Oh, and I think the biggest thing I need when I'm feeling like that is someone to pray for me or with me or call me up and hear the whole scoop. Thanks to those people in my life who do that.

Whew. I feel better now.

So, on Friday I literally thought I was having a nervous breakdown. I haven't been that beside myself in a long time. I think it was a combination of PMS, stress of current life situations, and even some pre-menopause hormones. I mean...I was just a mess. Thankfully I woke up Saturday feeling more normal, but for a while on Friday night I didn't think I was ever going to get it together. I know that I let my emotional tank get to the point of breathing fumes, and that's never a good thing. Friday night after I took a 10PM walk around the neighborhood to pull myself together (after crying uncontrollably in Dave's arms as he stood there speechless), I watched a DVD by the guy who wrote "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus." He wrote a new book all about hormones and stress and how men and women process it differently. Boy was that the perfect night for me to watch this! His new book is called "Venus on Fire and Mars on Ice" and I highly recommend it to all my pre-menopause friends out there. This whole thing with hormones is something that I know I need to pay more attention to. It's only just beginning I'm afraid. I'm all about treating the cause and not the symptoms, and about doing things as naturally as possible. It's time to study up on hormones. Joy.

I just wanted to post a quick update on here just to let you know (if you care) where I was coming from the last few days. I told Dave today that I think I had a mini-nervous breakdown on Friday night...although I don't know how mini it felt at the time. Praise God for some clarity of thought and the ability to put everything into perspective. I think, though, that I need to put my personal well-being much higher on my priority list this summer. Especially with homeschooling now, I need to use my summers to get a grip and perspective. I have a personal health goal for my 40th birthday (which is coming up in 15 months). I have a lot of actions to take to accomplish this goal! I need to get a huge start on it this summer. I think Friday's meltdown may have been the wake-up call I needed to start taking better care of myself.

Thanks for caring enough to read this. I promise I'll try not to be such a downer from now on. :-)

Friday, June 11, 2010

I Vant to Be Alone!!

I am in desperate need of a personal battery recharging. How do you recharge your batteries? For me, it begins by having time alone. Well, no wonder I feel so emotionally empty...I haven't had alone time in so long I don't even remember the last time it was! I'm either homeschooling or working at the bank or attending kids/Dave's sports activities or taking care of other personal/family matters. Alone? What's that?!  I'm having one of those days today (the last couple have been leading up to it, but today is the worst) where I feel like my nerves are going to jump right out of my skin. The anxiety and stress that is within me can't seem to be calmed. I tried doing Bible study, but the kids were right there in the room with me listening to the Go Fish Guys and dancing around (normally not a problem, but today...not so great). Then I tried my usual "quiet time with God in the shower" trick...but I was interrupted by Hannah barging in asking if she could have something and the jolt of her breaking into my "quiet zone" completely ruined the whole experience for me. I feel like a bomb ready to explode at the next loud noise or child's demand. I'm just spent. That's all there is to it.

Like most women, these feelings can't be pinpointed to just one thing. It's a combination of about 5 different things that are now so intertwined in my mind, I can't begin to process any of them individually. That's why "Women are Like Spaghetti, and Men are Like Waffles." (I don't own the book, but I heard the authors speak at a Mom's conference last year...and it's all great stuff.)

Tomorrow morning Dave is participating in a neighborhood mini triathlon. I think he's going to take the kids with him and give me a couple hours of complete solitude. At this point though, I'm just wondering how I'm going to make it that long. There are still at least 4 more hours before Dave gets home from work. Thankfully the rain has stopped and the kids are now playing outside. But you know how that works: in and out, "Mom..." this, and "Mom..." that. They're outside for the time being, but this certainly does NOT count as alone time. If I can hear them, I'm not alone. And believe me, I can hear them.

It's obvious that I need to keep better tabs on my emotional tank. I can't wait for it to be on "empty" before I try to start filling it up again. I mean, at this point, I'm just spitting fumes here. I need to get myself filled back up again and work on improving the balance in my life. All I can think about right now is just making it until Dave gets home. I think I can, I think I can,...Calgon take me away!!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Give me this day, my daily bread..."

Boy, has it been a rather stressful couple of weeks! I've been feeling the past couple of days like running away from home...just for a chance to be alone and not be needed for a bit. Not that I would, but I kind of want to. I'm sitting here pondering why I'm responding this way, and I think I've already come up with the answer. What is it? I know I have been neglecting my quiet time with God. I've been trying to have my "quiet" time with God amidst the oh-so-crazy moments of my daily life. Rather than taking special time for God, I've been trying to squeeze Him into my already filled-up time. No wonder I'm sitting here feeling a bit empty and on-edge.

I guess this post could be a quick one, since I've already found the cause for my stress. But, really, the "causes" were more like these things: my Mom's hip replacement surgery, then the things that followed her surgery like: visiting her at the hospital and seeing her SO not her usual self, regularly checking in on both her and my Dad while she was in the hospital, the time spent picking out her rehab spot/getting her moved there/and then her checking herself out 3 hours after she arrived because the conditions at the Laurels were HORRENDOUS (and not an appropriate place for a rehab patient). Then since she's been home (8 days ago), there have been other things to check in about, as well as taking her and my Dad to the hospital one night last week for an ultrasound on her leg (to check for a blood clot...which there was none, praise the Lord). So that's just one aspect of my stress. Then there's been the usual stressors: homeschooling, housework, softball/baseball schedules, Hannah's dance recital, tight finances, etc. Never mind that I've been having a mini pity-party for myself for having to miss out on the night away that Dave and I were going to have over Memorial weekend (which never happened, of course). Oh, and add in the stress of family (certain un-named ones in particular), and my nerves are about frayed.

So, yes, these have all added to my stress level lately. But, the fact is, if I hadn't been neglecting my quiet time with God...He would have equipped me to better handle all of this.

The praises and blessings of the last couple weeks are many though too. Mom's surgery was a success, overall her recovery has gone splendidly, June is here and our school schedule is winding down (although we aren't taking the whole summer off...but we are scaling back for sure), and Dave did take me on a date the weekend before Mom's surgery. He even picked out a romantic comedy for us to watch!

I can choose to focus on all the things that haven't gone the way I'd hoped, and I can choose to be frustrated with certain issues I have to deal with that get really old, OR...I can choose to lay it all at the foot of the cross and ask God for the daily wisdom and strength to get through the day. And not just "get through" it. Conquer it. Live it with passion and purpose. All it takes is getting my daily bread from God. Every day, busy or not. Duh.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fulfilling My Calling? (or missing the clues?)

Here's what's on my mind today: how do you know where God wants you to focus your energy? I'm talking the BIG picture here. Aside from being a good wife and mother (and all the "jobs" that fall under those two categories), how does God want me to use the rest of my time? And, maybe even more on target, how do you know if the thing you're doing is THE thing God wants you to be focusing your energies on? I guess this post is all about our calling. How do we know when we're following where He's trying to lead us?!

Why am I pondering such things today? This whole concept has been on my heart for a few months, and lately it seems to rise to the surface daily. I guess that means this is, in fact, something God is trying to guide me in. He wants my attention. (Well, He certainly has it.) I've had lots of moments lately of thinking that God has blessed me with certain gifts, and it would be silly (and even sinful) to not make use of the gifts He's given me. I believe that we all are called by God for something. Every Christian. I know that the season of life I'm primarily in right now is motherhood. And, even more specifically, being a homeschool Mom. Already the reward has been great. Already my faith has been boosted by how closely I've had to stay to my Abba Father since beginning this journey. Any amount of success that has come into our lives during this homeschooling journey, has come because of God's blessing and direction. It has been a fun ride with God, and I don't expect that to change anytime soon! 

I know that being called to be a homeschool Mom is huge in and of itself. I am not in any way downplaying that. But here's the rest of the story: my role as "wife" and "homeschool mom" aren't the only roles I have. I am also a part-time bank teller and a part-time Shaklee distributor. These are things that, when I'm doing them, take me away from that first calling of homeschool Mom. It's worked OK so far, but I'm not totally sure just where those two things fit into my life as of late. Each of them in a certain way fulfills something that I know I'm gifted in, yet I don't feel "called" to do either of them right now. In fact, in some ways, I'm getting very resentful that I even HAVE to do them! Is this just a heart issue that I need to deal with, or does it mean it's time to move on?  I do feel called by God to write and encourage others. But then there's the whole financial aspect of it all. How does God want me to bring an income into this family right now? Or does He? How do I know if I'm just wanting to close the door on something because it's become too hard or uncomfortable, versus truly feeling that God is calling me to use my time elsewhere? Is God wanting me to continue learning things from the bank and from Shaklee that He'll later use in other ways? Oh how I want clear direction on this.

I don't want to just be "busy." I hate that. But, of course, with 3 children we are plenty busy all the time. I certainly don't have to seek for ways to be busy...I have to seek for ways to say "no" and slow down the train every once in a while. Is it just society that we're all so busy and frazzled all the time...or is it just the fact that I'm now the parent instead of the kid?  I mean, I remember when I was little actually feeling bored. When was the last time you were bored? Seriously. Bored? Does such a thing exist anymore? I would love to be bored. Just give me 30 minutes of boredom...I could handle that! Am I trying to get a handle on the "busyness" or am I being lazy? I am struggling with every aspect of this right now.

I guess until I sense God throwing one door open wide or closing another, I'll just continue to pray and stay on the current course. I just can't help feeling lately that this isn't it. That God has other plans for me. Maybe He does and now is just not the right time? Maybe I have more to learn first? All I can do for now is do my best to daily bring glory and honor to His name in all that I do. Even if "all" I do is be a wife to Dave; a Mom to Luke, Mikayla, and Hannah; and a friend and encourager to whoever He puts into my path...oh and sometimes my "path" comes by way of the bank and Shaklee. (Not to mention try to do a good job of taking care of myself.) Not too shabby of a "calling" when I put it like that. But I still can't help feeling that this isn't all God has in store for me "when I grow up." Hmmmm....going to have to keep praying about that one.