Saturday, January 21, 2012

When God Answers

It's January in Michigan and the sun is shining. That makes this a GLORIOUS day! I'm enjoying some quiet time and bursting with excitement about how the Lord is answering my prayers. I couldn't wait to share them with you!

One of my 2012 goals was to: spend more regular time in prayer in the mornings after Dave leaves for work AND to reach a deeper level of connectedness with my "Tween" twins. I'm nearly in tears now thanking God for such swift & obvious answers to both of those. Let me back up...

Even though we homeschool, I sometimes feel like my kids are growing up so fast that I don't even really get to fully "know" them. Life seems to be so constantly busy that weeks and months go by without me feeling like we're getting any quality 1-on-1 time. I found myself at the beginning of January feeling this overwhelming sense of urgency to re-connect with my kids. Particularly the twins. I know how important these "tween" years are, and I just don't want to waste a second of it! I often feel so overwhelmed being their teacher and their taxi driver and their cook (and all other "mom" jobs), that I don't make enough time to be their confidant. You know where I'm coming from? So this year I really want to take advantage of the fact that they still want to spend time with me...and to just do it!

So this last week I really made it a point to use that hour from when Dave leaves for work and the kids wake up, to spend time in prayer & Bible reading. I think I fit it in 3 times this week. (A 300% improvement from the weeks before!) I was praying and meditating on many things, not just the kids...but (obviously, since this is high on my radar right now) the topic of connecting with them more came up each time.

Already last night, I could tell a difference. From sharing more hugs and "I love you's" with Mikayla at her away game last night, to sharing belly laughs & some great conversation with Luke when I got home. I saw my tweens seeking me out. I saw God open the door to some great 1-on-1 connectedness. I felt my brain slow down just enough for those eye-to-eye (and ♥ to ♥) moments to occur. That's what it really is, you know. We can't say we're going to do it "when life slows down." Nope. I can tell that's not going to happen until the kids are grown & married. We have to MAKE time to slow our minds down long enough to experience those moments. Ask God to de-clutter our minds. To point out to us those opportunities to connect. Maybe it means we need to get away from the computer more. Maybe it means we need to get off our phones. Maybe we need to turn off the TV. Whatever it is...we need to make a conscious choice to connect. The kids are there. They WANT us to connect with them (especially if they're not teenagers yet). We just need to get our focus in the right place to make it happen! And most importantly? Daily ask God to open our eyes & ears.

As I seek out resources this year, I'll share my favorites with you. The book I'm all excited about (and already planning excursions for) for my time with Mikayla is Dannah Gresh's 8 Great Dates for Moms & Daughters. You can check out Dannah's Secret Keeper Girl website for lots of great stuff. I'm still looking for a similar book for Dave and Luke to do together, but I'll let you know when I find something. (And please let me know if you already have a great resource you can share!) We also want to do Passport 2 Purity with them later in the year. That's part of why I want to do some of these other connected-ness activities now...I want the lines of communication TOTALLY open before we plan the P2P weekend get-aways.

I say all this to remind each of us of something important: when we pray in accordance with God's Will, He says "YES!". If our hearts' desire is to have more quiet time with God and to connect more with our kids, of course God is going to make that happen! Let us never underestimate the power of prayer OR just how swiftly God's answers can come. Oh, and be prepared: if you want to spend more time with God in prayer, He will make it so you can't sleep. He'll make it so you are magnetically drawn to that quiet spot with your Bible. He'll make it so you really can't think of doing ANYTHING else until you've had your time with Him. Be careful what you ask for. He might just blow your socks off.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When the Lord Speaks

As I was reading through my personalized Verseability cards (see previous post), I came across this verse:

"Jennifer, the Lord your God, will make up for the losses caused by those things in your past that have brought you disgrace and harm." Joel 2:25

This verse resonated with me so much! One of the things that seems to weigh heaviest on my mind is our finances. I'm so thankful for the blessings and provisions that God provides us daily. I'm also never too far away from the pit of guilt and shame caused by some pretty poor financial decisions from the past. I'm working to stop that crazy cycle. We're working to become debt free. Progress is slow, but still progress. This week, though, I had a dream that was all about a scary financial place. I can tell that the enemy is trying to keep me in a bad place. Trying to keep me stuck in the rut of guilt, shame, and worry.

And then God spoke to me through this verse. A verse I didn't even remember ever hearing.

Praise You, Lord!!

I just had to share how incredible it is when God's Word comes to life and says EXACTLY what we need to hear.

Never underestimate the power of God's Word, friends!

Read it. Meditate on it. Pray through it. Memorize. Ponder. Absorb.

The more I'm in the Word, the more I want to be. It's so precious to me when the Lord takes time to reach out and touch me through it.

May we all make God's Word an essential part of our daily lives. Nothing else is as important.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Check Out: Verseability!

Just a quick note to let everyone know about a GREAT resource! After saying yes to my friend Cindy Bultema's A to Z Scripture Memory Challenge and sharing about it on here, I was blessed to be "introduced" to Versability and Darlene Dykstra. Yesterday Darlene surprised me with a special delivery (because we live so close) of my A to Z Versepack! AND, she even threw in an extra special surprise: a personalized versepack! I was so excited to open them up! What a blessing it was to me to open it up and see each Scripture personalized with my name. Talk about God's Word coming to life! I can't wait to add those verses to my morning quiet time. I know I'll be extra blessed by seeing my name in each verse.Thank you, Darlene!

I just wanted to share this with you in case you are also participating in Cindy's 2012 Scripture Memory Challenge. Darlene has offered the amazing price of just $5 per Versepack (just mention She Sparkles for this special pricing). Each of you can have your own A to Z Versepack with 26 business card-sized memory verses in a handy custom box that fits easily in a purse or pocket. When you have a few extra moments, you can just grab your A to Z Versepack and work on storing away God's Word in your heart.

I hope you'll check out Darlene's website and contact her today:
616-669-5113 or darlenedykstra@verse-ability.net
http://www.verse-ability.net/

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Wellness Challenge HAS Begun!

How's the beginning of 2012 going? Have you taken time to reflect, prioritize, and plan? I know it's hard with our busy lives to find those quiet, reflective moments...but they're SO necessary. One of my big goals for this year is to make time each weekday morning for those quiet times. The few times I've done it so far, have blessed me abundantly. I truly love those quiet moments with my Heavenly Father. Makes me wonder why I ever leave them out of my day. Anyway...

Here are some of my personal tips for each part of our 2012 Wellness Challenge:


  • Eating: We all know our bodies. And, as much as we'd sometimes like to deny it, we (probably) all know exactly what we should and should not be eating. In the old days (a.k.a. two years ago), I was the queen of making my food choices this big mystery. I never seemed to be able to string together enough days of good eating to see weight loss. But, what I learned this last year, is that all I really have to do is: STOP. MAKING. EXCUSES!  Just do what my brain knows I should. I started off by setting the rule to not eat past 7PM and to cut my portion sizes in half. I began to realize that I needed to "feel hungry" when I went to bed, or it was a sign that I had eaten too much during the day. The big thing? I realized that it's OK to feel a little hungry! It's actually a real novel idea to a chronic over-eater to allow yourself to GET hungry in the first place. Did you know that God makes your stomach growl for a reason? I know. Astonishing. Try not to eat until your stomach actually growls. And then...stop eating the moment you feel satisfied. Not full. Satisfied. My first hope for each of my Wellness Challenge friends is to get to a place right now where you're in tune with your body. Be able to recognize real hunger. Remember: you don't have to eat everything today! It will still be there tomorrow. I promise. 

  • Exercise: Have you started working out regularly? It's got to become part of our routine. As much as I tried to tell myself that exercise could come later...that's just simply not true. I happen to be someone who cannot lose weight unless I exercise. I know there are people who can, but it's still not the healthy way to go. You want to make sure you're losing fat and not lean muscle. The first way that I get help with that is through my eating plan of choice (Cinch from Shaklee ~ clinically proven to retain your lean muscle and lose the fat). But exercise IS crucial. When I started this journey, I felt old beyond my years. I now feel better than I've felt in over 10 years! I feel younger at 40 than I felt at 30! I'm seeing tone and muscle on my body that I never thought I'd ever see. I have energy to keep up with my 3 busy kids. I no longer want to sit on the sidelines and watch life. I want to be an ACTIVE participant! So, find your exercise of choice and do it at least 3 times a week. And don't be afraid to push yourself! Push the physical limits of what you ever thought you could do. You'll be amazed at what God designed your body to do. It's actually become quite fun for me to see myself doing things I never thought I could do...and wanting to do even more! Catch Lysa TerKeurst's blog post from today and you'll have even more motivation to get off the couch. (click here)

  • Emotional well-being: Oh, friends. This is so important! After spending my entire life being overweight, I had wracked up an amazing amount of emotional baggage regarding my size. I cannot tell you how much I despised myself. I cannot express how heavy the emotional baggage was that I was carrying around. Truly, the emotional baggage weighed FAR more than all the extra pounds I had. In order for me to begin to make good choices in the areas of food and exercise, I first had to convince myself that I was worth it (and not the big, fat loser that I kept telling myself I was). For about 6 weeks after I sat in on the Made to Crave DVD filming, I argued with God. I hated that He was trying to make my weight a spiritual issue. I hated that it had finally come down to something I couldn't just push under the rug and ignore. God was asking for obedience in this area. It was time to open the door and let Him into my most fragile place. So for about 6 weeks, He worked on my heart. He worked on showing me how to recognize my unhealthy thoughts (because it was so much of a part of my life that I didn't even know how stinking my thinking even was!), and then how to change them. It was finally after about 6 weeks of this that the light bulb went off. God clearly told me that as long as I was saying all these horrible things to myself and staying locked in this negative thought pattern, I was doing the enemy's work for him. It was time to stop. Praise the Lord, He set me free from the hugest emotional bondage a person can be in. I'm on the other side offering anyone still stuck in that rut a lifeline. You do NOT have to be stuck in those patterns. You CAN have freedom in this area. I want you to feel the freedom that I now feel. Oh, sweet sister. How I wish I could flip that switch for you. I pray that before another month of 2012 has gone by, your ah-ha moment comes. Don't let the enemy win this battle anymore. It's time to be free.
Well, I am really excited for the next few weeks/months. I think that God has some BIG changes in store for everyone on this Wellness Challenge journey. My new motto for 2012 (thanks to Lysa's blog post today) is: 

"Push Through Until You Breakthrough"

Isn't that great? I look back on where God has brought me in the last twelve months, and I do see some major breakthroughs. But He ain't done with me yet. Praise the Lord!

What about you? I can't wait to hear all about it.

Blessings friends!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Wellness Challenge

Happy 2012 Everyone!

As usual, this past year just flew by and a brand spanking New Year is upon us again. I have to admit: I have always loved that brand new year "mulligan" feeling. Yes, I know that God's mercies are new every morning. There's just something extra freeing about taking down last year's calendar and starting fresh with a new one. Of course, if you're a busy mom like me...there's no such thing as an "empty" calendar. I just printed out my January calendar page from Outlook and it has a whopping 4 days of white space! (For now.) Regardless...it IS a New Year!

Now that the Christmas and New Years' Eve celebrations are behind us and we still have a couple of days of "holiday" left, it's time to ponder. Time to find a little quiet corner and enjoy some reflection on 2011 and some much needed mental preparation for 2012. I don't want my fast-paced life to mean that I'm just a passenger on this crazy ride. No, I want purposeful moments. I see how fast my kids are growing up, and I want to make the most of these precious years I still have them at home!

Here are some of the 2012 Challenges I want to share with you:


  • The She Sparkles A to Z Memory Verse ChallengeThis is my friend Cindy Bultema's great idea for getting more of God's Word tucked away in your heart. AND, it's the perfect format to turn this into a total family Scripture-memory challenge! Check out Cindy's blog for all the details, but the idea is this: learn one new Scripture every other week for an entire year. The first scripture (the A verse) is listed in her blog right now. At the end of the year, you'll have all 26 of your A to Z verses memorized! I'm excited to take part in this fun challenge. 

  • Purposeful Prayer Partners: I have seen the power of prayer. I know how important it is to pray for my children and my husband. Yet somehow, in the craziness of our busy schedule, I don't take daily time to have purposeful prayer time. Oh sure. I pray regularly. I guess it's kind of like my on-going "conversation" with God. And yes, I hear God's voice and feel His hand in those moments. But I know that's just the tip of the prayer iceberg. I feel this sense of urgency to cover my children in purposeful prayer as much as I can before they hit their teen years. I know that I am going to have moments with the twins in the next couple of years that are going to help shape the teenagers they become. It's kind of like I'm right at the beginning of one of those "rubber meets the road" kind of moments. You know the ones. Those moments you contemplate as you're rocking your newborn baby back to sleep at 3AM. The ones you don't have time to think about as you're in the throes of potty-training, teaching them how to tie their shoes, or kissing boo-boos. All of a sudden you realize: our babies are growing up! Try to deny it all we want, the day is upon us. And I don't feel ready! I want to make 2012 the year that I'm purposeful about praying for my children...and my children's parents. Dave and I need to be covered in prayer if we're going to be ready to be the parents of TWO teenagers all at once! These moments are priceless. I want to make sure we're not slacking off on our parental duties. Time to be more purposeful in prayer. If you're ready to be purposeful in your prayer life too, I hope you'll join me!

  • My 2012 Wellness Challenge: 2011 was a year of many positive physical changes for me. But it was just the beginning. Time to get re-focused on weight loss and physical endurance and take my wellness goals to the finish line! If you're interested in joining me in this challenge, there are 3 parts:
    1. Cinch off the Inches: The Shaklee Cinch Plan is the eating plan that helped me lose 60 pounds in 2011 (I have 40 more to go in 2012). Whether you choose to also follow Cinch, or some other weight loss plan, part of my 2012 Wellness Challenge is focused on weight loss. Figure out how much weight you want to lose and choose your eating plan...and let's drop the pounds together!
    2. Fueled for Fitness: Running has become my exercise of choice. It's such a God-thing that I am even saying that (but that's an entire post in itself). I ran a 10K with my husband last May. My main goal from now until this May is to boost my running speed. I'm getting back into training mode and excited to see how much faster I can run that same 10K this year! You don't have to choose to run, but exercise really ought to be part of your 2012 Wellness Goals. So, make a plan for getting off that couch and working up a sweat. We'll also hold each other accountable for our level of exercise.
    3. Mind Matters: Anyone who has struggled with weight knows that the biggest part of the battle to lose it is to get our heads on straight. My turning point with my head was when I was chosen to be part of Lysa TerKeurst's audience for her "Made to Crave" Bible study. I still chuckle when I think back on the journey God took me on last year with MTC. He knew all along how much sitting in that audience at my old church was going to change my life. I was so clueless at the time. Anyway, Lysa is hosting another MTC webcast on January 9th and there is a MTC online Bible study this month too. If you are serious about losing weight, I encourage you to make "Made to Crave" part of your journey. It made all the difference in the world on mine.
Whew! So much to ponder! I'll give you a chance to ponder all these challenges. I hope you'll take part in Cindy's Scripture Memory Challenge, join me in being purposeful in prayer, and even consider being part of my 2012 Wellness Challenge. If you decide to join me in the Wellness Challenge, please leave me a comment below. 

For now, I'm off to find my quiet place and do some 2012 planning. Enjoy your New Year's Day and we'll talk again soon.

Blessings Friends!