Sunday, May 20, 2018

Greener

I'm sitting here debating if I should write a blog, because it's been a while and it seems that I have written about this topic before, but God has put it on my heart and the sermon at church this morning was similar to what has been on my heart. That's usually a sign for me to write, so here goes nothing.
The book of 1 Samuel chapter 8 talks about Samuel telling the Israelites that a king would not be good for them and how he talks to God about them wanting a king. Samuel told the people all the rights the king would have, and try as he might to deter them from wanting to appoint a king over them; he could not convince them. "The people refused to listen to Samuel. 'No!' they said. 'We must have a king over us. Then we'll be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles." (1 Samuel 8:19-20)
Did you catch the start of the last sentence? "Then we'll be like all the other nations..." How many times have we compared ourselves to others? How many times have you looked at a friend, family member or stranger and thought I want to be like them? How many times have you looked in the mirror and thought, why can't I look as good as ________? That phrase jumped off the page at me when I read it this past week during my morning Bible reading. I have read this book before, this story of Samuel and how Saul became the king of Israel, but this day those words struck a chord with me. How long will I spend asking myself the above questions? What can we do to make the change so that we won't continuously ask ourselves these questions?
First, we need to realize that comparing ourselves to others is only damaging our self image, our confidence, and keeping us from realizing the blessings God has so graciously put in our lives. We need to live in the moment, thank God for the life He has blessed us with, and accept that we are created in the image of God, not man. By this I mean, God created each of us differently, uniquely, and for a purpose that only we, as an individual can fulfill. As my Pastor said this morning, "there is only one you, don't cheat the world trying to be somebody else." Fill your mind with who you are, and whose you are. Who are you? You are a child of God. You are the daughter/son of the King. You are wonderfully made. You are worthy. You are worth more than riches. There is absolutely nothing that can keep you from the love of God. He leaves the 99 for you and that should indicate just how much you mean to Him.
Comparing is not new and like the Israelites; if we're not careful we will end up like others. We think we know what someone's life is really like, but we don't. We can only see what others allow us to see; which is typically their best.We have to stop believing everything others tell us and believe what God tells us. Just because something appears golden doesn't mean it's not iron painted gold. I heard a quote the other day on the radio: "The grass is not always greener on the other side if you water your own." We know the saying the grass is always greener on the other side, and what it implies, but what if we took this spin on the old saying and applied it to our lives?
Ask God to search your heart and make it pure. Ask him to show you what he has done for you and thank him. Stop playing the comparing game and be you. God knew what he was doing when he created you, so trust him and do you! Always remember, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration. Isaiah 55:8

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Weight



 I want to talk about a sensitive subject, especially with ladies, and that subject is weight. I am not going to lie and say I have always had weight problems, I was small growing up. I wanted to be taller and weigh more so I could be a better athlete. I wanted to more strength, but that didn’t come until I was grown. Now, I do have a weight problem, you may look at me and say no you don’t, but I promise you, the doctors would agree with me. I am overweight, and ever since I had my two blessings from God my weight has been a constant struggle and always on mind.

    So, where does this struggle come from? Why can’t I just eat somewhat right and exercise and lose the weight? Genetics? Age? Want to? It is a little bit of everything I just said, but it has more to do with who do I see in the mirror. Am I happy with how I look and will I ever be happy with how I look? Sadly, we live in a world that portrays the perfect woman with no figure at all, and no flaws whatsoever. As we all know, this person does not really exist, yet we all strive to reach that perfection in some way. Thankfully, we are all built differently by God who lovingly created us in His image. So, what’s the key in losing weight and keeping it off and still feeling good about yourself?
    First, you need to set small attainable goals and do a little research. At the oh so tall height of 5’2 and with a small bone structure, what should my weight range be to be healthy? What percentage body fat is okay for me? These are the types of questions you should research. I would not recommend changing everything at once, because your body will revolt and make things harder on you. Start with something simple like taking a walk for 30 minutes three times a week, or drinking more water daily. Also, if you slip up and don’t reach that goal you have set for yourself don’t quit. Easier said than done I know, but you will not get anywhere if you give up on yourself. Losing weight, if done the right way, takes time. As a matter of fact, you should focus more on the inches lost and how your clothes fit than the number on the scale, because as you do more exercising your muscles will become bigger and muscle weighs more than fat.
    Second, you need to find someone who will hold you accountable. Whether that is a close friend, a coworker, or a personal trainer find someone that will encourage you to reach those goals, cheer you on, and give you a swift kick in the butt when you don’t want to exercise. This person will help you see the changes that are happening when you can’t seem to see anything positive about losing weight. Let me encourage you to not pick the “yes” friend, you know, the one who always says yes to everything you say. They will say yes when you don’t want to go for that walk even though it’s a beautiful day outside. They will say yes when you order that ice cream and Dr. Pepper and not make you think twice about it.
    Talking about food choice brings me to my next point. Don’t deprive yourself from what you are wanting to eat. For example, chocolate is my go to, I will go as long as I can without eating chocolate, but if I’m having a rough day at work and feel the need to eat some chocolate I’m going to. Why? For two reasons, one instant gratification and two if I ignore the craving it might go away, but I also have a tendency to overeat. So, instead of ignoring it, I will eat a small piece of chocolate to suffice the craving and go on. That way I do not go eat a whole bag of Hershey kisses or something crazy, and yes I have done that. Whatever your food choice is, it’s okay to give in every once in a while, just don’t over eat. Remember to keep your portions in control.
    The last thing that I would like to address, is how exercising will make you feel. You will feel better about yourself. Losing weight shouldn’t be just so you can look better, it should be so you can feel better. It has to be a lifestyle change, something that you are willing to do throughout your life so that you can be the best you that you can possibly be. You need to be happy with who you are not what you look like. I have found that I put too much emphasis on my appearance and beat myself up when I don’t look and weigh what I think I should, but what matters the most is what’s on the inside. How do I treat people? How do I respond when things go sour? Losing weight is great, but if you focus on it for hopes of making you happy, you are not doing it for the right reason. You will only be happy with the way you look for a little while, be sure you are happy with the way you treat people. When you look in the mirror, don’t judge yourself by what you see, but by who God sees. Don’t get so caught up in looking the right way that you forget to focus on WHO is leading the way.
    Will you feel better when you lose weight? Will you feel like you have accomplished something? YES! That is not to be taken lightly, but make sure you are not putting all your hope, all your expectations, all your drive into losing weight and looking fit. Don’t do it for vanity, do it for your health. Do it because you want to live life to its fullest. Set those goals and destroy them. There is nothing you can’t do with God on your side. Always remember, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration. Isaiah 55:8

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Vision

Vision. This has been the key word in my Pastor’s sermons this month. It’s a great word to focus on as we start the new year, and like the majority of his sermons I have been forced to think on this keyword. Pastor has asked, “what is your vision, your vision for your family?” So, what is my vision?
      I already shared my word with you; which is others, but what about my vision. What does that look like and how do I make sure I live it out? My vision for myself, is to serve the Lord by serving others. I want to make my life about others, so much so that people know they can count on me when it comes to helping someone. I want to live a life that points others to Christ and leave a legacy that once I’m gone will continue on. So, what does that look like?
    It looks different for every person, because we have all been given gifts by God that are to be used to glorify His name. As I have sought God’s will for this year I know I will be focused on missions and writing. My job, teaching/coaching, is a major part of my personal ministry. When I look at each gift God has given me I can pray over it and see what doors He opens. The truth is even if He opens the door, I have to be willing to walk through it even if it makes me uncomfortable. God has put something on my heart, and I’m not sure how He is going to work in my life but one thing I know for sure, change is coming. God has blessed me with the opportunity to go on mission trips and I don’t see that changing. As I have mentioned, I am currently working on a devotional, and I can’t wait to see where God takes that project. My goal for this year is to have at least one new blog post each month.
      What about the vision for my family? As announced last week, Nick, my husband is starting a Sunday school class next month and my prayer is that we are able to reach others. God has put it on our hearts for years to be more involved and dig deeper with other Christian couples. This is no walking away from that being in God’s vision for our family. I’m not sure what the rest of our vision is for our family, but I know with prayer God will reveal it to us.
      A vision is great, but if you do not accept it and make a plan it will stay that...a vision. God has given us the ability to talk to Him to see what He has planned for us. I want to challenge you to seek His vision for you and ask Him to show you how you and your family can turn your vision into action. Don’t sit on the bench waiting to go in when God has shown you what He wants. He’s ready for you to be ALL in. Get out there, get in the game, play your best and give God the rest! He will do far more than you can imagine. DREAM BIG!!  As we go about this year may we remember, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration. Isaiah 55:8

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018 WORD

       It's that time of year, you know it's cold out and nobody wants to go out in it. We sit around complaining about it being cold and summer needs to be here this afternoon. I am one of those people, I can only handle the cold and being cooped up for so long then I'm ready for warm weather. There is a season for everything, the Bible tells us that, but could you imagine if we didn't have a cold snap? Would we slow down to reflect on the past year? I'm not sure I would, because I would be doing other things. The truth is I have a hard time slowing down but the last half of 2017 I was forced to slow down and examine my life. God was giving me the opportunity to tune back in to Him, and that is exactly what I started doing. 
       As I reflected on this past year and what I did and didn't do I had some questions. Did I focus on my word last year throughout the year or did I lose my focus? Did God open doors or did I force doors open? Did I do everything to the best of my ability and bring God glory and honor? The list could go on and on, but I'll save you and me both time and stop there. So, did I focus on my word throughout the year, yes and no. My word or phrase for 2017 was intentionally bold, I started off being that way and even started writing a devotional that should be published later this year, but somewhere along the way I lost sight of being intentionally bold. What happened? I took my eyes off Jesus, He wasn't my main focus, and it hurts me to admit that, but it's true. I started focusing on other things like my job and friends instead of putting God first. God grabbed my attention on my mission trip to Costa Rica and I fought Him off and on throughout the remainder of the year until about Thanksgiving. I gave in, because I knew what I needed to do and was tired of the fight. God opened some doors in 2017 and shut some too. When I lost sight of God, my focus shifted and I became consumed with this world instead of focusing on His world. I'm glad God got my attention and reminded me where I need to focus and what I should be doing. A fire has been lit and I'm excited to see what God has in store for 2018. 
       We have so much more potential than any of us realize, if we would just let go and trust God. This year, I am letting go and trusting God to do far more than I ever imagined he would, but I'm going to allow Him to guide me. His ways are are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts, and I have to remember just because something that He told me would happen isn't happening when I think it should doesn't mean that it won't happen. Which fits perfectly with the timing of the devotional I'm writing. I have a deadline, but I know it may not be when it is released. God has also put something else on my heart, which coincides with my word for 2018. I can't go in to much detail right now about what God has put on my heart, but I am excited and can't wait to share it with you. However, I can tell you my word, and those of you who know me, please ask me about it. My word for 2018 is OTHERS. If you go to church with me you know our motto is, "Others, When it's not about me OTHERS can know Him". I didn't want this to be my word because I didn't want to look cheesy, but God kept telling me this was my word. It has grown on me, I have asked Him to show me how I can be more about OTHERS. He has given me some ideas, and I can't wait to see what else he leads me to do this year. The thing that has me more excited than anything is the one thing I'm not at liberty to share with you right now, but there are several things in the works to indicate that being about OTHERS will be my focus this year and will keep me on track. 
       When observing my life 2018 is going to look different from the outside looking in and the inside looking out. I hope you have taken some time to reflect on 2017 and you have asked God to reveal to you what you can focus on for 2018 or what changes need to be made. Here's to a new year, a new you, and to new chances! As we go about this year may we remember, For My thoughts are not your thoughts,and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration. Isaiah 55:8
9           

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Good Riddance


       Good Riddance to 2017! This year hasn't been the worst but it has been a tough year. I had many blessings this year but the last half of the year has been hard. Between being sick off and on, hurting my ankle, which still hasn't completely healed, and struggling emotionally I can't wait to say goodbye to 2017. I'm thankful that God gives us a new year, to start fresh, to change, to grow, to keep moving forward towards that goal that I fell just short of reaching. Even better than that is God gives me a new chance every day, it is up to me to let go of my disappointments and allow Him to work in me and through those disappointments and mistakes. What will the new year bring? What will you let go of and allow God to use to help you become the person he has called you to be?
        How are you welcoming the new year? As the last day of 2017 is down to it's final hours take some time and reflect on this past year. Where did you grow? Where did you fail? What did God show you? Are you ready to make 2018 a great one?
        Give God your fears, and watch what He will do. I say that, as I give Him my fears with shaking hands because I know a little of what is ahead. This post is short, but not to worry, there will be a long one in the near future. As I say goodbye to 2017 and wait anxiously on 2018 I will lean on His promises, as I hope you will too. May God bless you and keep you safe in 2018.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Good From the Bad

“Sometimes bad things have to happen before good things can.”

~ Becca Fitzpatrick

There are many sayings about finding the good in the bad or taking the good with the bad. It is true that we can not live this life without both good and bad circumstances. Life wouldn’t truly be lived if everything good happened and nothing bad ever happened. You could ask,  if nothing bad happened to you then did you really live?
      Life is full of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, highs and lows. Most people, both Christians and non Christians alike, have a false belief that once you are a Christian nothing bad will happen to you. This is wrong, and after you’ve lived a while as a Christian you realize this, or you believe that you are not a Christian because something bad has happened to you. For those of you who believe the latter, let me dispel this false belief for you now. The truth of this matter is found in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world!” When you find that you are walking or crawling through a difficult time, remember to look to Jesus. It is hard to keep your eyes on him, but He is your HOPE. You will find stories throughout the Bible where God took a bad situation and turned it into something good.
      Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and his dad mourned the loss of his son, because he was told that a wild animal killed him. His father was hurt deeply by the loss of Joseph but Joseph himself went through some trying and difficult times before the good came from the bad. God turned his suffering to blessing by making him second in command to Pharaoh in a foreign land far from his father. This position allowed Joseph to save his family during a famine and there in Egypt became a numerous people. Joseph remained faithful to God during the trying time in his life and God blessed him for it. There are many more stories of God being faithful to his people in the Old Testament, but let's look at the New Testament to see if this remains the same.
      If I were to single out one person in the New Testament who went through bad times and something good came from it, I would pick Paul. He is introduced to us as Saul the persecutor of Christians, but an encounter with Jesus changes his life and he becomes on fire for Jesus. His entire life he shares the Gospel and saves souls. He lived through persecution, trials, prison, ship wreck, hurricane before dying. He also built churches, preached the Gospel, saved souls, and went to the furthest places of his world to reach those who were lost. In the end his life pointed others to God, though he may not have lived a life of luxury he glorified God daily.
      No suffering can compare to the suffering of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. His death is the ultimate case of something good coming from something bad. He suffered a cruel and vicious death so that those who have sin could live with God forever. During Jesus’ lifetime he was rejected, put on trial for something he did not do, spit at, mocked, and beat all for nothing. Nothing of his doing, for He did nothing, He was sin free, He was perfect, yet He suffered the beating of the Roman soldiers, which typically caused one to die from shock, and died on the cross. The followers of Christ, his disciples, did not see the good from this, they were filled with despair and sorrow. The good would not be evident right away, it took three days before the darkness ended and light came back to their lives. Jesus rose on the third day and hope was restored for those who believed in Him.
      You may be walking through a very difficult time in your life right now and I pray you will keep your eyes on Jesus. There is nothing that can take away the hurt you are going through, but joy does eventually return. Your suffering in this moment will lead to something good. You may not see the benefit of it tomorrow, or this year, but you will look back on this moment and see the good. There is one common thread to all of the stories that deal with struggling in the Bible and that is being faithful. Even in your struggles remain faithful to God and he will bless you. “Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Hebrews 13:15 Good can come from the bad, but you have to be willing to seek God through the bad to get to the good. Stand firm! Stay faithful! Seek Him!
Until next time remember, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Reach Out


       Time for some honesty. The kind of honesty I really don't like to share. Why? It allows people to judge me even more than they already do, but God has shown me time and time again that others benefit when we are open with our lives. So, here goes nothing.
       I have been struggling these past four months, like really struggling. Depression seems to be lurking and waiting to pull me in to the depths of darkness that one can hardly get out of. The past four months have been great, yet difficult for me. I have missed church more in the last four months than I have in the last four years, if not it's really close. I can't stand to miss church and start to worry about what others think of me because I have missed. I have missed because of my ankle, my daughter being sick, then I was sick. It has been constant, and nothing seems to be letting up. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else, but often times my bad days turn to worse days. My thoughts get darker and darker and the urge to crawl into bed and stay there becomes stronger and stronger. So what do I do when this happens?
     I do not allow myself to go to bed until it's truly bedtime. I force myself to stay out of my room so the temptation is not there. I force myself to interact with my family and call my best friend. Then I add a new routine or two to my life or start doing them again. The first thing I started doing again was starting my day off with scripture. I started a daily Bible reading plan on my phone, that way I start the day with the Lord and it keeps my mind on Him. The second thing I started doing again was taking some time on my conference to read a short devotional and pray. This allows me to reconnect with the Lord and keeps my thoughts from roaming into the darkness. These two things help me to stay focused on God. I am better than I used to be about detecting the darkness creeping in, so now I will call out to Jesus and speak truth. Some days I catch it right when it starts other days I get stuck in the trap of self loathing and it takes some serious praying. If I get to the point that I can't pull myself out I ask friends to pray for me. I will send a short text saying that I need prayer, and within minutes I have people praying for me. At some point during the day I notice my mood has shifted and my thoughts are back to where they should be.
       My life, like yours, is extremely busy right now. The fall has always been a busy time for my family and as my kids get older it seems to be busier. I'm not a busy schedule type of person, I can only handle so much before I need to go into hiding...people...too many, too much interaction and my happy go lucky self fades. I need time to myself, time to rejuvenate, and when I don't make it to church on Wednesday and on Sunday it becomes harder to keep running the course God has set before me.
       Why share this? Why take a few minutes of my time to share this now when I'm honestly still fighting to get out of the grasp of depression? My hope is that this will help someone out there who is struggling with the same thing to not give in, to reach out and to put God into your routine so you can get out of the grasp of darkness. I realize it's not always as easy as I just made it sound, trust me I've been there and I don't want to go back. No one who has depression wants to go back, but if you keep it a secret the darkness will devour you, it has something over you. Share your struggle with a few trusted friends, ask them to pray for you, make yourself sit down and read the Bible and pray for others. My greatest joy is helping and praying for others, let it be yours too.
       The holidays aren't always merry and bright for everyone around you. Remember that, and pray for those who don't seem excited about the holiday season. If this doesn't pertain to you, I hope it will show you how to help someone who struggles with depression. Reach out,not in, God will take your hand and place someone else in your life to take the other to help you fight the battle against darkness. If you have not read Sheila Walsh's new book, In the Middle of the Mess, I encourage you to read it; especially if you struggle with depression.Thanks for reading...have a blessed Thanksgiving!