Thursday, September 25, 2014

When Your Best Yes is a Dragging, Kicking, Screaming No


Ornery is a word that runs in our family.

My grandmother?  Ooh, ornery in her later years.  Very sweet, very southern, but could be very ornery.  My mom?  Very sweet, a godly saint.  But she wants what she wants.  And I see this trait starting to rear its stubborn head in my life.

But it just didn't start.  I have been ornery for some time.  And although I'm not so sure how biblical that cartoon is, I know that it describes my life at more than one time.  

I know so many Bible verses about waiting on the Lord and how God is always there and we're never alone.  But sometimes I just want to hold on to something so tightly that I go back into my little corner and pretend that if I just leave God alone, my life will go exactly the way I want it to and everything will be JUST GREAT.

It's just when the Holy Spirit pricks my heart and gives it a gentle nudge that I have to break down into tears of guilt and sorrow that I have been so, for lack of a better word, stupid.  I know God's Word and I know it to be true from my life, but I still lack the faith sometimes to totally trust that God does have the best plan.

Which comes to my best yes -- which is sometimes a more-than-reluctant no.  Knowing the best thing to do and not doing it produces the most guilt for me.  And the thing is, I do it over and over.  I can so relate with Paul in Romans 7:15:  "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Like me, he knows the best things to do and yet he does the worst things anyway.

But thanks to my study this week in The Best Yes, I have determined to be open to those things that mean the most, the things that God puts in my path. Like put down my stupid phone when I get home from work and really be there to talk to my family.  Like get an extra fast food biscuit on Sunday morning for the homeless person I know I will see between my parking and the church building. Like be sensitive to a friend who is talking to me and know when she really needs to talk.  

I have to slow down in order to see these things, but when compared to the rate of speed when you get dragged, I'm way ahead.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How to Be Found When You're Incredibly Lost

If you are lost, the surest way to be found is to ride around in a 1978 Ford station wagon (the one with the fake wood paneling on the side) and use a loudspeaker to announce your name and ask for your family to identify themselves.

At least that was my first experience being lost.  My family camped a lot when I was young in the wilds of Pennsylvania.  I rode my bike a little too far around the campground and it got a little too dark and a kind, elderly couple rode me around until the loudspeaker caught the attention of my parents, who assumed I was with siblings.

You can be lost in a lot of ways.  I have already blogged on my adventure of following a faulty GPS, and going to Walmart is always a lesson in "I have got to remember where I parked next time."  

But try writing a blog.  There are only about 16 quatrillion blogs out there in the blogosphere. Some are terrible, some are so-so, some are really good.  I know of a person who has a blog that is just for her own journaling purposes.  I read blogs that have many followers.  But how do you stand out and not get lost in all the blogs that are begging to be read?

Well, outside of developing a full platform and fairly well-financed social media campaign, it's next to impossible to stand out. 

So what do you do?  Four words.

Be. True. To. Yourself.

I have some very talented friends who have amazing blogs.  For example, www.lisaappelo.com is the home of True and Faithful.  www.cultivatingahome.com is the home of Cultivating a Home, sharing the incredible wisdom of my friend Rhonda Ellis, who will be the first to tell you that she has made her share of mistakes in parenting, but shares some valuable wisdom. www.brendaschwend.com is a blog that is so rich with insight into life.  And they are really good writers.

So do I compare myself to these amazing women?  It's tempting, but comparison is an evil monster that only compares your worst to someone else's best.  So instead, I keep on plugging along, being a little funny and sharing a lot of my life and hope that someone is encouraged along the way.

Just like in life -- no one can be everything, and we all need everyone to be exactly who they are.  My friend Mary DeMuth, an amazing author, told me that I am the only one who has my voice.  Just like in the body of Christ -- I am the only one who has my specific mix of gifts and talents.  So I gotta get out there and be true to God's Word and how He wonderfully  :)  made me.

No loudspeaker (or wood-paneled station wagon) necessary.

1 Corinthians 12: 12-20
 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[e] yet one body.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

8 things mothers of teens know that mothers of preschoolers don't

I <3 James Dobson.

He and his organization, Focus on the Family, were so invaluable to me as a young mom with 3 kids under 5.  Some days I just did not know how to cope with a strong-willed child or how to get my house clean or how to be the mom I thought I would be.  And  I would listen to his radio broadcast and get some clarity for that day.  

So in that same frame of mind, with preschool and elementary years way behind me, here's a few tips for my friends who are moms of that age.

1.  You will either take extreme pride or extreme indifference over how many birthdays you did cupcakes or whatever for school.  I'm more on the pride side, because taking cupcakes on birthdays made me feel like I did something right.  But I have a friend on the indifference side who asked me, "How many birthdays do you remember now that you are an adult?"

2.  I still don't know of a child who took a pacifier to kindergarten.

3.  All the tricks and games I used to get young son potty trained didn't work half as well as his going to 3 year old preschool and getting to go to the bathroom with other boys who were potty trained.  Yay for peer pressure!

4.  None of my children remember how clean our house was in that time when I had a 5 year old, a 3 year old, and a newborn.  They do remember the fun day we decorated Christmas cookies and got confectioner's sugar all over the kitchen.  Do stuff now, clean stuff later.

5.  I have roughly 4000 pictures of zoo animals that we took on trips to the zoo.  Anyone need rhinoceros pictures?  Trust me, take less pictures at the zoo.

6.  I am just about caught up with sleep, with a 20 year old, a 19 year old, and a 15 year old.

7.  Making rules based on respect, health, and safety was one of the best things I ever did.  I'm so glad I didn't make arbitrary rules to establish myself as an autocratic parent.  Have ice cream for dinner one night in the summer?  Yes. 

8.  Giving a child a chance to redeem him or herself after making a mistake is one of the most profitable experiences he or she will have.  It teaches grace and makes it easier for you, the parent, to make it right when you screw up as a parent of teens and young adults.  And it will happen.  

No one's perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes.  But when you seek after God for wisdom, it will totally come to you!  Read the Bible and let it transform your way of thinking.  God has a cool way of doing that.

And a little James Dobson never hurt.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Your Basic All-In-One Blog Post

I once had a four-in-one screwdriver.  It felt good to know I was covered in life's circumstances, as long as I only needed a small or medium flathead or Phillips screwdriver.  This is a four-in-one blog.  I tried to separate them, but the ideas were as entwined together as headphones that have been in my purse for a week.


I have often found myself eating to medicate my emotions, as I'm sure a number of people can relate to.  I would have the thought in the midst of the gorging, "Why do I do this?  What makes me do this?"  The first thought I had was, I am eating because I don't know when I will eat next, which makes me sound like I live in a third world country.  What I discovered, through some soul-searching, was that food was the only thing I could control and by golly, I'm going to have a lot of it and that is my substitute for control.  I am going to be confident by consumption.


That's why the word consume in our verse this week really caused me to stop and think.  Because of God's great love, we are NOT consumed. 
His compassions are new and never give out.  God is always faithful and He is my portion, meaning to me that He is enough. 


I don't have to be consumed by my need to be in control.  I don't have to branch out in the only way I can find to feel good.  We are not consumed -- when we trust God.  When I do it my own way, I eat myself up to 100 lbs over my goal weight.  That's a whole bunch of needing to feel like I am in control!  And it didn't even work, past the ten minutes I was stuffing my face.


God has shown me through this study that He is enough.  I am made for more. 


I don't want to be like the people in the Bible who "made their stomachs their god."  I want to make my God the satisfier of my soul.  I've recognized that a desire to eat is not necessarily a need to eat, but may be a craving for the Heavenly Father that knows and loves me so wholeheartedly, fully, and completely that He made me to crave him. 


Who is my God?  The Faithful One who waits for me every morning with water for my thirst and food for my soul.  What do I want most?  A relationship with someone who understands me, has my best interests at heart, is always right, and IS trust.  Renee Swope shared this verse in the Proverbs31.org Encouragement for Today devotional:


"'For your Maker is your husband — the LORD Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit — a wife who married young, only to be rejected,' says your God." Isaiah 54:5-6 (NIV)


I am so thankful for this study and the great friends I've made in my small group.  I am closer to God than I ever have been and rely on Him more fully than ever before.  It has truly been #beneficial.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What Happened to My Picket Fence? or #Truth

Crazy.  Just absolutely crazy.


Your life is a composite of so many things -- it could include kids, a job, aging parents, health issues, husband issues, your own wants, dreams of vacations, and, oh, by the way, E is the letter of the day because it starts the word early, which is when  you need to leave because that's where the gas gauge needle is pointing to. Crazy.


Aaaahhhhhh!  Really?  Is this what it is?  Somehow this is not the perfect life I envisioned as a 20 year old!  I thought that I would get married, have kids, have a cute house, and live a life like I saw in a lifetime of Southern Living magazines.
Well, I'm here to tell you that marriage is not a magic key to happiness, kids grow up and want to have their own lives, and food stylists do not come to your house every day.
The truth is that God is here and He has a plan.  The truth is that we are called to deny ourselves (what?  deny?  I'm more about the getting....) and take up the cross of Christ
every
single
day.


So in the path of my life, I have developed a close relationship with God that is such a joy.  I enjoy praise and worship so much, just because I love talking about the names of Jesus and the cross and the blood and how God cares for us.  It's because I have walked paths of faith completely blind that I know the character of God, and when you truly know what God is like, when you have seen that glimmer of "I AM," then you can't help but praise His name.


However, "perfect" is not a part of my life.  In no way, shape, form, or manner is anything perfect.  In fact, I am given to emotional rollercoasters that are not fun.  To counteract this, God gave me a thing that I want to share with you.  It's a truth journal.  It's got two columns. When I get all bent out of shape because my thoughts are beating me up, I write down in one column how I feel.  That is the "how I feel" column.  The other column is labeled "the truth is..." and it is usually the exact opposite of the feelings column.


So, for example, if I am having a down day because I am single with absolutely no prospects, I may write something like, "I am never getting married and all my friends are getting engaged or dating great guys."  Then I could write in the truth column, "Sharon got engaged and Friend X has a date for Valentines.  That is far from 'all my friends.'  And never is a bad word to use because I can't know what God has for me." Maybe I'll throw in a verse like "Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act." – Psalm 37:7a


I would highly recommend starting a truth journal.  God didn't create us to be a maelstrom of emotion that constantly keeps us in a state of non-peace.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Chocolate Stash

Oh, you know who you are.  You, the mom or other woman who surreptitiously buys chocolate "for work," or "for Sunday School," or even better (and by better, I mean less believable) "stocking up for Valentine's/Easter/Halloween/Christmas...because it's a good deal."


My mom is one of these people.  For decades, she has had a stash.  A chocolate stash.  The actual stash location has moved over the years, but I know at any given time, there is a bag of chocolate or graham cracker cookies coated in chocolate or chocolate minis SOMEWHERE in her house.  To her credit, my mom is forever trying to lose those pesky THREE pounds she "needs" to lose.  Uh-huh.  It's like that.


Once, while putting some laundry away in the cavernous closet she has, I heard the unmistakable crinkle of a plastic bag containing chocolate.  Like a jungle cat on the prowl, I started looking, aware I had unearthed the new stash location.  Under hanging clothes, in a bag, were some chocolate miniature bars.


For this PMS chick, that was alllllllllll it took.  I ate a few, and then carefully put them back, knowing that I could come back to that stash, as long as I kept it secret, meaning, don't tell the kids.


I am so fortunate that God is not like me!  When He says, "And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name," He is promising to take his stash of amazing and share it with me openly, without wanting to hold some back for later on! 


The next, and coolest thing, in my humble opinion, is that He does this, not because He values treasure and secret riches (or secret stashes of chocolate), but because He wants me to know how personally He loves me.  This is so mind-blowing!  Jehovah Elohim, the term used here, means Lord God.  Like the Really Big Kahuna. The CEO. A deity so important and at the top of the chain wants to call ME, a chick that falls for chocolate like 4000 dominoes, by NAME and He wants to give me treasure, riches-- not just convention-hall swag with his name imprinted on it.


So here it is -- I am so highly valued by the God of the Universe.  I truly am made for more than Poptarts.  Or chocolate.  I am made to be the recipient of treasure.  Riches.  That makes me not only want to seek God out more, but to stand up straight and be confident in my role as a child of God. 


Stash?  Don't want it.  God's Treasure?  Seeking it.  Won't you join with me?





Thursday, January 30, 2014

I. Am. That. Woman.

Although we may have likely never met, I bet we are pretty similar... but this is me.


I am...Daniel.  My lions are chocolate chip cookies, and I am surrounded by them.  Except in my story, God helps me keep my mouth shut.


I am Moses.  My small group comes along side of me and holds up my arms, and my determination, when I don't think I can do it anymore.


I am that woman at the well, who prostitutes her emotions to food to feel good and to make it all better.  Jesus is the bread of life, who says, "Come unto me, and I will give you rest." 


I am the lost sheep, that Jesus lovingly pursues to bring me back into the fold.  He says, "Hear the sound of my voice through my Word. Crave me, not fragile shells of comfort that break when the next problem comes."


I am the blind man.  I have sat by the pool of Siloam for so long, hoping and waiting for a miracle to come my way.  Jesus has come, and he has opened my eyes to a life that is so much more rewarding and promising.  I don't have to be a slave to my food wants.


Being in the online Bible study for Made to Crave has made a dramatic effect on my life, basically because I care again.  If you are anything like me, you've already been on a bunch of diets, lost weight and gained weight, and maybe have decided that you can live in a state of complacency.  Nothing's going to change, right?


WRONG.  This time is different, this time I am arming myself with truths I have never really thought about before. I am made to crave my Lord and Savior; I am fearfully and wonderfully made and, finally, my soul knows this VERY WELL.


Where are you in your walk with MTC?  Are you haphazardly doing the study? Or are you involved in everything you can do?  Or are you in the middle?  You are that woman.  You can learn to crave God.  You can do it! 



















Thursday, January 16, 2014

You're invited!

Super duper.

I have been known to use those two words together on more than one occasion.  Okay, upwards of "many" occasions.  And sometimes I am really, truly super duper excited about something.  Well, that's today's blog post.

I am SUPER DUPER excited about the latest Online Bible Study with Proverbs31.org!  They're using one of my favorite authors, Lysa TerKeurst, a great book, Made to Crave,and a topic I desperately need  help with -- filling those God-sized holes with food.

To be completely honest, I have owned this book for some time and me and a coworker started doing the video series together last year.  But I was not in a place where I was ready to confront my gluttony and my over-willingness to treat chaos and stress with food.  But now I am, and I am really excited about doing this with over 30,000 other women, online.

So I invite, you, my friend, to join!  There's still plenty of time (it doesn't start until January 19th), and I know that you can hoof it over to Lifeway and get the book (which is all you need).  Or order it on Amazon.  Or download it to your Kindle.  That's what I did.  Just think how you would feel if you could learn how to break the vicious cycle of defeat in your life in your relationship with food.  Wouldn't it be.... super duper?