Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New venture

I am definitely a woman who likes to get on soapboxes.  I can express my strong opinions on most anything and though this is not one of my best character trait and one I am working on taming, it is still undoubtedly true.  Topics that I am able to express my opinions on are not always topics that I am passionate about I just get excited about something and then my loud mouth does the rest.  Really, I am allowing God to change me in this area and it is one of the things that God is working on with me.  That being said, I do have a topic which I am very passionate about and in an effort to share that passion and advise with others my husband Justin and I began a new venture today.  We are co-authoring a blog about marriage and sexual intimacy called Do Not Disturb.  We wrote a bible study by the same name for our church 2 years ago and since then have thought about the best way to bring that information to a larger audience and this seemed like the best way to do that.  If you are married and want some refreshers on how to make marriage better or if you just have some burning sex questions check it out.  Thanks for reading. 

Here is the link to the blog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

5 things I am loving (frugal or not!)

Ok, everyone seems to have read my last post on frugal ideas but only one of you commented with any ideas! Some of you may even have been scared by reading some of the things we do in our house to cut costs so I wanted to post some of the things I am loving right now. Some of these things are borderline frugal and some are not. Enjoy!

1. Dawn with Olay hand renewal - I wash all this dishes in our house so even though I would love to use natural and homemade dish soap I am really enjoying this right now. My hands get quite dry and this is helping take the edge off the cracking and bleeding that usually comes this time of year.

2. Coconut oil and coconut flour. Justin and I are not 100% committed to a grain free diet but are replacing some staple foods with grain free alternatives and these products are essential to do that. I love making pancakes and muffins with the flour and the coconut oil is great for sauteing. I also use the coconut oil as hand salve to prevent the dryness that comes this time of year.

3. Arm & Hammer Advance White Toothpaste - I have been struggling with a very sensitive tooth and after trying a few sensitive toothpaste brands Justin came home with this and I have found our new toothpaste. My tooth is definitely healing and feels much better. I have looked up a few homemade toothpaste recipes to try but I just may stick with this one.

4. Since I was having some tooth issues and Justin was too we decided to pre-spend some of our Christmas money. We always get Christmas money from our grandparents and we had a little "cushion" in the bank so Justin came home with a Phillips Sonic Care electric toothbrush. My teeth feel so clean and I am glad we made that investment.

5. Speaking of "cushion" Justin surprised me by buying me a new Christmas tree this year. After 11 years we finally own a tree. My grandmother had given me one when we got married and a few years ago the pre-lit lights went dead but being cheap and frugal I still didn't replace it. I have looked after Christmas the past few years but never justified the expense so Justin did it for me. We don't exchange gifts usually for Christmas so this was a nice early present.

6. Bonus: I have a friend who recently threw a birthday party for her son and instead of the guests bringing gifts for the child they brought gifts to fill Operation Christmas Child boxes. I absolutely love this idea! After a year and a half of being on the birthday party circuit I know just how frustrated I can get by seeing kids get all kinds of gifts they could care less about. I am all for celebrations but I know what my kids are likely to want, need and play with. Giving a gift to someone else that really needs it speaks to my heart so much. Just something to consider.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Frugal ideas (yours)

I have a dream.  A dream that includes visiting the continent that stole part of my heart 12 years ago within this calendar year.  However, this is a rather expensive dream and as such there are more sacrifices to be made in our home life to make it happen. I am by most standards a very frugal person. Radical even for most but not as much as some. Here is where you come in, I need your best money saving ideas and tips.  Even if you don't regularly leave comments I want to hear from you.

I already do quite a few money saving tips and there are some suggestions that I have considered and am just not gonna do (paper products...enough said). I probably have some readers out there who could teach me a new tip or two so please let me know your ideas.  Thanks!

Here are some of the things I/we already do:

Household:
Homemade laundry detergent, window cleaner, all purpose cleaner
Hand soap - we use homemade foaming soap in dispensers
Dishwashing soap - I use dawn and won't give it up (my hands are too important when you wash all the dishes)
Electricity - set thermostat, turn off lights and unplug everything not used daily
Cloth napkins, reuseable containers (no ziplock) 

Health/beauty -
Basically here I just buy on sale and when we run out
I don't buy a ton of cosmetics but will continue to buy makeup and wear it
We buy supplements, herbs and vitamins and I am not really willing to budge on the brands we use

Food -
We don't eat out (very often) it really is a very special treat for us
Pack lunches everyday
Menu plan and I know exactly what I buy and where to buy it the cheapest

Clothes/shoes -
I know the free thrift store and when the sales are at my favorite thrift shop
I yardsale but only with a list in hand so I am not tempted to buy even something cheap if I don't need it
Shoes - I often buy secondhand but nice sneakers and shoes are a must for Justin
Clothes - I just don't buy much in this area, I have been very blessed by some swaps in the past and continue to get by with what we have

Medical expenses -
This is by far the biggest money waster and frustration I have, not sure what to do about this one

These are just a few of the things we do. Please advise if you have anything to add to my list

Friday, December 9, 2011

Encouragement of naming things

Horror and shame came over me immediately upon hearing about a new Bible study that the women's ministry at our church is starting in January. You may wonder why horror and shame may accompany anything that has to do with studying the Bible, well, let me tell you. When you have walked the road as long as I have with food issues, shame and defeat tag along with you quite often.  A few months ago I mention to some close friends and then on my blog that I felt completely defeated in the area of surrendering food to God. I felt completely out of control and completely unable to move forward. So, I have been going back to resources that have proven very beneficial to me and supply me with an ample amount of God's Word, love and grace. I am on the freedom trail....but I am not there yet. I have not arrived at freedom from my serious need to control.

So when I heard that a study using the very same material that I have found to be instrumental in my life in dealing with the very spiritual aspects of food you would think I would be excited. Instead I was upset and mortified.  I have had this information in my life for over 10 years and yet I haven't found my way out of the muck and mire.  I still have not let God lead me into the truth of all that He has for me.  My immediate thoughts went to how mortifying it is to admit to having sound biblical truth in your life yet not consistently applying what you know. In my case it may even be magnified because the principles of living the Christian life are not only things I know but that I also teach. Could I really believe that I have any ability to believe that things could be different?  If it hasn't happened in 10 years is it ever going to happen?

It didn't take long for me to feel God prompting me to reflect more on what I was feeling.  Shame and fear are very different feelings than Godly conviction.  I am willing to confess my sins in this area and I admit I need help in learning how to repent and turn from my sin.  My desire to run and hide from the people leading this study kicked into full gear and that is never a good thing.  My mask needed to come down and I needed to deal with the emotional upheaval of being able to admit that I still struggle and still need help.

I called the leader (who already knew of the struggle from past conversations) and I just said how awful it makes me feel that I have known for so long what to do but still after all this time struggle to do it. She was very encouraging and as we talked further I began to realize how much victory I actually do have in areas I had forgotten.  I believe we all as humans have very short memories or that at least our memories fade quickly when it comes to blessings and victories in our lives.  We have to consciously apply our minds and hearts to remember what God has done for us, in us and through us.  As we were talking the Lord encouraged my spirit to remember that I am not the same woman I was 10 years ago and He has given me consistent victory in certain areas of my life.  I found great encouragement in naming things, in giving utterance to the ways God has been faithful, gracious and loving in tangible ways in my life. I am victorious because God has made it so through the death of His one and only Son.

My encouragement to you is to remember. Take time to name the things you know that God has done for you, in you and through you. There is no better way to rest assured in God's loving faithfulness than to look back upon His loving faithfulness. God is good and if we let our current circumstances prevent us from seeing His past provisions we truly are blind.

Lord, open my eyes to see You. To see how you have loved unconditionally, given generously and provided skilfully all that I have and need.  You are a God who is able to do immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine and I want to see You for Who You are. Thank You God! Amen.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our day looked like this...

We woke up and went to church. I was serving so we had to stay for both services. Sometimes it is difficult for the girls to have good attitudes about the second service but today they both actually wanted to stay, even past when I was done with my duties. After church we came home.  The girls played nicely with each other and then we ate a late lunch. I started to get some Christmas decorations out and helped the girls put their Christmas trees in their rooms. Justin came home we talked a few minutes to catch up and we all watched a new movie that some friends had given us. After that was done we had some quiet time. The girls played together in their room but Lydia kept coming out of her room to let me know how much her tooth was bothering her and how she wanted to go to the dentist tonight. I worked on the final preparations for our Advent worship time later in the evening. Emma took her bath and Lydia worked on making some cards. We ate dinner and then had family worship time. Justin played guitar for our worship and then we began our Jesse Tree Advent celebration. Lydia read the Bible passage Emma put the ornament card in the tree and then Lydia prayed. Lydia took her bath, I read a few stories and the girls went to bed.  It was a wonderful way to end a wonderful week of family togetherness.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving break and  our hearts are full as we have so many things to be grateful for.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Today I want to remember...

creativity.  I am in the process of turning one of our hall closets into a crafting space.  I have a lot of reasons I want to do this and have been searching out bargains to make it happen in an affordable way.  I want to remember to encourage creativity in my my husband, my children and myself.  Lydia, even as I write, is creating some thanksgiving cards in that hall space.  She is discovering the fun and sometimes long process of coming up with ideas and then creating them.  I hope that I can encourage my husband, my children and myself to enjoy the creativity God has given each of us.  We were made in His image and He is very creative indeed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My favorite story from today...

Today I was watching 2 extra little girls, Emma, another 4 yr old girl and her little sister who is 20 months old.  They were sitting around the lunch table and they got the giggles.  The reason they got the giggles is the universally funny potty word "toot". Now, we don't allow potty talk at the table but once they were already laughing it is pretty hard to stop them.  Besides, it is pretty hard to correct an innocent 20 month year old who is not your own.  I let them have their moment before I put a stop to it but I couldn't help but laugh with them too.  It just proves that no matter what age or what gender some words are always funny.



I am back to the prompts, I spent last week preparing for a youth event at church.  20 kids showed up and I hope they had some semblance of a good time.  Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Today You....

...made me laugh.  You always do.  It is one of my most favorite parts of who you are.  It was a rather mundane time of the day. We were brushing out teeth and getting ready for bed after a long hard day.  We had been talking about finances and the long list of things in our house that were needing fixed or replaced and then it happened...you made me laugh.  You said you missed getting socks and underwear for Christmas.  How as a child no one ever wanted to open socks or underwear as a kid but how right now you would welcome it as, well, lets just say it has been awhile since we have spent money on those things.  I laughed for about a minute straight because I know what you felt like when you said it.  I can relate to wanting something new, I can relate to desiring for just the basics in life and being content with that.  It was a refreshing way to end the day, so thanks you for always making me laugh.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writing Prompts

I love to talk, to process with words.  I always have and  always will.  This month I am going to give a try to processing through written words.  I am using some writing prompts to get me thinking and help me write more often.  My friend Lorrie just finished a similar idea and my friend Misty is doing this during the month of November as well.  Hoping to just begin posting regularly and refining my "voice" as a wannabe writer.  Thanks for reading and hope you get to know me better as a result.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Overwhelming Gratitude

Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard until now. Philippians 1:3-5

I wish I could express in words just how much I love my church family. I am a very blessed woman to attend a church where one of the core values is that every member is a minister.  It is amazing to see people use whatever gifts God has given them to touch the lives of others.  I love that as a pastor's wife the mindset of our leadership is not solely to serve people but largely to serve with people.  I have the amazing opportunity to work right along with some amazingly Godly and gifted people.

Today, the people who I love, the people who I get the privilege to share life in ministry with blessed our family in such a big way.  You will never know just how much you are loved and how much your gift means to us.  The thanks is truly ours to give to you! The prayer that Paul prayed and wrote to the Philippians is exactly how I feel about you. I give thanks to God for your ministry in my life.  Blessings to all of you. I love each and everyone of you!


I love the creativity of the variety of gifts and to prove to you just how much we love you I felt completely comfortable taking the night off from cooking and using one of your gifts to have a wonderfully tasty dinner. 


Cards (wonderful for those of us who love words of affirmations) and gift cards

Justin and Lydia enjoying their dinner. Any guesses as to which card from above we used first?

Emma and mommy too.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Coconut Pancakes

I had a few friends ask me about this recipe, so here you go. This is not an original brainstorm but an adaptation of various other recipes I have tried.

Coconut Flour Pancakes

8 eggs
1/2 c. coconut flour
1 carton (6oz) Chobani honey yogurt
1 tablespoon raw local honey (optional)
Organic Virgin Coconut oil (for frying)

Beat eggs, yogurt and honey.  Add flour and mix well.  Coconut flour tends to clump so make sure you beat it well.   Let mixture sit for 5 or more minutes.  Heat griddle.  Melt coconut oil on griddle.  If you want some crispy edges use more, if not use less.  Place 1/4 mixture on griddle and let it fry 2-3 minutes until nicely golden on one side then flip till done on other side.  Serve with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup.  Delicious!

Our family has been experimenting with some grain free recipes and cooking techniques and this is a keeper for sure.  Let me know if you try it.  Blessings!
 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Processing

I am a verbal processor and love to talk through what God is teaching me and what I am learning and practicing from that.  The only problem is that I often choose silence over verbal processing because it is more predictable and less overwhelming.  By choosing escape I don't actually have to change and I don't have to face the possibility of failure. When I started this blog I simply wanted to share life and have a written journal (albeit public) of how I want to match my life to the rhythm of God. To be authentic in that I just need to write.  I need to give voice to the good and the bad because that is all part of the process called life.  It may not all be positive or encouraging, it may not be pretty or even well written but I want it to reflect me and where I am at.

I am processing through what feels like a lot right now.
  • Moments of victory
  • Moments of defeat
  • Intentional living
  •  Surrender
  • Taking thoughts captive
  • Obedience
In the process of writing I am hoping to bring about a voice to the journey I am on in light of the truth of God's word and I pray that God is glorified. A couple years ago I wrote this mission statement: I desire to know and love God more and to consistently have my actions, attitudes and thoughts reflect a passionate love for Christ, recognizing this can only be accomplished because of and through His grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. I still love it and want to press on to having my life truly reflect this mission statement.  I am really excited about where God has me right now but I also want to give up at times and choose to ignore where He wants to lead me.  Anyway, that is some of what I am processing right now.  Blessings to you and thanks for reading!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Here is another week's worth of menu's.  Had a great week last week and hope the same for this week.  God is so amazing to me, how He answers prayers and is always able to help those who cry out to Him.  Pray you are doing well this week.  If you have any great recipes, please feel free to share.  I would love to have more easy, healthy and great tasting recipes to add to my menus.  Blessings!


Breakfasts:
  •  eggs
  • coconut flour muffins (probably pumpkin)
  • fruit salad & toast
  • eggs in a frame
  • yogurt parfait
  • pancakes
  • smoothie
Lunches:
  • cottage cheese and fruit
  • hard boiled egg, veggies & dip, fruit
  • grilled cheese and veggies
  • peanut butter and jelly and yogurt
  • turkey sandwhich
  • tuna melt
  • soup
Dinners:
  • BBQ Chicken and sides
  • Soup & cornbread
  • Fish and sides
  • chicken cesar salad
  • make your own pita pocket pizzas
  • stir fry
  • enchiladas

Monday, October 10, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

So, how does a person who is trying to escape the grips of an eating disorder plan menus? Just like I have been doing all along only with a lot more prayer than anxiety.  The difference is that I am trying not to stress, worry, over analyze and control everything.  Sure, a menu plan is a form of control but it also gives me the ability to spend money wisely and not have the concern each day with what I am going to eat.  I don't waste needless time thinking about food.  I have prayed over the food choices for the week and will be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit if there needs to be a change.  If anyone can benefit from seeing inside my brain, food choices and nutrition this will give them the opportunity.



Breakfasts
  • coconut blueberry muffins
  • eggs
  • fruit smoothie & toast
  • eggs in a frame
  • yogurt parfait
  • french toast
  • cereal
Lunch
  • hard boiled eggs, veggies&dip, fruit
  • pasta salad with cheese chunks and veggies
  • fruited tuna
  • peanut butter and banana wrap
  • homemade lunchable
  • soup
  • pizza buns
Dinner
  • Fish, rice and veggie
  • Broccoli beef Stir fry  with quinoa
  • chicken, sweet potato and green beans
  • meat loaf, veggie and mashed cauliflower
  • homemade chicken nuggets, mac n cheese and veggie
  • meatballs and green salad
Yummy! So many good things or at least things that sound good to me. Have a great week!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Not Alone - Book review


There is no disgrace in allowing yourself to hope for something different. ~Alise Wright

Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, abuse, they all do the same thing.  They play their sick little game until the person who is struggling resigns to what they believe is a hopeless existence.  Isolation, guilt, condemnation, anger, helplessness, hopelessness play in the mind over and over again.  All this serves to make a person feel alone.  When any one of these struggles is present in a Christian's life, a person who knows they are blessed beyond measure and have no valid reason to feel this way (or so they've been told), the sense of being alone only increases.  

The words at the top of this page really speak to me.  Hope! I need it, you need it, we all need it.  Without hope there really is no joy, peace or contentment in life.  Sometimes though, hope seems elusive and just out of grasp.  Others may experience hope and "normalcy" but it alludes the life of the person who is struggling.  This is when stories like the ones I just read in the book Not Alone: Stories Of Living With Depression come in.  

I had the opportunity this week to read this book and was blown away by the stories these brave contributors shared.  Throughout the book you can read the stories of how depression and anxiety came into peoples lives to steal hope and increase isolation.  Many of the stories include the recognition and admittance of depression, some include the devastating effects that depression had/has on their life and some share of how living on the other side of depression feels.  Not every story shares about the  wonderful "other side".  Some of the stories share about the struggle of survival and managing the best they can while depression is still at work. I like that. I like that because I know that not every struggle we encounter will see its end this side of heaven and no one is alone in that.
I needed this book right now in my own life.  I am feeling overwhelmed, ashamed and guilty about the depth of my need.  Lies. All lies.  I am not alone in my struggles and there is hope.  Glorious, amazing, freeing hope.  I want it.  I suspect that many of you want it too.  I cannot give you the answers as to how your journey will look or where your path will take you.  I can tell you that my hope comes from the lavish and unashamed love that my creator has for me.  I am not worthy of it yet He suffered and sacrificed His life all with me in mind.  I have hope in His love and in His plan for my life.  The only way for me to know this is to silence the lies that make it impossible to believe it.  

There’s nothing like writing down a book full of truth to stick it to a liar. ~ Tamara Lunardo

If you are looking for hope, looking to "stick it to a liar" then this book may be very helpful to you.  You can buy it at Amazon or you can find out more information about the Not Alone project at  Alise Wright's (the editor) personal blog.  I wrote an entry about my depression on her Not Alone blog series.

Hope. Let us all search for and cling to hope.  I take comfort in knowing this truth: "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because  I have overcome the world." John 16:33b (NLT)
Be blessed!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Coming Clean

My last two posts have alluded to the fact that something in my life is not quite on track and that is true. I feel like I need to come clean about what that is.  At the beginning of the year when I embarked on reading the Bible in 90 days I was excited to see what God would teach me. 9 months later I am still trying to learn and apply the lessons God began during that process.  God is graciously teaching me how to trust Him and to let go of the bondage I so often choose to live in.

I am currently working through (quite slowly I might add) Breaking Free by Beth Moore.  In the first week she described bondage as being preoccupied by destructive thought processes.  When I hear that definition I resonate with it because I know I am living in bondage.  The question you may have is what am I in bondage to? One word won't really answer your question but I feel the need to confess I have an eating disorder.  For most of my adult life I easily have said "I HAD an eating disorder" and I walked in security that it was indeed behind me.  Over the last year and maybe more, my preoccupation with food has become very destructive.  It is so easy for me to hide, justify or dismiss but I feel that I just need to come clean about it.  Shame, guilt, fear, self-condemnation and all those other negative emotions have kept me down and I am sick of it! I want FREEDOM! The same freedom that Christ died to give me, I want it.  I mean, I really want it. I want it so bad that I can no longer stay where I am at and be satisfied. 

When I went through postpartum depression I know that the single most helpful thing I did was to admit that I was struggling.  By confessing, seeking help and sharing my struggle I was able to begin the healing process and find the freedom that God desired in my life.  I believe this confession will do much the same for me.  I don't want to hide and I know that I am not alone in my struggles even if you don't struggle with the exact same issues. I don't want to reinvent this part of my life.  I want to fall face down before my God and become the new creation I know He has already made me.  Christ's death on the cross has already provided everything I need and He is more than able to lead me into freedom I just need to be obedient and follow hard after Him. 

There is a lot of work God wants to do in my life and I need to be obedient to cooperate with His work.  That is what is going on in my life.  I know it is raw, ugly and maybe a bit to much for you to take in (if you are still reading) but it is where I am at. I want freedom and conventional ways have not worked for me, I can only cling to my Savior and follow Him. This really is a journey to freedom and though there are many parts of my life that are going great this is where I need to camp out for awhile.  I know that God has much in store for not only my life but for yours as well.  Blessings!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kindness

"Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" Romans 2:4 NLT

God is so incredibly kind to me. His kindness and faithfulness to me surpasses anything I can comprehend. He is more gracious and patient with me than I deserve. I truly believe God has me in a sweet spot right now, though I have to admit that sweet spot is proving very painful for me. I feel I have reached the point where continuing on would be more painful than staying where I am but that doesn't mean I want to face the pain right now. Still somehow I know God wants me to grow through the pain.

In my last post I talked about how I am pretty good at reinventing myself. If I just try hard enough and apply the right principles it seems as if everything will fall into place. This is a lie. No amount of effort on my own behalf will ever be enough to give me the results I long for. I want to experience real freedom, just as God desires me to have yet I often feel I sabotage myself and stop short of experiencing the kind of freedom Christ died to give me.

This morning our church started a series about being Courageous. The 3 key questions were: 1. Will we be strong and very courageous? 2. Will we put our trust in God? 3. Will we live out our convictions? I was particularly challenged by the second question, will I put my trust in God? It may seem unusual that as a professing believer who desires to see all people to place their faith in the saving work Jesus Christ did on the cross would not have trust issues herself but God keeps bringing to the forefront of my mind that I do indeed have trust issues. If I trust God with 99% of my life but do not release that last 1% then I obviously have trust issues.

It is hard to admit but I am still trying to cling and grasp control in one particular area in my life. Truth is, it isn't working. For all my grasping and trying to control I am out of control and less at peace than I should be or want to be. That is what leads me here. To this point. The place where true freedom and peace are on the horizon. But I need to trust, believe, give up control. I need to leap and allow God to catch me. I want freedom so bad I can taste it. I want to get outside of my own head in order to worship and serve God with a higher degree of surrender and purpose. God is so kind to bring me to this point and I am writing about it for anyone who reads to know about it. Keeping it to myself, journaling to myself, and all the other ways that I have tried to reinvent myself in this area ARE NOT WORKING! When Christ was on earth He was anything but conventional in the company He kept and the methods He used to teach, heal and draw people to Himself. Conventional isn't working for me therefore I am proceeding in the unconventional.

I am sharing myself and my struggles with you so that together we can celebrate the glorious way He makes all things new and how trustworthy He really is. I will share more specifics as time goes on but to those handful of regular readers I have I want you to know things are going to be different for a little while. It's just where I am at right now.

And as a side note for anyone who has been reading for a really, really long time (THANKS!) during communion today the song being played in the background was I Surrender All. Truly God is good and I am praying that I have ears to hear and a heart to apply what He wants to teach me. Blessings!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Reinventing of Self

Overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, tired, striving, failure...all these words have one thing in common, they often describe how I feel. No matter what title I may use to define myself (woman, pastor's wife, Christ follower, Bible study teacher, mother, friend, etc.) these words easily find themselves into any crack or crevice I have. Now don't get me wrong, these words do not define me nor do they define every area of my life all at the same time but too often they make an unwelcome appearance and are not dealt with very easily or willingly.

God is gently, and at times not so gently, teaching me why these behaviors, emotions and thought patterns are common in my life. I've already admitted on this blog that I am a perfectionist and I struggle regularly with control and pride issues. That being said I am going to add to the list, when faced with the ugliest sins in my life I often recognize the problem, confess it and then proceed to reinvent myself to eliminate the unwanted problem area from my life. Whether I reinvent myself through a new spiritual discipline, an accountability relationship, charts, schedules, and other such practices, the truth is that I am trying and striving to bring about my own freedom. I try to reinvent and manufacture the results and become the me I want to be. God can and does use all of those practices to bring about His work in my life but only when my attitudes and thoughts are focused on Him alone.

As I work through the Breaking Free Bible study by Beth Moore I am realizing just how much I want and need real freedom in my life. I want to experience peace, joy and God's presence in my life in new ways that I have not yet experienced. There are areas in my life that have never experienced continual freedom and victory the way God intends. I want to release my grasp on those areas and know that God is working. He WILL work but if I jump into auto pilot and just try to reinvent myself in that area it just wont work.

The idea of reinventing self is pretty popular and common. Self help books, seminars, various internet resources make it possible to reinvent yourself in any area of life. Diet, exercise, organization, homemaking, business, education, etc. You name it and you can find a support group or online forum to reinvent yourself in this area. I see 2 reasons I (as well as many others) do this, 1. belonging 2. necessity. I often desire to reinvent myself and quickly find help in this because I realize I don't want to be alone on this journey of life. Belonging and finding out you are not alone in any given struggle is encouraging and helpful. People can offer an invaulable amount of expereinece and help in the area of struggle. I am also led to reinvent myself because where I am currently at is causing too much pain so it seems necessary to make a change. The reality of it however is that it is easier for me to set goals, discuss strategies and get advice than it is for me to just SURRENDER. To listen to the voice of The One Who knows and wants what is best for me should be my first and only priority but often I get in the way of that most important thing with my own way of digging myself out.

I have so much more to write about what God is teaching me on this journey to understand and live in freedom but that will have to be written in several other posts. It is my goal not to make you wait another 4 months for that! Whether you can relate to anything I wrote here or not I pray that you are in the process of understanding and living in the freedom Christ died and rose again to give you. Blessings!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What's Next

Last week at our small group meeting we had some great discussion and one of my favorite questions was this: "If somebody asks you what it means to live life under the influence of the Holy Spirit, how would you answer them?" I really liked the question and I feel it is a good place for me to start with my post today.

For me, the question holds the key to the answer. The two words "live life", for me, are an essential part of the answer. God wants me to live life with Him, for Him and by His leading. So much of my time as a stay at home woman, wife and mother is spent "living life". I live a life of laundry, cleaning, menu planning, shopping, being thrifty, teaching, caring, nurturing and so many other things. I am in the regular habit of spending time with God each day but if I regulate my life with Christ to the amount of time I actually spend in His Word and prayer then my time will attest to the fact that the time spent with God vs. the other activities does not even come close to comparing.

I must look at my life through the lens of living life under the influence of the Holy Spirit. That means I am open to the Holy Spirit to speak to me when I am doing the dishes or folding the laundry. I am open to hear words of encouragement, words of correction, words or promise and words of direction. I don't want to live life in a way that is oblivious to the fact that God is in me and with me during every activity I engage in throughout the day, not just my quiet time. How much sweet fellowship I would miss with my Lord if I believed I could only be led by the Spirit during traditionally spiritual moments.

As a follow up to reading through the entire Bible in 90 days I am taking some time to work through the Beth Moore study Breaking Free. I already miss reading large amounts of scripture but am so glad to be taking a more direct and personal approach to allowing God to transform my life. I am doing this study with a very unlikely group in a very unlikely way. My mother and two sisters are joining me and we are going to Skype our discussion times. I am so looking forward to growing in my personal life with God and growing deeper in my relationships with the women in my family.

As a family we are also embarking on some changes to the way we eat. Justin found out through allergy testing that he has a severe reaction to yeast and needs to get it under control to feel good or "normal" again. Some of the changes are going to be easy but some of the changes will prove difficult for our stubborn "I want to eat what I want to eat" mentality. I am looking forward to discovering new recipes and learning how to eat to live rather than live to eat. I know we will all benefit from these changes and it will help us function to the best of our abilities. For the time being though I am sure we will both have cravings that will go unmet and although that is a good discipline in the moment it is happening my flesh cries out against it.

Thanks for reading these rambling thoughts. Blessings!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Finishing

Just a quick update to say that I did it! I finished reading the Bible from front to back and I did it in 81 days!

I love the Word of God and am so blessed to inundated my life in it for the past 81 days. I have so many thoughts and encouragements after reading this much this fast and only time will tell whether or not I compile any of those into a blog post but it has been an incredible journey that I am so blessed to have completed with God's help.

Blessings everyone!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Winter Funk" ie. depression

Alright, it's time to come clean about the quietness of my blog over the past 2 months. I've been experiencing what I will call a "winter funk". What is that? Well, here are just some of the words that describe how I have been feeling over the last 2 months: depressed, unmotivated, withdrawn, escape, addictions, overwhelmed, need to control, inability to control, guilty, ashamed, anxious, pride, rebellion, and just all around yuck. Not a very pleasant list is it? Still it is where I have been for awhile.

The thing about that list that seems to baffle me most is the list I can make of all the "right" things I have done during this time as well. Wanna see that as well? Here you go: daily quiet time (45min - hr), journaling, reflection, regular exercise, nutritious home cooked meals, vitamin/herbal supplements, enough sleep, regular communication with people who love me and care about me, regular service of others and regular time spent with my children and husband. That is a pretty good list and if I believed that depression could be entirely prevented or have a quick fix that is the list I would turn to and direct others to.

Common questions to someone who is suffering with depression in the Christian world are, how are you doing reading the Bible and spending time with God? My answer is a resounding very well thank you. I am in the home stretch of reading the Bible (cover to cover) in 90 days. I have 18 days left before I finish it which actually has me finishing ahead of the 90 day mark. And before you assume I am just reading to read, know that I have been journaling (most days) about what stuck out to me about my reading for the day.

Another set of questions, how are you eating and exercising and are you getting enough rest? Well, this one is a bit more dicey for me to answer. I have found that no matter how much victory I walk in, food is an issue for me. At my best and at my worst food has always been a source of struggle and addiction for me. I have cooked nutritious and relatively healthy choices but no matter how you look at it, if you make tasty, organic muffins, eating 5 at one time can never be a good idea. My problem with food hasn't been health it has been over abundance. I have spent time escaping from life (a great one by the way) by eating. I have been exercising and well, anyone who knows me knows that getting enough sleep is a bit of a habit of mine. ::grins::

So, what have I learned and where am I now? Well, once again I have learned control is an illusion. I don't have any. I can do my best to prepare/prevent, I can do my best to survive and I can do my best escape the clutches of depression but I really don't have any control over the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical toll it takes. I can't pinpoint any one thing that brought it on nor can I pinpoint why it finally feels like it lifted in the past week.

I have also learned that "doing" all the "right" things is no guarantee to living a care free life. My life is blessed, immensely blessed and God, in His mercy, reveals that to me everyday in some way. Recognizing that and trying to remember that in the midst of what feels like such a storm is not necessarily easy. I have been greatly blessed by God through reading the Bible in 90 days but if I choose to say "OK God, I've spent my time with you, now I can do what I want to do with the rest of my time", then I am missing out on the surrendered life God wants me to live.

It has been a rough couple months but I am again reminded just how much God loves me, how precious I am to Him and how much He wants to be included in every part of my life's story. Even the ugly parts. There is never a season or time in life where I am beyond God's love, compassion and mercy. I am so glad to know that I am not alone in this world and I am also glad to know that I am not the only person who feels this way sometimes.

I found great encouragement from this blog post at Granola mom 4 God that helped me finally admit I was indeed going through something. Much of what she wrote and confessed echo my heart and experiences over the last few months. I have written and talked about depression before and part of my experience with postpartum depression can be found here.

Never once did I lose the feeling of hope. Maybe that was because I was reading God's Word and saw time and time again God rescuing His people from their own sin and rebellion or if it was God's extra grace in my life for this season. Whatever the reason I know there is hope for everyone through the power of Christ living inside of each person who puts their faith in Him. I encourage you to look to Jesus Christ in faith for grace to endure all life's circumstances.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bible in 90 Days - Update 1

Alright, I woke up bright and early this morning and began my daily reading plan. I have joined a group of over 750 other people who have committed to reading the Bible in 90 Days. I am excited and looking forward to the challenge.

I know that by reading through the Bible in 90 days there is not much, or should I say any, time to really process what you are reading. I am leaving that up to God. I am praying each morning that God would show me at least one truth that He wants me to recognize each day from my reading. I am praying and reading with expectation that God is willing to meet me where I am at through the course of this reading plan.

God did just that this with this mornings reading. Reading from Gen. 1 through Gen 16 I was struck by the account of when Hagar was being mistreated by Sarai and runs away. In Chapter 16 verse 7 it says, "The angel of the Lord Found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur."

God met Hagar where she was at. He found her. He sought her out. God cares about all of us and He meets us exactly where we are at, even if it is in the wilderness.

Thought for the day - God meets us where we are at.

Blessings!