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Monday, December 3, 2012

The Epic Battle

Yesterday during Sunday school, I was having a tough time. We are beginning a study on Hosea, which is a book about a prophet who was instructed by God to marry a prostitute, then forgive her repeatedly when she returned to prostitution time and again. It's a picture of God and His bride (at the time, the children of Israel) and how she constantly turns from His love and returns to idolatry. The story shows how God continues to pursue His love even when she is a total screw up.

Seriously, people. I can't make this stuff up.

Right now I feel like I am in an epic battle to remain constantly bowed to the will of the Lord. It requires an unspeakable amount of focus. Isaiah 26:3 says, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. When I am keeping my mind on God, I have perfect peace. When Peter was focused on Jesus, he could walk on water, but the second he took his eyes off the Lord, he was sunk.

Just like that, when I am pouring my focus on following God's will for everything I put in my mouth, I have the strength to make wise choices. HIS strength. Last night my focus slipped from the Lord to the box of Nilla Wafers by my side. And I sunk. Yes, I can have Nilla Wafers. But I can't have the whole box dunked in two glasses of milk! I seriously felt ill!

But back to the tough time in Sunday school. Sometimes I feel that Christians are too blase about their personal idolatry. I know that I have been. We like to brush over the big picture and not pay too much attention to the small stuff. We have been taught to not sweat the small stuff. But Jesus died to set us free from the small and the big stuff! The big stuff is MADE of small stuff. I didn't get this bound up in food and self worship in large, sweeping, general ways. I made little choices at a time until it became a BIG problem.

I feel broken when I am sinning. I weep when I confess my whoredom to the Lord. I am in AWE of His mercy and love.

So why, since I know I am not alone in this epic battle to bow my will to God's, do I feel like so many Christians just don't get it? We need to be real with our struggles and hold each other accountable. We need to know how to pray for one another, and sincerely DO IT.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Mirror

I had a good laugh with the Lord this morning. Actually, it began with tears, then swelled into laughter as I realized what I was saying to Him.

Recently I posted on my facebook page something about how awesome it is that whatever I am trying to teach my children always coincides with what God is teaching me. Those weren't the exact words, but it was close. So yesterday Hailey and I had a typical altercation, wherin I told her to do something and she came back with all the reasons why she didn't need to do it. As you can expect, it escalated into a fight. She even went so far as to accuse me of picking the fight. I turned it right back on her. I told her that I did not accept responsibility for the friction between us, because I have been training her for fourteen years to just OBEY, and if she had just done THAT, there would have been no fight at all.

Fast forward to today. As I was in the shower pouring my heart out to the Lord, I broke down in tears and confessed my sin of disobedience. I wasn't at all obedient over the weekend. Oh, I stayed within my points, but that isn't the, er... point. I did not eat right at lunch yesterday. I did all the things I know better than to do. I ate standing up. I ate too quickly. I ate right over the food, as if I were a dog, who had to guard the food bowl, lest another dog get any of it. I ate a second helping, even though I heard God clearly tell me to put it down. But I had all the excuses flying in my head and I exercised zero self-control.

So this morning I got up with a resolve to do better. To BE better.

Who am I kidding?

I have all the resolve of an Olympic athlete to work out in the morning, as I lie in my bed at night. Then the morning comes and I have a headache. Or a hip ache. Or my foot feels like it's broken.

So I excuse myself.

The same thing goes for eating. I resolve to eat healthy portions. I plan just what I will eat. Then I fix my plate, and my portion looks pitiful, so I super-size it. I have no strength to say no to my mouth.

Meanwhile, in the shower, I was confessing these things to God, and telling Him I have no strength to make right choices, asking for His supernatural strength, reminding Him of His promises, and praising Him that He is a promise keeper. Just then I said these words, "Please give me the strength to just obey instead of arguing with You." And it hit me. I burst out laughing!

God made me her mother. God knew that I needed her to remind me of who I am. He loved me enough to give me a perfect mirror of myself to raise, so I would hear His voice.

He is so amazing!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Song of Moses

Last night was our community Thanksgiving service. The message was a blast of light upon the freedom I have been granted in Christ, and today I want to SING it! I want to SHOUT it!

Whoa, Nellie! Let me back up and explain myself.

I have seen very close friends struggle with what looked (to me) like devastating circumstances. Lost children, lost jobs, lost homes, lost marriages, etc. And I have been amazed at how they have gone through these terrible things and still relied on the Lord. I've never actually admitted this, but deep, WAY deep down inside I've been a TINY bit jealous that God trusted them enough to allow them to be tested so severely, just to show His love, power, and mercy. Please don't misunderstand me. I NEVER would want my loved ones to go through these painful things. But they have. And God has been glorified in their lives.

I haven't seen the devastation they have. I have two beautiful, healthy children. My husband is still with me and he doesn't just love me, he adores me. He still thinks I'm beautiful, even at 294.4 pounds. I live in a nice house with two fabulous dogs and drive a decent vehicle. I attend a beautiful, God honoring church with my entire family and sing in the choir, even enjoying the opportunity to sing with our praise team occasionally.

I have it made.

How can God be glorified in that?

But I HAVE been tested! I HAVE been trusted with circumstances that God can be glorified in!
This IS it! God has allowed me to bow to my own desires until I am so entangled in this slavery that it will be OBVIOUS that freedom in only through Him! Just like He allowed His children of Israel to be held captive by Egypt so He could display His might and mighty love, he has allowed me to be held captive by my own love of sugar. This sounds terrible to the world, because of the lie that we are to be self-made success stories. But it isn't terrible at all! I am the one who has made selfish choices, but God is not surprised by this. He knew all along that He could and WOULD be glorified through me. He promised to save me from my bondage when I gave up and obeyed.

So now that I am free, I want to SING!!!

15 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.
Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.
And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.
10 Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.
11 Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.
13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.
15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.
16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.
17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.
18 The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.

Monday, September 10, 2012


When I went to the gym this morning, it was with every intention of going inside. But as I drove Hailey to school this morning, my body protested.

I was tired.

So tired I could barely keep my eyes open.

But I went in.

I told God I was here out of obedience, and that I knew He would be faithful, so I would be, too.

My exercise playlist, which is all upbeat, high-tempo songs, shuffles, so I never know exactly what to expect to fill my ears. But I accidentally put it on the wrong playlist. I put it on my travel list, which is a little less vigorous.

This was not a coincidence.

Here I was, trying to find my rhythm, when Barlow Girl comes on singing about surrender.

I have lived a life of surrender. We all have. We surrender to ourselves, or we surrender to God. We surrender to peer pressure. We surrender to desires. We surrender to laziness or busyness.

I closed my eyes and listened to the words of the song. I give up my dreams for myself. My dreams of fame, fortune, beauty, etc, and surrender to letting myself be used to bring God glory.

And He whispered these words into my soul:

12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

You are my cloud of witnesses here in this life. So I will run this race. I will set aside the sin that doth so easily beset me, and RUN.

Not sure about the patience part, though. :-)

Friday, August 31, 2012

As Unto The Lord

The root of my problem, as revealed to me repeatedly by the mirror in. my. face. is unthankfulness. I get so frustrated with a certain girl child in my house (who shall remain nameless) when she is constantly clamoring for more. The world revolves around this child. She thinks she owns the place, and whatever her little heart desires is what should be henceforth and forevermore.


She is me. A very immature and young version of me.

Today's MTC is all about remembering that my body is the Lord's and the sacrifice of good choices is my way of giving back to Him what is His in the first place. By doing this, I am reminding myself that I am not my own, and admitting to Him that I am thankful for this life.

Last night, as Shawn and I were preparing for bed, I asked him. "Am I unthankful?"
The long pause, as he thought of how to answer that without a fight, followed by, "Only some times."

Ouch. Again.

So today I decided to look around and see what I could do to show him my thankfulness. He is a very hard worker. He is helpful to a fault sometimes. He leaves every morning to go to a job he enjoys, at a company he likes very much, and makes a decent living. But he doesn't do it because he enjoys his job and the company where he works. He does it because it is his calling to provide for his family. He  takes his responsibility very serious.

My job is to keep the home and to homeschool our son. I make sure there is food to eat, the bills are paid, and the family runs smoothly. I take our daughter to school and help with her homework. I get the kids to youth choir, and Caleb to soccer practice. I do the grocery shopping and cooking, and delegate some of the household chores to the children. So why is my house a wreck most of the time? Why is the pantry in disarray, so much that I can't tell what is in it? Why are there fourteen cans of olives in that pantry????

I am not doing my job with a thankful heart. I am doing a slap happy job of.... my job.

So when I came home from the gym this morning, instead of playing with my new paints that arrived yesterday, I looked around to see what I could do that would speak thankfulness to my husband and to God. The dishes. Clean out the pantry. Finish my grocery list. Pay the bills. Give Caleb his spelling test.

And now, imma paint! ;-)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Self Control ~ Not me!

Well, I have been hit hard today. Right in the gut. Shawn and I are attending a class on Financial Peace at church. I'm sure you have heard of Dave Ramsey. The whole concept of living debt free is a beautiful dream, but reality is that we like to do what we want to do, when we want to do it.

Sound familiar?

Yes, getting my heart right about finances and getting my heart right about eating and exercise seems to be the same song. Or at least the same tune, with different words.

I just may as well say it. I am a sanguine. This is who I am. I love the fun thing. I love the spontaneous. I love doing what I want, eating what I want, going where I want, and not having to answer for any of it. But here is the problem. I have developed bad habits. I cannot stay on task. I do not stay on budget. I cheat on my diet. I choose not to work out when I don't feel like it. And all the while I smile really brightly and feel like a failure.

Today's Made to Crave challenge is to know that I CAN have self control. With God, all things are possible. When I feel like it is impossible to pass on something and exercise some self control, I can know that it IS possible. Self control is a fruit of the Spirit, and I have the Spirit living inside me! All I have to do is yield my flesh to God! Easier said than done, obviously.

I tell myself that I cannot give up sugar. I cannot give up my late mornings. I cannot give up (GASP) Facebook. But I CAN. And I will be doing it for a week, just to show myself.

Starting tomorrow. ;-)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Listening to God Instead of Mandisa

This morning I was heading into the gym with no desire to actually do so. I had a quick chat with the Lord. It went like this:

 Me: I don't really want to do this today, but I know you want me here. Please help me to have a good attitude and obey. It would be really great if I didn't hurt so much this morning, and I didn't have a headache...
 God:  ...therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.
 Me: I know this body is yours, so please be glorified in it, as well as my spirit today.

Then when I got on the elliptical, I popped in my ear buds, as usual. Normally I have a few songs that inspire and motivate me to keep moving that I listen to on a shuffle. But for some reason, God prompted me to remove them.  I had no idea why I couldn't tune out the world and spend a little time jamming to some really great, upbeat Christian music. After all, it IS Christian music. But I obeyed. 

Soon a lady hopped on the elliptical right next to mine. You know that immediate feeling when someone sits right next to you in an empty theater and you look around thinking "There are at least a hundred empty seats in this place and they just sat RIGHT NEXT TO ME"? Well, there were several empty machines, but she chose the one right next to mine.

 So I said Hi. And we proceeded to visit and encourage one another throughout our workouts. Both of us have a long journey ahead of us. Both of us have recently gone back to the gym. If God hadn't told me to wake up and look around, I would have totally missed meeting her.

 Yes, Lord. I hear you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Showing up

The book I'm reading to help with my food related addiction is called Praying God's Word by Beth Moore. I highly recommend it if you struggle with any stronghold. Each chapter addresses a different one. Obviously, I am reading the chapter on overcoming food related strongholds.

Well, this morning in my quiet time with the Lord I was reminded that He created me lovingly with all the details about me already in mind. He knows I like sweets. He made me that way. He knows I am sanguine and will usually choose the fun or easy thing over the necessary or hard thing, when I rely on my own wisdom and strength. He is not surprised that I am a slave to my own desires. But when I am listening to Him and completely relying on His leading, I will know the right decisions to make in any given moment. So this morning I prayed that I would remember to ask him what I should eat today and that He would keep my cravings in check.

Fast forward to my work day. I work in the kitchen at church on Wednesdays, where we serve a meal at dinner time. By the time I arrive at noon, the whole place smells like cake. Or cookies. Or brownies. You can see how this would be hard for someone like me. When I first started working there, my dad suggested that it was a little like having an alcoholic tend bar. He was right.
After finding chopped boiled eggs to enjoy a yummy salad, I had lunch. My salad filled me up so well I felt a little sick. No worries about being tempted by cake! An hour or two later I was dishing up frosted brownies and they smelled really yummy. So I asked God to do something about that.

And He showed up!

Tammie pulled a pan of spinach out of the steamer just then. And smelled up the whole kitchen. I couldn't even smell the brownies in my own hands! I had the best laugh!

If you don't believe God will show up when you need Him, you don't know my God!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Humble Pie

The only pie I need to be eating right now.

I told myself I wouldn't write this until I got my life back under control. I said that I had let everyone down.  I knew I had let myself down, for sure. But the only one who I let down that matters is God. Sometimes we have to humble ourselves and admit we messed up.

 Well, I messed up  in a mighty big way. Fifty pounds is pretty stinkin' big.

 I  would say I am an overachiever sometimes. I don't want to just make good choices with my diet. I want to make good choices with my exercise and my budget, and my housekeeping skills,  and my child rearing, and my home schooling, and my ability to be a good wife and friend, and a great singer, and a fabulous face painter, and be a great witness, and on and on and on. 

 And when I realize I can't do it all, I pretty much say screw it and have a swiss cake roll. Or fourteen.  

So what happened? Well, it's called a stronghold, folks. Some would call it an addiction. Others would call it another name, but it doesn't matter how you say it. I have an idol. I worship food. I worship having what my mouth or my head says I want. It isn't a sickness. It isn't a disease. It is my choice. I choose to live in the here and now instead of considering  how it will affect my tomorrows. 

One day a dear friend of mine was defining liberty to me. She said that if she and another driver are driving down the road, and she chooses to drive within the law, but the other driver chooses to speed, then they both pass a police officer, the other driver, who is free to choose to disobey the law, now is not free. My friend has liberty to keep driving, but the other driver will have to stop and face the consequence of his choice.

 My friend, I am free to have a brownie. I am free to have the whole pan. But it doesn't take much time of living in that freedom to realize the chains of slavery that actually surround me. I am not free to play soccer with the kids at our soccer camp. I am not free to ride the roller coaster I cannot fit in. I may not even be free from heart disease, so that I can live a long life to walk beside my husband in the fall or rock my grandchildren to sleep.

 Today, in spite of the fact that my house, my budget, my priorities, and my weight are a hot mess, I say I am ready. I won't even attempt to get it all straight before I commit to trying to do this. I won't lie and say I can do it at all. I know this is hard. I am not asking for congratulations or cheerleaders. I am asking for your prayers whenever I cross your mind. I struggle daily, hourly, and even sometimes by the very minute with my unwillingness to make wise choices. If God brings me to your mind, please pray that in that very minute, I will choose wisely. And if you'd like to let me know you have prayed for me, and even the specifics of your prayer, that would be a great encouragement.