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In which the “gospel” sounds a lot like me…

I’ve been sitting on this post for about a month now for various reasons. I’d thought about writing it from the first conversation I had about the subject, but held off for a time. I was sick and in my first trimester, not a good combination for forming coherent, cohesive blog posts, if I’m honest. Then it took me a while to realize there was an overarching theme to various conversations I had over the month and I wanted to formulate a good, solid post connecting the dots. For myself and for my readers.

My first conversation was about marriage. My second about parenting. The third was about modesty. The fourth about homosexuality. And the fifth dealt with heaven, hell, and atheism.

Yeah. I know. Broad topics and really? I’m going to somehow find a connection between all of them?

That’s the beauty of the particular worldview I adhere to, rather imperfectly though hopefully on a solid growth curve. The one that says God is in charge, I am not, and if I want to see fulfillment and joy in this life and the next, it’s not MY will I want to be following. It’s His.

So I’m not going to go through EVERY specific conversation and it’s conclusion. That would take me too long. I’ll focus on two of them, because at the time, they hit me hardest and were the first two I managed to connect together.

Marriage. In the last two years, I’ve seen roughly half of my friends and a few family members end theirs in divorce. A couple of those friends hadn’t even signed the papers before they were already “choosing their own happiness” with another person. I’ve seen another solid number of them struggling to stay afloat in the midst of infidelity, pornography, depression, miscommunication (or the lack of it all together), dishonesty, and the worst one, apathy. I’ve been an active part of marriage mentoring and multiple conversations with couples I know who just want to throw in the towel and are looking for the first, “Biblical” excuse to do so. Marriage, when done on our own terms, ends in disaster as the world seems to prove more and more every year. The sad thing for me is that Christian marriages, where we have an even greater reason to thrive and find blessing and joy on our journey together, seem to struggle worse than the secular unions. We could blame it on the Devil and his desire to destroy anything God creates and calls beautiful, but we’d only be partially correct. In the end, Christian marriages crash and burn for the same reason the world’s version does. We make a mockery of the sacredness and symbolism of marriage (Christ and His Bride) when we choose to pursue our own happiness at the cost of all else. The world might have an excuse. Christ Followers don’t.

Modesty. I had a couple of these conversations with people I love and this is a difficult one. On the one hand, I talked to a fellow parent who is struggling with her almost adult daughter and the lack of modesty, even in her own home. Her own brother had to get up and walk away from the dinner table because her dress style is closer to hooker than wholesome. In her eyes, it’s her brother’s fault for looking in the first place. Men are perverted and disgusting pigs, and she should be free to wear what she wants, when she wants it. So how does she explain my six year old son who sees a pretty girl and gets a physical reaction that terrifies him and makes him think something’s wrong with him? Is he a perverted, disgusting pig because his body’s been biologically wired to respond to a sensual visual?

I talked  to another fellow mom who thinks more like that daughter does. Her own seven year old daughter is wearing bikinis and she thinks nothing of it. It’s for the guys to turn away from lust and sin. Confronting a girl for wearing less than modest clothing is considered shaming and degrading.

It’s getting more and more difficult for me to find appropriate clothing for my eight year (going on pre-teen) daughter. If it’s not midriffs, butt-baring shorts, and sexy little polka dot bikinis, it’s advertising for the latest fads and unrealistic body image expectations. I’ve contemplated making her clothes myself, but even patterns nowadays are either Puritan in nature, or would need some major modification for an 8 year old with a 12 year old body.

I remember those growing up years. Nothing fit and everything pretty and decent went to my sister who’s growing form seemed to fit the typical female body type. I’d end up with baggy overalls and too-big shirts because anything in my size wouldn’t accommodate the fast-developing lumps on my chest. It was frankly humiliating and led to years of self-esteem issues. The first time I wore a (modest) cleavage baring dress, I wilted with embarrassment and swore it would never happen again. But it didn’t matter really. Even in sweatshirts two sizes too big and cargo-style jeans, I still got wolf-whistles and dirty jokes. It doesn’t take much to imagine what’s under my clothing, because I’ve got a lot of it. I ate junk food to compensate, and filled out my belly too, thinking if I was fat all around, guys would stop looking. Of course, my health suffered and it took me years to lose the weight.

I still struggle to this day with the issue of modesty. I mean, is it really MY fault that guys look at my chest? Who cares if I wear a shirt that sells my assets rather than hides them? Where’s the middle ground? What IS modesty anyway?

Seeing a connection yet?

No?

Okay. Here it is.

The Christian life is about centering OUR lives around GOD’S good and perfect Will. The two greatest commandments: Love God and Love our Neighbor as ourselves prove this. It’s about surrendering OUR will and fully giving ourselves over to be used by and up for God. It’s about Christ filling us with HIMSELF so fully, that there’s no room anymore for our selfishness and our sin and our will. It’s about spending ourselves for the sake of Christ and His gospel and taking our eyes OFF of our own petty, human wants and desires.

The gospel I see played out in my life and the lives around me doesn’t look a bit like Christ, but it looks a hell of a lot like us.

Marriage is a symbol of Christ and His mystical union with us, His Bride. The Body of Christ joined with the Son of God to form a union so beautiful and so absolutely pure. Not on any merit of ours, but through the blood of Christ shed for us and covering us in HIS righteousness. It’s ALL His work. While we were His enemy, He offered us salvation and called us by HIS name. Made us in His image, but we are NOT God. Our marriages, if they are to reflect that beautiful, wonderful, terrible story, MUST include us dying to ourselves, daily, hourly, sometimes moment by moment.

Given this Truth, it should be in the moment of our greatest woundings (at our spouse’s all-too human hands) that we demonstrate best the agape love of Christ. If Christ can forgive us, who made ourselves His worst enemy by rejecting Him over and over again, is there ANYTHING we cannot forgive our spouse, who was created in the image of God and is a co-heir with us in His kingdom?

Does this negate the terrible wounds we can inflict on one another? By no means! Physical abuse, sexual infidelity, pornography, deceit…the list goes on. None of these are light offenses and sometimes DO require us to walk away (at least for a time) until God can get ahold of the wretched sinner and change him or her. Many of these issues require counseling and mentors who can walk alongside and pray for and with you as you struggle to love and honor and remain faithful to the vows you made before God. My husband and I went to a godly counselor in our first couple years of marriage because of sin issues that we both struggled with and it was the BEST thing that could have happened to us. There is NO shame in bringing sin to light and letting others walk with you through the journey. The shame is when you hide it or hope you can deal with it on your own…or in the worst case scenario, you just give up and walk away.

What kind of a God do we represent when His first human institution, marriage, becomes a joke. What are we telling our children when we file for divorce and break up our family because we’re no longer happy or we’ve fallen out of love or our spouse has done something unforgiveable? Aren’t we telling them that God drops THEM like a rock when they make Him unhappy or when they commit what they believe is an unforgiveable offense? Do we not demonstrate that God gives up on us when we screw up and are all too human?

The hardest lie I see nowadays is when someone tells me they prayed and feel like God is releasing them from their marriage vows. Really? The God who HATES divorce told you that you’re an exception to the rule? I’ve seen friends reach ROCK BOTTOM in their marriage with NO HOPE left that their spouse will EVER repent and turn back to God. They broke their hearts weeping and praying for reconciliation, sometimes for YEARS. And their faithfulness was rewarded at long last when their spouse finally came back. Did that make all those terrible months or years go away? No. Did they have to build up trust again and fight to love the person who wounded them so bitterly? Of course. But they also found out what exactly Christ meant by the mystical union, because through Him, they found restoration and redemption in a situation that the world (and many “Christians) would have written off as hopeless, unresolvable.

Who’s Will is being done here on earth as it is in Heaven?

Modesty has the same roots, although it might not seem that way on the surface. I mean, really. Who are we hurting by wearing sexy clothes and dressing to please ourselves? And there’s such a wide range of definitions when it comes to modesty, right? This culture is open for interpretation, so we should have the freedom to express ourselves and find our own happiness, regardless of what the opposite sex thinks or how they act.

Love God and Love Others. I don’t see that in our culture today regarding modesty, marriage, or anything else, to be honest. And Christians are just as bad as the world on this issue. Because it doesn’t REALLY come down to what we’re wearing on the outside. Or how unhappy we are in our marriages. Those are surface symptoms of a deeper, and far more dangerous, root issue.

What I see more and more is us saying to God, “Not YOUR Will, but MINE be done.”

Instead of raising our daughters to clothe themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, meekness, patience, and love, we teach them to sell themselves under the guise of “confidence” and “happiness”. Instead of teaching them to be shield-bearers  and warrior maidens for the men in our lives, we teach them to wear the cloak of victimhood and blame the other gender for lack of “equality” and for what we like to call the “rape culture.” We dress to please ourselves and whore our bodies in order to feel beautiful, desired, strong.

Instead of teaching our sons to use the gifts and desires God gives them for the good of others, to bear the Sword of Truth, to defend the weak and powerless, to look after the oppressed, and to stand in the gap for the widows and orphans, we emasculate them. We tell them their biology and make-up is wrong and perverted. We shame them for their natural reactions to the beautiful and pure things in this life and tell them it’s their fault when they can’t take their eyes off the assets we’re so “generously” displaying.

Where is the Gospel of Christ in these and other issues? Where is the dying to self and seeking the good in and for others? Where is the taking up our cross and following after Christ? Where is the sharing in His suffering and the suffering of His people? Where is the Radical Generosity that pours ourselves out until we have NOTHING left to give and then continues to pour out long after that?

When do we FINALLY lay down our own lives at the foot of the Cross and say, “Not MY will, but THINE, Lord Jesus?”

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In which prayer is my most powerful and unused weapon…

Having spent the last two weeks in almost non-stop prayer and worship, I can safely confirm that I do NOT pray nearly enough.

There’s a story that’s told of a man named George Mueller, a minister, evangelist, and the man who took care of over 10,000 orphans in his lifetime with faith and prayer as his foundation. He began each day very early in prayer. Sometimes for hours before the sun rose, he would be found on his knees in supplication to Almighty God and this continued without fail until his death.

The story is that one day, he was interrupted by one of his assistants who, stressed about all that needed doing that day came to ask if they could shorten their morning prayers in order to make room for the expanded schedule of events. George Mueller took one look at his assistant and said very calmly,

“Absolutely not. In fact, BECAUSE of all we must get done today, we will need to pray LONGER.”

And he did, adding at least one more hour to their prayer time that day. At the end of the day, the assistant was amazed. Not only did they get all of their assigned tasks completed in record time, but they ended the day at rest and at peace, instead of frazzled and hurried. Their focus had been on God from the beginning and He was big enough to handle all their burdens.

I did not quote the story word for word, but the essence of it is there. When I first heard it, I puzzled over how “losing” ANOTHER hour of time to prayer would help them complete their tasks with time to spare, but the answer was so very simple. Did you see it?

Their focus was on God from the beginning and He was big enough to handle all their burdens.

Prayer is the greatest weapon God has given us in our arsenal and it is sadly the least used. Without prayer, faith cannot thrive, because it has no focus and no line of communication to the Author and Perfecter of said faith.

I was recommended a book to read by one of my dear friends and a woman of faith I have looked up to as an unofficial mentor in my life.

It’s called Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

I’m only 2 chapters in and BLOWN away by the fact that in spite of my almost 3 decades of claiming to be a Christ-follower, I have absolutely NO idea what prayer is all about. I mean, I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover, memorized the Lord’s prayer, read through the Psalms dozens of times, and just two chapters of expounding on the Scriptures has proven how very ignorant I am of the greatest weapon I have in my possession. I’m eager to read more, but it’s 11 at night and I really need some solid sleep. I’m pretty sure my eyes are bugging just writing this post.

If you EVER want a great read on what prayer is and how it works in your life, read E.M.Bounds book.

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Be aware that it will transform your thinking in regards to your walk with God and the power of prayer. Like my friend said, “Be prepared to be rocked, lady.”

My favorite quote so far is this one:

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Just imagine what the world would be like if prayer was used the way it should be, and faith was more than just a trite word we throw out there to impress no one. If we truly “prayed without ceasing” and prayed for each day instead of worrying about tomorrow’s cares.

“The EFFECTIVE prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16

I’m just learning what that means.

Posted in discipline, faith, Family, Freedom, God, Home, Hope, marriage, mission, Pain, prayer, soul surgery, Spiritual disciplines, spiritual training, Transparency, Uncategorized, War, Winning

In which I discover the art of war…

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I’m not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination. My husband might even insist I thrive on conflict and battle. He’s called me his warrior wife enough times for me to get the hint. I’m not a pacifist.

However, I wouldn’t say I am pro-war either. I’ve seen the aftermath of many a bloody conflict in my thirty plus years of life and not all of them were in some god-forsaken desert in a never-ending campaign against a faceless enemy.

No, the wars I am thinking of now are the ones against an enemy far more insidious and destructive.

An enemy that comes dressed in light and so subtle a twisting of truth and good, that you don’t realize you’ve been pierced by his poisoned blade until you’re left bleeding and dying on the battlefield. More often than not, he takes out your loved ones right along with you, leaving a trail of wounded in his wake.

I watch this enemy rage on in a war that very few are even willing to acknowledge anymore and I wonder why that is. What happened to this world that makes our greatest enemy triumph over and over an over again, meeting little resistance along the way?

The answer is both deceptively simple and horrifically complex.

The enemy is winning in simple terms because we’re letting him win.

The complicated answer? This world is his stronghold, a kingdom stolen from its True King, many thousands of years ago. A stolen kingdom that the True King has already victoriously won back in one fell stroke of ultimate sacrifice and triumph.

The reason it’s complicated is that the True King’s warriors are living like that AMAZING victory NEVER took place. His warriors carry on as if they are living a sedate, civilian life, untouched by the horrors of the war they keep perpetrating through their complaisance and denial. All the while, the enemy is right within their camp, watering and tending the seeds of division, deception, and doubt, until the warriors cannot tell a truth from a lie, reality from fantasy, right from wrong.

All the while, the True King grieves at the chaos and discord, desperately wanting his warriors to experience the victory he paid SO high a price to win. Begging them to accept the freely given gift in exchange for total submission to His benevolent, just, unconditionally loving authority. All He asks for is their everything.

Stupid, selfish, blinded creatures that His warriors are, they refuse time and again, accepting instead, the deceptive, destructive promises of the Enemy, completely blinded to the fact that they’ve signed their names in blood to a contract that is High Treason to the True King.

We lay down our swords and shields for empty promises of peace and happiness, and we have yet to fully understand that TRUE peace and happiness are merely byproducts of a life given over to complete obedience to the True King. The temporary drivel that we cling to in our selfishness and vanity is eating us inside out like acid, destroying everything that made us warriors and victors.

We walked away from the war, raising our white flags in surrender to the enemy. But here’s the thing. We LOST. We weren’t just assimilated into a new order and given a free pass to live as we please.

NO.

By laying down arms and taking up the colors of our Enemy, we’ve LOST. Lost our lives, lost our freedoms, lost our happiness, lost our humanity, lost our identity, lost our purpose, and lost our reason. We’ve won NOTHING. We’ve gained NOTHING.

EVERYTHING in this life that is worth gaining is worth FIGHTING for. It’s not a victory because we chose the easy way out. We just handed ourselves over to the enemy on a silver platter and he’s laughing his ass off in hell. Because God’s people are proving to be cowards and deserters, not men and women of valor. And the Devil is counting heads as they walk through his gates willingly.

Christ may have won the final victory when He willingly walked to the Cross. But He’s still waiting for His soldiers to act like soldiers and take up arms against the enemy who hides like a coward in the shadows and teaches his recruits to do the same.

He’s waiting for Men to stand up and lead their families with passion and conviction, teaching their children to obey ALL the commands He’s laid out for a successful battle strategy. To equip the next generations to stand firm on their convictions, even willing to die for the cause of a Kingdom NOT only of this world but the next.

He’s waiting for Women to stand firm as shield bearers and women of valor, fighting bravely to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy aiming to destroy their families and their homes. To stop picking up selfish and fatal causes and to stand for what’s right and true.

He’s waiting for His people to rally around HIS standard for marriage, for family, for the sanctity of life, for the defense of the helpless and oppressed, for the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the least of these.

He’s waiting for His warriors to live counter-cultural and willing to face death for HIS cause. To stand up for Truth and Justice, to give Grace and Mercy, to stand as victors and not cowards.

To believe that He is who He says He is and to LIVE and LOVE in that belief.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am the worst sort of coward. I talk big, but when the line is drawn in the sand, I’m the first to lay down my arms and give up the fight. But I am ALSO the first to admit that this cowardice is NOT acceptable in my life.

I just made a promise to my children and my husband tonight that until my dying breath, I will fight my worst enemy and I won’t back down ever. Because to do so would spell destruction for my marriage, my children, and my place in God’s army.

My worst enemy?

Myself. Oh how I shudder in fear when I face me.

But by God’s grace, I will face that fear and remember whose warrior I am and what war I am actually fighting.

And the first weapon of defense is Prayer.

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In which I shed tears during corpse pose…

Last night, I did a Yoga session as part of my cross-training for the marathon in June. Before anyone asks, it’s not Grandma’s Marathon. 🙂 And yes, it’s my first.
 
Anyway, I tried the 30 minute X3 Yoga session with Tony Horton, thinking: “I’ve done yoga before. It’s 30 minutes. No problem.”
 
It’s not called X3 Yoga for nothing. By the end of it, I was sweating and praying just to get through the last few minutes alive. Apparently, there is a WHOLE new level of yoga, I’ve never experienced…until just then.
 
So I’m in the last pose, which is definitely my favorite one now. It’s basically a resting pose and it felt AMAZING.
 
But as I lay there, breathing and feeling the sweat and stretch of muscle groups I THOUGHT I had been adequately working out, I started crying.
 
My mantra throughout the workout was Psalm 18. At least the part that says,
 
“The God who arms me with strength
And makes my way blameless? He makes my feet like hinds’ feet,
And sets me upon my high places. He trains my hands for battle,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”

Usually my workouts don’t make me cry. I mean, I’ve shed tears of joy when I crossed the finish line after a half marathon, but no matter how painful or crazy hard they are, I don’t usually bawl like a baby. So I had to wonder why.

I’m lying on a yoga mat, trembling like a newborn baby, and crying.

It hit me then. Because that Yoga session reminded me once again of my WHY. My balance sucked, my joints protested every move like I was making them do something they had no desire to do, and my resting pose was the only “successful” pose I’d done the whole 30 minutes.

I hate the thought of aging. The first time I found a silver hair, I was in my early twenties and I cried, after plucking it out and throwing it away. I’ve never had the best balance, but in college, I could do sit ups, push-ups, and a 4 mile run with a 40 pound rucksack on my back, wearing BDUs and combat boots. I even managed 5 pull ups in a row a few times.

After having kids, my abs didn’t support me anymore and my posture suffered. My tendons and ligaments loosened, which is natural and part of motherhood, but I’ve had hip and knee problems ever since.

One of my greatest fears is ending up in a nursing home bed, fighting bed sores, obesity, and a degenerative brain disease. NOT the way I want to exit this world.

Stories of 90 year old men and women who cross the finish line at the Boston Marathon, 50 year olds who can rock climb with only a rope and their two, muscled arms, 70 year olds who look like they’re 50 because they’ve eaten healthy and taken care of their bodies well. THOSE are the people I aspire to be as I age.

At one point, the fear paralyzed me into inaction. I figured it was inevitable, given my health history, genetics, and a host of other excuses I kept throwing up until I actually believed them to be true.

I may not EVER be able to hold a Tree Pose for longer than 30 seconds, but I for SURE won’t if I keep up that attitude.

Someone posted on my Facebook wall that they were so proud of me for sticking with my program and accomplishing my exercise goals. Then they ended it with a line that makes me sick to my stomach, no matter how many times I hear or see it:

I could NEVER do that.

That phrase makes me simultaneously want to strangle the person and vomit. Mostly because I’ve seen the results of those words on a person’s life and it’s ugly and heartbreaking and devastating.

We have ONE shot at this people. ONE shot to live a life that THRIVES and OVERCOMES and SUCCEEDS in whatever we do.

We don’t GET a second chance at life. We won’t all be Olympic Athletes or Marathon Runners or experts at Sayanasana.

Shyasana

Heck, as impressive as that pose is, I have NO desire to ever try it. I’ll leave it to Yoga enthusiasts with killer balance and a strong equilibrium. ♥

But I don’t ever want to say I could NEVER do it.

What a horrifying word.

NEVER.

I’ll NEVER be healthy. I’ll NEVER get that scholarship. I’ll NEVER cross that finish line. I could NEVER be a mother. I will NEVER be a coach.

How limiting. How devastating. How utterly untrue.

The only time I can make that true is if I say it over and over and over again until I believe it. Which I have done. A lot more than I want to admit.

In my brief sojourn on this earth, I have seen the absolute LIMITS of the human capability. I have also seen what happens when someone BLASTS through those limits as if they never existed in the first place. And those are the people I want to strive to emulate. Not the person who publicly declared for the world to see (or at least my corner of the world anyway) that they had no desire to strive for what they deemed impossible.

So as I cried like a baby on my yoga mat, I realized the tears were because I was once again telling myself NEVER, when I should be telling myself,

WHY NOT?

Our culture is a culture of CANNOT and NEVER. What that really means is we’ve lost our focus, our WHY, our purpose. So we choose instead to see our limitations and not our possibilities. Because what good are possibilities if we have no purpose, no focus, no WHY?

I beat my body into submission, NOT because I have a sadistic need to feel pain. I do it because I REFUSE to be that obese, disease-ridden, aged beyond her years person in a hospital bed when I’m 90 years old.

No one needs to tell me my limitations. I already know them. They were my best friends for many years.

What I am determined to discover is how fast I can leave those limitations in the dust as I focus on THRIVING and SUCCEEDING.

The only NEVER I want to hear from my mouth is, “I will NEVER let my limitations define and devastate my possibilities.”

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In which my attitude gives me altitude…

This week was really rough.

And it’s only Monday. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, this week will continue to be rough. Just the facts and I’ll tell you why.

All three of our kiddos succumbed to (DUN, DUN, DUN) the winter ick. That hacky, barky cough (no not whooping, the other one) where it sounds miserable and you want to cry every time your two year old (or five year old, or seven year old) can’t catch a breath between bouts. I thought we’d make it all the way through the cold season without a, well, cold.

No such luck. Now the prayers have shifted to fast healing, and keep it away from me and Jake. The essential oils are on double overtime and we’re cleaning every surface multiple times a day. Which reminds me, I have to go over the bathroom door knobs again. And recheck the hubby’s cleaning job in the boy’s room tomorrow morning. It still smells like ICK.

Anyway, I’ve got like seven hours of solid sleep on the last 48 hours and that might be a little generous.

Two months ago, this would send me into a crazy tailspin of emotional outbursts and meltdowns. I would leave my family in a trail of wounds on the battlefield of my angry rants while I tried to come down off the ledge without slipping and falling.

This year started out with the theme of Redemption. Restoration. Repentance. I could go through the thesaurus and find more, but we’ll go with the three R’s. It’s catchier. I’ve struggled for years with a negative worldview. Everything was colored by a glass half empty (or all the way empty on some days) perspective and even after my choice to follow Christ, that perspective didn’t seem to leave. I felt burdened, heavy with the weight of my constant failures and successes just seemed to be little bumps in the road instead of the road itself. I do a “good” job of living as if I don’t believe the power of God in my life and the power to change my attitude.

Except that Restoration, Redemption, Repentance, ALL have a POSITIVE view of the world. They are words resounding with the idea that THIS is NOT all there is. That life offers SO much more and it doesn’t end six feet under ground so what’s the point.

The three R’s say that hope is NOT some wispy phantom just out of reach, but present, purposeful, and completely possible.

Apparently, I like alliteration.

So two months ago, I would have freaked out when the kids refused to eat the meal I had slaved over and the toddler threw up ALL over me, the floor, his Powoh, the blankets, and. Let’s just say there wasn’t much room space he DIDN’T manage to cover. I would have lost it when the kids, instead of being helpful, decided that was the perfect time for 20 questions, only their version is more like 1,579 questions plus 1 more. I would have reacted, no second thoughts, regretting the explosion of broken, bleeding hearts after Mount Sarah erupted.

I’m not taking ANY credit tonight, because what DID happen, had NOTHING to do with me. I LAUGHED when I tasted the food and realized exactly WHY the kids weren’t eating it. My husband decided to brave through the artery clogging, ten-times-worse-than-a-salt-block flavoring and even gave me props for the colorful meal. I called his bluff when I gagged and hacked my way through the fish taco, promptly downing three large glasses of water to allow the salt, smoother passage through my digestive tract.

I’m going to regret that fish taco tomorrow. I can FEEL my eye sockets swell up and I’m pretty sure I just went back up three bra sizes. (Why do I ALWAYS gain weight in the face and chest first?)

#22MinuteHardCorps here I come. I don’t care if it’s 9 0’clock at night, I’m not going to die of a heart attack in my sleep.

We ate bananas and peanut butter sandwiches to balance our bodies on a cellular level again.

Which brings me to my son’s projectile vomiting episode right during the bedtime routine. I only got a little frustrated when my husband didn’t move at MY speed to fix all of our world problems. I calmed down pretty fast, which doesn’t ever happen for me.

And the 1,579 questions game? I calmly, but firmly informed them the Mommy textbook was closed for the evening and packed them off to bed…once I got the toddler and myself hosed down in calming bubble bath-laden water. He held my hand the entire time and managed to look about as pitiful as a toddler can look, when they are trying to milk the pity as much as possible. Oh, I’m not denying he is sick. I’m just saying, he takes the sympathy play to a WHOLE new level.

If it had been ONE of those situations two months ago, I would have blown a gasket. And humanly speaking, I came close a few times tonight to losing my cool and letting it all explode.

I could go into all the natural reasons WHY my attitude has made an altitude adjustment. Good exercise, healthy eating, relationship building…

However…

Supernaturally speaking, SOMEONE had my back. And this tired momma is MORE grateful that you all know.

Now, I’m going to sweat it out for 22 minutes and hit the sack for my nightly ration of two blissful hours of sleep before the interruptions start. I never knew a king sized bed could be so small before I had kids.

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Dinner tonight was a real Gag! No joke.

 

Posted in discipline, faith, God, laziness, life lessons, Love, marriage, Pain, prayer, soul surgery, Spiritual disciplines, spiritual training, Tattered and Mended, Transparency, Uncategorized, War, Writing

In which I see firsthand the consequences of disobedience

I woke up this morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

At 4:00am.

It might now sound weird to some early birds, but my usual wake up time is more around 5:00am and I don’t wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed.

That’s AFTER the coffee. And the workout. And my Shakeology.

Not necessarily in that order.

Point being, it takes a bit to wake me up in the morning and I NEVER wake up from a deep sleep bright eyed and bushy tailed.

I still want to know where that particular idiom originated.

So there I am at 4 in the morning, after falling asleep sometime after eleven the night before and knowing I needed to get up in an hour to start my day. Clear as day, I knew it was a God thing. It wasn’t so much a voice telling me to wake up and pray, but I got the distinct impression of a rather large nudge and the urge to pray.

I’m awake, I’m alert, shouldn’t be too hard to obey that particular nudge right? I’m up anyway.

I wish I could tell you that I obeyed. My husband and I watched the War Room just recently and LOVED it. I remember thinking after the movie was done that I wanted to have a neighbor like Miss Clara and I wanted to be a prayer warrior like her too. Here I was, not two weeks later, already failing my first Noticeable God Nudge.

Oh I’m a praying woman. I pray at meal times, I pray for patience when my kids have taken the last dredges of mine and run away with it. I pray at bed times, and I even pray during my quiet times, which have increased in frequency and quality over the years. But I still have a LONG way to go toward really earning the label Spiritual/Prayer Warrior.

Which brings me back to the Noticeable God Nudge to pray. Which I VERY pointedly ignored.

It wasn’t that I needed sleep. If you hadn’t already noticed, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed. It wasn’t that I wanted to sleep.

I just didn’t want to pray.

Do you remember disobeying your parents as a child? Do you remember the consequences you faced? Some had a harsh wake up call and others might have gotten a little more of the grace side of things. Others might have gotten away with it and have no idea what disobedience actually means.

I should have prefaced this with the events of the night before. See, my spouse and I were not seeing eye to eye on some issues. It’s not a big deal in the larger picture, because we are pretty good at working things out. It WAS a big deal because we hadn’t worked it out when we went to bed and the lack of resolution led to some troubled sleep for me. It wasn’t like we were angry at one another, we just hadn’t resolved the issues satisfactorily. Thus, it still hung over us.

Fast forward to my early morning NGN (Noticeable God Nudge). It was  a definite call to action and that action was prayer. I didn’t get a script downloaded into my brain, just the urge to pray.

And I ignored it. In fact, I went one step further, since the Nudge wouldn’t go away. I walked upstairs, grabbed a blanket off my couch, fluffed the nearest pillow, and turned on my iTunes to the KJV Bible as read by James Earl Jones. (Beautiful rendition of the KJV by the way. His voice is SO dreamy)

I let JEJ read me to sleep and didn’t wake up until spouse and children woke me a couple hours later.

I wish I had obeyed the God Nudge.

The consequences didn’t hit the moment I woke up. In fact, the morning started out pretty okay. We worked out, drank coffee, talked about how our day was planned out, and it seemed fine.

Then the subject of the unresolved issues came up.

When I say all HELL broke loose, I’m not exaggerating. It wasn’t until both my spouse and I were left a bloody, wounded mess (not literally, I’m talking heart/soul wounds) that we separated to cool down and it hit me HARD.

The realization hit me HARD, but Grace is SO amazing. While I was breaking down in the bathroom, back against the wall, I heard the NGN again. Only this time, it was more of a gentle voice, reminding me of my act of disobedience that morning. If I had only obeyed the God Nudge, I could have avoided the whole Armageddon sized war that had erupted.

If I had listened and heeded, I might have saved my husband and I a whole lot of heartache. What hit me HARD was how deliberate I had been in my choice to disobey. It wasn’t like I was lost in the bustle and busyness and just didn’t HEAR. I HEARD and I closed my ears.

It didn’t matter who started the war and who was at fault and who had the biggest wound in the end. I’d already drawn first blood when I chose to ignore the God Nudge to pray that morning.

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He asked me to do a simple thing. Pray. Not because I would change anything. We still had issues to resolve. But God knew I would need that time with him to center my heart and mind and act as my husband’s guardian/protector as well.

I cannot recall a more poignant or deeply impressive lesson on the power of prayer. I set the tone of the day with my act of disobedience and I honestly can’t explain what possessed me to choose that route. Pride? Stubbornness? I can’t say the Devil made me do it, because the choice was ALL mine. God asked for my obedience out of love for me and I did not love Him enough to obey.

Thankfully, His Grace covers a multitude of sins, and my husband and I did not leave it there. We resolved our issues and I took a LOT of time to pray today.

I only hope that this remains a Lesson Learned. The consequences are not something I ever want to experience again.

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In which the lies I tell myself don’t hold up to the truth…

So I was recently on a Beachbody team call and the speaker ended her talk with the question,

What lies are you telling yourself?

Then she listed some major ones that probably attack every one of us coaches at some point in our career.

That this business is too hard?

That you don’t know enough people?

That you don’t have the time?

That you are not smart enough?

That the people you talk to are all cheap?

That you are not a good salesperson?

These lies are actually pretty much the same no matter where you hear them in your life. We hear them in one form or another in our parenting, marriages, school work, jobs, health issues. You name it. There’s a lie that attaches itself to our minds and hearts, forcing us to either give up or stand up and face it with the truth.

And really, isn’t that the end of the matter? You either believe the lie or you believe the truth.

The sad thing is when the lies get so subtle and so insidious, that you can’t tell the truth right away and you struggle to wade through the twisted labyrinth of what you believe and why you believe it.

That’s where, for me, having a solid foundation of faith and a solid, reasonable basis for my convictions is gold. I can’t believe the lies when the truth speaks so firmly and steadily in every aspect of my life.

Example.

I hit puberty young and hard. My crazy hormones threw curve balls that shook me and shattered my ideals. This might be TMI, but in the interest of transparency, I have to disclose. I remember very early on in my discovery of what was making all these crazy, horrifying changes in my body, I came across a textbook with well-drawn pictures of various sizes and shapes of various body parts. Tall, short, skinny, fat, big, small. I remember distinctly looking at each of those pictures and picking out my “ideal” body. I dreamed it, wished it, prayed for this ideal type I’d built in my head.

I wanted to be this:

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Of course, my hopes were skyrocketed when I hit puberty, because of course, a body like that is easy right? My sister was shooting up tall and slender, so why shouldn’t I?

At the end of my development from girl to woman, I looked like this:

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Not exactly model height and DEFINITELY not model weight. The above picture was actually a very brief stint in the ROTC, so I was not gaining weight at the time, but I was still struggling to lose it. I quickly realized that every bit of food I put into my body turned into pounds. And LOTS of them. I struggled with the overwhelming shock and grief of struggling to maintain a healthy weight and feeling like it was a losing battle. The lie in all this?

“I will NEVER be a healthy weight and I will NEVER win this battle. That’s JUST the way it is.”

I was tired all the time. I was sick often. School work got lost in my brain fog and I wanted to know why.

Fast forward a few years and I’m hanging on to all those baby pounds I put on while pregnant with our three littles. Still tired, still believing the lies.

Diagnosis comes through and I FINALLY have an answer to why my body does what it does. Relief and the truth comes through all of the lies.

“I CAN be healthy. I WILL win this battle. This is NOT the way it can and should be.”

And now I’m on this journey. I still struggle with weight. I still struggle with hearing the lies whispered to me when I’m vulnerable and struggling to believe the truth.

But I’m an independent coach with an AMAZING organization and I am a follower of the Author of my identity. I am literally in the business of teaching people to believe the truth about themselves, about their dreams, and about their identity.

And it’s not in how healthy you are, or how many success club points you earn each month. Those are symptoms of believing the truth, but they aren’t the end all truth.

The truth is this:

You are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are the created being of a God who eats impossible for breakfast. You are precious to Him. You are NOT what the world says you are and you are NOT what those lies whisper in your ear.

You are loved.