Friday, July 27, 2012

Where's the Easy Button?

Today, I guess I'm just continuing some thoughts from my last post...

Wondering why is it that life sometimes seems so hard? I was thinking today about what my husband and I have been going through with his health, and why things seem to be such a blasted "process". Why can't things be easy? Then in my spirit I saw that "Easy Button" that was a commercial for Staples a while back.

[ You need new ink cartridges?...push the button. You need to get organized?...just push the button. How about starting a small business? got it...push the easy button, and everything you need magically appears]

Except this is real life, and although God does anoint certain tasks and plans, generally speaking, He's not in the habit of handing out "Easy Buttons". Believe me, there have been situations and projects that I've worried and stewed over, then finally turning it over to God, only to have Him effortlessly pull it all together without a hitch. Easy. Yes, He made it work, I trusted Him and He did it without breaking a sweat. But it seems that there are other times, times when it's me that He's working on, that it would be so much better...if it was just easy!

Out here in blog land you get to know so many people...people that you would never know if it weren't for the good ol' Internet. Funny how I can "meet" and get to know the daily ins and outs of so many wonderful women...young and old. Women with young families and struggles, who make me think back on how what I've walked through and how I've handled things. Then knowing that I could have done so much better, been a better wife and mother, friend, daughter, sister...

But I guess that's part of what we call "life". It's a learning process. Wouldn't it be great if we would have known instinctively when we were younger how to react; behave; what to say...what not to to have patience. How would life have been different if we would come "pre-packaged" with perfect skills, attitudes, emotions, and belief systems? Thankfully, God doesn't leave us on our own to figure it all out. He's with us if we just ask Him to be. He can take impossible situations and make them work. He can take our sorrows and turn them back to joy, our heartaches and mend them.

As I said last time, it's been a long process with my husband's health situation. We haven't had much help from doctors or professionals. When it comes down to it, we have to put our trust in God for our health. Yes, He uses doctors and medications, but we can't put them above our faith in God's ability to heal us. Nothing my husband heard from the doctors has helped, so as I said last post, we started praying for wisdom about what to do to get a handle on this inner ear problem. It turns out that there are several "diseases or conditions" that are similar and even though he didn't have a diagnosis we decided to implement the dietary changes that are suggested for Meniere's Disease, which is a deterioration and fluid build up in the inner ear. Finding out about food allergies and then doing the diet for this which includes not only low sodium diet, but no alcohol, no caffeine, no chocolate, and a few other "no-nos". Anyway, after 3 weeks he's been without an "attack" of vertigo and is starting to now feel so much better. God has the answers to our needs and problems. It may take a little while, but He will share those answers with us.

 My point is this, do everything you can do in the natural, but then pray for God's supernatural wisdom and guidance. And then here's the biggy that I've learned...realize that He DOES have a plan to free you of what you are going through. It may not be easy , but if you keep trusting Him, He will walk you through it. Be willing to do the things He might ask you to do, even if they seem hard. I can guarantee you that He'll ask some tough things from you along the way, but honestly, in the long run it will be for our good. Just like physical growth, from babyhood to adulthood it's a process, not easy, but His plan.

Becoming closer to God, learning more about Him; walking in the Holy Spirit, and listening for His voice in our busy lives. Thank you, Lord. You're with us on the journey.

love in Jesus,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Reading Paul...

Hello all, I'm surprised and a little ashamed to say it's been almost two months since I've posted here. Life has been busy with some "good" and "not so good". First the good, and that is that last month I had a wonderful time with two wonderful gals that are blogging friends. God totally put together an opportunity to meet a dear friend that I've been talking to on the phone with for almost 3 years (since we started blogging), and another that I had met previously only briefly, but have now had a chance to get to know and love. We spent some amazing quality time together and I hope and believe we have cemented friendships that will last.

Also, I'm still on the lifestyle change "path" that I started back in March. My husband and I have had to totally rethink our eating habits and food preparation. He has for the last few years, suffered with occasional bouts of "Benign Positional Vertigo" which is an inner ear problem that causes vertigo, but has since the first of the year increased dramatically and has sort of taken over his daily life. Doctor visits, tests, etc. have labeled it, but treatment is elusive and not particularly effective. We've prayed for wisdom and guidance, and feel like God is narrowing down the triggers for these "spells" that leave him feeling sick and weak and disoriented. He's never been "sick" so this has been a real trial for him, (and me). Food allergies which have been detected such as Soy and all soy products have been eliminated (you may not know it, but soy is in almost all packaged foods, such as boxed crackers, protein bars, cake mixes, cookies, breads etc. literally everywhere!) and now we are going to a low low sodium diet, because we think salt may be a trigger. I've had to start cooking with just the basic foods, fresh produce, and lean cuts of meat. I can't complain on these food changes, since it will also benefit me with my cardiovascular issues and overall health. We're believing that God's wisdom in this will prove to be the deciding factor on how my husband feels, and we know that God has a good plan for our life and health, so we're going to stick with it.

Also, I am down 18 lbs. since March, not an enormous amount, but since I'm not trying to break records here; just lifestyle change, I feel good about it, and continue to feel better physically AND mentally. (Eating low carb, low fat) One of the best things is that I'm down 2 to 3 dress sizes and don't feel self conscious about my appearance. (I'm a small boned 5 foot nothing, so really 18 pounds on me is alot.) So if you think you can't lose weight like I did, ask God for His plan for you, and His anointing to do it, and things will start to change.

My husband and I have both questioned God about why we've had to go through these health issues that have caused us so much grief and upset. Things that can suck the joy out of daily life. I know that many of you have health concerns and issues, and other situations in our families, work, etc. that seem to press us down and make life harder than we think it should be.

I've been reading Paul's books of the New Testament, and I'm now in 2 Corinthians. I can't help but believe that by getting to know him, we can all gain a fresh perspective on our own trials and life in general. God doesn't promise us that our lives will be easy, but we can know that He is always with us, leading and guiding us. And yes, He allows us to walk through these tough times. What we learn from them is up to us. Do we give up and wallow in self pity or turn into an unhappy, unproductive person? I hope not. Sometimes I have to make a daily verbal statement that I know that God is here, and that He has a good plan. That I believe that things WILL get better, and that I'm not going to allow circumstances to dictate my Joy in life. I guess that's called Trust and Faith. Believing God is at work in our lives and He is Faithful.

(google images)

2 Corinthians 4:7-10

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."

Whatever you may be going through, just know that you're not alone, God is there with you, and He sees the outcome. AND He will guide you through the hard times, to bring you to the other side.

much love in Jesus,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Empowered for Living

Well, it's been about 3 weeks since my last post, and it's time for an update.

I don't want this to be about "dieting" or "weight loss" or any of those things, because in my heart I know that each of us can use this as a "fill in the blank" sort of post. It works for "not raising your voice to the kids", "not nagging your husband", and "not spending as much money" just as well as it does "take control of your health". Hmmmm....I guess it's safe to say that all of those aforementioned subjects are things that God has asked me to deal with.

I can happily and gratefully say that what I'm doing is not a "diet" but a lifestyle change and overhaul. And since what I'm dealing with right now is in the "food and what you eat" category, let's just call it what it is, but you feel free to insert your own particular "subject matter". If it was a "diet" I think that I may have fallen by the wayside by now, but it's not. It's a bonafide slapped upside the head sort of "epiphany".

I'm a believer that God's timing can be the make it or break it part of the story. He has His own timing, that I for one, always have trouble with. Call me stubborn, thick headed...whatever...I usually cannot see that His timing is "perfect" until it's in my rear view mirror. Good grief, I've been struggling with my weight for the last 10 years; ever since those pesky heart attacks. Up and down, happy and encouraged; then defeated by medication and a box of Russell Stover chocolates. I'm sure God became a little annoyed at my daily prayer of "please help me lose this weight".

It's often said that "God helps those that help themselves" is a quote from the Bible, but actually it's not. Benjamin Franklin penned that phrase in Poor Richard's Almanac in 1757. Even though it's not a scripture verse, it does have some truth to it. Not in the sense of our salvation, but in our everyday life. God does expect us to work with Him in most areas. I would have liked to wake up some morning after praying my socks off and find that I'd miraculously shed 25 pounds, but in reality I didn't really think that would happen. Guess didn't. God expected me to get myself into the place where I was willing to work with Him. That's when He turns on the "anointing". That "only God can do it" power that He puts on us to accomplish something. In my case I needed His anointing to commit to this change...and stick to it. To just say no to those french fries, chips, and trips to Braum's as an after dinner treat with my husband. All it takes is one "treat" a day to completely mess up the best of intentions. This is not to say that I've been a saint, actually I had a few french fries the other day, but in the middle of my "happy place" I realized that I didn't want to fall off the proverbial wagon. It's just not worth it to me. To look in the mirror and see myself in a positive frame of mind instead of feeling unhappy and defeated...I'll take that over a french fry or chocolate truffle any old day.

I had to make a life decision that I was going to do everything that I could to be healthy, and then trust God that he will do the rest. God sort of gave me the analogy of someone having diabetes and asking God to make them well while the whole time they were eating 3 candy bars a day. He doesn't work that way. God wants to help us, but He asks us to do our own part.

So, what am I doing you ask. Nothing earth shattering. I know there are a lot of great programs out there. Many ask that you order their food, or eat a restricted regimen, but I knew that for me to do this it had to be somewhat flexible and not a bunch of "rules". I'm doing a "shake" meal replacement twice a day and then for dinner eating only a small portion of meat, veggies, or a salad. Basically it's "The Zone" diet but with two shakes a day that are low carbs and high protein, and a snack or two that are also low carbohydrate. (no sugar, no boxed or packaged or processed food except kosher crackers, no starches, just a little fresh or frozen fruit)

It's working, I'm feeling better, mentally and physically and one of the best things is that my chest pain is much better. I know that I might not be able to turn the clock back 10 years with my heart problems, but I DO believe that I can minimize any further issues with heart disease and stop what might have been diabetes that has been crawling around on my family tree. I'm a work in progress and if it takes me the rest of the year to get to my goal weight, well then that's how long it takes. But I know one thing...I'm not going back.

If I can do it, you can do it. Just ask God to lead the way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's Your "Response"?

If you remember the title of my last post it was "Can We Talk?" If you haven't read that post then please take a minute to scroll down to the next post. This is a continuance of that previous post. 

As a wife and mother it's mind boggling to think of how many times I've asked a question directed at one of my girls or my husband.

"What sounds good for dinner?...
When do I need to pick you up from practice?...
Do you have your homework finished?...
Have you taken time to make the dinner reservations?"...

OK, these are just a few minor examples from everyday life. A conversation with another person almost always includes a few questions being asked. Unless we are control freaks or dictators we all know that questions are important and then the value of a "response".

The Oxford Dictionary gives the definition as " a reply or answer...reaction or comeback..feeling, movement or change... accountability, liability...effect, result, consequence."

I want to take a closer look at this word "response". There are a lot of words that are derived from this one word... respond, responsible, irresponsible, get my drift. When we ask a question we are always looking for a timely "response". Yes, we want an answer from the one to whom we a asking the question. If we don't get the answer, we may feel compelled to ask again...and again... But what if the question goes we continue upon deaf ears or do we walk away?

I told you last post that God had been seriously asking me to make some changes in my life. He would bring up the subject and ask...politely. He continued asking...proding...reminding...but my "response"? I had been giving Him excuses.

Sometimes God gives me a date; a day in the future to put on my calender. Like a date that you circle, put a star next to, or outline in red. There have been lots of them, and for almost every "date" I have been given, something always takes place of importance. Well, He gave me a date in March, and I was excited. What would happen on that day? I was of course thinking along lines other than what was coming. I'd been praying about getting in better physical health, (that's always on my mind) but I was hoping some kind of miraculous thing would happen to me to all the sudden start this change. Yep, I wanted some kind of miracle, because I didn't think I could do it myself. It was easier to hope for a miracle than to take the "responsibility" to do something myself. I didn't want to make a accountable..or face any consequences.

We all probably have favorite scripture that has really spoken to us over the years. "Life Verses" I've called them. Ones that can speak to you over and over, and often result in those amazing "Aha" moments. Romans 12:1-2 are those verses for me.

Living Sacrifices
Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Did you read the scripture? think of "spiritual act of worship" as our response that God is looking for. 

Just so happened that my daily Bible study time has been in Romans. I don't read to read. I know there are lots of good program schedules that tell you how to read the entire Bible in one year. Those have a purpose I'm maybe just getting you acquainted with what actually the Bible is all about. But if that's how you "read" and study the Bible then let me tell you that you may be missing what God is trying to share with you. "Volume of scripture" should never be our reason for opening the Bible. Let God lead you on where to focus. That is one of the ways He speaks to us.

So that date? came and went...swoosh...nothing...nada...sound of crickets chirping.

The next day I asked God what had happened to my "red letter day". That's when I heard Him tell me about the decision that I was going to have to make. a big one. a life changing one. one that my future depended upon. And I knew that this time I would have to give a "response"...not an God.

to be continued...
love in Jesus,

I always love to hear from you in the comment does everyone else. Has God been asking you something? What was YOUR response?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Can we talk?...

I'm still here, just in case you thought I was "backslidden" or some other dreadful thing. I have to laugh, cause, wow, I really hate that word. I've heard it my whole life bandied about by regular churchgoers who describe some poor unfortunate that maybe isn't living up to everyone else's standards. Nope, not backslidden, I've just felt like keeping my mouth shut for awhile while I try to sort out my life. Of course I'm not sure that's very easy for any of us. Cause just when you think things are figured out you can have something hit you from out of the blue and there you are again facing those big ?s.

Actually what I really want to talk about is taking God seriously in the matters of our daily life and then the issue of God's timing. That can be a sore spot for a lot of us, because sometimes His timing feels really OFF. (can I get an AMEN to that?) I just want to share a "case-in-point" in my own life.

So, most of you know I have some heart and cardiovascular problems that are hereditary, but still MY problem no matter where they came from or how I got stuck with them. AND for the last three years I've had to take some (sometimes more, sometimes less) medications that yes, can save your life, but at the same time cause all kinds of other side effects.

I'll be honest here, I'm talking about weight gain and generally having low energy and yada yada yada. Throw in post menopause and I'm not a happy camper in the "look at yourself in the mirror" department. Plus the fact that I'm short so that just compounds the problem. Now, I want to make myself perfectly clear, this isn't just about appearance, but about my overall general health. I'm all for the idea of being happy with ourselves, but I have the added concern (and responsibility) of health. Actually we ALL have that issue. Taking care of our bodies by what we eat goes WAAAAAAY beyond how we view ourselves outwardly, but how we should be answering to God's plan to be and stay healthy.

I've whined to God for the last few years about getting in better shape, but exercise for me is tricky. I have to be careful to not overdo it. A day of physical activity can put me in bed for a day. I have to keep in mind that I need to "strenghen" myself slowly, not wind up in the hospital because my heart has been overtaxed.

And then the next idea is e.a.t.i.n.g. Good grief, I wish it could be more simple. OK, maybe it IS simple and I just hadn't grasped the concept. So, I'm praying and whining and praying and whining, the whole time I know that I need to get some pounds off cause my blood pressure is too high and I have some joints that scream at me any time I try to shop the mall. Not to mention the fact that I've had plenty of conviction to eat more healthily. The only thing I can say is that I was full of excuses. I won't even go there, because there are just too many.

A few weeks ago God woke me up in the morning and said very clearly to me. "Soon you are going to have to make a decision and this time it better be the right one. Your future depends on it." GULP... Can I tell you that that statement put the proverbial "fear of God" into me? My mind started racing as to what the decision actually was and of course my thoughts were not about my eating habits...but more earth shattering possibilities.

I'm going to finish this post in a few days, because I think that God can use just this much to speak to some of you today too. Anybody out there in the same boat with me? It doesn't have to be about "eating". Chances are God has been gently nudging some of us to do His will and we've casually been either ignoring Him or just not taking Him too seriously. Are you feeling it?

If so, you can take this opportunity to be open to what God's about to say...get ready...He might say something you're really needing to hear.

p.s. just want to let you know that you can sign up to receive this blog's current posts in your email. (on the right sidebar) I'm pretty sporadic so it might be an easier way to keep track. 

love in Jesus,

Thursday, March 1, 2012

5 Things to Grow On

I just did a post on my "other" blog, Common Ground, on things that I think are critical in seeing our blog grow and take shape. But as I've read it again, I think it pertains to more than just blogging. As you read it, just substitute "life", for the blogging part. If you'd like to click here, you can read how God has led me in all aspects of my life, blogging being just one part of it.
I haven't forgotten this blog, God actually has let this last post sit for awhile. I've had many personal emails about it and how God spoke to more than just a few people. I always love hearing from you in comments or emails. Thank you for taking time to interact and let us know how God is speaking to you.

Be blessed.
love in Jesus,

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why are you crying?

I've said this before, and I will say it again today, I'm not a Bible Scholar. I don't have any degrees in theology or Biblical Studies. I have a poor memory and cannot quote scripture. And the truth be told, I'm not even good at remembering where verses are located. But I DO love the Bible and God's Word to us. I'm basically a blank slate. 

The Lord says to me frequently, "Be available", and that's what I try to do; to
be available in my life, time, and finances, but mostly be available so that He 
might speak. This morning as I sat here at the computer, knowing He had
something to say, He spoke a verse to me. John 20:14. 
No, He didn't quote it to me. He just gave me chapter and verse. When I 
opened my NIV Bible this is what I saw.

"At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus."

google images

Here it is in context of the surrounding verses:

John 20:10-18

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.
 11 But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept,
 she stooped and looked into the tomb; 12 and she *saw two angels in white
 sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had 
 been  lying. 13 And they *said to her, Woman, why are you weeping?”
 She *said to  them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not 
 know where they  have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned
 around and *saw Jesus  standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.
 15 Jesus *said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
 Supposing Him to be  the gardener, she *said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried
 Him away, tell me  where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 
 Jesus *said to her,  “Mary!” She turned and *said to Him in [a]Hebrew,
 “Rabboni!” (which means,  Teacher). 17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to
  Me, for I have not yet  ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and 
 say to them, ‘I ascend to  My Father and your Father, and My God and your
 God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene *came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen 
 the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

My first question was why this particular scripture, and He said it
was because someone was crying and needed to know that He was 
there with them.

I've read this so many times and the thing that I realize is that sometimes we are
so distressed  in the circumstances that we do not realize or feel that God is with us. 
Mary Magdalene had  just seen Jesus crucified and put in the tomb. Yes, the
circumstances looked the worst; Jesus was gone from them, brutally murdered, and
the plan that they had all hoped for seemed destroyed. Her future and that of all the
others in Jesus' circle was in dire jeopardy. The future  seemed hopeless and bleak.
How did they move forward when their leader, their king and friend was gone...?

Have we all not felt like this at times. We are in the middle of horrible circumstances
that cause us to lose sight of the fact that even though we do not see how things can 
work out Jesus is there with us, He is in control, and He has a plan. And His plans are 
always "good". Lately God has been reminding me to not let what is happening in the
"circumstances" blind me from the fact that He is there with me. 

I know Mary was distraught, overwhelmed with grief and sadness, and fearful and 
uncertain as how to proceed. But a voice from behind her called her name and when 
she heard that voice her attention turned from "herself" to realizing that Jesus was 
right there with her.

No matter what you are going through at this moment, Jesus is there with you. He
will listen to you and comfort you, and give you direction and peace. Sometimes He 
is speaking to us but we don't know that it is God. Get quiet and let Him speak to you. 
He is there with you, and loves you...and He does have the answers.

love in Jesus,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Verse for the New Year

This post may be a little late for the "contemplating the New Year" kind, but I haven't had the opportunity to sit down and put these thoughts into writing until now, so today it is.

I've read and enjoyed so many of your New Year's posts sharing your intentions and resolutions, plans and goals, and just plain old hopes and dreams. Especially you younger gals with big things happening in your lives. Blogging has given many of you some amazing opportunities this year;  from recognition in magazines, photography, television, and the book world, to actually "living your dreams". Honestly, I couldn't be happier for you...really...truly! 

I have to warn you though, as you get older the concept of making resolutions fades a bit and the turning of the calender page takes on a little less significance. Life experience and circumstances have a bad habit of wearing a person down a little. I know what it's like to have "resolutions" wind up in the ditch by the end of January, or to have something thrown in my path unexpectedly like a family crisis or health setback. "Life" has a way of derailing the best of intentions.  I guess the blessings of youth are optimism and the promise of the future. I'm not on a "downer" here, just contemplating life a little, I guess. And how we view what is ahead of us. 

Many of you have talked about how you have a "word" for the New Year. A word that some of you will use as a roadmap for the journey into 2012. To other's it's a definition of what you desire the atmosphere around you to be; a goal, an attitude, and a viewpoint. Hopefully our words are God given and spoken. I know that God likes using dates, times, and seasons to express Himself in our hearts. When we're prayerfully contemplating our lives and the prospect for change, He's is more than happy to speak to our open hearts and minds. He's an "encourager", and He desires to bring us into a place of possibilities and optimism. He's been working on me in that area...

OK, back to the "word" idea for the New Year. So I asked God if there was a specific word for me to contemplate and keep in my spirit for this year. It didn't come immediately, but as I was doing a short post for New Year's Day, a scripture verse came to mind. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the adorable vintage postcard with kittens, but it had to be included. 

Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

It seemed a little out of place and incongruous with that postcard post, but I've learned to go with it, if it's something from the Lord.  This verse has been rattling around in my head for a few days and the more I've thought about it the more I've realized God has been speaking to me concerning this thought for quite a while now.

Let me share just a little of what I think He may be trying to say. 

First of all for this verse to be truly accurate we need to be a child of God. Believers can have a firm faith that if we really love the Lord and seek Him that He will ultimately be in charge of our lives and destinations. If we never seek Him for help and guidance then it's easy to get off track in our thinking and plans. This in turn can send us down the wrong path. Staying in touch with the Father on a daily basis and letting the Holy Spirit lead us may not mean that our lives will be easy or perfect, but they will be "determined". The Oxford dictionary says this about the word "determine, -ed" fixed, precise, distinct, settled, persistent, unwavering.

Another word that stands out for me in this verse is "course". Here is the definition: onward movement or progression, path, way, route, or track, a lesson, a part of a meal, a series of hurdles, a horizontal layer of bricks" a length of water.

And then this word, which really means a lot to me at this time. "Step". a unit of movement, a manner of walking, a degree in the scale of promotion or advancement, making progress, pace, stride, taking action, being in agreement.

At this stage in my life I'm more "contemplative" about the future. I've learned the hard way not to run off on my own and in my own thinking to do a certain thing. I don't want to get into something that's just not part of God's plan for me. There have been a few things that I've been "measuring" in my mind and considering so I've turned them over to God for timing and specifics. He's determining them for me and I'm allowing Him to plot the course, not only of this New Year, but of my future. He can do all that for me, but if I don't lift up my foot one day at a time and exert some effort to take the "step" nothing will happen. 

I had a sprained ankle last week, and now that I think of it, it may have been a little teaching tool that the Lord allowed. The thought of not being able to walk for a few days had me reeling. The concept of taking a "step" has a little more significance than it did before.

I'd love to hear in the comments if God has spoken a "word" or verse to you for the year. 

Love you all, thanks for listening, and sharing my life. You're a huge blessing to me!

In Jesus,