Sunday, October 31, 2010

twenty pounds

For as long as I can remember I have always had issues with my weight, and although I have accepted that I will never be a super thin girl, I cannot accept that I am carrying around an extra twenty pounds that I did not have three years ago.  I hit my breaking point a little over a month ago when the weather started to get cooler and I had to put the shorts and Capri pants away and break out the jeans, that did not fit, I had to dig through my rummage sale pile for the jeans I wore when I was at my heaviest.  Twenty pounds may not seem like a big deal, I can work on it over the winter and have it off by spring, but to me it is more than that. 

Four years ago is when I accepted Christ as my savior and while God was changing me on the inside there was also a change happening on the outside.  I dropped twenty pounds, cut my long hair into a short bob and went from blonde to brunette.  To me the changes on the outside were a reflection of what was happening on the inside, it was the birth of a new me, I stopped hiding behind my hair and baggy clothes, for me gaining that weight back is in a way back sliding.  So a little more than a month ago when I realized how much weight I had gained I put my nose to the grind stone and was determined to get it off.  I counted calories, measured out my food and increased the exercise. I knew every calorie that went in my mouth and every calorie I burned off.  From a numbers stand point I should have lost about 4 or 5 pounds by now so imagine my horror as I was getting dressed for Church this morning and I couldn’t get my jeans buttoned, these are the same jeans I dug out from my rummage sale pile, how could that be, how in the world did I gain weight? 

That seems to the theme of my life these days, I don’t know what I am doing wrong, I don’t what else it is I am supposed to be doing, I am not going forward and I am struggling with all my might to not go backward, yet I seem to be on this mud slide that is taking me down fast, and I cannot find my footing.  I wonder if God really does have a plan for me, I question if he has washed his hands of me and left me on my own to figure out this next season, have I been disobedient and not realized it? I keep praying my prayers of confusion not knowing where to go or what to do next. This afternoon I took a stroll through the woods that are behind the pond that I frequent, the place where I feel the presence of God more than anywhere else, Revelation by Third Day was on my ipod, and as I shuffled my way along the trails with the leaves crunching beneath my feet I knew God was with me.  I still don’t know what is waiting for me around the corner or where he plans to put me, but this afternoon was a reminder of how great our God is that he is in such small stuff as making sure the song I needed to hear at the moment I needed to hear it was on my ipod when I clicked the play button.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

an elephants tale

I was watching Animal Planet the other night, my most favorite channel ever.  There was a program on about a very special orphanage in Africa that rescues, rehabilitates and releases baby elephants that are orphaned by the poachers who have killed their families for their coveted ivory tusks.  Many of these babies have witnessed their entire family being killed and are often traumatized and near death when the rescue workers reach them.

I thought about these elephants, and their welcome wagon of acceptance for the new elephants joining the sanctuary, the earth trembling beneath their feet as the stampede of seasoned veterans rush towards them, raising their trunks and trumpeting their welcomes as if to say “where have you been?! We have been waiting for you”! Wrapping their trunks around them, giving them gentle and loving nudges as if they were long lost friends that had finally found each other again, taking them under their wings, showing them around their new digs, being loving, gentle and kind towards the scared and traumatized newbie in their presence, thinking we could learn a little something from them.

As human beings we are bent towards selfishness, looking out for number one, but these elephants even in the nursery at just a few weeks or months old and have lost everything still gather outside the stables of the new arrivals, extending their trunks in loving kindness as if to say, “we know and we too remember and we are to here to help you”.  There is love, each one looking out for the best interests of the others, and many times that is the very thing that brings them through to the other side.   

Sometimes we can so caught up in our own lives, and our own problems we can forget to slow down and take a look around us, we don’t know what is behind the faces we pass on the street, a simple smile or hello could make someone who feels insignificant feel significant, give them the will to go on another day when they didn’t think they couldn’t.  Many times we don’t know the flood gates we may be opening when we show one act if kindness towards another person, but God knows, he put that person in our path for a reason, perhaps they needed that one simple act of acknowledgement to know that they still matter, perhaps it will encourage them to pay it forward and show kindness to someone else who may also need a little encouragement, and it continues to be paid forward.  Showing love and kindness not only lifts the spirits of another person, but it also lifts our spirits and warms our hearts, we can never go wrong by being kind and loving.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

John 13:34-35
“A new command I give to you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Rachel Olsen is hosting a blog carnival, on sisters in Christ, the link to her website is in my post below that I wrote about what having fellow sisters in Christ means to me.  I just had to write this post because to me it was such an example of what having friends can do, whether we are human or not.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

sisters in Christ

The first song I ever heard by a Christian artist was Shine by the Newsboys and I have been hooked ever since, and in my disappointment that they never come to Milwaukee, I hatched myself a little plan.  I was going to get myself a 1960’s VW style bus, decorate it with various type flower decals and follow the band across the country. Yes, my friends my career aspirations were to become a professional groupie.  I was convinced that they would eventually take notice and invite me on stage and I would become the newest member of the band, and I would spend the rest of my days traveling across the country in my VW bus entertaining audiences.  So I began practicing for the monumental moment, I would put on a CD, crank the music as loud as I could and use a hairbrush as a makeshift microphone and practice, completely oblivious to the fact that the music was so loud the house was shaking, I mean who has time to worry about such small stuff as me being one woman earthquake, I was busy rockin it.  My plan was coming close to fruition when reality reared its ugly head, when you are in the depths of delusion you fail to realize a few key details.  I can’t sing, I mean seriously cannot sing.  I was in front of the mirror polishing my singing and dancing prowess when I discovered I was not good, not only was I not good I was horrible.  How was I going to secure the coveted role of career groupie and newest member of the band if I cannot sing?  I have since given up my career groupie aspirations but I still dance around the house gettin my worship on for an audience of one, my beloved dog Whitney, who has on several occasions peered around the corner of a doorway cocking her head in bemusement, as if to ask what are you doing?

When you think up the utterly ridiculous your sisters in Christ are the ones you want to laugh with it about because they are the ones that accept you as you are, even in your complete absurdness.  They are the fence post you lean on when you have been knocked down and beat up by the world, they are the ones that will pick you up and dust you off and encourage you to get up and go at it again.  A friend is someone who wants the best for you and will tell you the truth, in a friends company is where you are secure, Proverbs 27:6 tells us that wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.  When I get thrown a curve ball on this crazy roller coaster of life all I need is one spin on the turntable of the song “Shine” and a squeeze of the hand from a friend and I remember all that I have to be grateful for.  A sister in Christ is something that has to be experienced to understand its crucial impact. They are the ones that remind you that you have seen enough miracles that are beyond any human comprehension that whatever dream you may have that seems like the utterly ridiculous to some are actually within your grasp, that is except my career groupie aspirations, that will forever remain just fodder for entertainment purposes only.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-11
Two are better than one,
     Because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
     his friend can help him up.
     But pity the man who falls
      and has no one to help him up!

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
     But how can one keep warm alone?

Though one may be overpowered,
     two can defend themselves.
     A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Today I am joining in the fun of a blog carnival over at Rachel Olsen’s blog, so hop on over and check out the other blogs.

In honor of today’s post, pull out your hairbrushes ladies, and let’s take spin on turntable with Shine.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

the best you

I ticked off some ducks today, I didn’t just make them mad I seriously ticked them off.  The pond was teaming with them, I have never seen so many ducks at that pond before, and they were none to happy see me and my 90 pound dog nipping at my heels to get in the water.  There were some near window shattering squawks, wings flapping and flailing as my lone ranger Whitney fought to the finish with these Navy Seals of the duck world as to who owned what corner of the pond, in the end each party retreated to the furthest corners and as far away from each other as possible and agreed to disagree. 

We are heading into a new series at church, the me I want to be, becoming the you God created you to be. I sat at the pond that afternoon, while Whitney was working out her differences with the ducks, reading the first chapter of the book, Learning Why God Made You, and I thought about my Whitney.  God teaches some through their children, He teaches me through my dog.  Whitney is a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, she is a water dog, a bird hunter, too bad for the ducks at the pond that afternoon, ha?  It doesn’t matter the body of water, a pond, a river, a stream, the neighbors swimming pool, a bubble bath, if it is water she will find a way to get to it and doesn’t care who is occupying it at the time, she is more than willing to join in the fun.  She has an oily, wavy, wiry type coat that some liken to a brillo pad that dries very quickly and keeps the water from touching her skin, even in the dead of winter she breaks through the ice to go for a swim and doesn’t feel a thing.

She is doing what she was made to do and she has been provided with everything she needs to do it. The coat that protects her from the elements, the strong sturdy frame that enables her to swim very long distances and break through the ice if necessary, ears that sit higher on her head so water doesn’t get in them, and even when it looks to the outside world that perhaps it is not such a good idea, like going for a swim in January, she is doing what she was meant to do and she has been equipped with what she needs to do it.  Whitney doesn’t try to be anything else, she doesn’t try to be a yellow lab or black lab or golden retriever, Whitney just tries to be the best Chesapeake Bay Retriever she can be, and she is succeeding very well at it.

As humans can we say the same thing?  I did not adopt a retriever hoping she would turn into a Dachshund, if I wanted a Dachshund I would have gotten one, and God doesn’t do that either.  He doesn’t create us then hope we turn out to be like the girl that occupies the office next door and he doesn’t want us to try to be, if he wanted you to be like her he would have created you that way.  He created you to be in this time and this place you are his handiwork created to do a good work that he has prepared in advance.

Whitney was created for the water that is the work she has been prepared for, that is where she is the best version of herself, so the water is where I take her, and although a walk is sufficient the water is where she shines. It hasn’t has always been like that, it took years of training.  It was hard for her and even harder for me, although I always kept her in my sights I let her wander off and loose sight of me, she got herself into some predicaments and it wasn’t easy to stand back and not rush in as my tiny girl was yelping and crying for me to come rescue her, but eventually she learned that as long as she kept me in her sights she would always be safe, she had to learn to hear my voice and listen to my commands and as long she did that she would  be safe. Sometimes I would have to go in a shake some things loose when I knew she wasn’t going to be able to free herself on her own but I still let her struggle to get out of whatever it was she got herself into.  She has proven to me that she can be trusted off leash, but not without a lot of training.  These days I can let her go far and be the dog was she meant to be and she is enjoying the freedom she gets when she obeys, but I am still always watching and I know she is keeping her eye on me. I test her every once in a while, I will go hide in the bushes and start counting to see how long it takes, I have never gotten past five before she is poking her head through the branches wagging her tail like she just won the ultimate prize in our game of hide and seek.   Gosh, that story sounds familiar.

God also wants his children to be the best version of themselves not just be sufficient but to shine in the places that we were created to shine, and it is going to take some training to get there and when we mess with the bad stuff there are consequences. It is not to keep us from anything good, it is to protect us from the bad and steer us to the place where we can be our best, the place where we can shine, the place we were created for. He doesn’t want to change who he created you to be, he wants you to be the best version of the person he had in mind when he created you, to do the good works he has prepared in advance.  Keep your eyes above, learn to hear his voice, obey his commands because that is the place where you will be safe and start to become the best version of yourself and taken to the place where you were meant to shine.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Disclaimer:  there were no animals injured in the making of this story.

I have a fun song for you today, feeling so fly by Toby Mac

Monday, October 4, 2010

common ground

I felt the presence of the Lord in every step I took, and the presence of the enemy making each one of those steps feel like I had cement weights strapped to my feet, and it was all leading to my heart being broken in a hundred different pieces.  A seemingly harmless remark provoked some to get on their soap box in agreement, in me it provoked anger, sadness and a broken heart.  I knew I should have said something, but what?  What could I have said in that moment that wouldn’t have started a war of words where there would be no winner just more division, I wrestled with my thoughts, and  went to bed that night with my heart broken and praying for guidance, praying for the right words to speak that weren’t judgmental or threatening, just words that would provoke a thought.  I finished reading John 3:16 that night, not John 3:16 the scripture but John 3:16 the novel.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

This scripture doesn’t say that God so loved America or Europe or Asia or any other place that he gave his one and only son, it says that he so loved the WORLD he gave his one and only son. Matthew 5:16 tells us to let our light shine before men and sometimes God calls his children to let their light shine in places that others don’t agree with, or don’t feel the same passion for, opinions and hurtful words are thrown out, division among men occurs and hearts break. 

My goal isn’t make someone see things the way I see them or serve where it is I have been called to serve, it is to provoke a thought, a thought that perhaps we are all working towards the same common goal, to make this fractured world we live in a better place, not just for ourselves but for future generations, a thought that perhaps we were all put on this earth to serve in a different capacity to reach the one common goal we all have, you see if God put us all in the same boat it would surely sink from the weight of it all.  

So to all the people who are following the call on their lives to serve in places that I don’t necessarily feel the same passion for, I say thank you, for going to where the Lord has led you, to help that fractured part of the world that he loved so much he gave his one and only son for, to the those who challenged others because they do not feel the same passion for the place in which it is you have been called, I say thank you for going to where the Lord has led you to help that fractured part of the world that he loved so much he gave his one and only son for.

In the end we all want the same thing, and name calling and snarky remarks towards those who don’t see things the way we do isn’t going to get us any closer to that goal, but we could start by respecting where each of us is called to serve and say thank you for going to where the Lord has led you  to help that corner of the world that he loved so much he gave his one and only son for.

There is a song floating around by Natalie Grant, Human, I hope you love it.