Saturday, December 31, 2011

Auld Lang Syne

It's New Year's Eve and tomorrow will be a day of new beginnings. It's a new year and people generally use this to make a new start with any number of things...weight loss, spending more time with family, exercise goals, reading goals, ending bad habits. But what about tonight? I remember growing up and hearing the song "1999" by Prince (or whatever his name is now) and AWESOME is it going to be when that happens?!? When the time came it was fun don't get me wrong, but the build up did not lead up to how it "was supposed to be". Isn't that what makes us unhappy the majority of the time? The fact that we have expectations and then real life doesn't meet them? I'm not saying it NEVER happens, but most of  the time (my life anyway) it's a journey with bumps, crossroads, mountain tops and valleys. How we deal with these "changes" has a little something to do with our perspective.

I know most of you have heard the song "Auld Lang Syne" that many people sing on New Year's Eve. I grew up spending most new year's at my grandmother's house with her and my 3 aunts. They would always sing this song and I knew the words, but had no clue what they meant. Literally translated they mean "old long since". Another translation is "times gone by". Basically what this means to me is that I shouldn't forget my past; I should learn from it.When I learn from the past, new growth is possible. I glance back to glean information and understanding from what has occurred, and then I move forward with the understanding that God has a plan for my life and it is a good plan. No. An awesome plan! I don't know all of the answers, but I know the One who has them. It is VERY HARD to trust sometimes. After all, I'm not perfect and never will be this side of Glory. But when I trust in Him and have the right perspective I have HOPE for my future.

I'm going to put my New Year's Resolutions out there.
1. Do No Harm
2. Do Good
3. Stay in Love With God
These are not original. I was first introduced to them when a friend so thoughtfully sent me a copy of a book called Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Living. I think these principles can be applied to any life and help make the world a better place for us all. These 3 things are SOOO simple you say...I can do these things without trying. Hold on. Slow down. Over the next few weeks I am going to expound on these three resolutions so that you know exactly what my goals are and how to help me be accountable for meeting them. This new year IS a time for new growth, new birth, new attitude, new EVERYTHING! God can make a way where there seems to be no way. He can make water spring forth in the desert. He can turn water into wine, make the blind see, raise the dead. He can bring hope where there was none. See you all in the new year! 

P.S. Fitness Friday will make a come back every other week in the new year. :)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"   2Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fitness Friday

Yesterday I was thinking...Man! It is already Friday again and I didn't write a blog last Friday. I think I will wait until tomorrow since it is late (like 10:30pm). Went to sleep peacefully...woke up at 2:45am and noticed message on phone..."No blog today? I was looking for it." Sometimes it can really suck to have accountability in your life...sigh. I really am self motivated to do a lot of things. However, there is one thing that keeps me in line like nothing else...knowing that other people are holding me to my "goal". I'm not talking about someone who will literally slap a piece of cake out of your hand as you try and eat it (this HAS actually happened to me)or make you spit out a peppermint after you vowed not to eat sugar for a time (yes, this too). I am talking about people who you know without a doubt love you unconditionally and call you out on your bull malarkey (Lord, I hope this is spelled correctly). A biblical story that comes to mind is David and Bathsheeba. If you don't know this story, here is the Cliff Notes version... David is a king. David sees Bathsheeba and he lusts for her. She is married to someone else. David knows this. He sleeps with her anyway. He takes it a step further and sends her husband into the front lines of a battle to be killed. Uriah is killed in battle and David and Bathsheeba live happily ever after, right? WRONG! David indeed suffers for his transgressions, but at first he thinks he is going to get away with this indiscretion. Enter Nathan the prophet into the situation. Nathan is going to call a brother out! He is going to hold David accountable! Do you have a "Nathan" in your life? If you are interested in reading the entire account of this story you can find it in 2 Samuel chapter 11 and 12. My point is...I NEED you people who truly love me and want to see me succeed to HELP me. I can't do it without you. God doesn't want us to travel this way alone.

H is for HIM: Prayer time...copious and regular. Scripture reading...check. Joy in my salvation...check. Score 9/10

E is for Exercise and Eating Right: Can we do a HEART check as a "HART check" this week? I have not exercised ONE time this past week unless you count cleaning house or walking my sister's dogs, which I don't. I have also taken down multiple containers of Nutella, drank regular coke, eaten doritos, etc. You might have a problem when your five year old asks you why you bought the small jar of Nutella this time! (Because it was the only one the store had!!)The fitness train is off of the tracks and headed into dangerous territory! HELP! Score 0/10

A is for All About Family: Loving being at home with my kids during the holiday season! We have made (yes, MADE) crafts, cookies and gifts for people we love this year, watched holiday movies and seen some beautiful Christmas lights. It has been so nice! Last year I don't remember doing any of these things. Score 8/10

R is for Reaching Out to Others: Along with spending more time with my family, I've had the opportunity to reach out to others more this past week. I truly enjoy doing things for other people. I need to focus more on people who might be a little harder to love than others. 7/10

T is for Transparency and Truthfulness: Sinner...check. Saved by grace...check. Gonna live my life and love like I mean it...check. 9/10 (there is always room for improvement)

God truly wants us to have meaningful relationships with each other full of agape love. This week has been a hard one for me emotionally and there have been moments that I have felt alone, unappreciated and unloved. I have a Facebook friend that is always posting about how God always comes through for her family financially. I am always rolling my eyes (I swear it's involuntary) when her post is about some miraculous check that has shown up in her mailbox. I wonder why said check doesn't show up in my mailbox?!? Hellooo God...have you ever heard of Publisher's Clearing House?? Seriously, God has provided abundantly for myself and my family and I sincerely trust that He will continue to do so. This week, I received a Christmas card from a sweet friend. When I opened it up, something fell out. I read her heartfelt words and at that moment I realized that God had not forgotten about Kelly Bass in Cairo, Ga... I wept tears of joy and thankfulness that this friend had acted on the prompting of the Holy Spirit to reach out to me. I sought confirmation from Him and I got it. He uses His people to serve each other and to bring messages of joy and hope to each other. I am so glad that my friend chose to answer His call. I hope she knows how much I appreciate her love, her willingness and her gift to me.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hate the sin...not the sinner?

     This week I read a blog titled “I’m a Christian…unless you’re gay” and I started thinking about how, when and why Christians (and more importantly ME) show love to others. Have you ever felt judged by others? Now, I know we all judge people, it is human nature and part of our fleshly make up….but does it have to be that way? People are judged for the color of their skin, the way they talk, the way they dress, their sexual orientation, their weight, their income….see what I mean? Society labels us…fat, poor, addict, ugly, worthless, trashy, rich, slutty, stuck up. Some of these things we can change and some of these things we cannot. I have learned that if someone looks or acts different, they are not better or worse than me or anybody else…they are just different. That person is God’s creation…just like I am. He loves each of us because we are His.

     Most of us know that Jesus outlined the 2 most important commandments to all who follow Him. The first is to love God with all of your heart, mind and soul. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. Who are my neighbors? They are illegal immigrants, homosexuals, unmarried mothers with 3 kids by 3 different fathers, alcoholics….or the person sitting next to you in church that would “NEVER” do anything wrong.  Some of these people are not necessarily easy to love. Trust me…I know. But I also know that I am not easy to love either. I am flesh. Human. Sinful.

     Now, what about the phrase…”Hate the sin, love the sinner”? I think that this phrase is often used as a cover up for bigotry. People use it as an excuse to not have to love those people who are different from them. Is it Biblical? Well, we already covered what Jesus wants us to do. The Bible also tells us to flee from sin. Who’s sin are we fleeing from? I think that He wants us to flee from OUR sin. To hate OUR sin. In Romans 12:9 the author tells us to “Hate what is wrong”. There is that “hate” word again. But, let’s look at the first part of that verse…”Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” (New Living Translation) I am not a theologian and certainly do not profess to know a lot about the Bible. But what I do know is that if I spend my time hating MY OWN sin, I won’t have much time to hate, judge or look down on other people.

     Genuine love requires concentration and effort. It isn’t easy, but I have found that nothing worthwhile is ever easy. For me to show Biblical love requires me to look at myself…to uncover my sin…to confess it and ask for forgiveness that is undeserved. Am I worth it? He thinks so. Is the homeless alcoholic ex-con worth it? He thinks so.

 If you are interested in reading the blog post in the first paragraph, go to

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fitness Friday

     OK, I know that it is really Saturday, but it has been a busy week for a lot of reasons. Currently, there are six girls running through my house playing "Glow in the dark Hide and Seek". They have made fairy wands, had their faces painted, played dress up, eaten cookie cake, had pedicures and played Dance Party and Karaoke on the Wii. At one point, one of them was rapping to "Ice, Ice Baby" while wearing a green Power Ranger costume, and she actually knew almost all of the words (No, it was not my child)!! I. Am. Exhausted! I will post some party pics at the end of this post. I will say that I had fun in planning and decorating, but now it's time for Fitness Friday!
     H is for Him: This week I have felt closer to Him than I have in a while. Circumstances brought me face to face with my lack of control over my life and why I need to rely totally on Him. A sweet friend sent me a Bible verse and I have been meditating on it for days. Here it is..."Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19 It means more to me each day. Giving myself a 9/10 here this week.

E is for Exercise and Eating Right: Boot Camp is over for this cycle, so I'm trying to decide what my next exercise adventure will be. I only exercised once this past week. However, I have been eating A LOT better and have actually seen a drop on the scale for the first time in a while. Score: 6/10

A is for All About the Family: Had some alone time with each of my kids this week - yay! That can be so rare with 3 children vying for your attention. The girls helped with all of the party preparations and cleaning and had fun doing it! Many stories read and kisses upon kisses given this week! Score: 9/10

R is for Reaching Out to Others: This one is probably the most lacking this week. I have been focusing on myself and my family and guess what? Others have been reaching out to me this week and supporting me with texts, emails, phone calls and lunch dates. I'm very thankful to have such awesome friends! Score: 5/10

T is for Transparency and Truthfulness: I am still the same me. A broken, scarred and imperfect sinner who by the grace of God is a treasured, beloved, daughter of the most high God. 'Nuff said. Score: 8/10

     Check out my "Martha Stewart" decorations. The Dollar Tree supplied some and the cute banner I printed from for FREE!! I love free. Free is my favorite. I printed it, cut it out and used twine to string the banner together. can be used again!

     I bought "wine glasses" from the Dollar Tree and painted the girls' initials on them. It's hard to see, but I dipped double stuffed Oreo's in pink candy coating and added a sucker stick for "fancy" milk and cookies.

     My father in law bought some face paint for the party girls. I was the only "artist" in residence, but some of them don't look too bad! We had everything from a vampire to a butterfly and I tried my best to make them happy. Score one for my father in law!

     Heaven help me...they are still awake!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Don't Hide it, Divide it!!

     Have you ever hidden something and then could not find it later? I have done this many times. Sometimes it is a good surprise... like finding the $100 bill that I hid for emergencies. Sometimes it is not so when my daughter "hid" a raw egg in her closet and I "found" it while cleaning. I almost just gagged writing about it! My point is, what good is something while it is hidden? Even though I was supremely happy to discover the money, it did not multiply while it was hidden. Certainly no one benefited from the hidden egg in ANY way. When we play childhood hiding games such as Hide and Seek the joy is in finding the person, not in them staying hidden. When children hunt Easter eggs, they don't leave them behind, they pick them up and keep them.

     I think the same principle can apply to our abilities and our talents that have been given to us by God. Guess what? EVERYONE has a talent, yes...even you...and me. Even some things that I think I am not very good at can be God-given. Take for example, public speaking. CAN I speak in front of a group? Yes. Do I WANT to speak in front of a group? Negative, ghostrider. However, if HE is calling YOU, there is no better person for the job. Why do we hide? The answer is simple for me....FEAR. I let myself doubt. I don't want to mess up...or look stupid. But am I doubting my abilities or His? If I truly feel that He is telling me to do something, be it a small or large task, isn't my doubt really a lack of faith in Him? 

     There have been times that I have stepped out in faith and gone where HE was leading. These times were glorious and I felt really close to Him. Why do I let my flesh get in the way of what I need to do? One of my big issues was (and sometimes still is) praying out loud. I am no stranger to praying.  I pray daily. I used to talk (silently, in my head) to God non-stop. Now I have added listening as well. I think part of it stemmed from the denomination I grew up in. Only men prayed. Even at mealtime, unless a cute young child insisted on doing the blessing, it was given by a man. There was a time in my life that I would do almost anything to escape praying in front of people. Faint, fake a seizure, whatever it took. Then a friend asked me for prayer. For ME to pray. How can you refuse someone that you love and respect that is asking for prayer? So I did it, feeling inadequate the whole time. Guess what? The world did not end, I did not spontaneously combust and the person thanked me for praying for them. I then realized that although you will not find me raising my hand when someone asks for a volunteer to pray (yet), I am okay with where I am now. I will pray when led. I will pray when asked for prayer. I will not keep the gift of prayer that He gave me buried or keep it for myself. 

    So, what are you  hiding? What has He given you that you aren't using to further His Kingdom? He blesses us so that we can bless others. We are to give it away...freely. After all, it isn't ours to keep here on this Earth. I pray that we can all be faithful with what we have been given...whether it is an obvious ability like singing, or a hidden talent that even you didn't know was there. 
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up". If you see someone stepping out in faith and using their talents or abilities, pray for them, lift them up and give them the support that He would have us give. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fitness Friday

     Guess what? It's the very first "Fitness Friday" ever! I promised I was going to "put my stuff out there" as one of my dear friends called it, so that others could have an example. I didn't tell you in my last post how I was going to score myself, but here it is...I am going to use a scale from 0-10 (0 being "the worst week ever" and 10 being "I rocked it this week"). Using the H.E.A.R.T. formula, the top score attainable is a 50.

     H is for "Him":  I read my Bible two days this week. I am also reading a book called "Radical" by David Platt and it does have scripture in it (not the same, but I thought I would throw it out there). I did have a chance this week to talk to a more mature Christian about some goals/plans that I have. I have scripture verses posted on my bathroom mirror that I read every morning and I was able to have quality prayer time 3 days this week. I'm going to give myself a 5 here.

     E is for exercise/eating healthy:  This is the hardest category for me by far. I did exercise 3 days this week and I am run/walking my first 5K tomorrow. However, I skipped boot camp all 3 days this week. I don't even want to talk about my eating this past week. I start out good, but by the end of the day I seem to let myself get sabotaged either by myself, my husband or some event (Breaking Dawn Premiere) that I can blame it on. I read a quote that said "You can't out exercise a bad diet". Hmmm...gonna give myself a 3 this week.

     A is for all in the family: I definitely feel like this one was where I "rocked it" this week. I was able to take my kids to their after school activities and actually watch them! I was able to read 4 out of 5 nights to the girls. I had some time to spend with Cooper just talking and joking. I even was able to meet a friend for breakfast and talk for 2 hours! I would say this category is lacking in the "quality time most nights with husband" category. We had been making it a priority to set aside time each night and just check in and talk (without kids). Lately, we have been getting slack in this area and I miss it and want to bring it back. Overall, I'm giving myself a 7 here.

     R is for reaching out to others: I would love to say that this category was a 10 each week, but sometimes it is hard for me to see where I actually helped someone or made a difference in my day to day walk. I do put a smile on my face and speak to others where ever I happen to be. At work, I try and let my patients know through words and touch that I care for them and want to help them. Can I count the blog? :) I think my friends would say that I am a person who reaches out to others, but what would my enemies say? Loving my enemies is part of reaching out too. Gonna improve this one. Score...6.

     T is for truthfulness and transparency: There was a time in my past when I felt like I had 2 separate lives. I had to be the fun, joking, crazy Kelly for some people, and the daughter of the most high God Kelly for other people. I no longer feel that way, and let me tell you, it is a relief! These 2 Kellys are not mutually exclusive...Jesus Girl Kelly is fun, loves to joke and yes, even act a little crazy at times. I've come a long way in letting people see the "real" me. Now what you see is really what you get. Score...8 (always room for improvement).

     I added my scores up and ended up with 29/50 or a 58%. In school I would have been devastated by this grade, but in life it is all about progress...not perfection. It was better than 50%...just sayin'! The journey is just beginning.
Peace and Blessings...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Check This Out!!

     I am trying to have more consistency in my blog posts. We only have one computer in our house and it seems like the only time I want to get on it, someone else is already there. I have an Iphone, but I just started being able to send emails from it. I cannot imagine writing a whole blog on something that small. I really think that Santa wants me to have an Ipad for blogging and other such activities, but Santa might be financially stretched this year. He will probably be happy that I have quit asking him for a taser every year.

      I am relatively new to the blogging world, but I wanted to start a "weekly feature" blog. I have seen people do "Wordless Wednesday" or "Weigh In Wednesday" on their own blogs and it gave me an idea. I am going to do a weekly blog called "Fitness Friday". Now, I am not going to tell you everything I did or didn't eat during the week or tell you how much weight I've lost, although that will play a small part. When I think about "fitness" as it applies to my whole life and person, there is more to it than working out and not eating fast food. I want fitness to extend to physical, mental and spiritual health. Fitness is defined as the quality of being suitable to fill a particular role or task. What are my roles? 1.Daughter of the Most High God, 2.Wife, 3. Mother, 4. Friend....each one of these roles has other roles inside of it. I came up with an acronym that I feel helps me gauge how I have been doing on my weekly journey to fulfill these roles and become a more disciplined person.

     I am going to do what I will be calling a "H.E.A.R.T. check". H stands for "Him"...did I spend time each day praying, reading my Bible, worshiping or listening to Him? E stands for "exercise and eating healthy"...this one is pretty self explanatory. A stands for "all in the family"....did I spend quality time with my husband, children and close friends? R stands for "reaching out to others"....did I do anything this week to help out someone in need? How did I represent Christ to the world?  T stands for "truthfulness and transparency"...was I genuinely myself and let others see the real me? These things will be subjectively graded by me of course. I will try to be as objective as possible, lol. I do know that we grade ourselves more harshly that we do anyone else. I've said things in my mind to myself that I wouldn't dream saying to another person. I'm not doing this to say "look at me I am a fabulous person" or if I have a bad week to have people build me up with compliments. This is just for me to have an extra measure of accountability that I can look back at from week to week and see how far I have come in my journey. I would love to have others come along with me. I picked specific things that I need to work on, but they can be tweaked or adjusted to fit anyone's specific needs. There is strength in numbers, and as women I think this is especially true. That's why we don't go to the bathroom never know when you might need a friend!

     The Bible also tells us that it is important to never be alone. We know that God is always with us, but having believers disciple us and encourage us along the way is important as well. I would love to hear the blog world's thoughts about "Fitness Friday"!
Acts 2:42 says..."They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."
Come along and fellowship, pray and break bread with me on this journey.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What are YOU waiting for?

     Have you ever felt deep down that you should do something, but didn't want to? I have thought of many blog topics over the past few weeks that I wanted to write, but something kept me from writing them. I've had the opportunity (when the kids are in school) and the material (went on an awesome Christian weekend recently), but I literally couldn't write those things. Finally, I was sitting in church and it hit me. My pastor was talking about how he woke up in the wee hours of the morning and was prompted to pray...for revival. But the prompting wasn't just for any was for revival to start with him. It was personal. Ouch. That's just how I felt when I was listening. Duh...He wants me to write about what is weighing me down or what is keeping me from personally being revived. 

     I have done so much backsliding lately that it's not even funny. I've been eating exactly what I want and not feeling guilty. There was one week I skipped boot camp....bad idea. I have gained a few pebbles (please refer back to the "Let's Get Stoned" blog post). My car is cluttered. My house is cluttered. And daily Bible reading...fuhgedaboutit! This blog was supposed to be an extra measure of accountability for me. But I haven't felt like writing the truth lately. You know why? The truth hurts! 

     This is what the Bible says about our bodies..."Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Cor. 6:19-20)  My body is a temple that was bought at a price. The highest price imaginable, with the blood of Jesus. Not only that...guess who lives there?? The Holy Spirit. My point is, I am not honoring God with my body. I don't just mean food either, though that is a big part of it. I go out to eat when I shouldn't be spending the money. I buy things I don't really need. I skip exercising, scripture reading, cleaning. I don't get enough sleep. I have let my pride get in the way of witnessing to people or helping people. I have been jealous of people, things and relationships. I have held on to small bits of resentment that I have let fester. As doubt crept into my mind, it has shown itself on my outer body. Now, I know He's got my back no matter what...but shouldn't I have His? Listen to this verse from 1Timothy 4:7b "Exercise daily in God- no spiritual flabbiness, please!" I think I am going to post this on my bathroom mirror so I can see it every morning. 

     I also realized that I haven't been trusting God like I should. I say that I trust Him. I know that I trust Him up to a certain extent. But He wants ALL of me...all of my trust. After we worked out at boot camp Monday, we had a devotion. It was about not only trusting Him, but obeying Him. Remember the old hymn, "Trust and Obey"? They go together, like peas and carrots, or brownies and milk. If I say that I trust Him, I will obey Him. It's that simple. What isn't that simple is putting aside my human fears and insecurities. But I can...with His help. I want to be "all in" for Jesus. Sold out. I want to believe that I can walk on the water too. 

When you take that first step into the unknown, you know that he won't let you go. So what are you waiting for? What do you have to lose? Your insecurities try to alter you. You know you're made for more, so don't be afraid to move. Your faith is all it takes and you can walk on the water too. 
--Britt Nicole

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Humbled, Convicted....and Grateful!

Have you ever had "one of those" mornings? I got out of bed, started getting my children up and in the shower, gathering up their things and their clothes for the day. Thankfully, my husband had made some coffee! For some reason, the girls like to get out of the shower, wrap a towel around them and come and complain to me about how cold they are. Meanwhile, I'm wondering why they don't dry themselves off and tell them so. Then the whining starts. They know they have to brush their hair and teeth EVERY morning. This is non-negotiable! My son, for the most part, is self sufficient, thank you Jesus! The girls notice the clothes I have put out and for some reason, they don't want to wear them. At this point, one of two things happen, I either tell them to wear them and quit complaining, or they go to their rooms and pick out something more acceptable to them. Cooper is now in the kitchen and asking what has happened to his poetry he composed last night. Poetry? What poetry? The two girls are now asking for breakfast....usually they want a corn dog or ice cream or some such healthy meal. Now my husband is out of the shower and is putting his two cents into the mix. I maintain my calm demeanor and get the girls some cereal, find the poetry and manage to get them all out of the door. Whew!

I now decide to listen to the messages on my answering machine that I did not listen to last night. The first one is a reminder that I have a doctor's appointment TODAY at 9am. is now 7:30 and I have to be in Tallahassee by 9. So...I jump up and run to the shower, throw on some clothes and makeup, grab my coffee (now cold) and head out the door. I am NOT in a good mood. I am cranky and ungrateful. I am wondering what God was thinking when he let ME get married and have THREE children. The list continues in my mind....why can't I have more money...more help around the house...why can't my children mind all of the time??? This ungratefulness in my heart continues to spew out of me until I get back in my car following my doctor visit. I decide to check my email using my phone. An email pops up that looks like one of "those" chain emails titled "In God's Hands". I click on it anyway and I proceed to read an email that brings me to my knees. Literally. It's forwarded from a man whose wife has been very sick and is now close to death. He is struggling with dealing with these last days and is asking for prayer...for peace...for understanding. I feel something twist in my chest and am immediately convicted. Who am I that I am so ungrateful for all of my undeserved blessings that the one who made me has poured out? I am ungrateful. I am convicted. I am humbled. The tears began to fall and I prayed for this man and his family right then. I also immediately asked God to forgive my ungrateful heart. When I was done praying, I began to think how silly I had been in the first place. I woke up in an air conditioned house in America. I have food in my pantry and refrigerator. I have 3 gorgeous and healthy children. I have a husband who loves me and makes me coffee (bonus). I have running water that is heated, clothes to wear, a car to drive and an iphone that lets me check my email to name a few!! I could literally fill up books with all of the things I am grateful for.

I recently completed a gratitude list and I highly recommend it. It helps to focus on a few things and people for which you are especially grateful. After you complete your list, read it back to yourself and then tell the people you listed how grateful you are for them! You can include why you are thankful for your husband, children, family, job, friends, church, school, or anything else you can think of! I think I will start doing this on a regular basis just to remind myself of all of my blessings that He continues to give to me. I am convicted...humbled...and now extremely grateful.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Can Rocks Cry Out?

Have you ever thought about what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus? I think about it sometimes on a daily basis. I love to help people, thus my chosen profession...nursing. I love to see people do what even they don't think they can accomplish. I can convey encouragement and compassion simply by touching my patient in a caring and loving manner. I hold hands (sometimes feet), wipe tears, sweat (and other bodily fluids I won't mention here), I give hugs and rub backs....and that's just taking care of the doctors. Just kidding!! I find that it is a lot easier sometimes to "talk" to others through action as opposed to words. I also know that actions speak louder than words. But, I think that we also need to use words along with actions to deliver the full effect that is intended. 

The fact is that I love Jesus. I am a Christian. He has given me infinitely more gifts and blessings than I can ever deserve and continues to do so. He has held my hand and lifted me out of pits of despair. But when it comes time to speak aloud of these things and "witness" to others with my voice, I find myself hanging back. I let doubt creep in. I don't want people to judge me harshly, to think I'm a hypocrite (I AM, by the way), to reject me or make fun of me. But, what is more important? What people think or what Jesus thinks? I know that I focus too much on this world, but we were made for something more. I don't know who this quote originated with, but it sums it up..."We are not human beings having spiritual experiences, but spiritual beings having human experiences".  Think about it. What if our life here on earth is just a snapshot in our spiritual eternity? Sometimes I long for the things of this world to fill me up. Sometimes my filler is food, sometimes other people, sometimes attention or praise. The full feeling is always temporary. I heard a Christian speaker say that we "ache for Heaven". I wonder if that is why we long for "things" to comfort us...because we are aching for eternity. Is this what we were made for? To long for Heaven? For God? 

I love the song "Made to Worship" by Chris Tomlin. One part says "and even the rocks cry out, and even the Heavens shout, at the sound of His holy name". We were made to worship the one who created us.When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, His followers were crying out and praising Him in front of everyone! The Pharisees didn't like this and told Jesus to make them be quiet. This is when Jesus said "I tell you, He replied, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out". If we don't spread the Good News and tell of his wonderful love like we are called to do, the rocks will do it for us! I want to be bold. I want to show and tell others through my deeds and my words. I don't want the rocks to have to speak for me. They can be quiet this time...I will speak.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Are You Living the Salt Life?

If you live near the coast, at least in my neck of the woods, you see this logo on a regular basis. I see it on the back windshield of a car sometimes daily. I am a salt lover, I will admit. I add salt to my food sometimes before I even taste it. I even put salt on my salad. When I was in college, a friend gave me one of those hamster "salt licks" for a birthday present. Yes, it was a gag gift, but I actually "used" it a couple of times. I finally got rid of it, because it just wasn't practical to break out a "salt lick wheel" when I had a craving. I'm pretty sure it made me look a little unstable.

As I sat in the elementary school pick up line yesterday, I started thinking how living the "Salt Life" could apply to living a Christian life or a more disciplined life. Have you ever looked up "salt" in the Bible? There are a lot of verses dealing with this word. Many times, especially recently, I have eliminated certain foods from my diet. Soda, chocolate, sugar...all of these things are great and I would not want to live forever without them, but they are not necessary for survival. Salt, however, is necessary for our bodies to function properly. When we don't have enough salt in our bodies, we become unbalanced and don't heal easily. It helps to transmit messages in the nervous system. Salt is also used as a preservative to keep food from spoiling. It was used before modern medicine to help heal wounds or to purify water. Salt when used in food serves to season it, to bring out the best in the taste of the food or to blend certain foods together. For all of these reasons, Jesus called His followers "the salt of the earth".

Guess what else salt does? It makes you THIRSTY. It makes you long for something. When you see someone who is "salty", do you long for what they have? To me, these people seem satisfied with their life. They possess true joy. They don't have to seek validation from the outside world. Other people in general are attracted to these people because they see something in them that they want to have as well. Did I just describe you? As Christians, that is what Jesus challenged us to do. We are supposed to preserve, freshen and sweeten the world with His word and to help heal His people with our deeds and actions. Most of the time I feel like Mrs. Dash...very flavorful, but not truly, genuinely salt. My goal is to surround myself with salty people so that they can season me and I can learn to season others. Jesus put us here to season the world with our presence, our words and our actions. As my thirst increases, I long to make others thirsty as well.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. ---Colossians 4:6

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Let's Get Stoned!

The name of this post might have you scratching your head, but stay with me. I'm going to tell you about a ritual that I complete EVERY morning. It's something I do even though I don't want to. Here's my confession...I am a SLAVE to the scale. I'm going for full transparency on this one. I have NO idea who is actually reading this blog, but here we go. Every morning, I get out of bed and go to my bathroom. The scale is sitting there, calling to me like a siren. I cannot resist. I HAVE to know. There are certain things I must do before I step on the scale. I have to empty my bladder, put my contacts in (I feel sure that my glasses weigh more) and take all of my clothing off including my hair elastic holding up my ponytail. To further add to the insanity I ALWAYS step on with the same foot AND make sure I exhale before stepping on (how much can air weigh??). Then I stand there anxiously awaiting those numbers that cause me to feel bad or good about myself, all the while not breathing!

I just re-read the preceding paragraph and I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I was telling someone about my issue with the scale the other day and they asked me what number did I think would make me happy. Hmm. I have a number in my mind that I think would make the Hallelujah chorus ring out, but I'm not sure. Can a number make me happy? I have some days that I think it can. In my line of work when a baby is born do you know the first thing anybody asks? "How much does he/she weigh?" This question usually is asked right when we take the baby to the warmer to dry it off and make sure he/she is breathing, etc. Some days I wish I had scales built into my palms. Sigh. Everybody wants to know the weight. They proudly tweet, facebook or text this info to the world. There are other numbers too. There is our height, our age, how long we've been married, working at a job, how much money we make, the cost of our car, house, vacation and the list could go on forever.

So by now you must be thinking, what role do stones play in this madness? Well, I was watching a show called "Supersized vs. Superskinny" that is produced in the UK. Two people (a big one and a tiny one) spend a week swapping diets and then go on a healthy eating plan for 12 weeks to see if they can change their eating habits and also.....their weight! At the end of the show, they weigh the two participants and announce their numbers to the world. Of course I was curious about how much weight they had lost/gained. The host announced their weight before and after and one of the contestants went from 7 stone to 7 stone 7! Yay! They were all excited that the skinny person had gained "half a stone"!!! I'm thinking...#1 What is a stone? and #2 How do I convert my weight to stones to make it sound better. By using my handy-dandy google app on my iphone, I quickly found out that a stone is equal to 14 pounds. Doesn't weighing 16 stone sound soooo much better than 224 pounds? This also tied in to my Bible study. Jennifer Rothschild talks about how bricks are man-made, but stones are God-made. She also says that we (all of us) were never designed to be brick-makers, but to be living stones. Eureka! He designed us to be labeled as "living stones" with the words "I AM". Look at the many "I AM" statements I have discovered in Him....I am gifted with power, love and self-control, chosen to be fruitful, capable, a new creation, His workmanship, God's treasure, dearly loved, and my personal favorite, God's delight. This is 180 degrees from my usual mantra of "fat, ugly, loser" that has gone through my mind. Jennifer also gave me this gem to ponder on..."Who I am and what I struggle with are not the same thing". I don't have to be defined by the numbers...I am choosing to be defined by the numbers.

I want to know who out there struggles with the same bondage to the scale. I would love to hear your stories. I would love for someone to suggest ways for me to avoid the daily scale ritual. I could put the scales up, but if I knew where they were I would go and get them. Just being honest. I don't want to be defined by my weight....definitely not defined that way by me. I don't know that I would be happy with any certain number. I would be happy to be healthy and achieve physical fitness to live a fulfilled life with my family. That goal cannot be measured with numbers. I wonder if there is a scale that shows your reading in "stone". It takes a while to lose a "stone". For now, I will pray to be content with 16 stone. I will strive to lose a few stone and also to trust in the living stones of God's promises to me.

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Thursday, August 18, 2011

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie....

I don't know how many of you have kids, but my youngest two love the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" book along with the other titles in the series. The book starts out with a boy (wait for it) giving a mouse a cookie. Well, inevitably, if you give him a cookie....he wants milk. This starts an avalanche of events where he asks for a straw, a napkin, and a mirror to look at his milk moustache. He then notices that he needs a haircut so he needs scissors, then he needs a pillow and blanket to take a nap and on and on and on... I've been thinking about this book as it relates to my "living a disciplined life" mindset. I have been eating healthier and making better choices, but I haven't deprived myself of anything. If I want french fries, I eat some. If I want a cupcake, I eat one. A couple of months ago, I read Lysa Terkeurst's book, Made to Crave. Lysa talks about eliminating some foods from her diet completely. She's not saying forever, just for a time. At first glance, I thought this idea was totally insane. Why, oh why would you want to give up sugar totally? Can't you eat it in moderation? Lysa then takes it a step further and gives her reason for doing this..."because my brokenness with food runs deep, my new healthy habits have to have time to run even deeper".

So there I this sentence several months after reading it for the first time. This time it hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought about the times over the past 2 months where I had fallen short of my eating boundaries. Believe me, there were more than a few. But I noticed a common theme. When I decided it was okay to eat chips...I wanted something a cookie...which made me want milk...which made me want ice cream. You get the point. Apparently, boundaries aren't meant to punish us, but to keep us safe. If my goal is to retrain my brain, maybe it IS best to eliminate all sweets for a time. It definitely worked for my Coke addiction (the soft drink, not the illegal drug). I cut them out completely for about 5 months and then one day I decided it was okay to have some at the movies with my husband. I can honestly say that I haven't had one since or even a craving for one. Maybe some people can eat all of their favorite comfort foods in moderation. Here's something I have learned....I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. There. I said it. When I cross the boundaries that I set up for myself, I don't just stick a toe in the water....I jump in with a cannonball and swim for the other shore. Tasting the "forbidden fruit" just makes me want more.

All of this being said, the one thing that is different this time is that I haven't given up. Normally at some point I would say, "Okay, I tried. I give up". Not this time. I'm in it for the long haul. I'm writing this blog partly for accountability. It's all about progress, not perfection. Cleaning out my car and keeping it that way, organizing my junk drawer, giving away older toys, making a meal plan and grocery list, eating carrots instead of chips...all of these are baby steps. My goal is to turn these baby steps into a full out run...all by relying on and giving the glory to Him.

"Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; its useless. Cultivate God-confidence. No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it." -----I Corinthians 10:12-13 The Message

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Voices in My Head

I have successfully completed my first session of Boot Camp with Cogi Athletics! Seven weeks of getting up at 5:30am to work out. Last year if you would have asked me if I would be going to exercise in front of people (other than the gym) I would have looked at you as if you had an extra eye in the middle of your forehead. For some reason, at the gym, I felt safe. #1-I am not going to work out at the gym as hard as I do at boot camp and #2-I know when to go so that there are not many people around. Guess what? Now boot camp is starting to feel safe. By that I mean that I feel comfortable with the people there and the trainers. I know that they are all rooting for me to become the best "me" I can be. Do I still feel awkward doing the exercises sometimes? Absolutely! This brings me to the point of this post, which is self-talk. I just started a Bible study with some friends called "Me, Myself and Lies" by Jennifer Rothschild. According to this study, we can talk "in our heads" at a rate of 150-300 words per minute. Wow. Just think about it for a minute. Most of the dialogue is neutral....What do I want to wear tomorrow? Did I forget to lock the door? But, some of it can been construed as constructive or destructive. Do any of you remember "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy" from Saturday Night Live? Mike Myers would stand in front of a mirror and say, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!" This is the picture that flashes in my mind when I think about this topic. But I think Jack Handy had an excellent point. An intelligent person once told me that self-talk, no matter how irrational, is always believed.

When I think about all of the things I have said to myself over the years, I am kind of embarrassed and ashamed. After all, God made me. He made me fearfully....and wonderfully. I'm not sure when the negative self-talk started, but probably grade school. I can remember telling myself that I was ugly....stupid....fat....not good enough. I pray every night that my children know that they are worthy and their earthly parents AND their heavenly Father. Now, I know that this may not prevent negative self-talk. After all, I know that my parents love me. I also have realized that my heavenly Father loves me...just as I am. Of course, He wants the best for me and for all of you! It must make Him sad to see and hear what His children say to themselves AND to each other.

Is my self-talk now perfect? Of course not. Trust me, I have moments, sometimes daily, when the negative voice in my head comes through loud and clear. But you know what? Now I know that the negative voice is a LIAR! Jennifer makes a reference to a "thought closet" where all of the things in our minds are like a closet space. I'm hoping that eventually I can get to the point where the destructive thoughts are so far gone from my "closet" that I can't recall them. She also says that the standard for our self-talk is what is acceptable to God. I don't know about you, but I cringe when my children say negative or hurtful things about themselves. We say things to ourselves that we would never in a billion years say to someone else. I'm replacing those former adjectives with words like...child of God, redeemed, saved, fruitful, valuable, a new creation, free, capable, secure and dearly loved. These are just a few of the truthful labels that you can find in His word. I am so looking forward to learning more about His "labels" and less about the world's "labels". I have learned through this part of my journey that cleaning the inside of the cup is just as important (or more important) than cleaning the outside. I'm good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it, Jesus loves me!

Listen to Psalm 19:14...."Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer".

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Letting Go is Hard to Do

This week has been pretty awesome! My sister, Melissa came to visit us...we haven't seen her in a year! She is in the Coast Guard and will be stationed in South Carolina for the next year. It's not next door, but it beats Bahrain! She is my go-to person when I need to complain about something or get something off of my chest, so this last year has been hard. My parents and nieces were also here for a visit and my husband told my nieces they could spend the night on Saturday night. Really, dear? I can barely get 3 kids ready on Sunday morning, much less 5 of them!! We have to leave our house at 8:30am to get there on time. Whatever, we gave in. Thankfully they all go to sleep easily because they are worn out from the day.
Somehow, we all manage to get ready and make it to church on time. I'm thinking it had something to do with the fact that I made them all shower at night (much to their protests). We filled up and entire pew! The kids each had $1 to put in the offering plate and were holding on to them. The time came to give the offering and each one put the dollar in the plate...except for my 5 year old, Ava. Her brother even tried to wrestle it from her to no avail. She was holding on to it with all of her might. When I asked her why she didn't give the dollar she really couldn't tell me, other than "I didn't want to". Okay. She promised me that she would give it to Sunday school and we went on with the service.
This afternoon I started thinking about why we want to hold onto things. Have you ever seen the show on TLC called Hoarders? This show is sometimes hard for me to watch. It boggles my mind that people will cry over throwing away rotten food or trash. If you ever want to feel better about the state of your house, this show is for you. But, it's not just physical stuff that we hold on to. We hold on to "stuff" in our minds and hearts that we need to be rid of to truly be free. This stuff can fester inside of us and cause us to be separated from God. Trust me, I've been there. We hang on to habits, attitudes and feelings that are detrimental to our spiritual growth because they are comfortable...because we have always done it this way...because it makes us feel good in the short term. Sometimes, like Ava, we can't even tell you why.
Just one example from my life is the way I eat and exercise. If you don't think God cares about our physical wellness, there are plenty of verses to back this up. Anything can become an addiction, even eating. For many years I have eaten pretty much what I wanted and how much I wanted. The only exercise I got was doing daily activities. This became habit. It was comfortable for me. Then one day, I sort of "woke up" and realized that God had a bigger plan for me. By leading a more disciplined life, I can impact myself and others in so many positive ways. Do I ever fail? Absolutely! I've skipped exercise to sleep and I've eaten cake, cookies, french fries, chips, ice cream (okay, you get the point). I've actually cried just like those people on Hoarders for having to give up something that I didn't need. Why did I do this? Because that's my comfort zone, it's who I am....STOP...who I WAS. Then I remember I turned that dollar over to Him back in March and I do not want it back. I don't have to do that stuff any's not me. I'm who HE says I am....the daughter of the most high God. I want to live my life like I know this to be 100% true. I want to be a light that stays on all of the time, not just a light that flickers and comes on sporadically. We can give up all of our "stuff". We don't have to haul around all of that baggage. We can give it up and not take it back...ever. He already knows everything about us. He knows our words even before we speak. We are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him, why would we want to walk around holding on to things that are junk? Listen to what the Bible says to do..."Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall." Psalm 55:22
I hear people say "Let go and let God" all of the time. Are you ready for Him to carry it instead of you?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Can You See Me Now?

Things have once again been busy in my life. I am now in my third week of Boot Camp. I am surprisingly enjoying myself! There is something about exercising that early in the morning when most of the world is still asleep. We also have a devotional to start us out and that helps me keep my focus where it needs to be. I have discovered muscles that I never knew existed. Did you know there are muscles in between your ribs? Other than breathing, I don't think I have ever used these before. The words "bring the pain" have a whole new meaning now. Seriously, COGI and Danny Copeland are an awesome way to get your mind, body and spirit in shape.

A while back, I did a Bible study that included pieces from the Old Testament. I am more of a New Testament kind of person, but I believe that just like everything else, we can learn from our pasts and apply it to the here and now. The writer focused on the story of Hagar from Genesis chapter 16. If you are not familiar with this story, here is the Cliff notes version. God promised Abraham and Sarah an heir. They did not trust in His plan and Sarah gave her servant Hagar to Abraham so that they might have a child after many years of infertility. Hagar became pregnant with a son who would be called Ishmael. Sarah, clouded with jealousy, started mistreating Hagar to the point that she ran away to escape. Abraham, of course, could not be bothered with this problem and offered no help. This is the part of the story I want to focus on. We find Hagar, alone and pregnant, and the angel of the Lord appears to her and tells her that God hears her cry of distress and sees what she is going through. The angel also tells her that God wants her to return to Sarah and submit to her. Was Sarah to blame for any of this? Of course. She felt inadequate and took this out on Hagar. What about Abraham? He went along with the plan, but when things went wrong, he refused to help resolve the situation.

Poor is easy for us to feel sorry for her. We have all felt wronged before. I can relate to her. People who were allied and were richer and more powerful than her were against her....even going so far as to bully and mistreat her. Nobody wanted to offer her help. There she was, alone and vulnerable, with no one willing to hear her or really SEE her. Guess what? She wasn't alone. God SAW her and HEARD her cries. I don't mean He just looked down from above and peered at her through the clouds....He saw into her soul, her innermost being and knew what she was going through. Hagar listened to God and went back to Sarah's household. She accepted God's promise of help and acted as she should. She learned that even though she was justified in her feelings, running away from problems does not solve them. After she made up her mind to follow God's plan, she gave Him a new name...El Roi or "the God who sees".

Going back to this story has helped me through so many times and situations. My heavenly Father loves me. He forgives me. He SEES me. Isn't that what we feel like is missing from our lives sometimes? People go about their daily routine and we feel unheard and unseen. Nobody notices that we are struggling, or if they do notice, they act like they don't care. I have definitely been there. More often than I would like to admit I have thrown myself a pity party. After studying this story, however, I began to view my struggles in a different light. Yes....I feel better when people support me and genuinely know me and my struggles. Yes....I feel better when people care for me physically and mentally. connections with people are very important to me and I love being around all types of people. But I wasn't turning my problems over to the One who made me and who knows the words I am going to say even before I speak them. Reading and studying His word and His promises has let me know that He really does see ME. The "God who sees" created me for a unique and special purpose and knows my struggles. Sometimes I have to turn to Him minute by minute to make it through.

I have had the story of Hagar on my mind for quite some time now. Last night, I attended a study done by Alabaster Jar Ministries called "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made". The story of Hagar came up once again. Coincidence? I don't believe in those anymore. What I DO believe is that God "sees" me and hears my cries. The Bible verse that I believe sums up this story is found in the New Testament in Romans.
"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them." Romans 8:28

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Where Does My Help Come From?

I'm back! These past few weeks have been very busy for our family. We had graduation from elementary school, graduation from Pre-K, dance recital with all of it's practices and performances and now VBS this week. Throw in the fact that my husband was gone one week to a conference and mix it up with work, laundry, cleaning and all of the other daily activities and you have the perfect recipe for chaos! I haven't been sticking to my diet and exercise routine as much as I should have. I haven't gained any weight back; I just haven't lost any more. Have you ever heard anybody say, "If I had her/his willpower, I skinny, stay on my diet, stay focused, etc?" Growing up, I would often think that I just didn't have any willpower. Food was (and sometimes still is) my comfort and my friend, if only for a brief moment. I could stick to a diet for a while, but I would always give in to whatever the temptation might be. After I had "cheated" on my diet, I would usually rationalize that I could now eat freely, because the damage was done. Have any of you ever felt like this, or is it just me? I'm getting ready to take on COGI bootcamp starting June 20th at 5:30 a.m. I'm apprehensive about being in front of people and not being able to do the workout, looking stupid, failing, etc. But the "new" me is stepping out in faith and ready for action. Want to know where I get my help from?

Willpower is defined in the dictionary as the strength of will to carry out one's decisions, wishes or plans. Don't get me wrong, using this definition for willpower has carried me through a lot of hard times and situations. But in the end, I always felt lacking. There was a conviction there, but I was only accountable to me and I was only too willing to let myself off of the hook numerous times. Been there, done that. It has been proven time and again that having a partner or someone to share the journey with you increases your chances of success. Someone else holding you accountable bolsters the strength of your will. The Bible tells us this in Ecclesiastes 4:10: "Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other in need".

Recently, I have totally changed the way I look at willpower. My new and much improved definition is this...the willingness to accept God's power for my life. I read this definition in a book by John Baker, one of the founders of Celebrate Recovery. Immediately something inside of me clicked. It was as if a light bulb literally went off in my head. Who's power is better? Mine or His? Who's will for my life is always best? HIS! He is willing to guide me through anything. All I have to do is turn it over to Him and have a willingness to do what He says is best for me. While my willpower sometimes wanes, His never grows weak. He is the ultimate accountability partner. I used to think that praying about overeating was silly and a waste of time. But, guess what? Jesus wants an intimate relationship with you and me! He wants to know what we struggle with and think about on a daily basis. He wants to know each of our innermost desires and needs. Look at what He says in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest". This means we do not have to "carry the load" on our own. Jesus is waiting....are you willing?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bring the Rain

"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy." --James 1:2

I don't know about you, but when I have problems, the first thing I want to do is cry...or eat...or throw a pity party where everyone's invited! This past week and weekend was filled with troubles, some small and some big. One problem that occurred was that my cell phone had to be euthanized. The "e" and the "2" key quit working out of nowhere. This made for some interesting text messages. I apologize to the few who were the recipients of said messages. I loathe spelling and grammatical errors, so it was hard for me to function like this. This probably comes from being raised by an English teacher. My password for my voicemail has a "2" in it, so I couldn't check my voice messages either. I have had my share of troubles with cell phones, some of them my fault. I have dropped one in a toilet, a fountain in Vegas, a glass of water, and down into a storm drain in Tallahassee. I was able to revive ALL of the above phones and carry on, but my purple blackberry could not be fixed! You don't think that this problem is that bad? Keep reading.
Saturday comes, and I am at work towards the end of my 12 hour shift when I get a call from my husband. His first statement is, "We don't have any water." Okay...what happened? Apparently my darling son and one of his friends were playing with the water faucet outside and somehow managed to break a pipe under the house which resulted in gushing water for about 2 hours until they decided to confess. Now, I wasn't home at this point, but I feel certain that my husband was totally robbed of his happiness in this moment. I finished my shift, came home, and my husband and father in law were working to fix the problem. About an hour later, they were done. Problem fixed. Water was turned back on. Relief. The kids were all in bed and that's where I went as well. My husband was up for a while longer on the computer and checked on the kids before he came to bed. That is when he discovered that "someone" had turned on a bathroom faucet when the water was turned off, left it on at full blast and closed the drain. Three hours after the water was turned back on, it had become a flood all over the bathroom and into both of the girl's bedrooms. Fabulous. Where is Noah with his ark when you need him? This is the point that I lost MY happiness. But what could we do? We threw down some towels and went to bed. Now it is Tuesday and the carpet has been partially ripped out of both bedrooms, furniture moved, baseboards off, and huge fans and dehumidifiers everywhere. If you like white noise, my house is the place to be.

So, the question becomes, what is the difference between joy and happiness? Happiness is based on our circumstances, on what happens in everyday life. I'm happy when my children behave, when I get a compliment, when my house is clean, when I watch American Idol...etc. On the flip side, I am NOT happy when the opposite occurs. Think about it this way...being happy or sad depends on what happens to us. On the other hand, true Christian joy is something that stays with you all of the time. It is the feeling that all is well despite your circumstances. Rejoicing in the fact that we are saved, that Christ died for US is a feeling that doesn't change when bad things happen. This doesn't mean that true Christians are always smiling and never sad. We are all human and made of flesh. Having the emotion of sadness doesn't overrule the true joy that is in my heart. I didn't come to this realization overnight. I spent many years basing my joy and my happiness on the circumstances and the people surrounding me. The "old me" went from happy to sad probably 20 times a day. I wasn't holding on to my true joy. I'm not saying it isn't hard when you feel like life is beating you down. That's why we have the Bible, where we can read God's truths and not listen to Satan's lies about ourselves. I read somewhere that the closer you get to God and the more you desire to do His will, the higher up you go on the devil's attack list.

James doesn't stop there, though. In verses 3-4 he says "For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." Now, I wouldn't say this past week tested my faith, but it definitely tested my patience! James is making an important point here. Another word for endurance is perseverence. When we learn to persevere, we can accomplish great things. Going through hard times and coming out joyful on the other side by relying on God causes us to grow in Him. When our endurance is fully developed, we will be perfect and complete! So trust in Him and let it grow...

And I know there'll be days, when this life brings me pain. But if that's what it takes to praise You, Jesus bring the rain...
--Mercy Me

Sunday, May 8, 2011

You Gotta Have Faith

It's Mother's Day! The one day a year we can relax, kick back and enjoy ourselves...right? For the most part, that was true for me. I got to go to church, go see my mom in Ocilla and eat lunch there, take a nap and then come back to reality and get everything ready for Monday. I definitely consider myself to be highly blessed. In church this morning, my very intelligent and good-looking pastor asked two important questions. (Disclaimer: said pastor asked for favorable adjectives the next time I mentioned him.) The first one was "What part did your mom play in your salvation?" I grew up in a Christian home with parents that are still married today. My mom plays the piano in the church and my dad leads the singing and serves as a deacon. I also had my aunts, my mom's sisters, who lived a block up the road and were very active church-goers as well. These people were in the church LITERALLY every time the door was opened. I mean, we actually had a key to the church! My sisters and I used to devise ways to get out of going to church on Sunday nights. The plan usually involved one of us faking being sick and the others staying home along with the afflicted one. When all else failed, we would just beg and plead. These ploys usually did not work. I can remember sitting with my Aunt Jerrie because she would give us Aspergum to chew (oh the horror!) or Vitamin C tablets that tasted like orange candy....hmm, maybe that's why the 3 of us never did get "really" sick. My Aunt Ment would rub or scratch our backs for us during church. Now, if we sat with our parents, our mom's favorite thing to do to get us to stop whispering during the sermon was to pinch us REALLY hard on the thigh. Now, in my day, if this happened, you had to sit there and endure the pain. Plus, it showed her that it really didn't hurt (right). I tried this technique once during a church service on my then 5 year old son. He whispered, I pinched, and...he literally yelled, "Why did you just pinch me, mama? That really hurt!" I. Was. Mortified. Needless to say, I no longer use that technique on my own children.
The fact that my mom and aunts went to church was a good thing, but more importantly, these women walked out their faith and love for Jesus and His teachings in their everyday lives. They were kind to everyone, always willing to help people who needed it, gave to the church first and they prayed about everything. They were some Titus 2 women. Don't get me wrong, they weren't perfect and didn't claim to be. They loved Jesus and everyone around them knew it.
My mom's mother, who I called Mimi, was 70 years old when I was born. She "kept" us when my mom went back to work and I loved her dearly. She was what I like to call a "fruit-bearer". She radiated love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. She had a quiet strength and people were drawn to her because of this. She passed away when I was 21. I sure wish my children could have known her.
The second question my pastor asked was "What are you doing to spread her faith in the world?" Gulp. Breathe in, breathe out. This is a BIG responsibility. I couldn't even master the "pinch on the thigh move"!! However, I know that I am a daughter of the most high God, and I am raising my children to know that God loves them no matter what. Once you are His child, there is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more or any less. They know that I am not perfect, just like they are not perfect. I try to teach them to love God with their hearts, minds and souls, to be "fruit-bearers" and to love their neighbors as they love themselves. I don't just talk about it, though. I try to walk it out in front of them. They sometimes see me stumble or fall down, but they don't ever see me stay there. They might see me confessing my sins or asking for forgiveness, but they won't see me giving up. I am forever telling them that the only reason you "can't" achieve a goal is because you quit trying.
By walking out my faith, love and other fruits of the Spirit, I don't just want to show His life-changing love to my children, but to the whole world! I pray each morning that God will show me who HE wants me to love that day. Sometimes it isn't who I thought it was going to be or who I wanted it to be, but I am learning to submit to His plans for me and not my plans for me. I try to spread a little bit of my mama's faith every day. I hope that my children will do the same.

Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

That's What Friends Are For!

Tonight I have friends on my mind. I can honestly say I feel like I have some of the best friends around. I know without a shadow of a doubt, that anytime I need anything, I can call on them and they will be there. Each friend brings something different to the table. Depending on my current mood and situation, I know just who to call to get what I need. As I continue on my journey to lead a disciplined life, I have several accountability partners that I rely on to keep me focused and help me through the darker and more trying times. One of them, we will call her Atilla, sends me texts to remind me to exercise or to tell me not to forget to exercise...ouch! I text her back with reports and also with a weekly weight loss report. For 5 weeks, I steadily lost weight and proudly reported my stats to her and received my praise in return. Then week 6 hit and I stepped on the scale...I had lost a whopping 0.5 lbs. Hmm....what in the world?? Week 7 arrived and guess what?? I lost a mind blowing 0.2 lbs!! It was like the express train to fitness, wellness and discipline jumped the rails and fell on its side. Atilla never asks me for the weight report, I voluntarily give it to her. So, I picked myself up and sent out the text. Guess what? I did not get any babying from Atilla! She asked if I was exercising to my fullest potential and if I was staying on my eating plan! Confession time. Gulp. Deep breath. I had been skipping exercise more and more AND had been thinking it was ok for me to eat more. Slipping back into my "old" way of thinking. But Atilla stopped me....she was JUST what I needed at that very moment! I couldn't justify what had happened because she held me accountable and didn't say it was ok. Thank you, Atilla. I love you!
Now, fast forward three days later. My mind is back on track and I feel strong again. I am talking to my friend we will call Mama T, who is also on a plan to be healthier. We are talking about how things are going and she asks me how much weight I have lost. I tell her the total and then say, "But I only lost half a pound last week". Now, I already know what she is going to say to me. However, I am now ready and prepared to hear it. "Kelly, that's still good! You still lost weight!" That's right. I did lose weight....even if it was just a tad. I don't have to beat myself up about it. I am ok. This is a lifetime journey, not a quick fix or a goal to lose weight for an event. I'm eating better, moving more, and feeling stronger physically and more importantly mentally and spiritually. Thank you, Mama T. I love you too!
On Easter, my pastor preached a sermon titled "A Familiar Voice". He made a point that when we are lost or in the dark and scared or alone, it is very comforting to hear a voice of someone that we know and love. Jesus puts people in our lives that we need to hear and he puts them just at the right time. But what about listening to His voice? Does He speak to you? In my relationship with God, I probably did 99% of the talking for the first 34 years. Wow. He must have been wondering when exactly was I going to shut up and listen?!? He was a faithful listener and He answered many of my prayers. When I finally did start to "be still and know that He is God", He showed up in my life like never before. He will be faithful to speak into your life just like He is faithful to listen. Now my quiet time with Him is one of my favorite parts of my day. It's my prayer that all of my friends and family will have the opportunity to listen to His direction as well. It's life changing. I know. Listen to John 10:27-28 "My sheep listen to my voice: I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand."

It is no secret that I love the Christian group Third Day. They have a song out now called "The Sound of Your Voice". Here are the lyrics...
I ran away from your love, but you waited for me, yes, you waited for me. And then I heard your song, singing over me, singing over me. Now that I hear you, Lord I want to know you more, I want to know you more. Sing your song to me, oh, there’s no greater thing, than to listen to the sound of your voice. When I hear your song, I want to sing along, and listen to the sound of your voice, the sound of your voice. Lord, I am calling your name, and I’m waiting for you, yes, I’m waiting for you. So won’t you show me your way, and I will follow you, yes, I will follow you. Singing over me, bringing peace and mercy, with a song that never ends. Singing over me, marvelous and holy Lord, I want to hear your song again.

I am so very thankful that He waited for me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dear Lent...I'm Going to Miss You!

Have you ever noticed how the words fast and feast are very closely related? Just add or subtract one simple letter and you get two words that are polar opposites. When I think about fasting, I think about limiting myself from something, taking away or depriving myself. Feasting, on the other hand, brings up thoughts of enjoying myself, filling up on things that bring me pleasure, or having as much of something as I can possibly imagine. My mind has been on these two words this week as Easter approaches this Sunday. As I have said before, I gave up all soft drinks for Lent, including my beloved Coke. Lent will officially come to a close on Sunday and a time of feasting will begin as Christians celebrate the risen King. I can't believe I am about to say this...but I think I'm going to miss Lent.
I did not grow up observing Lent. I grew up in the Primitive Baptist faith, and like most Baptists, never really heard about or paid much attention to the Lenten season. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you are better or more holy as a Christian if you DO observe Lent, I'm just explaining why I didn't know about it and why I really like it now. I learned about Lent when I started attending my present church, which is Methodist. For the last few years, I toyed around with the idea of fasting and basically gave up something that wasn't hard to give up or either cheated and didn't make it past the first week. Then I really started digging deeper into what fasting is all about and this is what I have discovered. It is a way to truly humble ourselves before Him and confess our total inadequacy. It helps us strip off all of our pretenses and empty ourselves of pride. It has caused me to take a personal spiritual inventory and to start cleaning out things which hinder my relationship with God. This is where some people will think, "You want me to believe that you gave up Coke and learned all of this??" I'm saying that for me, giving up Coke was hard enough that I had to stop and pray...a lot. Instead of turning to that cold, sweet, syrupy goodness and instant gratification, I turned to Him and a lasting feeling of love, peace and contentment. It wasn't easy. There were times I wanted to cry because I wanted a Coke so badly. (Don't judge!) I began to notice that I had to rely more on Him to get me through the hard days and feelings and in doing so started to feel closer to Him. Who doesn't like feeling close to the One who loves you unconditionally and will never forsake you?
Basically, through small (or not so small) sacrifices and giving up of self we open up ourselves before God and allow ourselves to respond anew to His presence in our daily lives. So, what about the feasting and celebrating we do as Christians? I think that feasting and fasting are not mutually exclusive ideas. Stay with me. Feasting can come in many different forms, just like fasting. When I wake up every morning, I feast upon all of the blessings He has given me and the gift of a new day! I feast by walking outside, going to the beach, riding in my car with the windows down, hugging my kids, going to a movie or a concert or reading a favorite book. Fasting to grow closer to Him can be through giving up a favorite food or drink like I did or by giving up tv, the computer, facebook or anything or anyone else that puts a drain on your time or energy and takes your focus off of what is truly important in this life.
I think I'm going to keep going. I'm not saying I'm never going to drink a Coke again, but it has felt really refreshing to my soul to have a more prayerful attitude these past 40 days. I don't want this feeling to end. What I thought was going to be a period of deprivation and negativity turned into a feast on God's word and His promises to me. I know I usually sum up with a Bible verse that ties into what I have been blogging about, but I want to end with this scripture from Isaiah 53:5-6 "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our sins; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." He is risen in me. Amen.

Sunday, April 10, 2011's not just a river in Egypt

Well, it's been one month and 4 days with no coke products now, not that I'm counting. It actually hasn't been as bad as I thought it was going to be. Don't get me wrong, I have wanted to break down and drink one several times, but I didn't. I am a person who normally loves doing what I want and getting what I want. I love instant gratification! Who doesn't? Wouldn't it be awesome if I decided I wanted to run a marathon today and then just went out and ran one tomorrow? Just skip over all of that gruelling time-consuming training and the sacrifices that go with it. Instant gratification definitely has its payoffs. For me, when I am trying my hardest to eat better and eat less, it rears its ugly head in the form of something sweet and full of carbs. This happens normally when I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed by someone or something and I think that eating said item will #1. Make me feel better and #2. Show that I can do what I want. Lets examine #1...I could go on for hours about how awesome a fresh, hot krispy kreme doughnut tastes when you put it in your mouth. These things are like kryptonite for me. They are so evil that I actually avoid driving past the store when I am in Tallahassee! I know my limitations, people. I have a friend who went INSIDE the store, ordered ONE doughnut, ate it and walked out. This boggles my mind! Why bother? Maybe one day, I too can have this super human power over the almighty doughnut! It's not just doughnuts, though. I can feel better after brownies, cakes, pie, Little Debbies, cookies, etc....temporarily. The key here is temporary - the problem is still there, the stressor hasn't left, and I now feel worse. Now, #2...who am I showing that I can do what I want? I know I can. I'm only hurting myself. My health and fitness are suffering, not anyone else's. This issue stems from me wanting to feel like I am in control of something in my life. It's hard to learn how to "wait for it" when I have lived in a fast food society for so long! Do I want fries with that? Yes! Do I want to super size it? Yes! Now I am learning to deny tell myself fast from some of these things of the world that I love. Denial is painful at first. I have to keep telling myself that it has only been 5 weeks. I am redefining what gives me pleasure. I have to admit, it does give me pleasure to step on the scale and see the numbers getting smaller. It gives me pleasure to be able to fit into clothing that has been hanging in my closet for some time now. I am able to play longer and harder with my kids and I can even jump on the trampoline! I am even starting to like exercise a tiny bit. (very tiny) The Bible verse that jumps out at me is Luke 9:23 "Then he said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Jesus knew that we would have to deny self to live how He want us to live. It isn't something that we can do once and be done with. Jesus spells it out for us...we have to do it daily. Every day. We have to take up our cross and follow Him. Trust me, some days I'd rather hide under the covers. But His mercies are new every morning...and the payoff is so worth it!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kids Say The Darndest Things!!

Everyone who has children knows that they can be hilarious. They can say the funniest things and make you laugh out loud. However, sometimes their biting wit can unfortunately be directed at you. My youngest child, AC, has been on a roll lately when it comes to helping me out with the "compliments". Did you pick up on the sarcasm? The first incident occurred after a trip to Walgreens. I went to buy some new lipstick, nothing big or special. However, I was feeling good about my purchase and thought that the color looked pretty darn good on me! I turned around after applying said color and asked AC what she thought about my lipstick. She looked right at me and said, "I can't tell that you are wearing any lipstick." Ok. Hmm. Not the response I was looking for. Shot down by a 5 year old. The second incident was at Wal-Mart. This one was more touchy because I was trying on bathing suits. I think I had about 10 different ones to try on in the dressing room. AC patiently waited as I tried on each one and refrained from making any comments about my appearance. When I finally narrowed it down to two choices, of course I HAD to ask my shopping partner her opinion. She bit her lip, furrowed her brow and pensively studied me for a few seconds. Then she said, "Well it doesn't look too good. But I think it is the white socks you have on." At this point I was pretty delirious from all of the trying on and started laughing hysterically. I was sweating from the exertion of pulling lycra on and off repeatedly and I personally think they heat the changing rooms on purpose. White socks. This was what was causing the bathing suit to be a fashion don't. Nevermind the cellulite or the stretch marks, people, the white socks are causing that to fade into the background!! Let's just end this story with the fact that I left Wal-Mart empty handed. One of my good friends took her 5 year old dress shopping recently and had a similar experience. She asked her daughter what she thought of the dress she had selected and she said, "You can't wear that dress. That is a skinny dress and you need a fat dress". She also left the store without making a purchase. While my friend's daughter was definitely more blunt about her opinion than my daughter, it had the same effect on both of us. It hurt our feelings. Even though I laughed at AC's white sock comment, I knew she was purposely trying to think of a nice way to tell me that I did not look very good in that bathing suit. Heck, I already knew that! I have definitely struggled with my self esteem over the years. I have tried to look or act a certain way to fit in with certain crowds of people at school, at work and out in the community. I have tried to change myself a thousand times for all of the wrong reasons. The change was never permanent, though. I never felt truly convicted in whatever change I was trying to make. I wasn't doing it for the right reasons. I wasn't doing it for ME. I wasn't doing it to become the person that HE created me to be. Ephesians 2:10 says "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." We are not just any painting in the museum...we are each a masterpiece! I see so many young (and older) women struggling with this same issue today and hope that it doesn't take them as long as it took me to figure out that they are worthy and valued in their Heavenly Father's eyes. Each one of us is a daughter of the most high King. AC tells me that we are all princesses and God is the King. I think she is right. I'm claiming my title, what about you?