Friday, October 17, 2008

Perpetual Factory of Idols

I am being truly challenged reading Worldliness, a new book edited by C.J. Mahaney. Mahaney opens in the first chapter discussing 1 John 2:15, which states, "Do not love the world or the things in the world." Not much wiggle room there. We are called to reject the things of this world. This verse is not saying that we should not love people, but rather the world system that opposes everything about God. Mahaney states that worldliness is "loving the values and pursuits that stand opposed to God . . . to gratify and exalt oneself to the exclusion of God."

Many of us might say that we do not love the world, but it is so easy to slowly edge toward the world. The church itself is beginning to not be so distinct in its values and priorities. I am reminding of the song by Casting Crowns called "Slow Fade." The words talk about the move away from God is a slow fade, not usually a dramatic rejection. Give a little here, give a little there, and suddenly we are somewhere we did not intend to be.

Mahaney gives the example of Demas in 2 Timothy. Demas was a dedicated friend and traveling companion to Paul. He saw the work of the Lord first hand. Yet, in 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul writes, "Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me." This is a tragic verse, and sobering. We are not above "fading" due to the influence of this world.

How do we combat worldliness? Mahaney points out that the battle is within. The desires of our hearts are not always bad, but are deadly when we "must" have them. He notes that John Calvin says our hearts are a perpetual factory of idols. Ouch! This is so true. Left to our own devices, we tend to create idols, things that compete with God's true place in our hearts.

What captivates us? Are we preoccupied with the temporary and superficial things of this world? Do we have "living affections to dying things" (John Owen)?

I desperately do not want to waste my life on the temporary. I do not want my heart to be a "perpetual factory of idols." I want to live in light of eternity. Mahaney points out that the only antidote to worldliness is the cross of Christ. As we seek Christ with abandon, he notes that "the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." Alleluia!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wielding a Two-Edged Sword

If you are like me, there come days where I feel so helpless. So drained from the challenges. So unequipped to deal with what I face. It is a very vulnerable feeling.

At those times, I can reflect on the lack of preparation on my part to plug into my power source--to seek wisdom and discernment from the One who gives it freely. Our sovereign, holy Lord has given us to power to be more than conquerors through Jesus Christ. We do not have to feel helpless and unequipped. We just have to find our strength in Him. God has given us two specific "weapons" to use each day as we face attacks and challenges--the ministry of the Holy Spirit and His inspired word.

Hebrews 4:12 states, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

How wonderful that His word is living and active! It is an effective weapon to fight "the schemes of the evil one."

II Timothy 3:16-17 states, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

We don't have to feel unequipped and vulnerable to our challenges. Sure, there are tought times we will go through, pain we will experience. But we have the tools to face them and overcome through His power in us!

The key, though, in wielding a two-edged sword is training. "Wielding" is described as "using with skill or ease, or using effectively." To wield His word, we must be familar with it. We must "train" daily to use it effectively.

God has convicted my heart in this area. It is an area that requires surrender and discipline, or the distractions of the world take over. I have found two books that have been encouraging to me in the area of developing and prioritizing a daily Bible study and prayer time.

  • A Place of Quiet Rest by Nancy Leigh DeMoss - The BEST book I have read on developing a daily devotional life from an outstanding Bible teacher. It is scripturally based and extremely practical!
  • Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney - This thin book can be read at one sitting and provides wonderful advice on best using your time, including prioritizing to include time with the Lord every day.

My husband and I have recently committed to getting up together at 5am to have time to spend in Bible study and prayer. We do this separately, but it is motivating and encouraging to do the getting up together! Early mornings are harder for me, but I am finding this time to be precious and I feel so much more equipped entering my day. Rather than waiting until later in the day, I "wield the sword" first thing! I will be striving to grow stronger and more effective in using His word.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Beginning Again

Autumn. This is absolutely my favorite time of year. In conventional thought, spring represents new beginnings and rebirth, but for me, autumn brings a wonderful sense of anticipation. In many ways, I think I operate on the school year calendar-August is a time of beginnings. There is something refreshing about a clean slate, a new school year, watching the old fall away seen symbolically in the splendid colors of the fall leaves.

Spiritually, I am so thankful for new beginnings. For grace, forgiveness, and a chance to cast off the old and be transformed by the renewing of our minds and hearts. What an amazing and sovereign God we serve! His love is incomprehensible!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Lucky 13

This is one of my favorite pictures of "my guys"--my husband and son. My husband and I celebrated our 13th Wedding Anniversary yesterday! It is been a joy and blessing to have this man life. We have been through wonderful times and times of challenge and struggle, but through it all the Lord has blessed and refined us. I believe that it is only in the past few years that I have come to understand more clearly God's purpose and design for marriage. It is for His glory--we just get to be used and blessed through it.

I can look back and see God's sovereignty in bringing us together. We serve an amazing God! Today, to celebrate the "Lucky 13th," I wanted to list 13 things about my wonderful partner. There are so many more though! Thanks for indulging me:)

1. He loves the Lord and seeks to put Him first in everything. He did this from the moment we started dating 17 years ago.

2. He is a gentleman. He was trained with "old school" manners, which is severely lacking these days in our society.

3. He is my best friend. We talk about everything.

4. He is passionate about missions. He was saved on a mission trip in college before we met that he went on "just for the fun" of a new experience. Since then, he has led trips to Honduras, Brazil, inner-city Memphis, Nicaragua, and Kenya.

5. His willingness to submit to the Lord's leading. When we met, he was a Biology major planning on going to dental school. During his senior year, the Lord called him to seminary. Many people thought he was crazy. We were obedient and he is now a minister and knows he is where the Lord wants him.

6. His commitment to me and our family.

7. He is a great dad and really works at it, takes the responsibility seriously. He adores our kids and spends lots of time with them. They know their dad loves them!

8. He cooks and bakes--homemade bread (not with a machine) and soups are his specialty.

9. He is very "handy." We are remodeling a house we bought, and he is doing virtually everything. He has a knack for it, and I love how he just learns as he goes with new projects.

10. I LOVE his laugh. During movies, I get more tickled at him laughing than at the joke.
11. He is 6'5". For someone who is 5'10", this is great--I can wear heels!

12. I trust him completely.

13. His brown eyes.
Happy Anniversary Sweetheart! I am still head over heels in love!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Do Hard Things

I am a fan of The Rebelution website and its founders Alex & Brett Harris, two 19 year-olds purposing to make a difference and challenge teenagers to rebel against low expectations and serve the Lord in big ways. So I was so excited to see their new book, "Do Hard Things," in Wal-Mart last Friday--yes, Walmart! I snatched it up and plowed through it in a couple of days. I believe that this is a must-read for every teen, tween, parents of teens & tweens, future parents of teens & tweens, or just anybody that works with youth. For that matter, I think that anyone would be challenged by the passion and boldness of this book!

As parents of a 9 year-old son and 6 year-old daughter, my husband desperately seek to fill our children with the Truth and challenge them to know and serve Him intimately and passionately. I never want to fall into having low expectations on how God might use their lives, the gifts and abilities He has given them. In working with college students for over 12 years, I see also in them such a desire to do something meaningful. If that isn't cultivated, stagnation sets in. At 34, I feel that in my own life. We want our lives to be meaningful and purposeful in light of eternity!

This book challenges teens, in particular, to "do hard things"--not to be satisfied with the low expectations that our culture places on them. It gives inspiring examples of past and present-day teens who are choosing hard things--and accomplishing extraordinary things!

They describe 5 kinds of hard things:

  1. Things that take you outside your comfort zone--taking risks to grow

  2. Things that go beyond what's expected or required--pursuing excellence

  3. Things that are too big to accomplish alone--dreaming and daring big

  4. Things that don't earn an immediate payoff--being faithful and choosing integrity

  5. Things that go against the cultural norm--taking a stand for what it right

Then they challenge teens to look critically at their own lives and how they can do these hard things in their own lives.

Receiving praise from people like C.J. Mahaney, Albert Mohler, Randy Alcorn, and Mark Dever, "Do Hard Things" is really a fantastic book that I would recommend to all teens and those who love and work with them. As Christians, may we have higher expectations for teens and challenge them to "do hard things." Ultimately, may we model doing hard things for them! We serve an amazing and sovereign God who limitless in how He can work through willing servants to further His kingdom!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Your Legacy

I am enjoying Faithful Women & Their Extraordinary God by Noel Piper. It is a collection of short biographies of Christian women. The section on Sarah Edwards, wife of pastor Jonathan Edwards, was powerful and challenging. She was a wife/mother/home educator who glorified God through her home.

She left behind a legacy through her 11 children when she died in 1758 that is quite incredible. In 1900, A. E. Winship researched and wrote of the outstanding contributions made by the descendants of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards. Listed below is some of what he found. Note that this study was done in 1900--I am sure there have been further contributions since that time!

  • 13 college presidents
  • 65 professors
  • 100 lawyers and dean of a law school
  • 30 judges
  • 66 physicians and a dean of a medical school
  • 80 holders of public office ( including 3 US Senators, 3 state governors, and a vice president of the US)
  • entered ministry "in platoons"
  • sent 100 missionaries overseas

Amazing right? It truly is amazing what God can do through "ordinary" women when they choose to faithfully submit to their husbands and bring their children up "in the admonition of the Lord." I was so challenged in reading her story. All mothers have such an opportunity and responsibility to pour the love and knowledge of Christ into their children and prepare them to serve God in mighty ways.

What will my legacy be as a mother? What will yours be? Will our legacy be one that brings honor and glory to our Savior? Our legacy is made in those small, everyday moments as we reflect Christ to those around us!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Keeping It Real

You know her. You know the perfect gal who has it all together--she is the model wife and mother, intelligent & wise, witty & fun. She can whip up a wonderful home-cooked meal in her pristinely kept home and host guests at the drop of a hat. She does all of this while maintaining her toned figure and manicured nails. You know her--a crazy figment of our very overactive and distorted imaginations!

The perfect woman. What does this mean? Unfortunately, I believe that we have taken the Proverbs 31 woman and morphed her into something that is far from the goal to be striving for. The focus has become much more on being "perfect," than bringing glory to God and honoring Him.

In her new book co-written with Stacey MacDonald (Passionate Housewives Desperate for God), Jennie Chancey writes about he bondage of perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the false idea that a righteous man never falls- or when he does, he certainly doesn't admit it, lest he discourage everyone who is watching him run!

Where do we get this crazy idea? We are sinners, saved only by the grace of God. We are going to fall. We are not going to be perfect. While this realization is not an excuse to "embrace our inner slob," as Chancey states, we must not try to put on the perfect persona. We must be real and authentic is our pursuit of holiness, submitting humbly to the process of sanctification--which is sometimes a bumpy and painful process as He refines us.

Jennie also writes:

At its heart, perfectionism is sinful pride. We want others to think well of us, to admire us, and to desire to follow our example.

Too many times, we can rationalize all the efforts we put forth, saying we are seeking to honor Him. I know I must aways make sure my motives are focused on Him and not on what I may get out of it. I think it can be so tempting to present ourselves as "having it all together." This can be particularly easy on our blogs!

As we seek to encourage one another in our spiritual walks, may we remember that "His strength is made perfect in weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). He uses us to minister to others when our motives are pure and we are real with others. No one likes a "fake" person.

Jennie writes:

You know how we can encourage each other best? It's not by playing the role of Have-It All Hannah or Do-It All Doris. It's by loving others enough to meet them where they are while being what we are: fellow sinners in need.

Instead of worrying what others think about us, we need to care about what God thinks of us, measuring ourselves by the unchanging standard of God's word rather than comparing ourselves to others. Instead of looking to modern-day "experts" for answers, we need to return to the "old paths" of Scripture, where there is "rest for our souls" (Jeremiah 6:16). Instead of seeking to make a name for ourselves or be "important," we need to thankfully embrace the fact that God works through humble people, small steps, and what the world considers insignificant and often thankless work.

So as you go through your day, be real. While passionately pursuing Christ and holiness, don't fall into Satan's trap of pursuing perfectionism. Allow God to redeem our failures and weaknesses for His Glory. Submit your will and pride to Him--He can use you to minister and encourage others.

So many of you out there have ministered to me with your struggles and "realness." Let's keep it real!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Do the Next Thing

I don't know about you guys, but I like to be in control and know what is coming next. I love my planner and the comfort of knowing what is ahead. I have had to grow in the areas of submission and trust. The Lord has stretched me through unexpected trials and challenges.

I have always said that I wish I had a huge spotlight showing me what is down the road in my journey, but have learned to accept that most of the time God gives me a small flashlight--only shining light on the next step on my path. I must submit my desire to know what is ahead and trust and obey for that one step forward.

A wonderful poem quoted often by Elisabeth Elliot captures this:

Do the Next Thing

At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven that,
as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, "do the next thing."

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,
leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons, do the next thing.
So, dear friend, as you face each day, trust that He is Sovereign and in control. He is Creator of all and knows each step of the path intimately--He fashioned it! Concentrate on Him. Seek passionate to follow closely after Him. Don't worry at what the journey will bring, just do the next thing. Do not be overwhelmed at the tasks ahead, do the one directly in front of you.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Are You Real?

I have just finished reading Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World by Jill Rigby, and would definitely recommend it! It is an easy read with lots of practical information.

As the mother of a "tween" boy, one section really hit me in particular over the weekend. The author present two critical questions for parents to answer in each stage of their child's development. For tweens, these were "do you really love me?" and "are you real?"

Are you real? Most of us would say, of course, what a silly question. We think that we are "past" getting caught up in the opinions of others that characterizes adolescence, but are we? Don't we worry about having the "perfect house" to entertain or be known as a great cook. We can get caught up, even within the church, with trying being something we are not to gain approval--or not being willing to share struggles, because we want to seem as if we have it all together.

The author states:
If you're not authentic, your children will rebel in disrespect toward you and, often, toward society. Children respect parents who are respectable. If you expect from yourself that which you expect from your children, you'll all pass this test. Be the person you want your child to become. We teach what we know, but we reproduce who we are."

The author warns that children learn more from what we do than what we say. While instruction is key in a child's growth, we mustn't forget much of that instruction comes without reading a single line and saying anything. Much of what the disciples learned from Christ was through what they saw Him do, not say.

Some ways we can demonstrate our faith authentically to our children, according to the author:
  • Be the same on the inside as you appear on the outside.
  • Don't say one thing and do another.
  • Be honest in your dealings with others.
  • Don't show any hypocrisy.

So I ask again, are you real? Your child can probably tell you! May we seek to live out our faith before our children, struggles and all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Definition of dispensable - easy to discard, to set aside, or to do without

My translation - unimportant.

In the aftermath of the tornadoes that hit my community, I have seen the difference between what is dispensable and indispensable in a very tangible way.

Dispensable-IPods, computers, clothes, jewelry, cars, televisions, essentially many of the things we believe "we can not live without"

Indispensable-God's grace, precious lives, hugs from families and friends, community, love, compassion, the body of Christ

How quickly we can turn dispensable into indispensable, totally messing up how we view our lives and what is truly important. We help create a society where Biblical values are hard to see and identify. I desire to see clearly "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy." (Phillipians 4:7-8)

This storm also reminded me how small and important I can feel--how we all can feel very dispensable. What joy and comfort that we serve a God who finds us indispensable! We have worth and purpose because we have been "bought with a price" and find our identity in Christ.

As a mom, I want to pass on this view on self-worth, rather than the empty self-esteem that our world promotes. I am challenging myself and you to take inventory in your life? Where are you placing your treasure-the dispensable or the indispensable?


Monday, February 04, 2008

More Thinking Outside the Box

I am contiually reminded of the importance of developing empathy in my children. I so desire for them to grow up to be compassionate and unselfish, seeking to serve others--with Christ as our ultimate example. He reached out to the poor and forgotten. In our society, we get so caught up in the beautiful and successful--those who have it "together."

One of the best ways to do this, I believe, is teaching my kids about other cultures and those who are less fortunate. When we learn about other people and pray for them, I believe it helps us be less focused on "self." I wrote a post called Thinking Outside the Box that talks about a couple of books we have used. Another book we have started using is Window to the World--excellent resource to teach about countries and encourage areas to pray for. It was the winner of the Gold Medallion in 2002 for Elementary Age children.

Another way to build empathy and awareness for other cultures and peoples is through mission trips. If you ever have a chance to go or take your family--do it! This could even be helping with a Habitat for Humanity house or traveling to help hurricane victims for the weekend. It is wonderful to go on trips oversees, but there are needs all around us.

Below are some pictures of a mission trip my husband took to Kenya last year. A picture truly is worth a thousand words! Hope it inspires you to "think outside your box."


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Danger of Replacing Self-Respect with Self-Esteem

One of the most disturbing trends I see in society is a lack of respect, for ourselves and others. I am currently reading a book by Jill Rigby called, Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World. In the opening she writes,

When I was growing up, people weren't perfect, but society was certainly more civil. The lines between right and wrong were clear.
Teachers were teachers. So teachers taught.
Parents were parents. So parents trained.
Kids were kids. So kids obeyed.

Respect for authority was paramount. Service to others and respect for property were natural elements of community. Teaching manners and instilling character were the cornerstones of public education. Parents looked at the right side of the report card (conduct) before they look at the left (grades). Kids got in alot more trouble if they were disrespectful to a teacher than if they made a B minus.

How did this happen? How did our society become so disrespectful? We've substituted self-esteem for self-respect, and in the process we lost our manners.
The author does not purport that the past was perfect, only that an element of civility and respectfulness has been lost. I find this to be so true. Anyone can look around and see numerous examples of disrespectfulness in attitudes, speech, and dress. The author gives the example of how students who are caught cheating or who are failing have no fear, because my dad "will handle it." Another example is when we see elderly women pushing their grocery carts with no one stopping to help.

While some might say self-esteem and self-respect are synonymous, the author defines them very differently. Self-esteem teaches children to focus on themselves and how they feel and what they want. This focus breeds greed, arrogance, insecurity, and discontentment.

Self-respect, on the other hand, focuses on others and how others feels and what others need. The author states that this perspective leads to gratitude, humility, confidence, and contentment.

I am challenged not to be conformed to this world and its focus on self and to pass this along to my children. When our children learn to respect our authority, we lay the foundation for their ability to respect the authority of God in their lives. By teaching simple manners, we model this respect and teach our children. I will write more later on the impact basic manners can have on developing self-respect, as well as displaying Christ's love to others.

What manners do you see especially lacking in society? What methods or tools do you use to teach manners to your children?


Monday, January 28, 2008

4 Things

Here is a fun meme that Jennifer tagged me for. I haven't done one since I have been back blogging, so here goes.

4 Jobs I've Had:
1. My first paid job was at age 10 when I was cast in a Mel Gibson movie-"The River" - that was filmed near my home in East Tennessee.
2. Youth ministry intern
3. Residence Director in college housing
4. College coach and professor

4 Movies Watched Over and Over:
1. The Princess Bride!!
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. Facing the Giants
4. Hoosiers

4 Places I've Lived:
1. Louisville, Kentucky
2. Knoxville, Tennessee
3. Athens, Tennessee
4. Kingsport, Tennessee

4 TV Shows I Watch:
1. 24
2. Lost
3. Little House on the Prairie (every Friday night on DVD with the kids)
4. Planet Earth from Discovery Channel (every Saturday on DVD)

4 Places I've Been:
1. New York multiple times - love that city
2. Jamaica on a mission trip--no resorts!
3. Out West
4. Through New England

4. Cities in Europe (that I would love to visit):
Paris, Rome, Venice, London

4 People who e-mail Me Regularly:
1. Hubby
2. Brother
3. Mom
4. Best friend, Crystal

4 Places I'd Rather Be:
1. I like home--so pretty content to stay where I am
2. Beach--love the ocean!
3. On a mission trip to a country I have never visited
4. On a cross-country trip out west with my family

4 Things I Look Forward to This Year:
1. Reaching my weight loss goal
2. Going on an anniversary trip with hubby
3. Homeschooling again
4. Finishing getting our house renovated

4 People to Tag:Feel free to ignore the tag if you've done it or if you don't want to do it:

Anyone in my sidebar! Let me know so I can come and visit.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shopping for Time

Don't you love to shop? For me, it's the thrill of finding that amazing deal. I love to see how far I can make my money stretch. As women we diligently search sales racks and thrift stores to use our money wisely--to be good stewards of our budgets. There is such satisfaction in this.

How much more should we not be shopping for time--being wise and diligent stewards of a precious resource that God has given us to serve Him, our families, our churches, and others. Unfortunately, we tend to attack this type of shopping with less enthusiasm and determination than we exert at Target or Gap. But I have come to realize that great savings in time will not come without concerted effort--don't we so easily waste time in a way that we would never waste our money!

This is one reason that I was intrigued by the book title, "Shopping for Time" by Carolyn Mahaney and her four daughters of girl talk. Carolyn Mahaney is the author of Feminine Appeal, a book that really challenged my as a wife and mother. This delightful book is a quick read at only about 100 pages and is packed with good practical advice on being a good steward of your time. If put into practice, their 5 key tips will certainly transform your priorities each day.

Personally, I was most challenged by tip #1--Rise Early. Carolyn and her daughters are advocates of the "5 am club," rising at 5 am for a time of prayer and study to prepare for the day. I am a fairly early riser at about 6 or 6:30, but I do my personal study in the afternoon or evening. I was sharing with my husband about the conviction I felt to rise earlier and meet with God early in the morning. So this week, I will be jumping into a new routine of rising earlier than I normally do and starting the day with Him first thing. Hopefully a full cup of hot tea will help!

If you want to read more about this great little book, check out an interview with the authors and review by Leslie from Lux Venit. She also is contributor at Tim Challies' Discerning Reader.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Never the Same

During a Bible study when I was in my church youth group many years ago, my youth pastor used an object lesson that greatly impacted me. He passed an aluminum soda can around and invited each of us to put a dent into the can. We started timidly, but by the time the can had made it all the way around the circle, it was practically flattened.

Our pastor then instructed us to pass the can back around, each of us removing the dent we had put into the can. We all sat puzzled. We started the can around, attempting to remove the dents and restore the can to its original form. It became apparent very quickly that the can would never be the same as it was before.

Our youth pastor then shared with us from the third chapter of James.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

Ouch! I am often reminded of this visual image of the damage our unkind words can cause. Once said, they impact others, changing them in some way. Yes, we can ask forgiveness and many times receive it; but those words may still ring in the air at times. Those words have changed someone. During times of struggle and doubt, those unkind words can surface in the back of their minds.

As women, we wield great influence over our families through our words. We can choose to encourage, cheer on, and gently correct; or we can resort to nagging, criticizing, and complaining. This is a daily choice that has eternal impact. This choice often reflects our priorities. Are we focusing on self or on serving God and others?

Our tongues are untameable in our own strength. May this instrument that is so often manipulated by Satan, be used to bring glory to God as we praise Him and seek to edify others. Because our words do have the power to change people, may the change be one that brings hope and honors Christ!

See you tomorrow for "Fit Friday."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Out of Egypt-Part 2

How did I lose the weight and focus on being healthy? Well, the most important key for me was submission. I had to give up the right to my body; I had to acknowledge that everything I am is the Lord's. I had to view myself as a steward of my body--it belongs to God, and I have been given the responsibility to care for myself and use my body to glorify Him. Wrapping my mind around this central concept made the rest of the journey have purpose, therefore a bit easier in the tough times.

I believe that submitting and surrendering in this area is what enabled me to be successful. So many times we "commit" to do something, but that still places us in control. Surrender and submission yields that control to the Lord. We must come "palms down" to the Lord. Satifying self can not be the focus. So I truly believe that you apply the same Biblical principles to being physically healthy, as you do to being spiritually healthy!

So many of you wanted to know the specifics of my plan. I will outline below some of the basic principles I used over the past 8 months.
  • I believe that one must focus on both diet and exercise to achieve optimal health and optimal weight loss results.
  • I work out 5-6 times a week. Typically 30-45 minutes of cardio--step aerobics, elliptical, or treadmill. I also do 30 minutes of weight training 4 days a week--2 days on arms and 2 on legs. You may need and want to start with a more moderate program--don't overwhelm yourself or you will quit. Just try walking 15-30 minutes each day.
  • As far as diet, I have not followed a specific plan, but have used principles from the Zone and Weight Watchers, predominately. I try to eat 3 meals a day with 2 snacks. This keeps your metabolism up. Another helpful approach is Bob Greene's Best Life (Oprah's trainer).
  • A typical day might be: 1 egg omelet (w/cheese & real bacon bits) or oatmeal with brown sugar for breakfast with juice, yogurt with flaxseed meal and blueberries for mid-morning snack, salad with chicken or egg (for protein) with blue cheese dressing, an apple for afternoon snack, and chicken or fish with twice-baked potato and broccoli for dinner.
  • Don't be too restrictive. You need to eat enough and things you enjoy or you won't stick with it. Healthy eating is delicious--it doesn't have to be the stereotypical diet food.
  • Drink a lot of water! I bought a great sweat proof mug at Target that has a straw. I seem to be able to drink more with a straw.
  • Avoid a lot of soda and sweet tea. Notice I did not say eliminate. I enjoy both of these, so just enjoy in moderation. Make water the primary thing you drink. I am a big fan of Perrier and juice when I want a drink with some bite.
  • Avoid eating late a night.
  • Get good sleep--for me, this is 7-8 hours.

Well, these are some basic guidelines I have used.

As you look at making changes, I would encourage you to talk with your husband and/or family. Focusing on being healthy is important for everyone and the support is helpful to your success. I am blessed to have an amazing husband who has supported and encouraged me on this journey in a phenomenal way! I have enjoyed getting fit and looking healthier for him--and he has, too!

Thank you for letting me share and for your kind comments and words of encouragement. I pray that I will bless you, as you have blessed me.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Out of Egypt, Part 1

I was overwhelmed by the response to by post Friday through comments and email! I am so excited to see how God might work through each of us to encourage one another. Being fit and healthy is so important and affects so many areas of our lives. I pray that our focus will always be to bring honor to Him through our effort to be fit and healthy. While my story is one that includes weight loss, I know many of you are seeking not to lose weight, but to be eat healthier and start exercising. Wherever you fall, I am thrilled by your desire to be "fit for service." What a great gift to give our children -- being good examples of being fit and healthy.

For me, my weight and health was not an issue until after I had my children. I grew up blessed to be athletic and fit. I never had to watch what I ate very carefully (which would be a curse later as I got older!) I played lots of different sports up through playing volleyball in college and later coaching. I was even a certified aerobics instructor through my grad school years, with one of my degrees in physical education! So, you see, just because you are knowledgeable in the area of fitness or have been fit at a certain point in your life, you are not above slipping into bad habits that can suddenly lead to a place of bondage.

For many women, this does happen during the child-bearing years. Your body experiences a lot of changes, and the stress of being a new mom can make it harder to set fitness goals--there just does not seem to be the time or energy to devote to keeping in shape. Personally, I found this to be true. I let myself become a lazy eater and a sporadic exerciser. Putting on weight and acquiring bad habits can be a slippery slope. A few pounds here and there adds up--I know on my 5'10" frame, the extra weight found places to hide before I even noticed the scale going up.

The unfortunate reality is that being out of shape affects so many others areas of our lives--our marriages, our ability to be active with our children, our confidence, our attitudes, and our ability to serve, just to name of few. Being out of shape is truly like being in bondage--we are controlled by unhealthy eating and laziness. I hit a point and made a decision that I could not go on like that. No food or other distraction was worth what it was costing me to be out of shape.

When you look at our nation, most of our prominent health problems stem in part from obesity, bad eating habits, and lack of regular exercise. We truly are at a crisis point. The sad thing is that this problem is not becoming an issue for children. We are seeing health issues in children that we have never seen before. If for no other reason, get fit and healthy as an example to your children.

I have titled my posts about my weight loss journey "Out of Egypt," because I truly believe that being unhealthy and out of shape is a place of bondage that Satan desires to keep us so that we will be less effective as Christians. Because we serve an almighty God, we do not have to stay there! He desires to lead us "out of Egypt," out of a place of bondage. As the verse that my blog is based on says, "He brought me out into a spacious place, He rescued me because He delighted in me! (Psalm 18:19)"

Wednesday I will share a bit about how I lost the weight--my eating and exercise approach. This is at times "a desert experience." I will share some of the lessons that God taught me during this time.

In Christ,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Fit for Service

As many of you know, I took about 7-8 month break from blogging starting last May. One of the reasons was to focus on getting fit. After the years of giving birth to my children and the craziness of the baby and toddler years, I had really let myself go. I had become unhealthy in my eating and struggled to exercise regularly.

During the past 7-8 months, I have lost over 50 pounds--and counting! This statement is not made to bring praise to me, but rather to give God the glory for His strength that has allowed me to be successful on this journey! I am weak, and He is strong!

Let me be clear, though, that being fit is not always about losing weight. Some very thin, seemingly fit, women have very unhealthy eating habits and do not exercise. Being fit, as we will focus on here, is about being healthy!

Why is being healthy so important? I believe that it is Biblical!

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)

We are to honor God through our bodies--the vessel He has given us to serve Him through. When we are healthy and fit, we are able to serve Him more fully and with excellence. We must seek to break unhealthy habits that might prevent our effectiveness.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Next week, I will also post about my personal weight loss journey. Many of you have asked details, so I will take the time to share about that over a couple of posts during the week. Below are some before and after pictures. These are external changes; next week I will share the more important internal changes.

In Christ,

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Pillar of Salt

As I look forward to the coming year, it is hard not the look back and reflect, as well. Looking back can be good. We can remember wonderful times with our family, learn from mistakes, and rejoice in what God has done in and through us. But looking back can be dangerous, too.

I read the account in Genesis 19 of God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the grace He showed to Lot and his family at the pleading of Abraham. Angels sent by the Lord literally had to seize Lot and his family, due to their reluctance to leave. Lot and his family were instructed to escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away."

But Lot's wife looked back. What was she looking at? Was she sad to leave all her "stuff?" Was she doubtful of what was going to happen? For whatever reason, her disobedience and looking back caused her to be turned into a pillar of salt.

The Lord really spoke to me through this story. We are called to leave much behind as we take up our crosses to follow Him. Sometimes we are even unaware at the sinful surroundings we have become accustomed to. We allow little things to creep in and influence us. God really challenged me to not look back, so as to not be tempted to cling to those things that He desires to save us from. What He has ahead is so much better!

Don't let Satan use the same old strongholds to bind you this year. Accept freedom and forgiveness in Christ and don't look back!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Word of God Speak

One of my favorite worship songs is "Word of God Speak" by MercyMe. Don't you long to hear God speak to you? Don't you want His Word to "pour down like rain?" As the new year begins, I am one of those people who likes to set goals for the year to come-I really desire to not be in the same place at the end of the year as where I begin. If I do not reflect and purpose those goals, I seem to let time just slip away. Two of my top goals are related to the reading and memorization of scripture. I have been convicted by the Lord and inspired by others to go deeper in His word.

Hebrews 4: 12 reads:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

His word is alive and speaking! In a world that sends so many anti-biblical messages, I know I must be solidly grounded in His word for direction-for myself and for my ability to minister to my family and others God places in my life.

Psalm 19:7-8 reads:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The comands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

It is refreshing to read this when we face so much in society that preaches "no absolutes." I find it wonderful to have a solid platform on which to stand. His word is perfect, trustworthy, right--giving "light to our eyes" so that we have direction!

So as we all look to the coming, I pray that we will let the "word of God speak" into our lives and witness firsthand its transformative power!