In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Money and values


Church was incredibly practical today. It was about money.

Times are tough right now and a lot of people are suffering financially, losing jobs, losing homes; the government had to do that big bail out.

The sermon was about trusting God and being wise.

I'm so grateful to God for my husband and I's financial situation. If it weren't for the training I've been blessed to receive, I would not have had the sense to be able to be where we're at right now.

As we were driving home John & I talked about it. We just married 3yrs ago. Because we'd both sought for years to be debt free and live simply we came into the marriage with something to offer the other financially and we both had good jobs. We'd considered buying a beautiful (ego feeding) home in the area where I'd been living at the time. We'd looked at houses for months but neither of us had a peace about buying those homes so we didn't. Instead we moved up to this mountain paradise that God had for us and purchased an very modest home (the prior owners had used it as a vacation home) built in the 60s. The home has a lot of charm and appeal and the location is over the top - we go on a trail out our back door that leads up into the national forest. This home was modest enough that we could just plain buy it so we don't have a mortgage.

Now that the market had gone down the house wouldn't be worth what we paid for it but we aren't worried because we're not making payments anyway. After I by faith quit my job and moved here and took some time to be home with my sons for a year and a half, God opened up a job with a much shorter commute than I used to make. We've been able to do some work on the house, bit by bit, as we've had the money, to make it even better to live in. We continue to not be financially stressed and to have money to give to others.

This is a legacy I hope to pass on to my children.

One of my son's closest friends parents have a gorgeous home, new cars and their son always has the latest fashionable clothes. Whenever this son wants a specific video game or new type of cell phone, he gets it right away. Initially my son questioned why we don't have all that because he found it all so desirable. I explained that those aren't the things that matter most to me and I try to build my life around what really matters. Initially my son didn't get it. So I pray and hope that my example makes an impact.

Lately, my son is starting to come around. He's starting to see that it's important to have enough money so it's not always a stress and worry and it's important to work hard at something you enjoy, but that stuff really isn't all that important. That people are what matter most.

In a culture that is so dominated by money and things and how everything looks, it is challenging to live differently. I pray that God in His grace and goodness would continue to help me focus on what really matters. I pray that part of the legacy I leave for my sons is one of placing value where it really counts.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Giving ourselves unreservedly to God


Sometimes life is just plain hard. That's how it is.

I guess the real question is - now what? How am I going to respond?

I've been studying for quite awhile now in Philippians. I chose to study there because it's been called the book of Joy and I'm desperate for God's joy to be manifest in my life. I've read through the book a couple of times on my own and am currently doing a small bible study workbook by Sharon A. Steele..

One of the themes that comes out repeatedly is that praise, thanksgiving and rejoicing is a choice. No matter what, I can choose to do these things.

Steele also made the following point that pierced my heart when I read it:

"Had Paul's desires been wrong, he could have easily fallen into despair. However, he trusted Jesus and his aim in life was to always honor and exalt Christ. Because exalting Jesus was his aim, he could rejoice and praise God right where he was. He knew that God was working in his life that that Jesus was being exalted."

In this workbook, as Steel is helping the reader understand the context of the book of Philippians, she has the reader look up other passages that show what the churches were like in Macedonia (the area in which the church the book of Philippians was written to resides). These churches were very giving, even when they had little resources of their own and you can see Paul reference this repeatedly in Philippians. Once particular passage of this type has caught my heart and I keep coming back to it. The verse it talking about how the church, when it was in meager financial shape itself, could give so generously to others. It's in 2 Corinthians 8:5 (MSG):

This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. That's what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. You do so well in so many things—you trust God, you're articulate, you're insightful, you're passionate, you love us—now, do your best in this, too.

That part about them giving themselves unreservedly to God and the other things they are doing (in this instance giving) simply flowing out of the purposes of God working in their lives; that's a WOW concept!

My pattern has been that when hard times come in my life, I struggle. Sometimes I've been known to whine and complain (you can ask my husbands and sons on that one!) I haven't been a person who automatically responds with joy, thankfulness and praise.

When I read the passage in 2 Corinthians 8:5 I recognized that if I will give myself unreservedly to God, I'll be able to respond in tough circumstances with joy, thankfulness and praise. I'll know that He's working out His purposes in my life through all the things that I find so very trying. It will be His greatness, His glory, His mercy, His grace, His awesome wonderfulness that will be what it is all about; not my experiences or comfort.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Venting


I need to let it out.

I feel like I'm gonna explode.

Since no one really reads this any way I can talk freely here. Plus it feels as if I'm telling someone. As if someone actually cares.

I feel SO ANGRY. I'm not even sure why.

It's like I'm running and running and trying and trying but I just keep failing. I'm such a failure. I try so hard but it's never good enough.

My middle son is always telling me how I don't measure up. How I mess up. How I don't do things right, our house isn't nice enough. I'm too mean and expect too much of him, I don't give him enough. I'm not cool like the other parents.

My husband is way too good a man to complain but I know I'm not a very good wife. I get so irritated with him. Instead of making the best of situations and over looking problems or faults I just have to open my big mouth and say something; point out what he's done wrong. What's wrong with me anyhow?

I try so hard at work but feel like very very few people notice. Maybe my business office manager and director of nursing services. Then I feel guilty for feeling this way. It's not about me. It's about taking care of the patients and taking care of the staff. I'm an administrator; I should know deep in my soul that people may frequently resent me and not feel like I'm doing a good enough job and I have to be ok with that. It's not about anything but doing the right thing.

But I don't feel that way. I feel angry. I feel like I try to do so much for the staff to make this a better place but they still complain and complain. I feel like I was set up because I took over from the biggest micro-manager known to mankind so there's no systems in place. Plus, the truth is that even he couldn't do everything so by the time I got there lots of things were out of wack.

But he's a good talker and did everything; so many of my directors are struggling because they feel like I'm asking so much of them. They are really uncomfortable with all this thinking and caring that I'm expecting from them. They want his simple way of everything being black and white and him always being there to tell them exactly what to do.

In my heart I know I'm right; that they can really become outstanding if they'll just work with me. If they'll open up their hearts and let me speak truth, if they'll trust me.

But 2 have left already and another's throwing fits lately because I'm not doing things his way. And I'm honest about it - I'm not telling him I'm right and he's wrong and that I know everything. I'm telling him the good I see in his way but why I believe in what I'm doing and that I have to do what I believe is right when the day is done - and he's not happy. So not happy that he called my boss and complained. I've never in my entire career had someone call my boss and complain about me.

I'm a good person and I take care of my people; and he doesn't care. Today at one point he said he wished he hadn't called but that he felt bad so he had to do what worked for him; but that it didn't make him feel any better but that still he owed it to himself. What's all this about owing it to ourselves. We're a team and we're in this together.

OK so I'm an imperfect person with imperfect kids and an imperfect husband and I work with more imperfect people.

So what's my problem? This is life! Why am I such a baby here crying!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

God's goodness

Frequently life is so filled with small blessings, even in the midst of tough times.

Things have been SO TOUGH at work lately. Then today, God blessed me with the maintenance man I hired about 6 weeks ago walking into my office. He came in and looked awkward; he them said that he knew we weren't there in our relationship yet, but that he got the impression I've had a really hard week and was there anything he could pray for me about.

I practically cried.

Isn't God good?!

Connection can put a H.A.L.T. to despair


There's an acronym, H.A.L.T. - Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

Around 7PM this evening I had a H.A.L.T. experience.

I was just about arriving home from work; a bit late but looking forward to a much needed hike in the mountains behind our home with my dog Jake. I longed for the soul feeding that these hikes provide.

I had ate very little for lunch and was hungry. It's been a tough few weeks lately and I've not gotten as much sleep as I'd like, I was that deep kind of tired.

Then a nurse at work called telling me how she'd 5150'd our new admit who'd just come to the facility in the late afternoon today. We're a locked IMD - why would we ever 5150 someone? I didn't want to blast her but I was sooo frustrated!!

I felt like such a failure. I keep trying to train these people yet my training is obviously ineffective. I wanted to cry. I felt so alone.

But for some goofy reason I reached out to our brand new program director. He's just 30yrs old and has only been working at the facility a little over a week. But he and I really connected during the interview process and I've kept in contact with him throughout until his start day. He was great (of course he is an MFT) and really encouraged me. I didn't feel so alone; I felt like I had someone who I could work with to make this facility better.

So I emailed him a thank you and cc'd the DON & DSD because I also outlined some plans for change.

I really see how being able to connect, to not be alone, made such a difference!

I am so grateful to God for bringing the right people to my work for me to hire. So grateful that God is blessing me with being able to build a team that can work together to effect positive change.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Making Progress


"If there's no struggle, there's no progress."
- Frederick Douglass



Thankfullness from an obedient heart


Lately I've been studying in the book of Philippians.

It's been called the book of Joy, and I've been struggling so much with being tired and getting grumpy, that I figured I could use it. I read though the book a couple of times and now am working through a bible study I bought through CBD.

What gets me is that Paul wrote this from prison. Yet he and Silas are there praising God even when they were flogged for sharing the gospel and put into prison. How come?

When I look at the text I see that they were thanking God. They chose to be thankful.

The author of the bible study I'm doing made the following points:

"God commanded that we praise Him and that we thank Him at all times. When we respond in obedience, even though circumstances look hopeless, God can use those bad circumstances to bring glory to Himself and maturity to us."

"When we praise God, we show Him that we trust Him even if we don't see His hand at work all the time. Verbalizing our praise for a difficult situation releases the fear and anger inside us and allows God to bring something good out of it."

(Taken from "Keys to Contentment" by Sharon A. Steele)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wonderful Words

As I read the following words this morning they burned within my heart:

Philippians 1:9-10 (MSG)

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What's going on?


Sometimes I need to take time to reflect and see what's really important to me at a given time in my life and then prioritize and plan accordingly. To take time to see what's important so I know how to pray.

Three things I'm praying about are:

1. My relationship with my husband
I want to be more respectful and more accepting. He's a unique person and sometimes I'm way too critical.

2. My relationship with my middle son
We butt heads all the time. I want to build and encourage him in addition to holding him accountable and teaching him standards. I want to sow words of encouragement, praise, hope and love into his life.

3. My job
I want to manage the 47-bed well, bring in a new line of business to the open unit and either build the school or get rid of it and bring in a new line of business. I want to be an effective leader to my department heads; be there and give them what they need, help them stay on track and hold them accountable. I want to be a positive influence in the residents life and to pray over this facility and do my part to ensure God's spirit can be big there.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The naked soul


This book, "Anthology of Devotional Literature", that my husband found at a second hand store was an awesome find indeed!

Yesterday we read from another author that is well known to many but new to me - Jakob Bohme. We just read an excerpt entitled "The way to God's love" from his book "The Supersensual Life". Therein a wise Master is speaking to his Disciple. It's as if the Disciple's heart is mine when he laments:

"The entrance of the soul naked into the will of God, shutting out all imaginations and desires, and breaking down the strong partition which you mention, is indeed somewhat very terrible and shocking to human nature, as in the present state. Oh what shall I do, that I may reach this which I so much long for?"

I'm reminded of Jesus' words recorded in Luke 9:23-24 (MSG):

"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat—I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?

Come to us like Rain

This morning I was totally captivated as the pastor read the following words from Hosea 6:3 (NASB):

"So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth."

Oh that I may press on to know God, that He would come to me like the rain with it's nourishment and refreshing!

I'm so acutely aware of my need of God.

My job is so much bigger than I can possibly do. If I let myself I'll be totally overwhelmed at work; or I could work way too many hrs at the expense of the rest of my life. I continue to fail with my middle son; it seems like I constantly bicker with him. The grace, mercy, forgiveness and love that is so essential for marriage to work does not at all come naturally or easily to me; I'm constantly struggling (and often fail). I'm coming up on 2yrs in this new town and still haven't made any close friends (but I'm grateful that I do have a few acquaintances who may yet grow into friends).

My point here is that I SO NEED GOD.

So my heart is encouraged to keep pressing God. To keep seeking to know Him more. To put aside my will and selfishness and be more about Him.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On their side

I delight in the Philippians 4:4-5 (MSG):

4-5 Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Two short verses packed with so much!

Celebrate - may my life be a celebration. May I never cease to see all that is good around me, all that is worthy of enjoyment. May I celebrate the gifts of life and health.

God is so good, so great , so mighty, so awesome. May I truly revel in Him. May I adore and keep His presence in my conscious throughout the day.

What an awesome concept - make it clear to all that you meet that you're on their side. May I not let my ego get in my way, may I not be so full of myself and my agenda that I miss out on the opportunity to truly see others. May I see opportunities to make others important, to give. May my attitude be one of collaboration.

Oh Heavenly Father, I'm so incapable of these things on my own. I fall so horribly short. Please work in my life and empower me to live this way...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Exhaustion

It seems like there are different seasons in my life which have a theme.

Right now the theme seems to be learning how to rely on God's strength and energy. The challenges at work and with my 15yr old son can leave me totally depleted and feeling like I've nothing left....

So I decided to turn to Philippians for my daily time in the word. It's been called the book of Joy and I figured I need joy right now especially. I keep returning to some verses I read there a few days ago; Philippians 2:12B - 13 (MSG):

Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.

Here I am again at that same point - it's got to be God's energy not mine!

I know I don't have what it takes to do all that's in front of me. I want to consciously grow in my ability to experience God's energy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Encouragement

Encouragement can come from the most unexpected of sources!

Tonight I was encouraged from the words that came from my youngest son.

I'd had an encounter with my middle son that didn't go so well during and directly following our dinner together. I was so beyond tired from an exceedingly difficult day at work and a poor night's sleep last night. While I was at the sink doing the dinner dishes my youngest son suddenly said aloud "Isaiah 40:30-31". This caused me to remember the favorite passaged:

30
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)

Those wonderful words from my son caused me to speak the truth aloud. To remind myself that as I wait on Him, GOD WILL renew my strength. That I've been tired lately because I'm looking to myself for strength and I just don't have enough to do and be who I want to without His supernatural strength.

Then my son says that 2 Thessalonians 3:3 is a neat verse too and I tell him that I don't know that one so he reads to me (from the NIV):

3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.

Isn't God good to bless me with such a wonderful son and His word?!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Captivated

I've long been captivated by journals of Christians who lived before me.

Today I read a devotion entitled "The Embrace". It was more like a personal journal excerpt, by someone who's apparently well known in some circles but new to me; Hugh of St. Victor.

He totally caught me with that first line:

"What is that sweet thing that comes sometimes to touch me at the thought of God?"

He goes on to speak from two vantages, that of the soul and that of the man. He's having that inward conversation with himself in which we all engage. In the soul he's reflecting on the experience of encountering God. He speaks with such winsome passion:

"I lose memory of my former trials, my soul rejoices, my mind becomes clearer, my heart is enflamed, my desires are satisfied. I feel myself transported into a new place, I know not where, I grasp something interiorly as with the embraces of love."

He goes on to speak of how he engages to:

"struggle deliciously to prevent myself leaving this thing which I desire to embrace forever"

He arrives at that point where I so long to live my life from, where he can sincerely say:

"I had at last found the goal of all my desires. I seek for nothing more. I wish for nothing more."

He describes this experience of complete satisfaction within his soul, encountering his God. But from the man vantage he explains how God allows us just bits of His presence, so wonderful that we are overwhelmed. Those experiences which allow us, as followers of God, to:

"in the times of His absence thou shalt console thyself; and during His visits thou shalt renew thy courage which is ever in need of heartening."

I so often hear Christians today speak about needing those times of prayer and meditation, those quiet times, to enable us to live our lives as God wants. I hear this so often that sometimes it becomes meaningless to me.

But I love the peek into Hugh of St. Victor's quiet time; a look into how rapturous it can be, and what that rapture can reap in my life.

What are some of the things that you have read, or are currently reading, that help you rekindle your excitement about taking away time to be alone with God?

Friday, June 20, 2008

McCain disappointment

OK, I don't like Obama. This pretty much leaves me with McCain.

While there are things that I do appreciate about McCain, I was disappointed to learn last night that McCain refused to speak before the Southern Baptist convention. Outside of Catholics, Southern Baptists are the single largest Christian religious group in the United States. So why wouldn't McCain talk before them?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

How do I follow?


This morning my heart was pierced anew as I read God's word. These specific words of Jesus that are recorded in the gospel always get to me:

"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?"

Mark 8:34B-37 (The Message)

These words get to me because I so miserably fail. I have this push inside of me to be in charge, I tend to follow my culture and want to get into all kinds of self-help ventures and think I can control my world. But the truth is that I have no real control; it's God who is in control of the universe. If I take the time and examine my life and my motives I spend entirely too much time pursuing things and lifestyles that bring me comfort and ease; that easier and softer way. I most definitely run from suffering or at least go out of my way to avoid it. I fill up my time with activities to help me avoid that natural anguish of the human condition.

But God shows me a different way. To be candid, when I read these words a part of me feel so lost - how can I do this? I guess the point is that I can't do it. I'm encouraged as I re read the passage and see that Jesus is coaxing me to follow Him and He'll show me how. So how do I follow Him? This is the question I bring to God in prayer this morning.

I'm so grateful that it's not my ability that I have to depend on, but it's God and His character. So I can have faith that He will show me how to follow Him and live my life His way.

What are some ways that God's shown you to follow Him?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Eat this book


I'm reading "Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading" by Eugene Peterson.

I can't say enough how much I adore Peterson's paraphrase of the bible entitled "The Message". For me it's like a breath of fresh air and helps me see scripture in a whole new light.

As for this book, I really enjoyed the introduction & first chapter. Peterson has a quote in the first chapter by Kafka that I love:

"If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it?...A book must be like an ice axe to break the frozen sea within us"

The bible is like that! I never cease to be pierced as I open my heart and read God's word; sometimes it's joy that radiates my soul, sometimes it's despair as I recognize anew the depths my own depravity...but it's definitely not just an instruction manual that I'm reading. I appreciate Peterson's call to relish, luxuriate and experience the Word of God.

However, to me it seems that once I read the introduction and first chapter the rest of the book is just a restating of that premise.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Becoming aquainted with God

This is one of my favorite quotes from George Muller:

"'Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God'(Romans 10:17. We must hear! Listen! Hearken! I must ask myself, 'Whom am I listening to? Tod GOD and His WORD? Or to what people say? Careful reading of the Word of God, combined with meditation on it. In that way we become acquainted with God; His nature, His ways, His will, His loving assurances, His promises, his mercies, His everlasting care and His cures. Confidence grows, faith is given and answers are assured.'"

Are you proud of our country?


I've got to vent here about this whole thing that Michelle Obama said yesterday, and also in an earlier speech within the last week.

First off, I do not think it's some huge misunderstanding. Her husband is running for president of the Untied States of America. She's an incredibly intelligent woman; educated at Princeton University and Harvard Law School. She has speech writers. She repeated almost the exact same words in two separate speeches.

If she would have said something along the lines of the fact that she is proud that America is finally to the point where a man of color and a woman are running for office of president; I would have applauded. I, too, am proud of these facts. I'll never forget an incident when my middle son, who is now 15, was 7 years old. We had some plastic place mats at our dining table and he was looking at them. The particular place mat that he was studying intensely was one which depicted all of the presidents of the United States. After a few moments he looked at me questioningly and asked: "Mommy, how come all these people are white men? How come no one is any other color and there's not any girls?" I can still remember thinking how happy I was at the time that our country had changed enough that he even asked the question; I never did growing up in the early 1960s.

However, that's not what Michelle Obama said. In both recent speeches she said that finally, for the first time in her adult life, she is proud of America.

My frustration is that this attitude, one of putting down America, is a prevalent one I've been observing for several years.

I think it's healthy to recognize that some things are really wrong in our country and to work together to change those things. But I think it's sick to put down our country.

I'm stunned that the wife of a man who could be the next president of the United States would say that for the first time in her adult life she is proud to be an American.

Just off the top of my head, here's some things about America that make me very proud to be an American:

We give more money to humanitarian efforts than any other country in the world.

We have a constitution which protects our right to free speech and freedom of religious practice.

We have free, public education for all children. (I'm not saying the school system does not needs lots of improvement, I could give you a list at any given moment, but I am grateful to live in a country where everyone has access to an education.)

We fought against the Kaiser in WWI, we fought against Hitler in WWII.

We have a very large middle class (unlike third world countries where you have the extremely poor and the extremely rich).

These are just 5 reasons I'm proud of America and that's without even spending any time pondering the many more reasons I could state. I find it terribly disappointing that a potential first lady of this great country hasn't been proud of America until now.

Of course, then the question arises - why now? It is because Barack is now running for office? Is it because no men of color formerly ran for office so everything else that is good about our country is negated? Is it that once he gets into office he'll change all wrongs?

I think this is just and example of something I've been observing for a long time. There's this sick, underlying, let's say how bad America is mentality that I seek lurking in the subtext of liberals. I see this theme repeatedly, especially in the public university circles. This attitude both angers and saddens me. So I just wanted a chance to vent.



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Men and Respect

What does respect mean to you?

Do you feel like you respect your husband?

Can respect be given, unconditionally, just like love? Or does respect have to earned?

My husband and I are very slowly reading through Dr. Emerson Eggerichs' book entitled Love & Respect. We're reading through it slowly because we want to change the way we think and we've found that by going slowly it allows the truths to sink down into our hearts and translate into our actions.

It has opened my eyes up in a whole new way to men's need for respect. I've also come to realize that respect can be given unconditionally and in fact should be given unconditionally to my husband.

I've always believed that love is given unconditionally but that respect must be earned. As we've been reading through, Love & Respect however, I've come to see that respect needs to be given unconditionally just as much as love. It's been helpful for me to think of it to a certain extent in the manner I think of authority people at work. Fortunately for most of my work life I've been totally blessed with awesome bosses. But there was once I had a terrible boss (justice did prevail however and she was fired from the company!) or my bosses' boss at various times may have been not so great. However, I always treated those people extremely respectfully due to their position. No matter how they acted, I was respectful.

I've learned that this is what I should do for my husband. More than that, I've come to realize that this is what his heart craves just as mine craves unconditional love.

I've seen, the more I look for and take opportunities to show my husband respect, the more he desires to spend time with me and does little loving actions.

It's a win-win cycle.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Looking to God for Great Things


You pay God a great compliment by asking great things
of Him.
- Teresa of Avila

Delicious Lunch


Recently I found myself tired of the same old lunch.

So I glanced through a recipe book and came up with some new ideas for lunch. The general idea for the salad below was one of those recipes. It's both delicious and satisfying.

Cottage cheese-raisin-apple salad

1 medium size Gala apple cut into small chunks
1 cup Knudson 2% cottage cheese
2 scant Tbsp raisins
1/8 tsp equal sweetener
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Mix spices, sweetener and cottage cheese.
2. Add apples and raisins and mix.

Approximate nutritional information:
Calories - 326, Fat-4 grams, Carbs - 40 grams, Protein - 31 grams

You could add 10 pecan halves to bring the calories up to 424, fat to 24 grams, carbs to 44 grams and protein to 33 grams.

Connection


Do you ever find that your life goes along in themes?

That several things, over a period of days, will happen in your life and that several of these things point back to the same topic?

I do regularly.

The topics or themes always vary. But it definitely happens that way; that many events and experiences in my life are inter related and show me something (it's the events and somethings that vary but not the pattern).

Lately things keep pointing me toward connection with God.

Over the past few days the terrible attitude I've been fighting against in myself, my binges with food, a recent rejection, a book I'm reading (Woman of Influence, by Pam Farrel), a chance remark made by my 13-year old son while our family was playing a board game together, a bible study I just started at church and some negative encounters with my ex-husband - they've all pointed me toward my connection with God.

As I'm reading Woman of Influence, I came across these simple words by Farrel:

"God reveals himself as a personal being - not a force, not a philosophy, not even a religion. God's arms are always open, wanting to embrace me; the choice is mine whether to flee from or run to that embrace."

While these words may not be totally original never before heard thoughts, they are exactly the words I needed to read.

Intimacy is not an easy thing for me; not with people and not with God. It's not something I learned in my family of origin. My parents certainly did the best they could and they were good people; it's just that they didn't get everything they needed growing up so they didn't have any idea what was needed or how to give it. We're a distant family. A family that pretends that unpleasant problems don't exist.

I tend toward being that way too. I tend to say things to myself along the lines of suck it up and get going and do what needs to be done when hurtful events occur. But then later I find myself over eating, basically stuffing down uncomfortable emotions with food.

But one of the things I adore about life is that we can change.

Things don't have to stay the same.

Just this morning, as I realized anew that God loves me, because of Jesus does not condemn me and that He actually desires connection with me - I threw myself into His arms. I let myself cry and pour out my feelings about that recent rejection, I vented my frustration with my ex-husband's recent behavior, I lamented my disappointment with myself for binging on food yet again; I received His comfort, love, assurance and hope.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What's your passion?


I believe we're each created with gifts to bring to this world.

Each of us has a passion, a part of our heart that when ignited, burns to bring light to both ourselves and those around us.

Just this morning I read the following words in Jeremiah 20:9 (NIV):

But if I say, "I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,"
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.


Jeremiah's passion was to proclaim God's word. Even if people didn't respond (and they didn't) he still proclaimed because that's who he was, what he was born to do. His passion burned so strong that it was as if he almost couldn't keep himself from doing that which he was born to.

What's your passion? What lights the flame of your life?

I've been thinking about this, trying to ascertain what's my passion. I guess one way to do it would be to look for themes in our lives. Where has my heart consistently led me?

For me it's the hurting. Whenever someone is hurting I almost can't contain myself from reaching out to them.

That's why I ended up working in the mental health field. A large portion of my work has been with the mentally ill. No one seems to care about them and most people find them offensive.

I remember an encounter I had when I was running this one facility. The facility had never made money; the company who owned it kept it simply because it was locked into a lease agreement with a group of other facilities that did make money. When I became the administrator one of my goals was to find a way for the facility to make money. The company didn't really expect that, no one else had and I was a brand new administrator, my first facility. But I believe that to be a leader means to do what you believe is right. So I prayed and prayed and looked and looked. During this process God brought a company that did drug research across my path and I met to discuss the possibility of them purchasing a few beds from our facility. (God blessed and it took me over a year to get the program up and going. But, although I'm no longer at that facility, the facility does now make money due to the revenue from that program.) The president of that company met with me one time in the beginning and toured our facility. Afterward he totally surprised me by saying that he did want to do business and that it was because of me. My surprise must have shown on my face because he went on to explain how he really liked the way I knew all the patients names and interacted with them as we toured the facility. Initially I found myself thinking, don't other administrators of psych facilities do that too? Then I realized that his statement wasn't really about me at all, it was about him. He wasn't comfortable around psych patients. His company was by no means limited to psych med research and he was not a fan of the mentally ill. I remember that incident because it underscores my observation that people really don't like the mentally ill and would rather their lives did not include them.

That's part of what draws me to the mentally ill. They're hurting and, by and large, no one wants to help.

My passion extends beyond just the mentally ill but that's where many opportunities have opened for me in the past. It'll be interesting to see what doors God opens in the future.

What about you, where have your passions led you? Where do you see yourself going?

Can you lose yourself?


In the old movie, A Man for All Seasons, about the life of Sir Thomas Moore, there's a great line that I'm thinking about today.

It's when Sir Thomas Moore is faced with execution and is asked by the king and his court to recant his views of the king's divorce and remarriage. His family arrives and asks him to change his views. Sir Thomas Moore says:

"When a man takes an oath...he's holding his own self in his hands. Like water. And if he opens his fingers, then he needn't hope to find himself again."

Moore makes such a profound point. To believe in something, to be filled with faith and passion, and then turn your back on it - is to lose yourself.

Today we read so much about finding yourself and being true to yourself.

Perhaps we are never more true to ourselves than when we take the time to find out what we believe, find our life passions, and then remain true to them whatever the cost.

Friday, January 4, 2008

What's the basis for our self worth?

I am significantly overweight.

I live in a culture where it's been said "you can never be too thin". Being very thin is considered beautiful in America and being beautiful is something that all women have been taught from the time they are born, both directly and indirectly, is of the utmost importance.

From personal experience, and interactions with numerous over weight women, many overweight women have low self esteem and struggle with feelings of worthlessness.

But I've been meditating lately on the basis for my self worth.

The truth is, if my self worth is obtained by comparing myself to others around me, I will never measure up. I will never be pretty enough, thin enough or young enough. There will always be someone prettier, smaller, taller, smarter, younger or whatever else.

I'm reminded of the scripture from Galations 6:4-5; I love the way it reads in the Message version:

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

The reason God clearly says not to compare myself with others is because it doesn't lead to anything good. He's made me who I am (yes, of course I let the person He made get fat; but like other defects of character I'm learning to cooperate with His work and change in this area too!) and has a purpose for my specific life. I'd do best if I set about seeing what He has set before me, and how I can join in His work here in my daily life. It's the old "grow where you're planted" philosophy.

But for those who feel worthless, unlovable and unacceptable, it's almost impossible to get on with life.

Only when I learned that my self-worth is based on who I am in Christ, could I learn to be joyful no matter what. God never changes. He doesn't change His mind about how he feels about me.

In this world I believe that it is what God thinks that really matters.

When I think about the fact that God really knows me, I'm reminded of Psalm 139:1-3 (NLT):

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.

I overwhelmed by the fact that God really loves me (even though He really knows me!). There are SO MANY scriptures that tell me how much God loves me. One of my favorites is found in Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV):

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."

I think what really gets me in this scripture is that He not only loves me but actually takes delight in me.

I need to read these scriptures and think on these truths on a regular basis. This is the kind of food I need to feed my soul. Then I can rest in the truth that right now where I am, despite my weight or how I feel . . . God loves me. He finds me acceptable. Accepting this truth is what gives me self worth.

What gives you self worth?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Goals for 2008


Goals are helpful to me because I can have something I'm aiming toward instead of just wandering aimlessly.

I spent some time in prayer and came up with some goals for this year that I want to take some time a few times during 2008 to evaluate my progress on. Here's my goals:

1. Find a meaningful activity I can do on a regular basis that really helps others.

2. Read these books:

*"Lost: Discovering Ways to Connect with the People Jesus Misses Most " by Jim Henderson
*"Lord, Teach Me to Pray" by Kay Arthur
*"Becoming a Woman of Influence" by Pam Farrell
*"Weightless Flying Free" by Joni Jones
*"Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading" by Eugene Peterson
*"Love & Respect" by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

3. Increase the frequency of holding my tongue with my husband when I'm upset and choosing to act respectfully no matter how I'm feeling at that moment.

4. Lose 40 lbs.

5. Develop at least one close friendship in this new town.

6. Find something fun I can do with my 2 sons who're still at home. This may be different activities with each son since they're very different from one another.
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