Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Life-Long Investment

My husband surprised me with beautiful roses before my first night of class this semester. I was genuinely surprised and delighted. As we’ve been talking about Valentine’s Day coming up, I told him it was unnecessary to spend money on flowers. I realize that we have other needs right now, and we’ve been talking about buying some furniture for our boys’ bedroom. He said, “Furniture will last a lot longer than flowers, yes. BUT, I’m investing in a marriage that will last a life time. I’m investing in a happy wife, which has more meaning to me than stuff.” Tears sprang to my eyes at the sweetness of his comment.

He’s right. When we buy each other gifts, we’re not investing in ‘things’ that are here today and may be gone tomorrow. We’re investing our lives into one another.

I saw a joke posted on the facebook page of an old colleague recently that cracked me up. It said “A successful gym membership is like a marriage: if it’s good, you show up committed and ready for hard work. If it’s not good, you show up in sweatpants and watch a lot of bad TV.” I had a good laugh, but I’ve thought about how good our marriage has been, and I would attribute a lot of that to the hard work of my dear husband.

So, how should I respond? What can I do to bless him back? I began thinking about ways I can be a better wife. Several places in the Bible it talks about how awful it is to live with a quarrelsome wife.  Twice it notes that a quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping (Proverbs 19:13, 27:15) and twice it notes that it’s actually better to live on the corner of a roof than to live in a house with a quarrelsome wife (Proverbs 21:9, 25:24). The one that stands out to me, though, is the following verse: Proverbs 21:19 “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” I had to think about it – have I been a quarrelsome wife? Maybe at times. This is one area I can immediately work on.

A recent devotion from my Bible also gave me more ideas. In talking about the ‘golden rule’ of treat others as you want to be treated, the author said to apply that to your spouse. When interviewing husbands, some ideas of how to treat them better was “Do my to-do list for me, really listen after you ask me how my day was, get a babysitter and take me on a date, take the kids to the park to give me some alone time, etc.” While the entire list may not speak my husband’s love language, I know that there are some ideas in there that would bless him. He also says that me taking good care of his kids is extremely meaningful to him.

In this season of love, how can we model Christ and be a servant of each other? How can we express sincere love to our spouses and invest in them? I’m praying each day to be a better wife! With God’s help and grace, hopefully I can be a gift to my husband as much as he is one to me.

What are ways that you’re trying to speak your spouse’s love language? What’s one thing you can do today to be a better partner and say “I love you?” Remember, with each moment and thoughtful idea, you’re investing in a relationship that will last a life-time!

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Humbled, Hungry and Prepared

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3

Yesterday morning as I was reading my Bible, I read about the temptation of Jesus from the book of Luke. Jesus fasted 40 days and nights (can you imagine?!?!) and then when He was really hungry, Satan tempted Him by saying “Turn these stones into bread.” Jesus answered by quoting the above Scripture that “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Then in my devotions last night, the same incident was quoted from Matthew. I would say God was making a point to me! Satan continued to tempt Jesus, and Jesus continued to be free from sin by refuting those lies with Scripture. It dawned on me that we must resist temptation with Scripture. I’ve known it all along, but I don’t think I realized before how prepared we must be! I wrote that in the margin of my Bible.

Then as I saw in my devotional, author Dee Brestin took it one step further. In her book A Woman of Moderation, she gave the following exercise “Answer these lies from the devil with Scripture references” and gave some general ones like “Eating just one chip isn’t that bad; I need to eat to be happy; I’ll just have a small second portion even though I’m not hungry; I’ll start tomorrow.” These are all thoughts I’ve had, and I realized how important it was to be prepared IN ADVANCE for these attacks.

How do we prepare? By being in the Word. Knowing Scripture and being able to say it when we need it is a great way to help resist temptation. God made His own people hunger to show them that what’s most important is His Word. Jesus is our perfect example and he demonstrates how to overcome temptation. This applies to beyond just the temptation to overeat – anything we’re trying to overcome can be handled in this manner.

The purpose of this blog is to share God’s Word with other people who need it, and to encourage those who are struggling with the same sins that I do! Feast on the truth contained in the Bible, hunger for God, and resist the devil. You can do it. Stand strong today in the power of Christ!

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word. God, thank You for being the perfect example for us. We ask that You keep us from temptation and equip us to say no when we need to. Empower us with Your Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) and give us the words to say at the right time (Luke 12:12). Please make us healthy and thin for Your glory and break our bonds to slavery and addiction. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Miracle? Turning Whine Into…Thanks!

“…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

This morning as I was dropping off my oldest son at preschool, another mom said in passing “Hi! How are you?” My answer was “COLD!” The temperature outside was in the 20s, and I had left my gloves behind. I was feeling at that moment like my fingers might fall off! As we both continued to walk our opposite directions, I thought about how that answer sounded. 😦 I immediately remembered the verse “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God…” Philippians 2:14-15a.

Have I been complaining about the frigid temperatures? Mmm…maybe a bit. So, I made myself give thanks for the cold weather today. I decided to intentionally think about things that I like about this time of year in the north. Here’s just a few:

  • No big, pesky bugs & bees.
  • No mowing lawns every weekend.
  • No significant mold problems in most houses because the cold freezes it (I was once told).
  • The germ fighter factor. A pediatrician told a group of us once that taking kids who are suffering from sickness outside and letting them breathe in the cold air for at least 20 minutes will clear up many illnesses. Could it be true? If so, I’m especially thankful!
  • A wardrobe change – I love to get out something ‘fresh’ to wear every six months, and I enjoy sweaters and jeans.
  • More excuses to stay in and snuggle with my family in warm blankets!
  • The excitement and anticipation of snow, which every once in awhile will give us a day off (now, I’m especially thankful for those days!!!).
  • A new appreciation for spring when it does arrive; the change of seasons reflects new fun adventures with new weather patterns, and I LOVE that.

Now, I may not like the winter all that much and all the bundling that’s necessary to even step foot out of our house. But, I can legitimately thank God for the winter and truly mean it. I love not having to do yard work during this time! I love to watch my kids faces light up at the chance of snow! I love to cuddle up with my husband in a big blanket while we watch a movie. I can say “Thank You, God! Thank You for winter. Thank You for changing season! Thank You, even for the cold.”

He gives me the ability to refocus my mind, change my heart, and turn my complaining into praise. Try it today – what are you experiencing that is making you grumble? Think about it again and what is good about it – then give thanks. For, this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus!

You are the ONLY You!

My husband said something profound to me the other day. I had been really sick, and he offered to get the kids ready for bed so I could rest. When he brought the baby to me to feed, I giggled that Daddy had forgotten to put on the onesie underneath his warm jammies like I had told him. Shawn smiled and warmly said, “I am not their Mommy.” It really struck me. Sometimes the simplest things he says are truly the wisest.

I’ve thought about it ever since. You see, my husband is good at everything. From sports to technical computer stuff to fixing things around the house and even cooking and playing with the kids, my man seems to do all things well. I’m continually impressed by him! But, even with all his gifts, he can’t be me. I am the only person who was created to be the mother of my kids. I was the one predestined to be his wife. I was created for a purpose that no one else can fulfill.

In case you haven’t seen the profoundness yet in his comment, YOU too were created for a purpose that no one else on earth can fulfill. There is a plan for you. Nobody else can fill that role, even if they try.

My girlfriend said yesterday, “Each day we’ve been given on earth is a gift.” How true! What difference are you making today in this world? Who are the people that God has put in your path to serve and reflect His glory to? You are the only one who can walk in the path God made for just you. So, be the best you that you can be! Be intentional, and be encouraged knowing that you are needed in your life!

Exodus 9:16 “But I have created you for this very purpose, that I might show you My power and that My name may be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”

Mom, Follow The Leader

“He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11

Have you ever felt mom-guilt? Last night, as I was rocking my baby, I thought of my first child and all the things I did wrong from the moment he was born. My first moment of guilt comes from his very first week of life when I was still recovering from being extremely ill in the hospital. His nurse called me from the N.I.C.U. at 11 pm and sharply told me she could no longer hold his feeding, was I coming? I had told the nurse on the previous shift that I was going back to my room to rest and wouldn’t be there the rest of the night (he was being fed through a feeding tube in his nose at this point). I told the nurse to please go ahead and feed him, but I sat there and cried for the next few hours that my baby had gone hungry because I wanted some sleep. I finally made my husband wheel me down to the NICU at 3 am just to see my 3 lb little love. He had no idea, but I was suffering from mom-guilt that would last for years.

And while this first instance wasn’t necessarily my fault, I have a long list of things I remember doing wrong that I wish I could take back. From angry outbursts to not spending enough quality time with my boys to many, many parenting mistakes. I have felt like a failure more days than I can even count. As I pray each morning, I ask God to make me a better wife, a better mom, and a better servant of His. This past Friday morning as I was spending time in my devotions and praying, I felt God reminding me that He loves these children even more than I do. They are my current ministry.

Several places in the Bible remind me how much God loves kids. Here are just a couple. Matthew 18:10 says “Do not look down on any of these little ones, for I tell you their angels always see the face of my Father in heaven.” In three places Jesus told His disciples to “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14, Mark 10:14 Luke 18:16).

God, who loves our children, in his infinite wisdom gave them to US to parent. This is a mystery I can’t understand. God knew what I’d be like as a parent, and yet he still entrusted these precious little lives into my care. This is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. Yet, this fact gives me some comfort.

What gives me the most comfort, though, is the verse from Isaiah above that says that “He gently leads those who have young.” How am I supposed to be the parent God wants me to be? I honestly don’t know the answer. But, what I do know is that I’ll hopefully get there by following His lead. The tone of this verse is not demanding or time-consuming – it shows God as our shepherd gathering us in His arms and carrying us. As a mommy, do you need carried at times? I often have a little one on my hip and not enough time to accomplish all the tasks I’ve set out to do. Combined with the consistency needed for good parenting, spilled milk, brothers who don’t want to share, a leaking diaper, a mountain of laundry and a long list of demands for my time – I need the gentle leading of God. I need God who promises to gather us to Him and carry us.

He knows how precious this time is! As I talk to older folks, most wish that they could go back to this very time in their lives. Honestly, I want to cherish each and every moment with my kids while they are little. I shudder at the thought that someday they will leave my home! I love each one and long to do the right thing with them. I want them to be responsible citizens some day, but for today, I just want them to know how much they mean to me, how much I love them, and how much I want for each of them. Today, if I follow God’s lead, I’m hoping that I can be the best parent He’s created me to be.

Allow Him to lead you today – and don’t forget to give Him the praise, glory and thanks He deserves for being such an awesome God!

Graves of Craving

“But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and He struck them down with a severe plague. Therefore, the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah (graves of craving), because there they buried the people who had craved other food.” Numbers 11:33-34

After completing several Bible studies recently, I’ve discovered the importance of starting my day with God’s word. I try very hard not to do anything else before opening the Bible, even if I only have time for one chapter. Please read Numbers 11 – God’s Word is truly what transforms our lives!

In a nutshell, the Israelites complained that they weren’t able to eat meat like they could while they were slaves. They grumbled that being in captivity was better than just eating plain ol’ manna in the dessert, following God’s will. How this struck me! When I’m following God’s will and eating healthy things, there are times that I crave “richer” foods, be it pasta, bread, cheese, butter, salty snacks or sweets. Food has held me in captivity far too long in my life, and yet I willingly go back when I give into my fleshly desires. But, I know in my heart that following God’s will – while it may feel plain or barren like a dessert at times – is FAR better than living in captivity my whole life.

The next part struck me even more. God’s anger burned against these people. There’s no one who I want to please more than my Lord. The thought of Him being angry with me is highly motivating to change my habits. This also makes me go back to the same question I’ve been asking myself repeatedly – what is my motivation for losing weight? Am I doing this for my glory or for the Lord’s? Do I want to be skinny to be beautiful in the world’s eyes or am I losing weight because God has called me to be free from bondage and wholly set apart for Him? Again, I have to die to my flesh in another way and say no matter the outcome or my looks, my goal is to have my body be a holy temple for the Holy Spirit’s dwelling. With the Lord’s help, may I rid myself from the burden of sin and the yoke of food addiction that I have so willingly put on day after day!!!

Lastly from this Scripture, I realized that we dig our graves with our cravings. God sent a plague for these Israelites and they died from craving food that wasn’t holy. What almost kills me is that God actually sent the food as an answer to their complaint. But, it was an issue of where their heart was. Even though there is lots of food available – and the food isn’t always necessarily bad in and of itself – we must always check our hearts and make sure that we’re seeking God’s will and His favor rather than captivity in what we choose to eat and what our hearts crave. Obesity is a killer, a plague in and of itself. From diabetes to heart failure to aches and pains, what we consume can bring catastrophic consequences for our bodies and hinder us from living the abundant life that God has called us to live.

Today as you think about what to eat, I pray that this Scripture will come to your mind and the Lord will direct you in what He would have you ingest…may it be like bread from heaven!

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your word. We praise You that You haven’t given up on us! Lord, there are times that we crave things we shouldn’t – please forgive us and help us start fresh today with listening to your Holy Spirit. Guide us in our choices and may You receive all the glory for the work You’re doing in us. Help us keep our bodies in shape as the holy temple where You dwell. We love you, Jesus. In Your name we pray, AMEN!!!

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Rise & Shine!

“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again…” Proverbs 24:16a

Something I read yesterday really struck me. In a Bible study I was reading yesterday, the Bible passage from Matthew 22:15-33 was discussed. In it, the Bible says that the religious leaders at the time (Pharisees and Sadducees) had evil intent and that they “didn’t know the Scripture or the power of God.” Jesus told us that they were more interested in the externals – how they looked or appeared – rather than their heart.

As a church, I think we’ve gotten this point. That’s why we tend to not think about the sin of being obese. It doesn’t matter if we have soft bellies so long as we have soft hearts. But, I think that we fail to see that sometimes our outward appearance is a reflection of what’s going on inside of us.

That wasn’t at all the point made by the study, though. Dee Brestin in her book “A Woman of Moderation” (which I’m not very far into but would recommend at this point) noted that we must pray that we don’t fall into the trap of religious leaders. We can LOOK like women of moderation without actually being women of moderation.

I thought about it all day yesterday. Some people don’t struggle to lose weight. They can deny themselves and TEMPORARILY lose weight and look like everything is going well. BUT, eventually, somehow we fall back into the same old patterns. How many of you have tried different diets and then failed? I lost a good bit on the South Beach Diet, but then I gained it back again when I got a new job. I lost a lot right before I got pregnant with my third son, and I would even venture to say that I was doing it the right way, in following God’s lead. But, something in me turned right back into the bondage of food idolatry. Eating for two became part of my mantra, and I started eating for 12.

We can exercise and eat right for a time on our own, and we may have the false appearance of being committed to a healthier lifestyle. But, only God can change our hearts, transform our minds through His Word, and make us the person He designed us to be.

So many times when we fall back into the same old traps, we get discouraged and think “I’ll never change.” I’m right there with you if you’ve ever thought that! But, I heard on the radio this morning that very thought come over the airwaves with a reminder right after it that noted “The Holy Spirit can change you from the inside out. That is the work of Jesus and the cross! Don’t think you can’t change – know that He can change you!”

I don’t want just physical or external change (oh, I do want to be healthy and smokin’ hot!). I also want an internal change that where my heart is, there my treasure will be. I want to be immoderate in my love for God so that I can live in moderation in all other areas of my life.

Though the righteous may fall (off the wagon) seven times, they rise again… this is the power of God in our lives!!! Let’s rise together!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being holy. Thank You for enabling the righteous to rise after they fall. God, thank You that You can bring true change in our lives. May we not be like the old religious leaders who were only concerned about external appearances. Help us change from the inside out. Transform our hearts so that our bodies are a reflection of what You are doing inside of us. Help us live lives of moderation for Your ultimate glory. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

Stuffed ‘Fool’

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly putting away all the new stuff we accumulated at Christmas. We were blessed with toys, clothes, new gadgets, food, and a vast array of gifts. Finding a place to put everything in a neat, orderly and yet accessible fashion has been driving me a little crazy!

So, I began to dream about a bigger house. My husband and I talked about our “next home” and wanting another stall on our garage, a bigger finished basement, bigger bedrooms, more square footage, etc. Then, we both found it a bit ironic that we can’t seem to ‘survive’ in a four bedroom, two-and-a-half bath house with three boys. Really!?!?! My husband said, “You know, I grew up with a lot less than this.” Me,  too. And, we did just fine!

I immediately felt convicted as this passage came to mind about the “rich fool” in Luke 12:15-21: 15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

   18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

   20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

   21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Do we need a bigger house? I think that would be like this man wanting to build bigger barns. Instead, we need to get rid of things – give to the poor and those who need stuff that’s just sitting around. I tend to be a hoarder like this man, living in the ‘scarcity’ mentality. But, I need to learn the joy of generosity.

My husband and I cleaned out our office, and we even sold some books that I was storing up ‘in case’ I would need them in the future. The amount of money we made was a sign to me that we were doing the right thing in trying to clean out rather than build up. We are making piles of things to sell, give away and throw out. It is a good feeling to be free from “stuff.” If you’re feeling like your house is stuffed ‘full,’ pray that you’re not becoming like this rich ‘fool.’ Let’s ask God to help us be rich toward Him.

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New Genes

“For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:4-6

Many times I’ve thought that part of my problem with obesity is my genes. My father’s side of the family is extraordinarily heavy, so it must be a function of an inherited malfunctioning metabolism, right? But, I think overeating stems more from environment than it does biological disposition. I grew up in a household that ate whatever we wanted when we wanted. That’s what feels “natural” so making this life change seems extraordinarily difficult at times.

This past Sunday, though, we visited a church that is doing a study of Ephesians. The first 14 verses talk about being “IN HIM.” If you read the entire passage, you’ll notice this phrase over and over again. We were predestined for adoption through Jesus Christ to be holy and blameless! In essence, we are adopted children. (And, as it was explained to me in a previous Bible study, we want to be adopted as sons because that means that we get the rights and riches of a son whereas women at this time didn’t get such privileges).

With God as our Father, we have no excuses. We have the perfect example to watch. We have new “genes” through the deposit of His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), which gives us the POWER to live a new life. We are new creations, children of the omnipotent God!!!

I love my children SO much! If they needed or wanted something – something that was beneficial for them – and it was in my power to make it happen, I would do it. Make the sacrifice, do whatever I could, it would be done! Now picture God as our Father, the picture of the perfect parent. It was in His power to save us from our sin, and He made the ultimate sacrifice, giving His only begotten Son for us. If we ask Him to make us healthy and thin to serve Him better along with those He’s put into our lives, don’t you think that He will answer YES! And don’t you think He has the power to make it happen for us? We simply need to get on board with His plan!

We are adopted as His children. We have the power of His Spirit. We have His promises that He will do whatever we ask in His Name. We need to believe in the Almighty and get out of this mindset that we’re never going to change because we’ve always been this way. Hallelujah! God SAVES!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for being holy and blameless. Thank You for being our amazing Lord. We believe in You, God. We believe that You sent Your Son for us so that we – through the forgiveness of our sins that You have given us – can become Your adopted heirs. Thank You for the Holy Spirit! Please empower us to do Your will. Please help us become healthy and thin for Your glory. Help us serve You and the lives You’ve put around us to the best of our ability. Lord, we come to You humbly and beg for Your mercy and help. Thank You for being faithful and true! In Jesus’ Name we pray, AMEN!

Believe It!

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Matthew 21:22

I’ve struggled with weight most of my life. I’ve begun to believe that I’ll never be set free from the desire to overeat. But, how is it that I believe that God can work miracles in the lives of others but not with an area of addiction that I’m struggling with? I think the first step in beginning a journey to live a healthier lifestyle is taking a moment to reflect on God’s Word and His glory.

First, do you believe that God wants you to be thin? I’ve tossed this one back and forth. The world has jaded our thinking about our bodies. But, I believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I think God designed my body to be healthier than its current condition. I don’t think obesity was something God had in mind when He first formed me in my mother’s womb. So, I think asking to be healthier aligns with His will for me.

Second, do you believe that God can do ANYTHING? Can He move mountains? Can He make the blind see? Can He save our souls? If you answered yes (and I certainly hope you did) then ask yourself, can God change me? Can He change my heart? Can He make me thinner? Can He work in my life?

NOW BELIEVE THE ANSWER!!!

As I was reading my Bible yesterday, I came to the following story in Matthew 21: “18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, He was hungry. 19Seeing a fig tree by the road, He went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then He said to it, ‘May you never bear fruit again!’ Immediately the tree withered. 20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. ‘How did the fig tree wither so quickly?’ they asked. 21 Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”

I don’t believe that a New Year’s resolution is enough for a major life change. I’ve been there, done that. BUT, I do believe that God is faithful to His Word. He promises here that we’ll receive whatever we ask for in prayer if we believe. Ask God today for what you need, and believe in His faithfulness without doubting! In fact, let’s pray together now!

Dear Heavenly Father, we come to You with a thankful heart for Your Word. We are encouraged to hear that we are not in a battle by ourselves. Lord, we confess that we don’t feel like we’ll be able to change. But, God, we believe that You can do ALL things. We ask right now, in Jesus’ name, to be healthy and thin for Your glory. Do a work in our lives that brings honor to You. Help us believe and not doubt. We thank You for the POWER that You bring to our lives. SO BE IT! In Jesus’ name, AMEN!