Word for 2015: Nearer

Phoenix Park Pope's cross

Nearer. 

Nearer is all I long for.

A little closer to your heart.

Nearer to my LORD.

And two songs came to mind, and brought tears to my eyes. They express what wells in my heart as I reflect on this past year and look forward to the year to come…

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice,
And it told Thy love to me;
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!

There are depths of love that I cannot know
Till I cross the narrow sea;
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
Till I rest in peace with Thee.

And another song that came to mind today…

Jesus, keep me near the cross,
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever;
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day,
With its shadows o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.

Sometimes a song can say- even without words- what we feel, the passion and heart-felt joy or sorrow of a single moment-even a life-long prayer.

The deep desire for intimacy with a mysterious, loving, unfathomable, intimate God that created us all and desires to draw near to us!

He does the impossible.

And I need to hear that today.  Because some days I feel so broken and spent I need to know- to remember- to resonate in the truth that I don’t bear this burden alone.  And when I choose to I am rejecting the beautiful gift of God’s loving, sustaining presence.

The work of this day is simply inviting him in- moment by moment.  Oh, it is so simple friends, but how easily I forget!

I stumble and find myself in a pit I dug myself in- and even now- when I know how he longs to enfold me in my brokenness, I  struggle to turn to him in those moments when the ugliness of sin is showing- when my cracks are gaping wide.

And I hear his gentle, love-filled voice beckoning- come to me…

all you who are weary…

and I will give you rest.

By the grace of God, may we all rest in Him today.

One step toward Him- affirming once again- You are Lord, I need you.

One day- one moment at a time.

Come Lord Jesus.

Draw me nearer.

Liebster Award

I am honored to share that two blogging ladies have given me the Liebster Award. Michy at Loving Our Journey and Christy at Love is a Verb.

Liebster is a German word that means sweet, kind, nice, endearing, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, welcome.

This is an award for blogs with 200 followers or less, so it’s a great way to spread the word about smaller blogs.

When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself, and answer 11 questions from the person who gave you the award.  You then pass the award on to 11 deserving blogs, link them in your post, and ask them 11 questions. (Also link back to the blog which gave you the award).

11 Random Facts about Me

  1. I love hiking and camping.
  2. I put jalapenos on just about everything.
  3. I am the middle child of five.
  4. I am left-handed.
  5. Huge soccer fan.
  6. I am very competitive, especially in any sport-related events.
  7. I love to sing- and I am part of our church choir.
  8. I have over 20 plants in my house.  (twice that many outside)
  9. I never get tired of watching the hummingbirds that visit our yard each day.
  10. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite movie/book- (the BBC version w Colin Firth).
  11. I love watching old musicals with my kids (Singing in the Rain is our current favorite).

11 Questions from the ladies who gave me this award.

  1. Where do I blog?  Where is my computer located?  In our bedroom on the first floor of our house.  I have a large window nearby with a great view of our back yard.
  2. What was your reason for starting a blog?  I am very passionate about life, especially after spending time working in crisis pregnancy centers and counseling women who have had abortions.  I want to inspire others to get involved with Right to Life, crisis pregnancy centers, and inform themselves about the facts related to abortion- it is more than a political issue.  I also love writing and sharing about what God is teaching me as I daily seek to know Him more.
  3. What’s your favorite snack food? Popcorn and dark chocolate (not necessarily mixed together…)
  4. What is your favorite book of the Bible right now?  Romans, especially chapters 5-9.  I have been meditating on God’s gift of salvation and it has greatly encouraged me these past several months.
  5. If you could bring a fictional character to life, who would it be? Claire from the Outlander series.  I think we could be good friends- she is so courageous, tenacious, and fiesty.
  6. What do you do to stay healthy?   I try to eat a healthy diet and stay away from processed/greasy foods.  I love to run, play soccer, and chase my kiddos.
  7. Are you a morning person or a night owl?  I get up at 5:30am each morning, usually in bed before 10pm- definitely a morning person.
  8. What’s your ideal job?  Working with women in crisis- either at a crisis pregnancy center or shelter for abused women- or possibly a treatment facility for troubled teen girls (Moms).
  9. What’s your favorite holiday?  Christmas without a doubt.  I love decorating and singing Christmas carols and going out and chopping down a tree.  My hubby and I love having people over for a party and watching Christmas movies. It is more special now that we have begun sharing all our family traditions with our children.
  10. Where is your favorite vacation spot?  Anywhere that I can be with family and/or friends.
  11. What was the happiest day of your life?  That’s hard.  The first few that come to mind are the day I was baptized at our church camp (I was in high school) and testified about my faith in God, the day I married my hubby, and the days our children were born.

I am passing the award on to these bloggers, please stop by and visit:

The Scenic Route

Living in the Light

Upward Not Inward

What Joy is Mine

Refusing to Tiptoe

Growing in His Glory

A New Name

Road to 31

New Life Steward

Thorns and Gold

Be Still and Know

 

Here are the questions for the blogs above:

  1. What are you cooking these days?
  2. Where do you go to de-stress?
  3. What scripture speaks the most to you?
  4.  Where do you get your ideas for new posts?
  5. Do you like SWEET or SALTY snacks?
  6. What’s your favorite family time event?
  7.  What is your least favorite chore to do around the house?
  8. What’s your favorite hobby/activity to do in your spare time?
  9. Do you play or watch any sports?
  10. Are you a country or city girl?
  11. If you could lead ANY ministry organization, which one would it be and why?

Staying Power: Lessons Learned over 20 years of Battling Overeating

1/2 lb "the works" hamburger with onion rings from fuddruckers

I love food.

I love to eat when I am happy, sad, bored…

To celebrate.

To grieve.

To live.

Over the years my weight has fluctuated about 30-40 pounds every 2 years or so since I was a teenager.  Some of that was prego weight, but mostly it was just me- eating too much and then trying to dig myself out of the mess I made.

Here are some of the tips I have learned over the years.  I pray that they will help and encourage you.

1.  Try lots of different ways to exercise.

  • Class at the gym
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Video/DVD
  • Find an accountability partner

Don’t give up if one thing doesn’t work for you.  Find the thing that works with your personality and lifestyle.

2.  If at all possible- weight train. Why?

  • Weight training builds muscle
  • The more muscle you have, the more fat you burn- even when you are sitting and resting
  • you will NOT bulk up- use low weight- lots of repetition
  • Esp. do leg exercises- your legs are some of your largest muscle groups-they burn lots of calories.

3. Don’t diet- make a lifestyle change.

  • Make a list of the five foods you can’t live without and keep having them in moderation.
  • Educate yourself about what food your body needs every day- start eating a balanced diet (carbs, veggies, fruit, protein)
  • Replace processed foods with fresh veggies, fruits, yogurt, beans (yes, they are so good for you!)
  • Count your calories for a while.  It is good to educate yourself on how many calories you eat in a day.  There are a lot of great websites and apps that can help you (I used the daily plate).

4.  Sign up for a race.

  • Signing up for a public walk, run, or bike can help you to meet others in your community or area who are seeking to be physically fit.
  • Their support and accountability can be a blessing on the road to meeting your goals.
  • Start up conversations with people at the race; pray that God will help you find support and encouragement.

5.  Read a book about someone who lost weight and reached their goals.

  • We need support, community
  • If you don’t have someone close to you who can hold you accountable/support you, read a book about someone who overcame the odds and lost the weight
  • It can help inspire and get us through tough times when our motivation is low

6.  You will feel hungry.

  • Be prepared for feeling hungry in the beginning
  • Your stomach is shrinking
  • Give your body time to digest- it takes at least 20 minutes for your body to register the food you have eaten
  • Counting calories is a great tool to fight the temptation to eat too much- when you look at the numbers and know that you have had enough- that can sometimes mentally give you the power to say No.

7.  You will have set backs.  Do not get discouraged- keep pressing on!

  • We all have bad days…or a few bad days…or a week.
  • Get back to it- don’t give up- no matter what!
  • The scale can be discouraging mentally- avoid it.  Instead- pay attention to clothing size- clothes feeling a little loose?  Try on the next size smaller- cheer yourself on!  (I don’t own a scale)

8.  This is a spiritual battle.  We are battling the desire of our flesh.

  • One of the most powerful temptations in my life that I constantly fight is the desire to eat to comfort myself.
  • Dwell on the truth that eating will not bring comfort- it only brings regret.
  • It does not deliver on its promises.
  • Keep tempting foods out of the house for a while if you need to. Or throw them in the trash.  I have wasted food when I have been really struggling with this temptation.
  • Pray when you are tempted to eat. Sit down and beg God to help you- call a friend or family member for support.

9.  Avoid the all or nothing rut

  • Sometimes you just don’t have time to spend 30 minutes straight working out with no interruption
  • Do two 15 minute work outs
  • Just do two leg exercises- leg lifts and swing your arms in circles
  • Just do something- dance in the living room with your kids
  • Sometimes we raise the bar of expectation so high- we don’t feel motivated to even get off the couch.  We can’t meet our own expectations for what we “should” be doing

10.  Celebrate your success

  • When you achieve a weight loss goal, celebrate!
  • Buy a new dress
  • Call friends and share the good news
  • Make sure to find a way (without using food) to reward yourself for your hard work

What would you add?

Share your story- or ask questions- let’s support each other!

Resources:

Women’s Strength Training Anatomy  by: Frederic Delavier
Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook– I love weight watchers b/c they are all about counting calories but not depriving you of the foods you love.
Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires with God, Not Food by: Lysa TerKeurst
10 Lessons from a Former Fat Girl: Living with Less of You and More of Life  by: Amy Parham
Reshaping It All: Motivation for Physical and Spiritual Fitness by: Candace Cameron Bure and Darlene Schacht

(I have not read all these resources (except 1st- I own it), but they have been recommended to me- let me know if you have resources you want to add)

Linked up here:

http://www.yourthrivingfamily.com/

Link-Up List

Serving Joyfully posted a link-up list that I found short time after I started blogging.

It is so helpful.  I keep it on my desk and use it every week. I have slowly added other link-ups to the list. I wanted to share my updated list, hoping it will bless you and connect you with some awesome women who love God.

Note for Bloggers-

Common “rookie” mistakes when sharing at link-ups (in other words, learn from my mistakes)  :) :

  • Not reading the post parameters for the link-up– for example- posting a devotional post for a marriage encouragement link-up or posting a recipe at a link-up devoted to gratitude.
  • Posting the same post multiple times at same link-up or posting too many articles at a link-up.
  • The host of the link-up may have a preference about whether you put their button (or a link to their site )in your article.  As a courtesy to them, make sure to read and follow their guidelines for how they wish for you to link back to them.

Monday:

Better Mom Mondays @ The Better Mom

Monday Meet Up @ Brooke Covered in Grace

Monday Musings @ What Joy is Mine

Welcome Home Link-up @ Raising Arrows

Mama Moments @ A Mama’s Story

Marital Oneness Mondays @ Alabaster Jar

Tuesday:

Encouraging Women (Titus 2uesdays) @ Time Warp Wife

Domestically Divine @ Far Above Rubies

On Your Heart Tuesdays @ Shanda Oakley Inspires

Gratituesday @ Heavenly Homemakers

Into the Beautiful @ The Scenic Route

Encourage my Heart @ Lessons from Ivy

Teach Me Tuesday @ Growing Home

Homemaking Link-up @ Thankful Homemaker

Titus 2 Tuesday @ Cornerstone Confessions

Heart and Home @ Mercy Ink

Wednesday:

Women Living Well Wed. @ Women Living Well

Homemaking Link-Up @ Raising Homemakers

Women in the Word @ Good Morning Girls

Wise Woman Link-up @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

Into the Word Wednesday @ several co-hosts:

Wifey Wednesday @ To love, honor, and vacuum

Encourage One Another @ Deep Roots at Home

WIP Wednesday @ New Life Steward

Thursday:

Thankful Thursday @ Women Taking a Stand

Legacy Leaver Thursdays @ Leaving a Legacy

Hearts 4 Home @ Our Simple Country Life

Friday:

Consider the Lilies Homemaking Link-up @ Consider the Lilies

Friday Favorite Things @ Finding Joy

Homemaking Link-up @ Homemaker by Choice

Faith Filled Friday @ Beholding Glory

Feminine Friday Link-up @ Finding Beauty with Susan Godfrey

Weekend Whatever Link-Up @ Your Thriving Family

Big Family Friday @ Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling

Faithfully Parenting Friday @ Loving our Journey

Disclaimer:  Though I am recommending linking up to these sites, that does not mean that I agree with all their views or posts. We should always test what we read against God’s Word (and that includes my posts).  Use discretion- and if you have any concerns/questions about these link-ups- please contact me (myheartsmission@gmail.com).

The One That Got Away

harlequin sweetlips (Plectorhinchus chaetodonoides)

I didn’t have many boyfriends in my growing up years and was relatively inexperienced and naive when it came to relationships.  I had some characteristics in mind for that “perfect man” but that view had gotten warped by too many sappy Romantic movies and love songs.

When I got to graduate school, I was feeling content to just be single, focus on getting my degree and working with women in crisis.  I enjoyed coaching soccer and mentoring girls at the college on the side, but I was missing my family.

My brother and I went to college together and then I transferred to another school in my home town.  I had always had my Dad and my three brothers close by.  I guess I didn’t realize how safe that made me feel until they were six hours away.

Then I met, well, we’ll call him John.  He made a great first impression.  Very handsome, charming, training to be a pastor– we hit it off immediately.

Pretty soon we were spending a lot of time together.  I was talking about him a lot to my family over the phone, but it was so hard not having them close to meet him and tell me what they thought.

I still didn’t have any really close friends at graduate school- so there was no one who I could go to and say “what do you think of him?”

Warning sign

Looking back now, there were warning signs– but at the time I just didn’t see it. Single girls out there, this list is for you- married gals- share it with your single friends.  Watch for some unhealthy signs.

  1. Always wants to hang out just the two of you.
  2. Starts to isolate you from friends, acquaintances.
  3. Jealous whenever you talk to another guy.
  4. Controlling- wants to know where you are, doesn’t like you to go out without him.
  5. Spends more time in the bathroom than you do.
  6. Lavish with gifts and compliments- but always leaves you feeling insecure- like you don’t really know where things stand between the two of you.
  7. Feeling like you have to “prove yourself” to him all the time.
  8. Doesn’t have any close friends and doesn’t take you out in group settings with other people.
  9. Compares you to past girlfriends.
  10. Pushes your limits physically.
  11. Talks “big” but does not follow through with actions.
  12. Does not manage money well and/or is still supported by parents.
  13. His vocation causes you to “make excuses” for his behavior.
  14. You feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster when you are with him.

I look at this list and now I feel so foolish.  But he was very convincing in the moment, and he seemed to always do things to make up for the times when he was inconsiderate or behaved selfishly.

I was flattered that such an attractive guy wanted to date me (other women were very envious- everywhere we went- and that fed my ego).

He was different in the beginning of our relationship- I look back now and almost feel like he was reeling me in slowly- and I didn’t realized how far “in” I had fallen.

Before long I had become desensitized to some of his tactics, and I didn’t see how damaging they were.  I really needed a friend to speak truth in love to me, to tell me what they saw when we interacted.

We ended up becoming engaged- and I would have married him if not for the grace of God.  I finally started to wake up- and I found the strength to tell him over the phone it was over.

This relationship did a lot of damage in my life- and left a lot of lingering wounds.  It was years after my hubby and I had been married before I felt fully free from all the “baggage” I was carrying from the relationship.

He was training to be a pastor– that caused a huge blind spot for me.  Just because a man is training for full time ministry does not mean that they will be a good husband.  It is important to use discernment and pray- no matter what- and have your friends and family weigh in.

On a positive note- our AMAZING God can use all things for good- And if I had never dated John- I may never have seen how completely and wonderfully different my husband was from him.

Our relationship was a joy and blessing to me from the start- dating was fun, I loved his friends, he was not jealous or controlling and encouraged me to go out with others.  We enjoyed doing a variety of things together, he managed his money well, was considerate and thoughtful (still is  :) ). He has a servant’s heart.

Sometimes we need to thank God for the ones that got away.  We may have thought that the relationship was right- at the time it hurt to break things off with John-even though I knew it wasn’t the best relationship for me.

Going back to being alone sometimes is hard. We wonder if we are ever going to meet “the one.”

But I thank God that we did not get married, and that He has blessed me with my wonderful husband.

Listen to those words of criticism spoken against the men you are dating.

Think critically and pray- seek advice from women you respect or people who are married that you admire.  Don’t let your emotions override your common sense. 

For such a huge decision- we should approach it with as much objectivity as we can muster (hard when your emotions are involved).

Lord, we pray for discernment in our relationships.  Sometimes when our emotions are involved- we lose objectivity and fail to see the warning signs.  I pray that we would seek the advice of others and be willing to hear and seriously examine criticism of ourselves or the person we are dating.  If there is trouble in our marriage or dating relationship, Lord help us to seek help in the right place, whether it be counseling, advice from another married couple, or going to see our pastor.  May we Honor and give Glory to You in the way we live out our faith in relationships.  Give us the courage to break off a dating relationship if that be Your Will.  In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

 

More Than I Bargained For

Death Valley Dunes

Psalm 4

Answer me when I call to you,
    my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
    have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

How long will you people turn my glory into shame?
    How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?
Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself;
    the Lord hears when I call to him.

Tremble and do not sin;
    when you are on your beds,
    search your hearts and be silent.
Offer the sacrifices of the righteous
    and trust in the Lord.

Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
    Let the light of your face shine on us.
Fill my heart with joy
    when their grain and new wine abound.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, Lord,
    make me dwell in safety.

Sometimes I forget that there is so much we don’t know about each other. As I was working on posts today, I started reflecting on the radical turn my life has taken in the past year.  These past two years have truly been the hardest of my life.

When we moved to GA, once again God drew me away from one of the greatest blessings He has given me and my greatest stumbling block- my amazing Christian friends and family. He tried when Phil and I were first married to teach me this lesson in FL- but I wasn’t hungry for Him then- wasn’t ready to hear His call to a deeper walk.

I can hear your questions- why would God not want you to have friends?  Why would He take you to the wilderness?

This would be my answer now, after all I have been through-To discover my thirst for Him- so that I might finally come to Him on my knees with the full knowledge that the best I have to offer will never be enough.

I can’t do this life without Him- even with friends and family that support me and are amazing- nothing can replace God.  I have found a hungry desperation for Him that I have never had before.

A constant awareness that my own self-sufficiency and desire to control things are road blocks to a deeper intimacy with Him.  Recognizing my reluctance to let my life be interrupted or altered by His priorities.  I want my way- to keep to my list of what’s important.

In so many ways, I am discovering on a deeper level how far sin has infiltrated my life.  How it has weeded its way into nearly everything that I do- affecting my motivations and doing its best to poison any effort I make to serve God.

With these convictions has at times come a heavy heart- a desire to deny what I see- and anger.  Anger at myself for being so sinful, anger at God for making me face it- fear that I won’t be able to change- that I will stay in this state of self-loathing.

Sometimes when I catch a glimpse of my sinful self- I want to run away- to deny- to pretend like it isn’t real.  To rationalize and down play the seriousness of my condition.

But there are two things that keep me holding on- first- my children, second- my new intimacy with God.

First, my children.  I have never loved anyone like I love them.  I know I would gladly give my life for them.  My desire to be a Godly Mom holds me on course when I feel discouraged, when I feel overwhelmed- when I see my own sinfulness in my interactions with them- the desperation I feel to change- to not react the way I do- to be made new.

This keeps me in the Word, in prayer, seeking my Savior.  I know that only in Him can I hope to be the Mom I long to be.

Second, I have tasted God over these past several months in a way that I never have in my life.  It has made me so hungry, and scared- I fear God- I am in awe of His Holiness.

I feel the weight of what He has called me to do- the discipline, the responsibility- and yet I feel a freedom to love like I never have.  A slow release of cares that used to consume me.  My priorities are being altered daily as His Word instructs me and His Holy Spirit convicts me.

I know He is transforming me. I don’t understand it, and many times I don’t see it in myself- and yet I feel this peace sometimes.  A stillness that is so deep and pure- and I want more of that.  I know it is only found in Him- I have to sink into the reality of Him- until the world becomes the strange place and He feels like home.

To keep pursuing all that He is and keep in mind all that He has done so that I do not grow weary and lose heart.  He keeps my burden light- but I have to come to Him- to acknowledge that only in Him can I find rest.  There is no other place in this world where true rest exists.

All that has happened- it is more than I bargained for- Thank you God.

Romans 6:8-18

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to Godthat, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sinand have become slaves to righteousness.

 

He Speaks

Simple and Pretty

He speaks
The world fades
Mirages dissipate
I see solid

Beauty abounds
Joy seeps in
Love pours
Peace comes

I cling
I hunger
I burn
Crying for more

He speaks
Silent awe
Sweet tenderness
I am home.

Thirsty in a Land with No Water

Desert

These past few days have been tough.

I feel God’s presence in my life- I am so thankful for all that He is teaching me- I am soaking it in.

But I miss my friends so much! I miss the effortless conversation- no awkward pauses or uneasiness.

I feel this surge of anxiety thinking about going to Bible Study tonight.  Why?  Because I am afraid I will say something too personal to a group of virtual strangers because I am so desperate for deep and meaningful conversation.

I don’t want to word vomit on anyone.  I have seriously thought about staying home.  I won’t- but I have thought about it.

I am a social butterfly- love meeting new people, love talking and sharing and laughing.  Love cooking for people and having them over.

But right now I am so socially deprived I am afraid that I will be completely selfish in my interaction-not to listening and supporting others but just talking about myself.

I don’t want to be that way, and I know that when I get home afterwards, if I have done that- I will spend several hours potentially replaying the conversations and cringing at the self-centered focus of my conversation.

I just find myself praying- Lord, I don’t know how to do this. 

I am so thirsty- and I know you can’t just jump in the deep end with relationships- most of the time you wade in the shallow for a while and slowly, tentatively step a little deeper over time.

Unless you have an amazing connection or an event takes place that makes you kindred spirits in either pain or joy- relationships just take time.

I know that, but how do I handle it when I’m parched? And the anxiety is stealing my joy.

So I felt bad for even thinking about this and I was telling myself just be joyful- be thankful- list the things you are thankful for in your head- stop thinking negative thoughts.

But then I remembered, you have to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones- with truth.  So, I reached over and grabbed my Bible.

Psalm 40

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.

Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
“The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
you are my God, do not delay.

How does this Psalm start?

I waited patiently for the Lord.  I waited-patiently-for the Lord. 

Lord, I know that I need to trust you- to depend on your strength.  I cannot be the person I long to be apart from you.  May I rest in the shadow of your wings- Lord be my shield.  I rest my hope in you- knowing that you alone will bring the rest I need now in my spirit.

I love you- thank you for sending your Son to save me.  Thank you for freeing me from the power of sin in my life- that I may choose now, in this moment to trust you.  Bless my time of fellowship tonight- help me to love as you love and be slow to speak.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

 

We Were Once Like You

We Were Once Like You  BY: John Newton

Shall men pretend to pleasure
Who never knew the LORD?
Can all the worldling’s treasure
True peace of mind afford?
They shall obtain this jewel
In what their hearts desire,
When they by adding fuel
Can quench the flame of fire.

Flaming Fires of...Firey...ness?

Till you can bid the ocean,
When furious tempests roar,
Forget its wonted motion,
And rage, and swell, no more:
In vain your expectation
To find content in sin;
Or freedom from vexation,
While passions reign within.

Facing reality

Come, turn your thoughts to JESUS,
If you would good possess;
’Tis he alone that frees us
From guilt, and from distress:
When he, by faith, is present,
The sinner’s troubles cease;
His ways are truly pleasant,
And all his paths are peace.

Cross & Clouds

Our time in sin we wasted,
And fed upon the wind;
Until his love we tasted,
No comfort could we find:
But now we stand to witness
His pow’r and grace to you;
May you perceive its fitness,
And call upon him too!

Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before;
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined to part no more:
It is our highest pleasure,
No less than duty’s call;
To love him beyond measure,
And serve him with our all.

Exercise as Worship

Sunset Run
When I was running a few days ago, I started reflecting on what a blessing it is to be able to exercise.

I love running- there is something so reassuring about entering into this familiar habit- feeling my body hit it’s stride, and being more aware of it- the power in my muscles, the beating of my heart.

Running has always helped provide balance for me.  It releases stress, helps to keep my eating habits more healthy, and usually ends up being a time of reflection and prayer.

Exercise can be worship-but what are we worshiping?

Over the years I have also discovered that sometimes exercise can turn into something ugly- to preoccupation with our appearance- to obsession- fixation on our body and trying to perfect it.

We can become consumed with size- looking good in our clothes-eliminating every bit of cellulite.

That obsession can take over our life and leave no room for other more fruitful things- and many times can lead to hours and hours of exercise each day- constant measurements or reaching for the next size, even starvation or eating disorders.

Depriving yourself of more and more calories on a road that you think leads to more happiness.

People notice- they compliment you- it feels good- strokes our ego.  We feel like people see us- or at least they notice our body.

Maybe you have started wearing clothes that show off your figure a little more. We rationalize: You have worked hard for that body after all.

But wait- who’s telling us that this is what we want?  Who’s telling us that this is important?

How will all this time we are devoting to our body image impact us in the future? How does it affect our witness to others, our children?

I Samuel 16:7

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Proverbs 31:30

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

I Peter 3:3-4

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Isaiah 53:1-3 (speaking of Jesus)

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

I started asking myself- looking at some of the above verses, and discovering how empty pursuit of the “perfect body” can be- if I truly believe what God says about beauty, then I should be spending more time focusing on my character than I am focused on perfecting my body.

So when I start to obsess and am spending too much time preening in front of the mirror- I write a verse on that mirror reminding me that my inner reflection is what glorifies God.

My grandmother always said, “It is more important to be beautiful on the inside than the outside.”

We are teaching our daughters about what true beauty is- they see us spending that time in front of the mirror- talking about our bodies- turning and looking with dissatisfaction at that particular area we don’t like or complaining about not being able to fit into that outfit.

I have been so convicted about this, looking back at past seasons- and pray that with God’s help I might be completely free of this struggle with body image.

To rest and be at peace with the body that God has given me.  That I would be healthy, self-controlled, and responsible- but not obsessive.

When I run, I focus on thanking God for a healthy body and the ability to exercise- I don’t focus on size- we don’t own a scale.

I try to avoid prolonged conversations about my weight or losing weight- because I find myself in danger of letting my focus stray to things that are not of God (Philippians 4:8).

Pride so easily slips in- and the world saturates us with images of super-thin women- forcibly trying to brainwash us into believing that if we don’t look like them- we are not beautiful.

We can’t let the lies of the world dictate our priorities.  We must use the truth of God’s Word as our source for what is beautiful- what gives pleasure and glory to God.

Hebrews 13:15-16

15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

true beauty;