Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yesterdays Glory - Part 2

To come to the end of the year always brings
reflection doesn't it?  My mind travels back to all of 2014 and always seems to land on just about the most amazing thing God did this year, short of bringing our church together the way He did.  Still, even our other best God moment of the year has to do with the amazing ways God can show Himself.

I will never forget the day our daughters kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Sylvestre, bounded up the stairs to tell me that our daughter had accepted Christ in her classroom that day.  We lived in New England and the children and I had an amazing little church family.  This church also had a private school right smack in the middle of a tough area of the city.  For a year, I taught 7th grade there while K attended kindergarten downstairs.

To me, when a child accepts Christ at the age of five, you sort of have to wonder, how much do they know?  Sure, it was genuine, but do they understand and will it stick?  As she grew, it was pretty evident that her spirituality was simply a part of who she is.  Yet I found it a little strange that she never asked to be baptized.  We talked about it, maybe twice, but I chose to never, ever pressure her about it because this decision had to come from God and only Him in order to really mean something.

Back when we were in that wonderful New England church, the Yankee went to another church.  During those beginning years when I was just learning to TRY and walk the way Jesus would have me walk, it was tough on us because he didn't really understand why I couldn't go to his church to  learn the way I needed to learn, even though I had tried it and even converted to his religion for a little while.  Bible versus placed on the frig would cause disruption in our house and we were just in completely different places in our lives as far as spiritual growth went.  I just wanted a relationship with Jesus, I didn't want it to be surrounded by a religion, but he did because that was the way he was raised and I needed to try to understand this ( I failed miserably at this most times).

It wasn't until we moved here, and a year later our friend Casey invited us to her church, that we met Roger.  And God used Roger in a HUGE way from the first time The Yankee ever talked to him.  We have attended church together as a family ever since, and our lives have grown by leaps and bounds over the last five plus years.  I  always wondered in the back of my mind during those five years, would The Yankee ever ask to be baptized.  I never mentioned it, I never brought it up, but I filed it away with the prayer that someday, K would also ask to be baptized and I left it in God's very capable hands (how often do we forget how capable His hands truly are?)  As a wife, I suppose I could have nagged him about it.  At the very least, I could have mentioned how important it was TO ME that he get baptized, but what would that have accomplished?  Then he would have gotten baptized and, in the back of my mind, I would have always wondered, did that come from me or was it a genuine heartfelt thing between him and God?

During our last Homecoming, we were driving down the street as a family.  How the conversation began is a blur to me now, I just recall we were not even talking about church at all, when suddenly, The Yankee said, "You know, I don't know what it is, but I can't get it out of my mind that I want Roger to baptize me while I am home this time.  What do you guys think?"  At which point K nearly jumped from the back seat into the front from excitement and proclaimed, "Dad, I have been praying for the right time to get baptized and guess what?  God just showed me my right time. I'm getting baptized with you!!!!"  All along, even though the three of us were clueless to it, God had been having her wait for what will surely be remembered as one of the most special moments of her life. There are very few moments in your life that can bring you to goosebumps and tears at the same time.  This was one of mine. We had not even been aware she had been praying for God's guidance on getting baptized.

So, on a not-so-warm fall day, we traveled down to the freezing cold river with our church family, where Roger allowed The Yankee to help him dunk K.  One thing about K, you never have to guess what she is thinking or how she really feels about something.  Immediately upon being brought up out of the river she screamed, "Holy crap that is COLD!!!"  We laugh about it to this day..its the kind of church we are.  A teenager can come up out the water, yell that and no one gets offended or put off, its just another laughable moment to enjoy.

And then Roger baptized my hubby.

This man who had always believed that since he had been baptized as a baby, there was no need for adult baptism in his life.  God works in miraculous ways, if only we will wait on Him and allow Him to do His work.  I look back so grateful.  Keeping my mouth shut is not one of my strong suites.  But never nagging my daughter or my husband to get baptized, well, those baptisms meant so much more to me because I didn't ask and ask and ask, but instead, learned to pray and wait.

It's a practice, that whole praying and waiting thing.  I often wonder who really perfects it here on this earth?  For me, it seems like I can perfect it in some things, mostly with those I love, but other things I fail miserably at praying and waiting for.  I will say this, God taught me through K and the Yankee that my loved ones are in His hands.  We asked our son if he wanted to be baptized that day along with his sister and his daddy.  We asked him once. He replied "I will think about it."  About a week later he said, "No, I don't think this is my time."  Should we have been disappointed as parents?  Nah, because his time is between him and God and that is going to, one day, make his baptism that much sweeter.  Until then, I will not question him about when he wants it to happen.  I will wait for God to prompt him to let us know its his time.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Yesterdays Glory - Part 1

Do you ever just think like I do that God tries so hard to show us things, but we are still too blind to witness the miracles in the big and the small things He sends us?

Yesterday I witnessed a biggie in my world and it made me reflect on just about the biggest thing that God allowed into our life this past year.  But first, yesterday....

Rewind to a brief history of our wonderful church.  ClearView has been in the area for about five years, formed because a group of locals wanted a place to worship Christ without all of the rigamaroo that goes along with a typical church.  I am sure that I have mentioned our pastor lived two hours away and was a pastor there, then would drive two hours south to be our pastor on Sunday evenings.  A change in his life made it impossible to do that for a year, so we watched a video feed of him preaching for that year.  Or maybe I should say, about 20 of us decided to dig our heals in , do the work, and stay because we loved our church, we loved our pastor, and we all just had a teeny tiny inkling that God was on to something here.  Our county has no other church quite like ours and we had the faith that, if we put the work in, God was going to show up. Even in a middle school band room, with plastic chairs, He was going to show up.

At the end of that year, God showed up in a big way.  He led our pastor Roger and his wife Carol to move to our county FULL TIME, a scenario that was not even possible at the beginning of our difficult year.  About seven weeks ago he became our pastor full time, no more video feeds, no more long travels for them.  They actually live less than two miles from us and I imagine the only move that could make me more excited than that is if my own parents moved that close to us.  So God showed up about seven weeks ago, but still, we didn't know what would happen. Did I mention a band room instead of a church?  Plastic chairs instead of pews? 

Yesterday, on our seventh Sunday as a so called "real" church, I joked that those setting out the chairs were certainly being optimistic.  I had helped set out the first forty chairs, but then someone else came along and just kept adding more and more rows.  I told them they had the 'Field of Dreams' theory, if they set out the chairs, then the people would come. The next thing I knew those plastic chairs were full, even the extra ones.

The special Christmas praise and worship was led by TEENAGERS (no really, you don't understand, we have never had enough teenagers to lead the praise and worship part of the service), one being our ninth grader playing a piano solo of "Carol of the Bells" (because its one of her momma's favorites), as well as another ninth grader accompanying the Richmond twins on guitar with  "I Saw Three Ships" and "Away in a Manger".  There were little ones in the nursery.  I don't know how many in childrens church (no really, you don't understand, there were Sundays where we didn't even need to offer these two services because we didn't need them).  The hospitality table was loaded down.  The message was awesome!  And God, well, He is so good.

I am going to tell it like it is, that year of video feed was as difficult as could be.  Some Sundays were great and joyful, but some Sundays it was difficult to even get out of bed and just show up.  People left and with every person that left, those determined to make the church work had to stop for a moment and regroup.  I can't speak for everyone, but I know I would think, "Wait, are we really doing the right thing here?  Do they see some type of future failure that maybe we just don't have eyes to see right now?"  Then another Sunday would come along and we would plow through, being there for one another and honoring God and our pastor by doing what needed to be done until God decided to show us what He had in store for us. He was good during that difficult year too, because He was doing a work in us that none of us could even see at the time.  Mostly, we just saw that it was difficult.

But boy did He ever show up yesterday!!!!! The following passage was a small part of our sermon yesterday, but it fits right into what God showed me as I looked around that band room in amazement at what God was doing.  (Again, I use The Message in a lot of cases because it is just easier for me to understand.)

Galatians 5:22 - The Message

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

We are called to wait upon the Lord.  This is the third time in my life ( the third time I have recognized) He has shown me the blessings that multiply when we wait for Him amidst the things that just are not easy or comfortable for us.  Sometimes things just don't seem to fit or fall into place, but oh those blessings when we wait for Him to show us instead of following emotions and feelings.  God doesn't rule through our emotions!  He guides our lives through our faith in Him and our trust that He is out to do what is best for us, even when we can't see it for ourselves!

Well, my time is short today and I have run out of time to write about that one HUGE thing that happened this year, so until tomorrow, I will call this part one of two!!!!  Until then, enjoy my second favorite Christmas carol & Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Faith & Worry Do Not Mix

Such a long time since I have written.  I could blame writers block, or being busy.  But the truth is I was just blessed to spend wonderful, wonderful weeks with my husband, and I would not have traded one minute of that time for the two to three hours it normally takes me to sit at this computer screen and pour out my heart in a blog.  Nope, my entire heart gets poured out while he is home, but not on paper or a computer! 

Maybe everyone feels this way, or maybe it is because our life is sectioned out into these time frames, X amount of time together, X amount of time apart, but each time we are together, we seem to grow and learn so much.  I suppose everyone does this, it is just that our learning periods are crammed into these breaks and probably much more obvious to me than the learning people do on a day to day basis.

The Yankee is a humble and private guy.  I pretty much like to shout our life from the rooftops for anyone who cares to listen.  Finding a balance with that, out of respect for him, without bragging on him too much, is NOT easy for me.  But this time, I learned a lot, and God used my husband to show me what it was I needed to learn. (So, Yankee, when you read this, I apologize in advance, but this is truly what I saw and I am so grateful I did!)

Life is never dull around here, though sometimes I almost wish for just a few days that might qualify.  One thing I was really looking forward to was the Yankee getting to see # 59's first football game in quite some time.  So the evening was upon us.  Home games, under the lights, on the turf.  Our son even got picked as team captain, which was a great and thoughtful bonus for his daddy to get to see.  It was going to be a fabulous night.  And it was.  Until the end of the fourth quarter.

As only a mother could notice, our son made a tackle and when he got up, something was not right.  No one around me noticed, no one even saw the team doctor checking him out on the sidelines.  But I saw every moment. The standing test, the eye test.  I knew what was coming.  Diagnosis = concussion #2!  NO WAY God really?  On his daddy's time home from work, when this was the only time he gets to see him play?  Really? Oh I was mad at God.  I was mad because I had prayed for safety, why did I bother?  I was mad because our child loves this game and I hated seeing how scared he was that he might not get to play again.

When we arrived home that night long conversations about football ensued.  To play or not to play.  To wait for future doctors appointments or just make the decision now.  For us as parents to tell our son he couldn't play anymore or to let him make his own decision?  We were talked out and I hated football that night.  Worry took over.  It was all really stressful for me, even though, as I read this now, it almost sounds trivial and like something I should not have been stressed about.  I have never been so grateful for bedtime in my life.  As I do every night, I went and said goodnight to each of the kids, #59 already crashed out from the pain pounding in his head.  I needed to chill out so I went to the kitchen to grab my phone so that I could mindlessly check my Facebook page and emails before going to bed.  But as I crossed through the living room, something caught my eye down the hallway to our sons room.  It was the Yankee.  On his knees next to our sons bed praying for him......I'm sorry, lets go back.  Did you see what I was doing?  Checking Facebook and emails. 

People often think that, because we are allowed such a small amount of time together as a married couple that our life must be all unicorns and rainbows, but I promise you, we argue just like any normal couple.  Not screaming, fighting, punching holes in walls arguing, but we can discuss things, and discuss things and discuss them some more until we get it hashed out.  So we came across one of these times while he was home and I found myself extemely frustrated because I couldn't find the words I needed to get my point across. Giving up, I went to bed and zoned out on my phone, all the while worried about how I could get my point across.  After a bit, I got up to get a drink of water, but stopped short as I went through the living room because there he was, on his knees at the couch, praying for us.  I'm sorry, lets go back.  Did you see what I was doing this time?  Of course you did, because it was the same thing I was doing last time, worrying, stressing, CHECKING MY PHONE!!!!!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

We went to DC with daddy during this trip home.  While there we attended a church where the preacher said something to the effect of, "You can be a Christian for 25 years and still be the same Christian you were year one, or you can grow with each of those 25 years until you come closer to the person God is trying to make you into."  Spiritual maturity.  Of which I clearly have none!  Seriously, here I am, 43 years old,  upset with God because He isn't doing what I want Him to do for me instead of hitting my knees and asking Him what I could do for Him to make these situations better.

A few nights ago I had dinner with one of my besties.  In describing to her a scenario in my life that I was a little perplexed over, she said, "Well, did you pray about it?"  So, I have just spent the past five weeks, watching my husband turn to God in each situation.  I visibly saw what it was He was trying to show me by using The Yankee as an example, and after five weeks of that, I STILL took a situation to a friend that I hadn't thought to pray about!!!  I suddenly realized that, I am almost halfway to the point of being a 25 year Christian still living like its my first year of being one.  Like a child throwing a tantrum, when things get tough, I get mad and don't turn to Him because I feel as though He isn't doing enough for me.

So today and everyday I will ask, "What can I do for YOU Jesus? Even in tougher situations, what can I do to honor You that might make this situation better?" I can't imagine the possibilities when I take my mind of the "me" mentality and ask what I can do for Him instead...leaving it all at His feet, not just saying I will!!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Worm Holes, Dog Holes & True Tragedy

We live a blessed life, even if it is as imperfect as a beautifully picked apple with a worm hole right through the center of it.  I look around at the weeds in the garden, the holes both of our dogs have dug in the yard that I have tried to keep looking so nice for The Yankees arrival home, the paint chipping off our charming southern front porch and I think, even with all that is imperfect, we have rooted ourselves in this place and life is blessed beyond belief.

I have spent the past five weeks battling one thing or another, the devil pretty much bent on stealing my peace.  Our daughter became frighteningly ill at the beginning of July.  So ill in fact that, I, the avoider of all doctors at all costs, rushed her to the emergency room at midnight one night because I literally thought her appendix was going to explode right on the spot.  Well, thankfully ,it wasn't her appendix. And thankfully some of those doctors I try  so hard to avoid are very dear friends of ours and they took really great care of her, even though we never truly figured out exactly what was happening to her over those five weeks.  Now that she is back in school, she calls this "the summer that I lost"...oh the drama of a teenage daughter in the house!!! But I ended up being so grateful for her attitude during the whole thing.  Frustrated as can be, she never lost track of keeping a positive attitude and knowing she would get better.

The end of summer also equals the true ramping up of football season.  Though the guys have been training since spring, they technically couldn't put their pads on and hit until this past week.  Oh the excitement of it all!  There is a short list of things I love in this world more than football.  Which is why a bunch of us moms (and to their credit, there are a handful of dads out there too) still sit and watch football practice each and every day, even though our boys are in middle school.  If I am not planted next to that field between 330 and 630, you can bet it is because our daughter needs to be with her tennis trainer because that is THE only other place I would be!

Well, this week we had a special guest come to visit, my husbands cousin surprised us from Georgia, but they were only able to visit us for one hour during a break from a golf tournament about sixty miles away.  I was so thrilled to see her as we made plans to meet at the house, visit for about thirty minutes, then, I would drag she and her husband along for the last 30 minutes so she could see her little cousin, and her fathers namesake, practice a little bit of football.  But before we could get twenty minutes into our visit, I received THE DREADED PHONE CALL from my dear friend, "Your son is on the ground and he is not moving."  Frantic frenzy ensued as I rushed the five miles to the football field, hubbies cousin trying to keep up with my speeding car, then off to the emergency room.  Again, note I said emergency room, not a decision I make lightly, I was really scared that he had hurt himself horribly.

Luckily it was only a cervical sprain and nothing a couple days off football hasn't already cured. But we had only enjoyed one week of our daughter being well before we found ourselves back in the emergency room.  A place we have only seen twice since we moved here, I have now been to twice in one month.I started to get really mad at God.  I had been praying for weeks and weeks for the children's new school year to go safely and smoothly and already we had been faced with the possibility that our daughter might not even get to start school on time, and safety went out the window on our sons third tackle of his first practice in pads. It took a friend to remind me to find something to be grateful for..maybe his smaller injury had kept him from practicing during a time when he might have gotten hurt worse, or maybe us going to the emergency room kept us from a car accident going home at our normal time...just something to praise God for during all the commotion.
For more about gratitude, please visit

I finished my five weeks of stressfulness dotting my i's and crossing my t's with the towns Historical Society...all because we are putting a basic, architectural shingled, black roof on our 100 year old cottage. It can not be done without their approval, which we will not know if we have gained until the day before the contractor (whom we have already hired) is slotted to do the work!  Yikes!  I suppose finding out that our house was technically in the historic district of town was something we might want to have looked into before purchasing the house! Since we aren't asking for a purple metal roof with shag carpet accents, my expectations are high for this to all work out! I balanced out my frustration over this task with gratitude that the woman at City Hall was so nice and helpful, and that the hardware store literally handed over the sample of the roofing shingles I needed to show the historical society with a quick "Just return them when you can"....they didn't even take my name or anything! Sometimes small town living still blows me away with its ease and comfort!

All of this to say, there are people all over our town who are truly hurting.  Friends who are dealing with children that are really sick, not just dealing with some quick emergency room visits as I have had to do over this past month. I saw a request today for furniture needed for a family that has NONE and yet I have the nerve to gripe about dealing with a Historical Society over a roof that will cover our heads and protect all that we DO have?

There are people all over this country who are having to live through unspeakable things.  Just this week, a Mother and Father in New Hampshire sat on their living room couch and watched a video of the beheading of their precious son by ISIS.  No one should ever, EVER have to witness something like that. I would be completely lying to you if I said that my husbands work in that part of the world and these types of things do not bother me, that living each day and thinking "Usually he has emailed by now, is he ok?" isn't my way of life.  But when peace is no where to be found, I battle it the way I try to battle anything negative, big or small...with gratitude.  In this scenario, I always find myself grateful that I have my husband...grateful for his ever growing faith, so, so much stronger than my own, and grateful for his willingness to follow Gods will for his life,no matter where it takes him.

Gratefulness is the only defense I have against a world that seems to be turning more and more upside down by the day. It puts my "problems" into perspective.  It hopefully helps me to have a heart for those who are dealing with huge issues.  Gratitude helps me to see that there is still beauty, there is still good, and there is always God.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fist Pump

One of my favorite visuals comes from back when I was still in New England and just a baby in Christ.  Each Sunday morning before church service would begin, I was privileged to sit in a circle with some of the most supportive women. We would all discuss our struggles, hurt for one another, and pray for one another.  One day we spoke of how satan would just love to see us fall, to see me give up on my marriage, to see so and so stop praying for her sons salvation, to see us all stop praying for healing for another sweet lady in the group.  Then a friend told us all the story of how her old pastors wife would go through her house with a broom and get all of the corners of the rooms and yell to satan that he HAD to get out of her house, he had no place there.

Many people do not even like to talk about the devil.  Some don't believe in him. Some believe he has so much power, that if you go through your house with a broom, yelling and screaming at him like a wild person, all you will do is just get his horns all ruffled and your problems will become worse, not better.  All I know is,  his name has sure been coming up a lot lately.

I am blessed with two West Virginia buddies that wish to see marriages saved as much as I do.  One touched base this weekend, heartbroken over hearing another marriage broken up, this time by infidelity and wondering why the devil just wouldn't leave people alone, leave families alone.  But here is the deal folks....satan doesn't just swoop into these marriages ( insert your ordeal here in place of marriage), swirl everything around like the Tasmanian devil, and then run off laughing and rubbing his hands together.

He may find a way to sneak in without knocking at a time when our guard is down, but we are the ones who have to give him permission to STAY.  We are the ones who make the choices day by day, minute by minute to allow the things he wants to see happen to continue happening.  Many of us, myself included in many aspects of my life, just simply and honestly do not want that personable accountability. Or maybe we just don't have the self-discipline.  I can promise you from having been there that it is one thousand times easier to stay in a place where you are miserable than to work your tail off day by day to get out of that place.  But difficult as it may be, the end is so blessed and so worth all of the hard work!

As always, I love to go to for some of the best reasoning on things.  I loved this quote on overcoming satan in your life:

 "As Christians, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us overcome sin (1 John 4:4). We have everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). If we sin, we have no excuse. We cannot blame the devil. We cannot blame our circumstances. We can only blame ourselves. And, until we recognize that the problem resides within us (Romans 7:20), we will never arrive at the solution."

I am choosing to quote 1 John 4:4, not because I feel like playing Bible bingo today or taking anything out of context, but because this is what I need to see the most today:

1 John 4:4The Message (MSG)
4 My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. 

Having fought some major battles in my life, at this point, my battle is in doing the little things God calls me to do each and every day.  I hear Him, but then I turn away from that and follow my own plan, just as the devil swoops around my mind and I allow myself to be diverted from what I know I need to be doing.  What is it that God has called you to do?  What if, right here and now, we choose to absolutely believe that the Spirit that is in us is stronger than ANYTHING IN THE WORLD!!!!  Doesn't that include the devil?  I believe it does!  So here is what I am going to do...I am going to throw my fist up in the air and tell the devil to back OFF.  Don't think I won't run around my house like a crazy woman with a broom kicking satan out if I have to!  But the point is we all have to DO SOMETHING!  Start with believing the strength of the Spirit within you, then throw that fist in the air and tell the devil where to go!!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I Admit It...I'm A Hypocrite

Yesterday I ran into a friend who is battling cancer.  In talking with her, I told her that I feel a bit like a hypocrite.  Many, many times I fall into a self-pity mode.  The Yankee goes off to do his job, which happens to take him far away, and each time he goes, people spend the first week saying "Whatever you need, we are here for you , anything at all."  Then they spend the second week asking about him.  Then, by week three, most are so engrossed in their own lives that they don't even ask anymore how he is or do we need any help with anything. I am putting my heart out there when I share with you that this hurts and it is frustrating. But, as my beautiful niece likes to remind me, I also bring this upon myself by appearing strong enough that I do not need help...and, as has always been hard for me.... asking for it.  If I am at the point of asking you for help, you can bet it is killing me to do so.

 In the beginning, we did a few things to help my friend with cancer. Now that her battle has continued, we have prayed, yes, but not so much as plopped a card in the mail to let her know we are continuing to pray for her. Why? Because my life got busy.  Our daughter got really sick, our son needed to be at football practice, meals needed to be cooked, grass continued to grow, laundry refused to wash itself...well, you get the idea. I allowed life to get in the way of being a faithful servant to someone who could probably really use my time.

Several years back I had the privilege of meeting a wonderful woman named Shirley.  Such a sweet woman. At that time, Shirley was still suffering greatly over the recent loss of her beloved husband. She sat across from me and spoke so sweetly, tears pouring down her face, of how she would still look at the door and expect to see him walk in.   The tears became heavier when she spoke of the realization that she would have to go to bed alone, knowing he would never walk through the door again.  As I sat and cried with Shirley, I had never so clearly understood Gods commands that we take care of the widowed.  

When you harvest your grain and forget a sheaf back in the field, don’t go back and get it; leave it for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that God, your God, will bless you in all your work. When you shake the olives off your trees, don’t go back over the branches and strip them bare—what’s left is for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. And when you cut the grapes in your vineyard, don’t take every last grape—leave a few for the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow. Don’t ever forget that you were a slave in Egypt. I command you: Do what I’m telling you. (The Message)

I vowed that day that I would visit Shirley.  Then life grew hectic, the calendar continued to turn, and another friend and I vowed we would go visit Shirley.....,..needless to say, season after season has passed and I still could not even tell you where Shirley lives.

I do not mean to be so hard on myself.  Or maybe I do. These are only two fairly recent examples. Difficult times spring up all around me.  Peoples lives open up like sinkholes, explode like geysers, hot, painful water spouting up through the cracks in their very being.  People that could use a helping hand, a kind act, an ear to listen. Is it my responsibility to help or do I concentrate on myself, say I am too busy, and count on the next person to do it?  If God grants us the gift of eyes to see the suffering, a heart to feel others hurt, then shouldn't we have the grace to find a way to help?  I would like to say I would help anyone with anything, but then, well, opportunities present themselves and I don't.  And yet  I would be ecstatic for people to help us when The Yankee isn't around.  Right there!  Did you see it?  I am a hypocrite. Or I am human.  All I know is, I want to do better. And as with all I write about, doing better is a choice I must make.

I would love to hear thoughts on this one, maybe so I have folks to sympathize with over the "we all get busy" or maybe to hear how you overcome your own self and get out there and do what God has called you to do! Either way, hearing from you keeps me going, keeps me writing!

Til next time ya'll have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I Have Fingernails!!!

Ok, I know right now you are probably thinking I have truly lost it and what on earth does a picture of my hand have to do with anything??? Well, let me tell you what I did two weeks ago!!

Many of you know I love, love, love to study nutrition.  And no offense to all of our wonderful doctor friends, but I will spend a week looking for a home remedy before I will step foot in, or take our kids to, a doctors office!  So I like to study nutrition, and sometimes I implement and stick to the things I learn, and sometimes I don't.  Here are some things I have stuck with over the years:

*  having suffered through "pass out if I jump up too fast" anemia for years, finding out I am allergic to over the counter and prescription iron supplements, and even enduring week after week after week of an iron drip, (costing our insurance company over 10.000 and having a nurse unknowingly hook me up to a chemo drip one of those times), only to have my iron levels drop dramatically again a year later..I cured it myself with black strap molasses.  One tablespoon a day...boom, done.

* I inherited a thyroid issue from my moms side of the family.  I believe she and all of her siblings take meds for their thyroid.  About three years ago now, I had my first bad reading on my thyroid levels and began taking L-tyrosine.  No doctor has mentioned that I need thyroid medicine since then.

* I also take B17 as a form of cancer prevention as both my maternal grandmother and my mom had breast cancer.  Obviously, I have no way of knowing if this one actually works, but I certainly pray it does, and from everything I have read about it, it does.

To be very real with you, the last time The Yankee was home, I gained 10 pounds out of no where!  I am 5'1 folks, ten pounds might as well be 25.  My clothes didn't fit and I was exhausted the entire time he was home. Keep in mind that during this time we were training for and running a 5k, and I STILL managed to gain all that weight and feel yucky! The weight did not bother me near as much as the exhaustion.

When he left, I managed to do the old diet and exercise routine and drop six of those pounds, but something just seemed so off.  I could NOT drop the last four. But it was more than that.  The exhaustion was still there, my joints and muscles ached, and my stomach stayed so bloated that my clothes still didn't fit right even though I was only carrying an extra four pounds. I even made a doctors appointment!!!!  That is how bad I felt!

I asked God to show me what it was that diet and exercise wasn't taking care of.  I went to the library and what jumped out at me was a book on Food Intolerance.  And it clicked!  I eat  pretty healthy, but that doesn't matter at all if you are eating foods that your body can't process.

So I cut out a bunch of stuff two weeks ago:

Eggs ( which I rarely eat in the summertime anyway, weird, I know)
Soy (which I had already cut out because it is SO bad for your thyroid, but I learned it is HIDING in so many things and under different names!)
Dairy (OUCH!  I might have cried over this one, cheese is my friend, and a go-to protein snack for me, plus I only cook with real butter not margarine)
Sugar (again, we eat really low amounts of sugar, and I am good at making some tasty treats with stevia, so this one wasn't too, too hard)
Peanuts (easy, I like all nuts except for peanuts, but I do like my peanut butter, so I had to purchase almond butter instead)
Corn (this one was harder than you might think, corn is my go to side veggie around here, and I love to snack on air-popped popcorn with nutritional yeast sprinkled all over it!)

and last, but not least.....

Gluten (bye-bye bread and favorite food group!!  I am still in mourning!)

Before you go thinking I really am nuts, I only have to give these up for three weeks.  After that I re-introduce one a week for the next seven weeks and see how my body reacts. (this is all based on the JJ Virgin philosophy of food intolerances and how we can use food to heal our bodies.)

I thought my first week was going to be tortureous and prepared myself for such.  I was a little tired on day one and day two, but by day three, I could already tell that I was on to something. My joints and muscles had almost completely stopped aching and my stomach was no longer bloated at all.

Once a month I would kill for a glass of chocolate milk.  In our house we call this my temporal fracture phase (sorry all you non movie buffs, it's a Men In Black 3 reference, we watch way too many movies in our house!!)  Last week I was determined to pass up this craving...and I did, that is, until I rushed my kids and my friends two little kids in for a quick ice cream.  That vanilla milkshake looked better than any glass of chocolate milk ever.  I knew it before I drank it of course.  I knew it was not going to go over well...but it was way worse than I expected...way, way worse!! I may never look at a vanilla milkshake again.

Then my best friend flew in from Florida and we wanted sushi...... twice:)  It was worth it to get to sit with her and enjoy our time over some yummy food, but after her three day visit, I was up three pounds, my stomach was bloated again, and I had to restart my three week process.

So now I am on the beginning of week two (after the restart).  How's it going?  Well, I had lost six pounds.  But that milkshake on day 7 and my awesome visit from my bff, literally caused me to gain those three pounds. Now that I started over I lost those in no time and am back to six pounds gone. Losing weight was just a bonus though.  I can't tell you how good I feel!  My joints and muscles stopped aching for a time, but then with my indulgences, they are hurting again, so hopefully after a couple of days that will go away again, I am not as tired, and I have fingernails!  I have never, ever had fingernails in my life.

It will be interesting to see what happens in 13 days when I can reintroduce foods again, but, to be honest, I am not 100% sure I even want to.  What we put into our bodies is so important.  Food can make us sick, or it can heal us. Do I hate that I can't just eat whatever I want?  Yes I DO!  But I LOVE that I have control over how I feel.  I can eat that sushi and drink that milkshake, but I can't complain about how horrible I feel after because I already knew I was going to feel that way!  I think many of us feel helpless when it comes to our health, but I think if we could take control over a lot of issues based on what we put INTO our bodies, we would all feel more empowered and realize what a huge difference we can make in our own health.

All of that being said, I am cheating on one part of the JJ Virgin philosophy..and if you know me, you know what is coming next...stupid diet worst habit ever...and I know what it does...and I know I was supposed to give it up for this...but I gave up cheese...and bread...and sugar.....and finally, could not bring myself to give up the soda.  So say a prayer for me that I will make this choice that I need to make so badly for my overall health.  I just don't want to give it up right now, and til I do, I will just have to deal with the memory fog and sugar cravings and goodness knows what else it is causing!

Will keep everyone posted on the results of this food intolerance testing!  I am loving it right now and feel like a million bucks!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Knuckles to the Door Folks

We have a very special situation at our church.  Our pastor lives two hours away, so we video feed him in, for now, and he drives down here twice a month to do a Monday night Bible Study.  We are VERY blessed that in just a few short months, he and his wife will be moving here and we will have him in person every Sunday!

Our Bible Study is not really the emotional type of Bible study I am used to.  I am used to Beth Moore or maybe Priscilla Shirer, both of whom I really enjoy.  I am used to drawn out prayer requests that involve a lot of tears from folks (a lot of the time they are MY tears)..and I really like those emotional Bible Studies because, hey, we all need times where we can just unload what is on our hearts.  When you can do it with a group of fellow believers that you know will be praying for you, well, all the better I say!

But Roger started by teaching us the complete history of the Church.  I have been a Christian for 11+ years and never once heard the History of the Church.  Then we moved on to simply studying the Sermon on the Mount.  What I like about Roger is that he teaches us a lot of principles.  What I am about to write here is what I gleaned from the last Bible Study I attended a few weeks ago.  It was simple, yet life changing for me, and I feel like it could be life changing for someone out there reading as well.

In discussing how Jesus used the Sermon on the  Mount to teach principles, Roger brought up how our lives are a spiritual journey with no destination until we die.  During the journey, a lot of us Ask God for things, the way children often do, with a deep longing for the actual thing we are asking for.  For the sake of this blog, I am going to ask you to think of something you have asked for. Something that you have really prayed for....something you just wanted God to fix. Maybe a problem that you couldn't find a solution to.

A lot of times we go a step further and we Seek things out.  Roger put it best when he said Seeking actually puts "feet to our prayers" because we are doing the action of looking.  Also, seeking implies that you do not see something, but still, you have faith and you are willing to look for it. For whatever reason, maybe one of you reading can explain it to me, this next part is what I felt was so life changing:  If you choose NOT to seek, your journey in life with most definitely be SAFE. You will do your routine, you will go to church because that is what you do on a Sunday morning, and you will even go to Heaven because you have given your life to Christ.  But if you choose not to Seek, you actually missed the journey God had planned for your life.  So you actually got the joy of knowing Christ and getting to go to Heaven, but you missed out on God's plan because you decided to play it safe!  I don't know about you, but this has me thinking about my problems and my mind is swirling thinking about solutions so that I can SEEK out the next thing I am supposed to do!  Go back to the problem you thought of earlier...are you truly seeking or do you believe there is no solution? That God just can't handle this one or maybe you think He doesn't want to????

And, according to Rogers Bible Study, the next thing you have to do is KNOCK.  You arrive, but YOU have to step through the door.  It isn't enough that you asked for it.  It isn't enough that you went out and looked for it.  But you have to physically put your "knuckles to the door" (Roger's words, not mine), knock, make an effort, make a choice!!!  There's my word again...choice!

I saw this online the other day, which may or may not make me the only blogger mixing Johnny Depp and Jack Sparrow with Christianity (we love Jack Sparrow in our house!). And I hope I am doing justice to what our Pastor was saying.  Like little kids, we all see a problem and will pray and pray and pray for it to be fixed, but how many of us take that next step of faith in seeking the journey God has planned for us?  Isn't it EASIER to play it safe?  I believe most of us are caught up in some type of fear, where, playing it safe in our fear that we KNOW is way easier than stepping out, seeking, putting our knuckles to the door as Roger says, and making an effort to improve things.  We would rather remain safe, a victim to our circumstances, than take a stand in our faith, in Christ and all He has done for us, all He wants to do for us, and change things.

Satan will give us ideas, fears. Oh how he would love to see us in that position of forever asking and asking and asking.  Don't you just bet Satan has a field day every time one of us decides to play it safe? Every time one of us sees a little bump in the road and takes the safety route? Everytime one of us asks and asks for help with a problem and gets frustrated and a bad attitude with God because He isn't answering our problem.  But what if God wanted us to see that our attitude was part of the problem?  That, in deciding to play it safe, we stuck ourselves in a position, God didn't leave us stuck in a position.

And while Satan will give us ideas, thankfully I serve a God who can recreate us and do amazing things.  Heck, He even takes our problems and turns them into amazing blessings, if only we ask, seek, and knock.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Freed From Church

It is no secret how much The Yankee and I love, not only our church, but our Pastor, Roger, who has become such a dear friend to us over the years. Offending anyone is never on my agenda.  This post may touch a nerve with some readers, and if so, I would ask you to ask yourself why does it? And then see if the Holy Spirit doesn't reveal an answer to you! God is good like that!!

We call ourselves, "The Church That Doesn't Care"....that does not mean we don't care about the people that come into the church.  Quite the opposite actually, it means a lot of things.  We don't care what you wear.  Prime example...I am part of the Praise and Worship team.  I can promise you there have been Sunday mornings where I have stood on stage and sang in jeans and a sweatshirt.  Amazingly my voice sounds the EXACT same as it does when I am dressed up!  We don't care where you came from or how much money you have or don't have. We just want you there, learning about Jesus right along side us.  We also do not care about "churchy" things.  If it is your goal to be a deacon or a committee member, then our church might not be for you, we don't do either.  If your idea of going to church means you just have to attend a business meeting every week, then you probably wouldn't like our church either.  We don't do business meetings.

Maybe you are wondering how we survive without all of the normal "church" things.  Truly you haven't even heard the two biggest things yet.  One, we do not pass an offering plate.  Ever.  And two, we will never have a building.  Ever.  We meet at the local middle school and I can tell you that after all these years, I leave that middle school feeling closer to God and having grown more than I ever could have in any church building.  "Why would you not have a building?" You might be asking yourself.  Simple.  All of our money goes back to the community. Since our church has zero bills, we are free to help out those in need as much as we can. I am presumptious enough to believe God might just be totally on board with this concept!!!

Do you ever feel like "church" has lost the meaning of what "church" is supposed to be about?  I shudder when I hear of the fights over things that happen at churches..but the amazing thing is, when there is no building, no committees, and your focus is actually on Jesus and helping others (where it is supposed to be, if I am not mistaken), then there is nothing to argue about to begin with.  Suddenly the church becomes "free" to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit without the "nagging wife" in the background always griping about something.

This may be news for some folks, but success isn't about how many people come to a church.  Success isn't even about how much money that church brought in that week.  From a church stand point success should be about how many people grew closer to Christ that Sunday.  That's it.  Period.  NOTHING ELSE.  And if no one in church is growing closer to Christ because they are worried about how many people to get through the doors or how to spend the money, then the flat out truth is "church" isn't doing it's job.