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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rain...

Seemed like a good day to bring this back out again...

Originally posted on May 20, 2008.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Contemplations

I think twice now, my update tag on Facebook has said that I am "contemplating". Well, if you are still wondering (Goodlet :-) and D.T. :-) :-)), here are the things I have been thinking about. It is amazing to me how many times these last two weeks I have tried to write and rewrite and rewrite these thoughts. I pray God will bring them all together in some coherent manner. Stay with me... I haven't written for a while... this could be long~

Do you like to walk in the rain? If you are anything like me, you don’t. I have never particularly cared to wade through muddy puddles or to take a leisurely stroll while lightning illuminated the sky and the storm clouds poured their cold, wet offering on my head. Faced with a good, long thunderstorm, I am more the type of person to retreat to the warm, safe, lightning-free refuge of my bed and a good movie. In all actuality, I don't even really like showers. I much prefer a long bath in a deep tub, filled with HOT water, and jacuzzi jets (not a reality yet, but hey, a girl can wish). All this would not be complete without a good book, or better yet a conversation with my LORD! Perhaps you disagree (about showers vs. baths, that is), but don't call me crazy. We all have our preferences and I very much enjoy my self-designated prayer tub, um, I mean closet!!

So, what does this all have to do with rain? Well, other than the fact that we all have to get clean in one way or another, there are some very real spiritual applications to be made between rain and suffering. You may have noticed over the years that there are a lot of references to rain (or at least water) in the songs we sing, spiritual or otherwise... "There shall be showers of blessing", "Holy Spirit, Rain Down", "Singing in the Rain". I don't know about that last one - I don't think you will ever find me singing in the rain. How about "Blessed be Your name... where streams of abundance flow". They all sound happy, or at least positive, don't they? Unfortunately, life isn’t always so happy. And the rain isn’t always so pleasant.


Allow me to take you back to a time in my “prayer closet” :-) when God spoke to me and I didn’t really understand the full implications of His words. Numbers 31:23-24 says “…anything else that can withstand fire must be put through the fire, and then it will be clean. But it must also be purified with the water of cleansing. And whatever cannot withstand fire must be put through that water. On the seventh day wash your clothes and you will be clean.” The first time I read this was in 2003, not long before D.T. and I made the move to seminary. At the time, I realized that God intended to take me through a time of purification and cleansing. However, being younger than I am now and having experienced less than I have now, I did not have a clear picture of what that would actually feel like in my life. Initially, the fire sounded like the difficult part and the water sounded gentle and refreshing, even healing. In hindsight, though, as painful as the fire can be, there are times when I wish the rain would just stop – or at least slow down. Have you ever been there? Have you ever wondered when your circumstances would line up with your idea of how they should be? Have you ever wished the sun would peak out through the clouds and make the storms go away? Have you ever wished God would just hurry up and show His purpose through your pain?

It is interesting just how many references there are to rain and water in the Bible… floods, drought, dew. Some are indications of fruitfulness (Acts 14:17), success (Deuteronomy 28:12), provision (Exodus 16:4), abundance (Psalm 68:9), and God's blessing (Hebrews 6:7). Others speak of curse (Genesis 7:4), judgment (Exodus 9:18), futility (Deuteronomy 28:24), and a lack of God's presence (Deuteronomy 11:17). Notice the common thread? It is God who controls the rain, using it for His purpose. What is that purpose? To continue the process of purification? To clean those areas of our lives that can’t withstand the fire? In the end, God promises us that He is fair (Matthew 5:45) and that spring will come (Song of Solomon 2:11-12a).


Then, God is no respecter of persons. The purpose of the rain, or lack thereof, may be different for you than it is for me, but the rain itself does not change. We don't have any control over the fact that it rains, but we can control how we respond to the rain. You see, the rain does something to us. For better or worse, it changes our appearance. It can make us cold and wet or it can wash away our dirt. It changes our perspective. It can cloud our vision, or help us to see things as they really are. It changes our entire being. It can bring fear and destruction or it can bring growth, refreshment, and renewal.

Over the last few weeks, God has allowed me... and probably you too :-)... to witness a lot of literal rain. As He did, He gave me some insights into the way rain can be in our lives. The first happened the night of the seminary banquet when we actually had some tornadoes in the area. While they did not touch down anywhere near where D.T. and I live, the effects were far reaching and intense. The storm was angry and destructive as the winds blew and torrential rains poured from the dark sky. Upon returning home, we sat in the car not wanting to brave the elements, knowing there was no way to escape untouched, even with an umbrella. The only choice we had was to move forward and then to dry off once we got inside. The second happened the night we traveled to the parking lot of a nearby store to meet with a friend. It had been raining off and on for some time, and although it was not causing any damage we could observe, the rain was steady and persistent. We tried to stand outside to have a conversation, but found the cold, damp conditions very distracting and too uncomfortable to tolerate. Eventually, we retreated to the warm, dry, and much more pleasant atmosphere of our vehicle. The third happened a cool, breezy Saturday morning as I took our puppy Ben outside. The rain was easy and cool – quite refreshing, actually. The sun showed through the clouds as the drizzle lightly landed on my face. It was the kind of rain that you could almost see the grass drinking it in and the flowers opening to receive it.


I would like to share one last thought which connects in some way in my mind. Several weeks ago, God drew my attention to Luke 14:25-35, and specifically verse 33 (NAS), which says “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” At the time, I was reading the New Living Bible, and the words used in that version spoke directly to some strange circumstances and emotions I had been experiencing. It said, “So no one can become my disciple unless he first sits down and counts his blessings–and then renounces them all for me.” You see, for 11 years – maybe even all my life, I have wanted nothing more than the blessing of being a mother. I believed God promised me that blessing. However, following the adoption training weekend we attended several weeks ago, I had the most unusual feeling (at least to me) that I did not want to have a child at all. It seemed strange first, because I have never had this type of feeling before and second, because we believed God had released us to pursue our family through adoption. Why now would I feel this way? I have shared this with a few people and explained that I don’t believe it is a permanent feeling, but that God is using it at this time for my protection during a waiting period of unknown length or to teach me something. It is interesting that the word used for possessions in the NAS version of verse 33 is the Greek word uparco, which means “being” or “exist”. To some extent, my perspective of being has been entirely wrapped up in the pursuit of becoming a mother. You could say it was my “heart’s desire”. But valid as the desire may be, I can’t let it get in the way of being His disciple. I must be willing to renounce my blessing and follow Him. Unfortunately, on my own, I did not have the strength to put it in the fire. After all, God recognized my desire and promised me its fulfillment, right? True, but not only… He also asked me to do those things that are pleasing in His sight (1 John 3:22)… to give up all my possessions, my desires, my existence, my being – for the sake of following Him. And so, I believe God used the rain – not the angry, destructive rain or the steady, persistent rain, but rather the light and refreshing rain. In quietness, He simply took my desire away, and showed me what it feels like to not need something else more than I need Him.

Embracing His Joy, Hope, & Peace...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Memorial Box Monday Tuesday ~ They held up his arms!



Welcome to Memorial Box Monday,
as hosted by Linny @ A Place Called Simplicity!

I know it is Tuesday, but Linny did not post before I went to bed last night, and I just saw this early this morning! I've missed doing one of these the last few weeks, and I've been preparing this one for a little while, so here goes... :o)

Exodus 17:12
But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

Do you know this story? It is the one where the children of Israel are in a fight with the Amalekites. Moses stands on the hill overlooking the battle. As long as he holds his hands up, the children of Israel prevail. But... when he lets his hands down, the tables turn, and the Amalekites prevail. Naturally, though, his arms get tired. So, Aaron and Hur hold up the arms of Moses, one on each side, until the sun goes down and the Amalekites are defeated!

I find two things in the rest of this passage very interesting:

1. end of v. 12 ~
his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

2. v. 14-16 ~
And Jehovah said unto Moses,
Write this for a memorial in a book
,
and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua:
that I will utterly blot out the remembrance
of Amalek from under heaven.

And Moses built an altar,
and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi;

And he said, Jehovah hath sworn:
Jehovah will have war with Amalek
from generation to generation.


Okay, I'll admit... I thought the memorial book reference was cool in light of Linny's Memorial Box posts. It really is scriptural to remember what God has done in your life... to remind you... to teach your children... to encourage others. Beyond that, though, I love that the Scripture notes that Moses' hands were steady as long as they needed to be because others were holding him up.

Throughout my entire battle (yes, it has been a battle) in desiring a child, I have recognized the intercession of others who have prayed for me when I have not known how to pray for myself. There are a handful, in particular, who I know have consistently prayed for me and some who I don't even know about... but somehow, I know they are there. Does that even make sense??? An even smaller number of people are still praying for me, even though I have shared with them where I am. That I recognize this might not be God's plan. That I am at peace with that. Persistent little buggers, aren't they! :o) There are those one or two... maybe even three... who believe God is going to do something incredible in our lives. They are believing for me at a point where I am unable or unwilling to believe for myself. They are holding up my arms. Do you know what that feels like???

This Memorial Box Monday (or Tuesday :o)) I wanted to share with you about one special woman who is believing for me. I met her... ~ooooh, I am SO excited to share this with y'all! I've been saving it for a few weeks now!!!~ I digress. Back to what I was saying. I met her on April 23, 2008 when she found my blog, quite by accident (or not) and felt led to post a comment on the guest book I used to have. She was looking for some statistics about infertility and wanted to encourage me. We chatted back and forth via email and she sent me some material she had produced based on her own experience. I read it, gave her some feedback, and that was that for the most part. She and her husband were then missionaries in Belize and occasionally they would send out an update and we might chat again
briefly by email.

Once or twice, I casually mentioned that it would be nice to meet if they ever traveled back this way again. Imagine my surprise when their most recent update told of their plans to finish the work they had been doing and to return to the United States to await the next thing God had for them. Several months ago, they came back to Raleigh, NC... where they were originally from... only a hop, skip, and a jump from where we live! We chatted via email a bit more and arranged to meet one evening for dinner!

It was fabulous! For one thing, we ate at my newest favorite restaurant ~ California Pizza Kitchen! Haven't tried it? You should! :o) Even more than that, though, the fellowship was amazing! Have you ever met those people that you just feel like you have know them your whole life? This was them.


"S" & "R"

They really were incredible. We had so many things in common... places where our stories coincided in a way that only God could have orchestrated. I am excited to see how each of our experiences will glorify God one day! As "S" reminded me that night, God has declared the end from the beginning.

This week, I am opening up my virtual Memorial Box and placing inside a napkin from the California Pizza Kitchen to remind me where our Miracle-working, Mountain-moving, Awe-inspiring, Gasp-giving God joined our hearts with new friends! Is it crazy that I am filling up my Memorial Box with items from restaurants?!?!? Hehehe! :o)

Thank you, "S," for praying and believing for me. Thank you for holding up my arms. I look forward to seeing the end God has had in mind from the beginning of time and this battle.


Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Super long time... no see!

I can't believe how long it has been since I have regularly blogged. Sure, I have posted a little something here and there, but overall, it has not been on my list of top priorities. I've noticed the same thing with some of the bloggers I follow. Perhaps, this thing is dying down a bit?

This current class has really had my full attention, what with all the reading that has had to be done in order to complete the assignments. Some of these books are really life-changing... two things I am learning about myself:

1. I am a people pleaser
2. I am a perfectionist

...and neither one is exactly healthy - emotionally or spiritually. I need to learn how to accept God's strength in my weakness and imperfection and how to set boundaries in my life.

I did discover this last week that I had a few more vacation days available this year that I thought I had already accounted for. So... I took two and got all caught up with my class! Feels good! :o)

***

I am amazed where I am right now in our pursuit to have a child. I guess you really couldn't call it a pursuit anymore. It is more like a ~ if it happens, that would be okay ~ kind of thing. Several months ago, I realized just how much of an idol it had become in my life, and I asked God to please help me to control the overwhelming emotions I had. I've never been the best at controlling my emotions. I don't really know why I should be surprised that He answered my prayer, but He did. The last few months have been filled with few emotions regarding my desire to have a child. It has been nice. Freeing, actually. I have gone back and forth a bunch of times concerning whether or not I think it is a good idea to even move forward at this stage of our lives. I know God is in control, though. Whatever the outcome, HE will do what is best. In the meantime, I am attempting to fill the emotional void I have created in my heart with more of Him. You would think that would be easy, but it is not. It is a discipline.

***

If you happen to think about it today... or the next few days... or the next few weeks... please pray for D.T. He goes to the dentist today at 2 p.m. to have the beginning work for one of his teeth to be crowned. Oh, if that only meant that he was royalty! The one other time he had to have this kind of work done resulted in an incredible amount of pain! Not fun... or convenient considering everything we have going on... right now always! Please pray that God would be merciful to him and alleviate any pain he may have.


Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Catching up & quotes that apply...

I have be so incredibly busy the last little while. The class I am currently in has really kept me hoppin'! I grew up loving to read and write, but this one is really stretching my limits. I have a book to read and a theory critique to write every week, along with discussion boards and a significant paper. I feel like I am perpetually running at full speed a few steps behind the bus, and I wonder if I will ever catch up! I'll get through it, but I suspect that I will be exhausted by the time it is over and sorely in need of a break. I think I am going to drop the class I am registered for in the next 8-week term so that I can actually enjoy preparing for Christmas.

Some of the books I have had to read lead me to believe that the authors are out of their minds and really don't have clue. Well, at least one of the books, anyway. The idea behind this class is to examine all the available Christian theories out there and to decide what you can (or cannot, in some cases) glean from each one. The current book that I am reading is really good, and I thought that I would share one quote that I found particularly poignant. Take it for what it's worth. Maybe it will apply to you as well.

"We must let Jesus pilot our lives before we can ask Him to power our changing. He won't barge in and take over, but He enters when invited. Of course, we have to own our responsibilities in the injury-recovery, healing-from-hurts changing process. But, just as there is an unseen, inner energy at work in physical healing and change, God's unseen Spirit energizes our emotional/spiritual changing processes when we let Him. As we do our part, God does His 'inside job' to create
change of eternal significance."

- - - Sandra D. Wilson, Ph.D., Hurt People Hurt People

Isn't that SO true?!?! I imagine that we all have some changes that are needed in our lives. Thoughts. Attitudes. Behaviors. Relationships. Of course, God desires to help us with those changes, but we must be willing to first invite Him to take the control of our lives out of our hands and place it in His sufficiently capable hands. Change is not easy, but praise God that we have His Holy Spirit to guide us through the process and to give us the energy we need to get through to the other side. How about you? Could you use some energy to make the necessary changes in your life?

Well, enough about that for now. It is time for work. I pray y'all have a blessed day.


Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Return to Me!

Speaking of the children of Israel...

Amos 4

1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, "Bring us some drinks!" 2 The Sovereign LORD has sworn by His holiness: "The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks. 3 You will each go straight out through breaks in the wall, and you will be cast out toward Harmon, " declares the LORD. 4 "Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. 5 Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings-- boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do," declares the Sovereign LORD. 6 "I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me," declares the LORD. 7 "I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. 8 People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD. 9 "Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me," declares the LORD. 10 "I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD. 11 "I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD. 12 "Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel." 13 He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth-- the LORD God Almighty is his name.

What might the LORD be withholding from you? Do you need to RETURN to the LORD God Almighty? I know I do.

Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Faith...




I pray that I might have even a small portion of this kind of spirit and determination. She just doesn't let her circumstances get her down.

We really can learn a lot from animals, can't we?

Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

OBESE

September 3, 2010 marked a milestone for me in my weight loss journey. I stepped on my Wii Fit scale, and the level of my body mass index rose and stopped just short of the mark for obesity.





It seems like I've been waiting for this forever! For the longest time, it seemed so far away. A BMI of 30 is considered obese, and I started out with a BMI of 34. Now, while I still have a long way to go, I am no longer obese - just overweight. I can't wait to get to a BMI of 24, which is considered healthy. Curious? Go ahead... click on one of the links. The first one will tell you what your BMI is. The second one will tell you what you will weigh at a particular BMI. What should your target weight be to be healthy?

Many of you have offered your congratulations, and that is nice. Still, many others have asked how did you do it or how can you be so motivated? Well, that is even nicer, because as I look around me, so many people are in the same boat that I was in. Some, dangerously so. I would like nothing more than to know that someone else might be motivated to start losing weight because they saw that I was able to do it. Oh, and by the way, I am definitely not there yet. I know that if I am not careful, I can easily find myself right back where I started.

So, here it is. How I did it am doing it. It's not rocket science. The equation is as simple as this:

Calories In
less than
Calories Out

Period. Eat less. Exercise more. Of course, you can't eat too little or your body will think you are starving it and shut down all your weight loss efforts. Still, the general rule applies.

A few other things have been helpful to me, as well.

1. I always take these...


...and never take this.



3. I remind myself to move throughout the day as much as I can by tracking these...



Great iPhone app, by the way. You should try it if you have one... an iPhone, that is. :o)


4. Increase your fiber and protein intake. Lower your fat, calorie, and sodium intake. That may mean decreasing how much bread and pasta you eat, or changing the type of bread and pasta you eat. There are alternatives, but a piece of 120 calorie white bread just doesn't do it for me. It just wastes my calories and leaves me hungry. Steel-cut oatmeal or whole wheat pasta just make more sense. I think I've eaten one of these, along with some low-fat, less sugary yogurt for breakfast just about every morning for the last 5 months. It works. Oh, and by the way, a helpful tip... this is one of the best yogurt choices I have found at the store. 12 grams of protein and only 80 calories and 1.5 grams of fat! Only 4 carbs, one of which is fiber! Seriously! If you have a Kroger's, try it. :o)




5. Weigh (and/or measure) your food. I promise you don't realize how much you are eating. This makes sure you do.




6. Keep track! This one might just be my favorite.



I really owe all my weight loss to this program. It is very easy to use, and it keeps it in front of you. On your mind. Give it a try online, and then download the app for your iPhone so you can take it with you! Their database of food and restaurants is AMAZING!!! It will even sync your data between the online version and your iPhone so you always know right where you are. It is the best $2.99 I've ever spent in my life, and much cheaper than the dues you would pay for a weekly weight loss group. They even have a really good community for support.

Motivation?

Well, that has to be your own. Watching programs like Losing It With Jillian really makes me feel like, if they can do it, then so can I. Seeing a bit of progress, and then looking back really motivates me! I guess the bottom line is, you just have to see the value and then just do it. What do you find valuable? A new wardrobe? Feeling better about yourself? A lower cholesterol number at the doctor's office? The ability to sleep better at night? More energy to play with your children? More years with your spouse? I don't know about you, but it is worth more than the candy bar or french fries to me.

Well, I guess that's about it. I don't know if any of this will help anyone or not, but I hope so. Just give it a try. Make one small change at a time. It will work!


Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Lessons in dog walking...

I was hoping to share some good weight loss news with you this evening, but apparently God has other plans because there is something else He wants me to say. I really need to be doing my discussion board and a paper that is due this Sunday, but I have to get this out.

It is 8:40 p.m., and I just returned from taking the dogs for a walk. Separately. D.T. and I have an agreement. He cooks supper, and I walk the dogs. You see, he just doesn't enjoy the task of walking them because they are pullers, which makes for a most unpleasant experience. I don't have a problem with it, though, because I really don't like to cook. So, the arrangement works for us, as long as I don't walk them together. That, I could not handle, but hey, I need the burned calories from a double walk, anyway.

Tonight, however, was entirely different. The dogs usually aren't that bad for me. A few minutes of pulling, and they typically relax into an enjoyable pace for everyone. Like I said, though, that was not the case this evening. From the first step out the door until we got back, this was probably the worst walk I have ever been on. Ever. Goldie did pretty well, but Ben was HORRIBLE! I thought he was going to rip my arm off. My hand was sore from the leash that was wrapped around it, cutting off the circulation every time he would put his nose to the ground (which was at least every 3 seconds) or lunge at some random leaf. 30 seconds into the walk, I told him that this was going to be a short walk if he kept acting like this. Like he could understand me, or something. On we went. I figured he had to give in eventually.

Not even two minutes later, I figured that I might as well use our walking time to pray, if I could even concentrate enough to think. Immediately, I sensed God speak to me. "You are like him," and I knew exactly what He meant. He was right. I am just like him. I am excited to be going for a walk, and I want to explore every single option along the way. I don't want to go where He is leading. I want to go the direction I want to go. I don't want to go the pace that He is walking. I want to go at my own speed... faster! I don't pay a bit of attention to the car He hears coming behind us or the car He sees turning out of the parking lot in front of us. I'm too busy smelling the ground, chasing leaves, and barking at other dogs I would like to be playing with. I don't realize that the walk would be so much more enjoyable if I just fell into step with my Leader.

I'm not even sure what that looks like, but I want to know. I don't want to pull God's arm off.

I guess I just need to ask Him which way we are walking today. Or, better yet, just walk...

That's all.

Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...

Thursday, September 02, 2010

BEFORE & AFTER...

This might be kind of embarrassing for me, but I decided today that as much as I love the header picture of me and my hubby, I am tired of looking at my fat face. So, I opened up a more recent picture to edit it into a new header, and in doing so, I passed by a picture of me from a few months ago.

It's really not pretty.

I wish it would go away, but perhaps, looking at the comparison will be good motivation to never let myself return to bad habits.


Um... seriously???

Expect a new header shortly... as soon as I break free from my classwork long enough to find a new background to go with it! :o)

Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Wordful Wednesday ~ What's wrong with you???



Welcome back to Wordful Wednesday, as hosted
by Angie at Seven Clown Circus!




Our puppies were able to spend some long awaited time the other day having a puppy play date with their friend in his fenced in back yard.

No leashes! Room to run!

Goldie was just flat worn out when she got home. Literally.

Ben doesn't understand why she doesn't have his same kind of energy. He wants to know what's wrong with her?!?! LOL! :o)

Stay tuned for more puppy play date pics to come soon... wait 'til you see the BIG dog jump for joy at the arrival of our pack. :o)

Living in His JOY, HOPE, and PEACE...
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