Monday, February 28, 2011

Thinking About Isaiah

I am working through a Bible study that currently has me reading in Isaiah. At the outset, we are looking at God's holiness. Isaiah chapter 6 records Isaiah's response to seeing it :

In the year of King Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted,
with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six
wings; with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to anotehr
and said, 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.' And
the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the
temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a
man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the
King, the LORD of hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his
hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. And he touched my mouth with it
and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your
sin is forgiven." (v. 1-7)


I was struck by this -- Isaiah could not gaze upon God without being overcome by his desperate need for holiness, for an infusion of God's essence. Why must I continually discover this? Why must I be struck anew with the realization that I am unclean before the holiness and righteousness of God? Obviously, nothing is hidden from His sight, so who do I think I'm fooling?

God forgive us for ever thinking that we are a bit more holy than some other Christian we know -- God doesn't care how I stack up against some other person!

God forgive us for thinking that we have a pretty good understanding of Him and that we've come far enough to be able to take it easy for awhile. Isaiah understood our human situation -- Dr. James McDonald interprets it the following way: "That's the standard? That's how high the bar is set? If that's true, then I am finished! I am broken! Woe is me!"

My prayer today is that I always have a deep sense of needing God, that I never lose sight of His holiness and my sinfulness. I have been starting my days with the declaration, "Today I refuse to be entwined in sin!" I'm never totally successful, but it's given me a great starting point for the stresses that come my way. I can choose each day to be in the Word, to strive for a process of holiness as exhorted in John 17: 15, 17 -- " 'I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.' " I can make each day intentional.


Saturday, February 26, 2011

How Great...how Great....is...our...GOD!

If you've never seen this, you will not regret giving up 41 minutes of your life to watch it.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Fellowship of Kairos

Amidst all the business of being a husband, father and full time college student, there is something that has been preoccupying my mind today. Its not even anything related to faith; it actually comes from a time when I considered myself no friend of the church. It comes from a time long before my own heart was “strangely warmed” by a personal relational conversion to Christ and yet it is a kairos moment which has marked my life and who I am all the same.

It was twenty years ago yesterday, on February 24, 1991, that I rolled into Iraq with my platoon of MP’s as part of 3rd Armored Division. The ground conflict of Operation Desert Storm had begun early that morning. There are many events in my life; many significant events, some older and some more recent, but this event stands as one of the most life changing and character forming events in my life. The intensity of warfare marks a life and forges friendships far faster and far deeper than many other events. I think it’s a well-known fact, and yet almost impossible to describe to those who have never tasted it.

It isn’t only warfare that forges these kinds of friendships though. I have found that the common effort and intensity of life studying at a university can also see similar friendships which also form quickly and deeply. In both cases it seems that common purpose and intensity draw people together in ways which disarm normal cautions and reservations to unite us so very closely.

These thoughts leave me pondering why we don’t as often see such a phenomena within the church where we face the most important warfare; spiritual warfare, and the most significant of studies; faith and theology. Is it not the case that the business of the church is the most vital work of life and eternity? And yet, despite plentiful encouragements in scripture to be united and of one mind (i.e.1 Peter 3:8), we can see so often what has sometimes been called “the unholy communion” (Galatians 5:15). I’m not trying to be unfairly critical of the church, it has a difficult and important task ahead of it, but we do see something like, what, 30,000 different denominations within the body of Christ? And even within individual congregations and parishes, I think we’ve all tasted a bit of that biting and devouring of one another.

I can tell you from personal experience that no matter how legendary the competition is between branches of service and how barbed the jokes may get, once the enemy has been identified and the mission laid before them it all goes away. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard all come together and forget any petty competitiveness. I think the church of Jesus Christ could learn a lesson there.

May you always know a heart of unity with your brothers and sisters in Christ and may you have the blessed experience of deep enduring friendships in the body as well.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Consistent Transformation

Last week I blogged about the word the Lord gave me on which to focus in 2010. I haven't blogged about this year's word until now because I wasn't completely sure what the Lord had for me. Several words kept coming to mind as I spent time in prayer and meditation thinking about what the Lord wanted for me in 2011. The words that repeatedly came to mind were transformation and consistency. 

When I thought about transformation, I quickly realized how many areas of my life need to be transformed. More and more areas were revealed to me by the Holy Spirit. Transformation can be a slow process. In fact, it almost always is.  Of course, it can happen quickly if the Holy Spirit wills for it. I just don't see that happening often. The most important changes in our lives seem to be those processes that take the longest. 

I have an abundance of behaviors and thinking processes that need transforming. We all have these "things" which we sometimes choose to ignore and sometimes address for a short time but never really get down to the issue of defeating them and allowing true transformation to take place. Your "thing" is likely not the same as mine, but you have one (or two or a dozen if you're like me).


Did you make any resolutions this year? How about last year? We can almost always see something that needs to be changed in our hearts. If you think that you don't have transforming that needs to take place, you're wrong. If you aren't moving toward positive, Biblical transformation, then you're moving away from it. Period. I want to move toward it, toward Jesus. I want my mind, body and spirit to be transformed into what God desires for me to be. 

So what about consistency? Can I put that aside until next year? Nope. Transformation and consistency are buddies. As I work toward transforming all areas of my life, I will need to be consistent with things like Bible study, prayer, daily worship, fitness, portion control, and so many other little specifics that I know are important and probably some things I haven't even identified yet. The Lord will show me what comes next as I progress on my journey toward transformation and, ultimately, holiness.

In 2011, I want to grow closer to Jesus more than anything. I will do my part to transform the things which I can, and I will trust Him to do His much greater part of molding me and shaping me into the child of God that He desires for me to be.



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Kendra is a wife and mom who is passionate about worship, music, homemaking, homeschooling and education. She graduated with a degree in Music Education from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1999 and spent two years teaching in the public school system. When her son was born in 2001, she began to stay home with him and found that it was the most fulfilling experience of her life. For almost 10 years, she has been a homemaker and stay-at-home-mom to her son and daughter. In 2005, the Lord spoke to Kendra and her husband, Eric, about the possibility of homeschooling. They began the journey of educating their children full-time in 2006 when their son began kindergarten. They haven’t looked back since. While homemaking and homeschooling provide Kendra with little time for other interests, she passionately pursues worship through a variety of musical experiences and ministry opportunities. Currently, this includes serving as the director of her church’s children’s choir and drama program as well as singing in the adult choir. She also enjoys writing, scrapbooking, crafting and cooking healthy meals from scratch.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Running on Eagle's Wings

The finish line is so much sweeter in person, for in my dreams, my fantasies of glorious successes must share space with the lingering fears of utter failure. I can see it just ahead, like a beacon of goals realized, of sweet rest, of rebirth from the person who could only dream such things, to the faithful and accomplished.

Head bowed in fatigue, my muscles burn with exertion dangerously teetering near the edge of failure. Gritting my teeth, chin rising, I say a silent prayer, a communion, a renewal of faith. “I can do all things through [Christ] who gives me strength,”...a mantra my lips silently form, as I begin to taste completion. New International Version, Phi. 4.13. Adrenaline surges through my veins and makes me doubt fatigues relevance in the goal sought.

A 5K race may seem trivial ranked next to life's more miraculous events, but it was an event in my life that helped to shatter the artificial barriers I had erected for myself and taught me that I truly can rely on Christ's strength. There are certain events in one's life, certain accomplishments, that serve to shape us, to define who we are as a person, to change us from the person we were before, to strengthen our faith. A metamorphosis, an epiphany as we are tempered through the fire of apparent impossibility.

I've never been a runner. Until very recently, I would have laughed at the very thought of calling myself a “runner.” I always saw people who ran as dedicated and strong. Efficiently powering down the side of the road, sweat dripping, muscles flexing,.. serious athletes. I tried running when I was younger, but despite playing sports in school, I was always awkward, self conscious and never managed to string more than a couple of dozen strides together at once. The next morning I would limp out of bed, miserable, sarcastically laughing at the whole notion of the “joy of running.” Yet contrary to all of these difficulties, I always secretly dreamed of running The Crim, a road race in my hometown of Flint, Michigan.

Then my dream faded behind getting married, having an eight pound baby, then a nine pound baby, getting a little bit older and a little bit more out of shape. One crisp fall day, my desire to run The Crim suddenly reemerged, surfacing from beneath the waves of day to day life. The unlikeliness of this goal seemed so ridiculous. But I was desperate to reclaim part of my former athlete, to strengthen my muscles that lay dormant for so long (the ones I don't use to cart around kids and backpacks and laundry baskets). Just like before, at first I was awkward. Half running, half walking, laboriously plodding along on the treadmill at my local gym. Then something funny happened, I began looking forward to the three afternoons a week my mom watched the kids so I could fit in a run. I prayed regularly for strength as I ran. Then I started running outside and the whole world opened up to me. Suddenly it wasn't work, it was a few moments of freedom to pray and dwell on thoughts and dreams. I learned to appreciate the joy of escaping into my body, out on the road. Sometimes it's easy to forget the season when I spend the day changing laundry, washing dishes and supervising arts and crafts projects, barely looking out the window. In my running path nestled in the woods I can't escape, reveling in the summer sunshine, or noticing the leaves of fall crunching under my shoes, or inhaling the wonderfully crisp winter air or flying through the woods that is opening and blossoming under the warm spring sun.

The day of the race I was really nervous and far from convinced that I could run the whole thing, let alone have any type of decent time. My husband and I stood on the famous brick street in downtown Flint, waiting and stretching at the starting line. The gun went off and my heart jumped in my chest. “Help me Lord, I need your strength,” I prayed. The Bible promises: “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isa. 40:31. I surged forward with the crowd, my legs driving me forward, my breath nervously quick, until I forgot about the impossible and somewhat gracefully covered block after block. By the last kilometer I was exhausted, but the sight of the finish line triggered such hope within me, I actually began running faster, crossing the finish line with a new personal best time. From the struggle emerged muscle fibers stressed and broken, strengthened and renewed. Sweat covered, feet pounding on the bricks.... One stride across the finish line shattered all of my nagging doubts that I could not accomplish this goal, and I was reborn a runner, christened in sweat.

Years before I ran The Crim, I had similar doubts about whether I could make it through a homebirth with my second child. After a traumatizing hospital birth with my first child, where my daughter and I were both injured, I had more than a few fears and trust issues to overcome. I knew that to accomplish my goal, it would be physically and emotionally taxing. I again prayed that I would have the strength to actually fulfill my goal by concentrating on Philippians 4:13. There was a reawakening within me, a baptism, as my daughter emerged into a dark pool of water on a starry July night. The Lord is so good, he gave me his strength and protection that night.

I remember the first time my parents presented the concept of riding a bike without training wheels. Their theory that I could ride my bike using only two wheels, seemed sketchy at best, but I had faith that they would keep me safe. When I finally rolled down my driveway on only two wheels one glorious summer afternoon of my childhood, I flew, flew out of the restraints that had kept me grounded with my training wheels up to that point in my young life.

I've never considered myself a “fly by the seat of my pants” type girl. I spent almost a year training for The Crim (as opposed to my crazy husband who never trained at all!). I spent months before I even got pregnant the second time and all during that pregnancy reading everything I could get my hands on regarding homebirths. My note taking and exam prep while I was in college bordered on OCD. But at some point with both my homebirth and 5K, I had to acknowledge that there is only so much one can do to simulate and practice for real life. I had to have faith and rely on God. So often our faith emerges from laying it all on the line, delving into what seems like impossibility, and emerging stronger, stronger in our relationship with the Lord.

The Bible says: “like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft. The Lord alone led him” Deut 32.11-12. The Lord throws us out of our comfortable nest, so to speak, to teach us to fly. What beautiful imagery of the Lord catching us when we begin to struggle, like a mother eagle supporting her fledglings if they tire while learning how to fly.*

As a woman and a mom it's easy to get pigeonholed by others or to do it to yourself. So many voices tell us that we're not capable enough or strong enough, or that impossibly, we only have our own strength to rely upon. So often we tell ourselves that it's too scary to step outside of the norm we've created for ourselves. In the end we discover that if we let ourselves leap in faith, we'll be boosted by eagle's wings and discover that we have the ability to fly.

*See further commentary on Deut 32.11-12: Orr, Charles E., Food for the Lambs; or, Help for Young Christians. Biblio Bazaar, 2007. Print. (specifically the chaper: Stirring the Eagle's Nest).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Douglas Lake

You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.
Psalm 65.9-13

It's February in Michigan. Heavily laden with clunky boots, trudging through thick blankets of snow, the barren landscape blotting out any hint of the potential green beneath, like many Michiganders my thoughts can't help but drift to summers spent “Up North” at one of the state's many abundant fresh water lakes that dot its Northern landscape.

My first trip in this world was to my parent's cozy cabin nestled in the woods along Douglas Lake. I might be prejudiced after 30 some years of seeking refuge along its waters, but as far as I'm concerned, Douglas Lake holds the distinction of being the sweetest spot this side of heaven. Approximately a four hour drive from my hometown, Douglas Lake is nearly as far north as the Mackinaw Bridge that separates the more isolated Northern Peninsula from the Southern Peninsula of Michigan. I like to imagine the first Native American who peered through the birch trees along the shore and spotted these heavenly rich coppery colored waters. Sinking their heel into the soft sand beneath the mild refreshing waters, and gazing at it's wonder, I'm sure they had essentially the same soul cleansing experience that so many of us lucky few have had today.

Douglas Lake has always been one of God's greatest blessings in my life, truly a place of pleasure and renewal. Teeming with northern pike, large and smallmouth bass, rock bass, sunfish and perch, Douglas Lake's nearly 3,400 acres is actually shaped like a fish. Most of the “tail end” is owned by the University of Michigan and their biology department (nicknamed “the bug camp”). Students spend the summer roughing it in small cabins, hiking through the woods, conducting experiments and taking a break from Ann Arbor's urban campus. The bug camp protects a large portion of shoreline from being developed and in this day and age of overdeveloped lakes filled with jet skis and bumper to bumper boats, a trip to the remote wooded shores of the fishtail is like stepping back in time at least a hundred years.

As a child, my brother and I spent endless days with heads bent filling pails with sugary sand, running on bare feet along the sun warmed wooden dock, sneaking into our hideout in the forked birch tree and sailing an old Styrofoam raft into the shallow reed-filled bay looking for minnows. As the sun lazily lowered towards the horizon, the clink of silverware and the clunk of pans made their way out to the beach as my mom and grandma prepared dinner. After stuffing ourselves with amazing food, usually including a huge wedge of one of my mom and grandma's amazing pies, we'd wash off the sand, crawl beneath mismatched cotton sheets worn soft by many similar vacations and dream of the day's adventures.

Thinking about my family's cottage at Douglas Lake, I'm instantly transported back to my dad's old robin's egg blue pontoon, with the motor loudly humming in my ears. Sun bleached T-shirts and shorts carelessly pulled over bathing suits are the best attire for a late morning fishing trip to my favorite fishing spot: the Black Hole. My dad and brother are “serious” fishermen who spend endless hours researching the best new baits and spend most of their time fishing for “big” fish. I've always been most happy, as I was as a child, at the Black Hole with a few dozen nightcrawlers and a hook and bobber under the noonday sun. The Black Hole is aptly named for it is a deep, dark, densely weeded fishing hole, surrounding by shallow waters with golden sanded bottoms. Little minnows thrive in the shallow waters and provide a prime hunting target for the bigger sunfish, rock bass and occasional pike or smallmouth bass lurking in the deeps. Occasionally the sound of an animal drifts from the nearby trees along the shore, or a fish flops out of the water, but mostly the silence is only broken by the rhythmic chorus of waves gently thumping against the drums of the pontoon. An afternoon spent lounging in an old fraying folding chair, bare feet lazily propped on the boat railing, eyes half open watching my bobber dancing on the waves, returning to the cottage with a bucket full of fat sunfish, and I'm a happy girl.

Long before I was old enough to drive a car, I had the freedom of the old paddle boat. It was my job to scrub it down after the long winter storage and then my parents would let my friends and me take it down a few cottages to a fishing hole just off shore. The old monstrous boat with peeling yellow paint was so heavy, that my parents were fairly sure our little legs really didn't have the endurance to take us far enough away to get into trouble. My friends and I spent many afternoons in floppy hats and sunglasses with our hugely long cane poles jutting out over the water tied in place with a small anchor, our cooler filled with Faygo pop, a tin of homemade cookies, decade old fashion magazines and sunscreen.

My dad loves going fishing after dinner. Even though this trip isn't for my beloved panfish, I've tagged along on many more than one occasion. Bellies full and souls content after my mom's homemade meal that's usually big enough for those who crowd around the table to have thirds, even fourth helpings, we'd pile on old flannel shirts and holey hooded sweatshirts and head off to The Point, a rocky peninsula of underwater rocks that zigzags off from the shore about halfway across the lake. This time of evening the pontoon cuts across the still and shadowed water. As the boat quietly settles against its anchor, we're able to silently observe happenings along the shore: slamming screen doors, peels of laughter, dogs barking, and finally the drifing smoke from camp fires. When I was old enough to cast a reel by myself, my dad taught me to throw a top water plug, called a jitterbug, that juts and dances across the water. Slowly my hand cranks the reel, making the jitterbug disturb the water with its dance, then patiently wait, allowing the ripples on the water to subside. Repeating this ritual hundreds of time, I'm sometimes rewarded by the excitement of a shiny smallmouth bass surging out of the silent sunset streaked waters to attack my tasty looking bait.

My husband and I have been blessed to be able to share Douglas Lake with my daughters. They've already spent hours busily making mud pies with its clear waters as my parents” old fawn-colored boxer snoozes next to them in the warm sand. I'm reminded of a memorable day last summer that was unusually hot and windy. Powering through the wind gusts trying to find a tighter grip on the large inflatable raft as my husband and I awkwardly make our trip down the dock to the water, we eagerly awaited reaching the end of the dock as my girls squealed with delight. We tossed the raft with sighs and a flop into the turbulent waters. Giggles and screams escaped the girls smiling mouths as as they pitched and rolled up and down in the whitecaps. Emerging from the water, the full sun and warm winds quickly warmed us as we lay on pillows of sand. Reveling in this simple goodness, I was reminded once again that the waters of Douglas Lake are like a baptism for me, a coming home, a calming of the soul, a reminder of the goodness of God. During every phase of my life I have paused, gazed and immersed myself in these healing waters and have closely felt God's presence: a carefree child, a giggling adolescent, an excited college kid, a new wife with a stressful new job, a worn-out mom....

So many nights end with sticky marshmallows being roasted on old branches over the fire pit. Cheeks flushed from the fire's warmth accompany giggling mouths covered in melted chocolate from s'mores. Fishing tales are exaggerated and stories are told in this timeless ritual. As flames make way to whitening embers, laughter turns to reflection of trips past.

Sitting in my home office, approximately 225 miles south of my parents' cottage, I can't help but doubt whether mere written words can actually capture the splendor of my experience. I think of the kitchen table as it is now, normally the hub of family life, now surrounded by empty chairs in a darkened room as the sun slowly sets over icy waters. I think of the bunk beds waiting to be filled with unsuccessfully hushed laughter, the dock waiting for the patter of excited little feet and the worn kitchen table waiting for the excitement of the season's first fish fry. Only a few more months, I remind myself and the pilgrimage will begin once again.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Fallacy of Treading Water

When first pondering the idea of writing for a blog named “The Intentional Journey”, I couldn’t help but think of a conversation that I’d had with my brother a few years ago. The subject of the conversation was basically the Christian life. He wisely compared it to being in a river; the idea was that one can not simply tread water in a river. Because of the current, one is either swimming or drifting down river.

I found the analogy to be a particularly strong one. You see, we didn’t really grow up in the church. Many of the years of my life from the teens to twenties were not Christian, so by the time we had this conversation I had an idea of what might come from a long period of merely drifting down river. Not that kicking back and drifting with the current wasn’t enjoyable. The problem was that current isn’t goodness and its destination isn’t heaven. It’s actually quite the other direction.

I think that by now humanity’s natural inclination toward pride and selfishness is pretty historically famous without belaboring it. So then, this inclination of ours is like the current of the river that will not only carry us away from God and the life everlasting, but also robs us of the growth we can know in this life as well. Our option then is to swim, to grow, and to strive against the current. It may be tiring or even exhausting at times, but we swim none then less. The alternative just isn’t acceptable.

So what does striving look like? What are we striving toward? If the goal is to be united in rightly ordered love and unity with God in the life everlasting, then we have some instructions. We just have to read them, which ironically is one of the important parts of swimming. Others include disciplines like prayer, and fasting, and worship, and fellowship, and the sacraments. Even that word itself; discipline, is one of the parts of swimming.



And not swimming? Well, that’s easy isn’t it? Don’t think about God. Don’t seek out strength in fellowship. Don’t bother with the sacraments, or bothersome disciplines like prayer and fasting. Actually, you don’t really have to do anything. Sometimes it might even be easier, because dedicating yourself to the Christian life can be a downright trial at times. So, not swimming is as easy as, well, just not swimming. Often, there isn’t even a conscious decision to stop swimming. Its just moments of compromise; little urgencies that distract or interrupt. We may not even notice them. They may not even be intentional, and before long we may not even notice that the desire to swim itself is gone.

So there it is. If we don’t take the intentional journey up the river, then we get to take the unintentional journey down it. The intentional journey requires a decision and some effort. It will need some other swimmers to come alongside you and it’ll require some unfashionable ideas like submission and sacrifice. Yeah, it could be hard; it might be the most difficult thing that you could ever do. There’s a little secret to it though … peace and even joy. There’s a peace and a joy to swimming that is incomprehensible. We may know happiness and leisure in drifting, but peace and hope and joy and rightly ordered love are all byproducts of the intentional journey up the river swimming hard in pursuit of Jesus Christ.

May you always know the joy, hope and love to be found in the swimming and never be lured into the fallacy which finds virtue in merely treading water in the middle of a river.
For further reading, consider: Heb. 10:23-25, Heb. 12:1-2, Heb. 12:14, 1Tim. 4:10, 1Tim. 6:11, 2Tim. 2:22, 1Pet. 3:11

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Separation Anxiety

As you read this I am winging my way to Dallas for Advocare's Success School. It is my first time to this fabulous event, and I spent the whole week freaking out instead of getting excited. As Monday rolled around I found myself feeling more and more unsettled. I was having second thoughts about going (even though the trip was non-refundable). How could I leave my girls for so long and go so far away? What if something terrible went wrong and my plane crashed - what would that do to my family? What if something happened to one of the three loves of my life, and I was 1,000 miles away? And on and on and on.

Luckily God stepped in. I know that He spoke to my friend Candy and said, "Get a hold of Beth 'cuz she's freaking out." Candy simply asked me, "Is there any way that I can pray for you this week?" I told her about my worries and she very simply reminded me that "God is in control, whether in the air or on the ground." And God just slapped me in the back of the head with that, thank goodness. I just sat there for a moment, mouth agape, and then surrendered all my fears to Him. I thought of the verse in Luke where Jesus says, "Can you add even one hour to your life by worrying? You can't do that very little thing. So why worry about the rest?" (12:25-26) I'm so grateful for a Savior who so completely understands our humanity that he gives us words of comfort for specific weaknesses.

Oh, I still spent the next couple of days "preparing" like a lunatic: I went to the grocery store, organized and cleaned the toy room, the girls' room, and cleaned the whole upstairs. Then I started in on the laundry, even washing blankets and sheets. Everything had to be ready for my family to be without me, right? I am so thankful for a God and a husband who love me even when I'm being neurotic!

But I was no longer fearful. I kept hearing the promise of Hosea 6:3 running through my head: "Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." I was so thirsty for some comfort, but I was too involved by my own might to stop and consider God's greatness.

This week my role was reversed and -just like a small child who has to learn to leave Mom and Dad to go to Sunday school or daycare- I conquered my separation anxiety. Do I miss my girls terribly? You bet. But I am enjoying this opportunity because I can trust that God is holding my family firmly in His grip. I am peaceful in the knowledge that He will watch over them in a way that I in my own might never could. Thank you, Father God, for your wondrous love. Thank you, Abba, for your supernatural peace!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life Begins When You Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

I had to do something today that strikes fear in my heart every single time I have do it.  My forehead sweats (eewwwww), my mouth gets dry, my hands shake, I feel a little clammy and feel like I might just pass out.  I stutter.  I stammer.  I twitch.  I itch.  I feel like running away, hiding, going on a very long vacation to a place where no one will ever find me...and CERTAINLY to a place where no one would ever think of asking me to do IT.  I'd spend my days hanging out on the beach, the waves crashing on the white sand, the nannies keeping the boys busy while I sip on a nice, cold glass of iced tea, toes in the water, jump in for a swim and... oh... wow... that was nice.  OK... so, if I have to come back to reality, I'm going to tell you that not only did I itch, twitch and all that stuff, but I had to eat before hand (not an easy task for many reasons, not the least of which being that I'm a bit of a food snob and if I don't know what is in something, I'm not going to eat it... I have a dairy allergy and an egg allergy and eating a bite of the wrong thing is just not worth the hours-long migraine that will happen if I have the dairy and it isn't worth the hives and upset tummy if I get the eggs...)  Anyhow... any guesses on what I had to do today that has my feathers so ruffled?  Driving in Chicago rush hour traffic?  No - I'm a pro at that.  Specialist appointments for all three boys at the same time?  Please... I do that all the time.  Any REAL guesses?  Did you guess Public Speaking?
   The mention of the words alone - 10 hours after I finished speaking - is still choking me up.  How did this happen?  I'm somewhat intelligent, I'm kind of funny-ish, I'm articulate and I TOTALLY have God on my team... and I'm terrified of speaking in public.  I recited Bible verses when I drive to these talks.  I tell myself that I'm doing a good thing for advocacy for children with special needs and educating people about service dogs... and then I panic.  And self sabotage.  I don't mean to do it... but (Every time, without fail...) I get that dry mouth and I drink.  Anything I can get my hands on... I drink it fast.  Today's intake was 2 glasses of iced tea (my constant companion), another 2 glasses of water and a big gulp of Jonah's Pepsi - which I thought was my iced tea but surprised me in a big way when I got bubbles.  So, I should learn the lesson that when I'm nervous to begin with, drinking copious amounts of fluids is just not a good idea.  Because, invariably, the inevitable occurs right before I'm supposed to speak. UGH. 
   Anyhow, today I had Jonah (one of my 10 year old twins) and Lyla (his seizure alert/response dog) with me.  We didn't know the room, the layout of the building and Jonah saw to it that we had *just* enough time to get to where we were going, so we couldn't scope out the lay of the land.  In general, I try to do this so that when we "show off"  Lyla's skill at "Go Get Help, Get Mom",  I know where I am going to hide and Lyla knows where the doors lead... it just helps things go more smoothly.  So we didn't have the opportunity to check the place out and the time came for us to speak.  I did my usual talk and then it was time for Lyla to show off.  She feeds off of energy and she knew the room was full of people who were calling her "Pretty" and "Beautiful", she knows they're talking about her and she likes it.  She sits a little taller, puffs out her chest a little more, in what Jonah calls her "Noble Stance".  So we get out treats and get ready to show off her skill.  It goes off without a hitch, she couldn't have done a more perfect job, completely focused on finding me because her boy told her that he needed me.  The strong bond and love between them is breath - taking and mind-boggling.  She put aside her pride and her intense desire to be completely and utterly adored and set out to perform the task at hand.  She came to me, leash in her mouth... ready for me to take it from her and lead me back to her boy... he needs me, she tells me with a grunt and an urgency in her movements.  We rewarded Lyla for being such a good girl and took questions from the audience and then, we were done. 20 minutes that seemed to go on forever.  Looking back, and looking ahead, I don't know what I could have done differently or what  I  can do differently next time, but the one thing I do know is that God is standing with me.  I know that I'm supposed to be doing this.  I don't know why.  I don't know why God would use someone who truly despises speaking in front of people to speak in front of people... but I do know that it is not mine to question and that these are opportunities to bless and be blessed.  Jonah and Lyla were amazing, as always and I know that I can talk about them for a very long time, it comes naturally.  But adding the other dimension, today that was a crowd of about 60 people, is enough to throw me completely off kilter.  My silent prayers were once again answered, I stepped completely out of my comfort zone in order to do what needed to be done.
    When I am stressed or nervous, I have one book I reach for.  It isn't the Bible.  When I'm fearful, I can't interpret the Bible, it might as well be written in Swahili.  But I reach for a book called Letters From God For Women.  It gives me the exact Bible verses I need at a time that is stressful and uncertain.  These verses are then a good starting point for me to do further study when my mind is more open and ready to take in The Word.  This morning, I randomly opened the book, knowing that I would receive exactly what I needed, and, indeed, I did.

    My Own,

  The concerns of daily life often trouble your heart. You think that you are alone in your worries and must handle everything by yourself.  I long for you to know that I walk beside you through every dark valley and with every halting step you take as you struggle to keep going.  I long for you to know that when you stumble or feel weary, I am there.

  I will never abandon you, dear one!  I am with you, waiting for you to  let Me help you through every
troubling moment of every circumstance in your life.  Lean on Me, My daughter, and know that My promise to be with you will last through all eternity.

  With deepest love,
The One Who Will Never Forsake You

  This letter is wonderful in and of itself and was certainly what I needed this morning.  My favorite part of this book is the Bible verses that are chosen to go along with each letter.  The following are the verses that go with the above letter and are just wonderful reminders that God is, indeed, with me even when I'm anxious and not listening for His voice.  Deuteronomy32:4, Psalm 9:10,  Isaiah 42:16, Isaiah 54:10, Hosea 2:19-20.

  Once again, I find that life begins when we step outside of our comfort zone.  I can't grow as a person if I continue to hold myself back and am fearful of doing what it is that I am supposed to be doing.   I always have a rambling journal entry or blog post on the day that I have to make a presentation... I hope that it is not too confusing, maybe providing a little insight into the insanity.  I pray that each of you is able to take a step outside of your comfort zone.  By it's very definition, it is uncomfortable, it hurts a little, I feel slightly roughed- up and a little bruised, but I know that I did the right thing for the right reasons and I pray that maybe next time, getting out of my comfort zone might be a little easier.  I'm excited to think that God knows what His plans are for me... I have to keep following and obeying, keep on being willing to extend my comfort zone a little further...step an extra few paces outside of the box.  God has been faithful to me and my intentions are to keep being faithful to Him.  My momentary discomfort is a small thing in exchange for living the life He wants me to be living.

Monday, February 14, 2011

You're Not Helping...

As the mother of three children with special medical needs, I can say very honestly that there are times when I just want to crawl under a rock and stay there for a very long time...or lock myself in the bathroom for several hours and hope the kids don't find me.  This past week has provided me with so many opportunities to show grace and patience and, in my mere humanity, I failed.  In fact, it is an ongoing joke among my friends that I have "lost" my imaginary charges "Grace" and "Patience", lately, those metaphorical children have found themselves buried in various locations.  It is the perfect description for how I feel when things are so out of control in my world and there is nothing I can do to fix the situation, not even anything I can do to make it a little bit better.

This week has seen a few seizures, a medication shortage that will have devastating results if I can't get my hands on some of the med within a short amount of time and  my "extra special" child getting "very autistic-y" on me - which is very difficult, a precursor to his seizures, when he's not feeling well, he gets very obsessive-compulsive and it really is awful for him, he has to roam the house, fixing things that "bother" him... moving around everything from his birth certificate (grrrrr) to the toothpaste and soap in the bathroom...making sure pens and pencils are pointing the "right way" and just an endless number of other details that don't make a darn bit of difference to anyone but him.  He, as a toddler and very young school age child, would do this a whole lot, with the introduction of a new medication for his metabolic disorder (same medication, for the record, that is seeing a current nation-wide shortage), many of these symptoms have gone into hiding and generally do not raise their ugly heads more than a few times a year. So, the pacing and talking to himself and "fixing" things is a lot of nervous energy that, frankly, makes me very anxious... I know how bad it can be, and I don't want to be there constantly.  I feel helpless... I can't "fix" things for him because I can't see through his eyes... these things don't bother me, so I can't fix them, but as his mother, even more heartbreaking is the fact that I feel so completely out of control that I can't "fix" him.


Most of the time, my nerves aren't shot and I can very clearly state that it isn't my job to "fix" my children.  They're not broken. They are exactly as God intends and intended for them to be.  Part of it is the optimist in me, part of purposeful living is realizing that negativity has no place in our world.  It makes life much more pleasant to not be constantly dwelling on the negative of every situation.  And in a few days, I'll be back to my usual self, I will be able to laugh off this slump in energy, I will see the role fatigue has played in my current state of being and I will be right back to just enjoying my children and not worry about having to fix them.  In these "low" points, I  clearly see how I don't want to live... I don't want our world to be obsessed with what is "wrong" with our world, I want to make the very best of what we do have and live contentedly, raising my children to be the men of God that I want them to be.  In the "dark" times, I have to remind myself that the light of Jesus is shining so brightly through my children... I need to be receptive and welcoming to that light.  When I allow my heart to be dark, I am not only not helping my children, but I'm literally turning away from Jesus.  Talk about unintended consequences!

A little over a year ago, my youngest son decided that he wanted to paint his room.  We chose the paint and prepared the room for the project.  Always the adventure, we set about painting.  When I had had just about enough of my 5 year old little "helper", I got to the point that I felt like saying, "SAM, You're NOT HELPING!"  Can you imagine how crushed my little boy would have been if I had actually said that to him?  It kind of brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.  We practice gentle parenting and yelling is reserved for raising my voice to get the attention of 5 wrestling boys or calling them in for dinner... so the mere thought of crushing his sweet spirit by saying these words, when he was SO proud of himself and in his world, he really was helping, the spilled blue paint on the antique hardwood, the bright green hand print on his bed's headboard, my frayed nerves.... all unintended consequences.  But I couldn't help but think... MY GOODNESS!  How often does God bite His tongue and NOT tell me that I am NOT helping anything?  OUCH!  None of it is about me having control - and I know this - because I do believe it is all in God's sovereign hands.  But in my human-ness, I internalize and rationalize and I seek to control things that are not mine to control.  And when I write it out, and it is always the physical process of writing it down, speaking the words does not have the same effect on my attitude, but writing the words... a release, a calm.  And not a moment too soon... I think someone just put the tube of toothpaste and hand soap in the washing machine again.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Redeemed Beginnings

This snippet is part of a writing project I’m working on, and there is certainly much more to the story than what is listed below. I share it simply because it shows a piece of who I am, and while the details of your life probably don’t mirror this, you can perhaps relate to the idea of something that should have been nothing…becoming everything. I’m thankful to serve a God Who redeems moments…and lives.

It seemed a simple enough errand. My list contained just a couple of forgotten items I needed before my graduation open house the next day. I expertly elbowed my way through the Wal-Mart masses with my sister close behind. I tried to toss bits of conversation over my shoulder, but the onslaught of shoppers made it nearly impossible to talk and maneuver.

On a mission, I rounded a corner and nearly collided with an older woman walking toward me. As I reached out to apologize, I realized I knew her from the church where I grew up. We paused in the mayhem to exchange greetings, and I asked if she recognized my sister.

“Lori! What are you doing all the way out here? Don’t you still live in Kansas?”

Lori smiled and said, “I flew out to surprise Rebekah. She graduates from college tomorrow.”

Wanda’s mouth dropped open and she turned back to me. “College? Already? Well I remember you when you were cancer.”

***

College graduation may have been less than twelve hours away, but I shot a help me! look to my big sister. Unfortunately Lori was rendered as speechless as I. Never before had I been required to think of a response to “I remember you when you were cancer.”

Fortunately, Wanda realized her blunder and began restating, “I mean, I remember when everyone thought you were cancer.” I laughed and said a collection of proper-sounding words to reassure her, but already her comment had begun to settle deep into my mind – and my heart.

I was accustomed to hearing stories that referred to my surprise arrival nearly twenty-two years earlier. Anyone who knew my family remembered when Marilyn thought she had cancer and it turned out she was just pregnant.

With me.

I thought, over the years, I had heard that story from every possible angle. But no one had ever said it quite like Wanda. And yet in the middle of a crowded Wal-Mart, the night before my entry into the real world, I believed no one had ever said it more accurately.

It had seemed a simple enough errand. It became a defining moment – the night someone remembered me when I was cancer.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snowplow Prayers

The layered cake of ice and snow that fell last week left our little city in a MESS. Big, heavy duty plows, struggled to break up what the drivers described as “cement snow.” I’d shoveled in four separate shifts to try to clear the sidewalk alone. I finally gave in and called a neighbor with a truck plow to come clean out my driveway. There are times when a few dollars are worth the sacrifice.

But even as I zoomed easily from my driveway the morning after digging out, my road was an obstacle course that threatened to disassemble the undercarriage of my car. I rode over ice blocks and fishtailed my way to the corner before bouncing heavily onto the plowed cross-street. I breathed heavily – thankful to be on safe driving ground, but I began to wonder how on earth I’d ever get back onto my street that night. I wasn’t sure my low-slung front end of a car could navigate back up onto the ice-chunked road.

All day I prayed that our little street, which never sees a plow, would somehow receive some help. When the work day ended, I crawled nervously into my car and navigated my way home, holding my breath as I crept closer to my intersection. At first glance, it did not appear to have been plowed, but as I inched forward, I saw some snow had been cleared. I had to make a wide swing into the road and stay in the very center as I drove. Perhaps someone used his own pickup truck to clear the path. It wasn’t quite what I hoped for, but I did make it safely home, and I was thankful.

About 9:30 that night, thunderous rumbling startled me. I peeked out through the blinds to find a massive snowplow bouncing down the street, struggling to shove the “cement snow” out of the way. Back and forth he went, leaving a somewhat-smoother path in his wake.

And a half hour later, a second snowplow pushed through. I hollered out to him (as though he could hear) – “We’re good!”

Late that night, as I snuggled down in the warm sheets, God whispered to me, “You asked for a plow. I sent three.”

And I giggled out loud in the bed. Isn’t that just like God? Abundantly beyond.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What's In It For Me?

Perhaps I've missed something for all the years that I've been following Christ.  It appears that the purpose of being a Christ-follower has changed.  Based on recent sermons I've heard, and fellow congregants with whom I have interacted, the purpose of following Christ is to have an answer to the question "What's in it for me?"  I had no idea that I was missing out on this mentality.

In the last month alone I listened to three consecutive sermons with this theme.  The sermon that caused my epiphany discussed the reasons for why a Christian should share his/her faith.  The first point was because doing so would cause you to be blessed, and received the majority of the sermon text. The second point was because Jesus did so, and point three was that if we don't share our faith, people could wind up never accepting Christ.  The latter two points only received a few sentences each.  I left church that morning completely aghast at the fact that the sermon didn't hardly touch on the true reasons for sharing our faith: to spread the love of Jesus and to do our best to fulfill the commission that Christ gave prior to his ascension.  Instead the focus was on what we would receive for sharing our faith. 

I do believe that, at times, God rewards us for our obedience, and have been experiencing that very thing in my life over the past several weeks.   However, obedience does not always bring immediate blessings.  What it does bring is the knowledge that at the end of our lives, we who have been obedient will hear "Well done, my good and faithful servant" and will be counted among the sheep.  This is the reward for which we wait.  Anything else we receive along the way is in addition, and shouldn't be our primary expectation.

Now that I know that the mentality has shifted, I have become keenly aware that some churches operate in this manner.  It is a culture that stands to threaten the very life of the church, and one we should be actively working to remove. Sharing my faith may not seem to bear immediate results, but I try keep in mind that every conversation I have about the gospel sows seeds that may not be reaped in my lifetime.  It's not about what's in it for me. It's entirely about what's in it for the one I am trying to reach for Christ.



 ___________________________________________________________________


Kristin Hand is a daughter, sister, wife and aunt. She lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband, Bill, an ordained Wesleyan minister. To pay the bills, she works for her alma mater as a financial aid counselor, and serves her local church as a member of the family ministry team. A mother of two cats, Kristin also is a perpetual student, currently studying Computer Information Systems to complement her undergraduate work in accounting and her MBA. In her free time, she enjoys watching NCIS, playing Wii, and going to Colts and Pacers games

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I Told You So!

Here's the background...

The other day, Josiah was doing something that I told him not to do (I can't even remember now).  I kept telling him..."you are going to hurt yourself!"  But he insisted on doing it.  Suddenly, it happened and he hurt himself in some way.  He came running to me, crying, and grabbed onto my leg.  In the way of most mothers I started to give him a lecture...

"If you would have listened to me, you wouldn't have gotten hurt!  You need to do what I tell you to do!!"  All those things that mom say to their kids.  All the sudden, he looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said,  "Don't tell me why...just HUG me!" 

Talk about a kick in the gut. 

I hate to be told "I told you so!"  Usually, when that phrase is appropriate for the situation, I have already beat myself up enough for 15 peoples' "I told you so's!"

I have already raked myself over the coals worse than just about anyone could, so to tell me that is just rubbing salt in the wounds...

And here I was doing it to my 5 year old!

Arent you glad God doesn't tell us..."I told you so"??  I know that he has had the opportunity many times in my own life.  But instead of rubbing salt in the wounds...he picks us up, cleans our wounds with soap and water, kisses our forehead, and stands us back on our feet again to keep walking forward.  Sometimes he even holds our hand and walks with us for a while to make sure we are ok. 

So, I did what God has done to me so many times.  I pulled Josiah up on my lap, kissed his boo boos and let him cry on my chest and just loved on him. 

I hope that the next time I am faced with the same situation, that I will do what God does for me.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I am discouraged...

I am discouraged…2.6 lbs.  That’s all I lost this week.  2.6 lbs when I have 70 to lose.  Less than a bag of sugar when I have the weight of two of my children combined to lose.  That’s NOTHING; this is going to take FOREVER!!!  So I do what my counselor told me to and try to think about the positive, so I went to the bible (well, biblegateway.com, anyway) and searched for weight loss.  No hits!  WHAT!  DIDN’T Jesus talk about is weight loss program….HAHA…no unfortunately.  So I put in the only other word I could think of, Discouraged.

Suddenly a list of articles from gospel.com pops up and I click on the first one.  Here is part of it:
       But Nehemiah 4 shows us the three energizers that will keep you in the game. First, Nehemiah "stationed...people...at the exposed places." You fight back by fixing the leaks; strengthening those gaps in your life or your work where Satan could get in. Secondly, you focus on the Lord. Nehemiah said, "Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome." You focus on the great Lord who brought you this far rather than the great load that's been weighing you down.

      The third energizer when you're staggering at the "halfway there" point is to fight for lives. Nehemiah reminded his workers of what was really at stake in their finishing, "Fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes." Remember, in any work for the Lord, it's not about tasks to accomplish; it's about lives at stake!

Sounds simple doesn’t it…”Fix the leaks, Focus on the Lord, and fight for my life.”

So I look at my week.  Where were the leaks in my week?  Not taking time to cook some bacon so it would be ready when I wanted to eat a healthy breakfast…LEAK.  Not wanting to get out of bed in time to make a breakfast so just forgoing breakfast, or eating something crappy that morning….LEAK.  That bag of cookie dough sitting in my freezer…BIG LEAK.

How did I do on focusing on the Lord today?  Not very good…I read my bible a few times, prayed a few times…but not NEARLY what I should have!

“Wow God…was this supposed to help me…or discourage me more?” I quickly pray.

But then I get to the third energizer that the writer gives us: Fight for lives.  Did I do that this week?  Did I really fight for my life?  No…I didn’t.  I took this weight thing lightly, just like I have so many times before.  I played it off, thinking that I had plenty of years to get the weight off, when I really only have today.   I have to realize that this fight is not only for my life, but for the life of my husband, my kids, and their kids.  What I do, they will mimic.  Do I want Katherine to have to go to the old women’s department to look for a dress for her first dance because she is too big for the girls’ dresses…just like I did?  Do I want Josiah and Elijah to be laughed at in the locker room and in gym class because of their weight?  No, I don’t...so that starts today with me.  They will do what I do, if I eat healthy and exercise, they will too.  If I eat crap and sit in front of the TV all night…they will to.  This is not just a fight for my life, but a fight for theirs too.

I want to see them graduate, get married, and have babies and grandbabies of their own.  I don’t want to be taken around in a wheelchair or electric scooter because I am too FAT to walk, and that is where I am headed if I don’t do something TODAY.

So, I start this week with a new resolve.  I am fighting…my body, my cravings, and my stupid appetite.  These pounds did not come on in a month and they will not come off in one month.  It will take time, I may get tired, I may even get discouraged again…but my sword is out and poised…I am fighting.  Who is with me?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Chick-fil-A : Under Fire?

On Monday, this article was posted about Chick-fil-A and a cry out against some of their recent donations to an organization that does not support the homosexual agenda.  In fact, The Pennsylvania Family Group is "a group that works to outlaw gay marriage."  The food chain is known for it's Christian values in that it is one of few businesses that still close on Sundays.

In response to this outcry, the current President Dan Cathy gave this video response.


Dan Cathy Statement from Chick-fil-A on Vimeo.


Please read the article and watch the video.

Then I wish to hear your response to the following questions:

1) What rights do businesses and organizations have when it comes to donations? Can they donate to whomever they please?

2) What are your personal thoughts and opinions in this matter? Should Chick-fil-A have made the choice to not donate to any politically oriented group?

3)What does the Bible have to say about this? Support your opinions and thoughts with it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Deep Is Yours?

Romans 10:9  "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved."

Question:  How deep is your faith?  Let me go on and ask: Does your faith grow daily?

Let's talk about holes.  One thing I know about holes, is that if you want them to get bigger and deeper, you have to keep digging.  Depending on the size of the hole this process can go on for a while.  My pappaw was a well digger.  He dug gas wells and water wells.  These are not small holes.  I am sure there were times when he wanted to give up, but he continued to believe that with perseverance they would discover gas or water.  You know not once did they find it on the very first day of digging.  There were times that it would take weeks.  But in the end they would get the "prize." 

I think that it is a lot like our spiritual lives.  There are times when we feel like Jesus is not there.  We do a little digging and make a small hole.  We get discouraged when we find nothing but a hole.  But then faith comes in.  Faith is the process of  "digging" until we find that "prize."  We might feel that we aren't "Christian" anymore.  Romans says that if we confess with our mouth and believe in our hearts, we will be saved.  Sometimes, our feelings are wrong.  The Bible says that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.  When you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is alive, then you belong to His family.

Just like my pappaw and digging those wells, we as Christians, will not find our faith in the "shallow" ground.  We must always be willing to dig deeper.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Completely His!

Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of my favorite verses.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." 

I spent a lot of my 34 years as an athlete.  One thing that I learned is that in order to be good at any sport, you have to be totally dedicated.  And you have to listen to your coach.  I had a coach tell me one time that I needed to sleep, breath, and eat basketball.  For a long time, that is what I did.  Wherever I went, I had a basketball in my hand.  After practice many times I would come home and shoot 50 to 100 jump shots.  I wanted to play in the NBA so bad.  My life was all about basketball.  Depending on whom you talked to, they said I was pretty good.

As a pastor, my prayer is that the church in general, would dedicate themselves as much to Christ as most do to their hobbies and interests, or even supporting their sport teams.  There are many people who are fanatics.  My question is, are we fanatics for Jesus?  Are we totally dedicated to Jesus.  Are we all in for Jesus ?  God wants all of us, not just part of us.  The verse says to trust in Him with ALL our heart...not just some of it.  Jesus tells us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength.  Does your heart totally belong to God, or are we just going through the motions?  It's one thing to say you know Him, that you trust in Him, but do you really believe it?  Living for Jesus, like living for the NBA takes practice.  We need to eat, breath and sleep for Jesus.  Are you ready to start practicing?  Are you ALL in?

Let's be fanatics for Christ together!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

On The Way to Freedom There Are a Lot of Blue Shirts

In my quest to become a “grown up” my husband and I have been having a Total Money Makeover courtesy of Dave Ramsey. I have read the Total Money Makeover and am currently reading Financial Peace and going to a Financial Peace University at a local church. What I am learning is that even though my husband and I are both college graduates we aren’t really very intelligent when it comes to our finances. This is improving and is exciting to see the difference it has made in both our finances and our relationship. We sit down and do our budget together. We discuss and plan and get excited by the changes we are observing. Even better? Our family thinks we are crazy so according to Dave Ramsey we are right on target.

The only downfall I can see from this is that we do not have many conversations currently that do not involve my new friend Dave. What would Dave say? What do you think about this? Or that? I don’t know What would Dave say? While my husband isn’t a shopper, I’m a little worried that I’m going to wake up one day and all he will own are blue shirts. Seriously what is with all the blue shirts? Sure they match his eye color. But I have to wonder exactly how many blue shirts are there? Are there seven of them on a rotation? Does he own only the one blue shirt? Is that one of the ways he got so financially fit? Does his wife have to wash the one blue shirt every night before an event? These are questions I ask myself. While I do agree that it is entirely ridiculous to spend time wondering, you have to understand that the topic of Dave Ramsey is the only topic outside of the kids that we seem to talk about.

This is attributed to the fact that we aren’t getting out much. Dave says we have to live like no one else so later we can live like no one else. Can I just say that I’m ready to get to the other side already? Currently I’m going through my things to see what I can sell. Dave says I need to sell so much that the kids think they are next. I recently broke the news to my 14 year old that she needed to start saving money so she can pay for half of her car. You can imagine the reaction I got. “Mom I’m fourteen!” I replied with.. “And isn’t it about time you got a job?” Why “I had a job from the time I was eleven years old and I worked all through high school and college.” If I had been given the opportunity to continue on my rampage I probably would have gotten on a role and followed that with “And I walked up hill both ways to get to those jobs too.” Which would be completely untrue.

I’m not sure that the kids think they are next to be sold, but I’m pretty sure they are getting scared. That or they are plotting their revenge for all of the “Walmart meals” they have been subjected to. The “Walmart meals” as they so lovingly refer to them are the E-mealz that we are now eating. Courtesy of a recommendation by Dave Ramsey. It has challenged all of us to try new foods. Some have been pretty good others not so much. It has taken the guess work out of dinner time.

While it may sound as though I am not a big fan of Dave, I assure you that I am. Everything I have read has made sense. Not only that it works. The bible says in Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” I guess we finally decided we would rather not have everything we brought in going out to our lenders. The lenders need to be paid off and taken out of the control over our lives. It’s just too stressful to live that way. So I guess I owe a thank you to Dave. I do like him and his blue shirt. No matter how many of them there are. Because on the way to financial peace there are a lot of blue shirts.

Blessings,
Heather