Tuesday, October 2, 2012

31 Days of Living - Jackson

Wanted: a magic wand, fairy dust or a working time machine. Any of these will work, as long as it can help bring my grandson home from the hospital to be with his mommy and daddy. My grandson has been living in Omaha Nebraska at Children's Hospital since July 25, 2012, the day he entered this world, while his mommy, daddy and grandparents, live and work 1 1/2 hours away. Jackson was born with a condition called Esophageal Atresia. His esophagus didn't connect together and so he has been in the hospital waiting for it to grow 2 cm before they can do surgery to connect the two sections. Yesterday they checked to see if it had grown enough but unfortunately it still has a tiny bit more to grow which means they will not be doing surgery until the first of November. This means waiting another month. Tomorrow he will be 10 weeks old. He has never gone for a walk in his stroller, a ride in the car, has never seen his blue nursery with his toy box that grandpa painted and put wooden cars, trucks and airplanes on or his name on the wall above his crib. He has never breathed in the fresh air from outdoors or seen a puppy dog. Jackson has been living in a small area of the NNICU his entire short little life. His mommy and daddy visit him every weekend, I go one day a week and his other grandma goes on another day. We also go every weekend so that grandpa can visit him too. This is Jackson's life.

The last 10 weeks have tested our patience and faith. It has also made us more aware of what is important, family, love, hope and joy. Little things just don't get us upset anymore. Time has become important. Checking off the days on the calendar and looking ahead to being able to see his precious face, to hold him, sing to him and read to him. Our life revolves around time spent with Jackson and the time spent away from Jackson.

This is not a journey we signed up for. This is not something we asked for. This is not something that we prayed for. But God has seen us through. With God our faith has been restored, our patience has grown and our hope in tomorrow refreshed. The joy that Jackson has brought to our lives far out weighs any of the sadness or frustration that we have expressed or the tears that we have shed. God has given us the strength to endure and the perseverance to continue on. God has been our rock and our fortress.

We know that Jackson will be coming home to his mommy and daddy and his blue room. He will run, jump, laugh, cry and drive his parents crazy. He will grow into the man that God intends him to be and he will be blessed. God placed Jackson on this earth for a reason and I can't wait to watch that little boy grow into a strong, compassionate, caring and loving man.

Jackson David, your Nana loves you!!


Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of Living

Today I am joining the Nester and a group of bloggers in writing about a certain topic for 31 days. So... for the entire month of October, I will be writing on 31 Days of Living. I thought for a long time what my topic should be and I just couldn't grasp hold of any one thing so I decided to write on living. Living is what we do, what we try to do and also what we try and figure out to do. Does that make sense or am I just overly tired?

This is also a way for me to get back into writing. If you took a look at the date of my last blog you would find that I haven't written anything since June. So I hope you will join me on this adventure each day and join me in a little bit of living.


You can follow along here each day of the 31 Days of Living posts.

Day 2 - Jackson

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ask, Seek, Knock

Hi Friends,

This past weekend I had the privilege of leading worship at my church, Grace United Methodist Church. The title of my message was "Ask, Seek, Knock" and the scripture was from Matthew 7:7-12 (NLT). Here is the video of my message for those who would like to view it. Click on http://vimeo.com/43360893 to view the video.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Journey to the Cross

I came to the cross today. I had followed the path to the place they said Jesus was crucified. My walk was slow and difficult to bear. The baggage I carried on my back was too heavy and at times I stopped to rest but I could see it off in the distance, the cross. This was a journey I needed to take and my destination seemed far but I picked up the bags and continued on.  There were those who said I shouldn’t go, that I was too weak. Others said I couldn’t go, I wouldn’t be welcomed. There were those who called me names, hurtful names that made me think they were right. Along that path those names played over and over in my mind. The feelings reached deep into my soul. Was I too broken? Was I not worthy?  Would I not be welcomed? I almost turned around but something deep down inside of me kept telling me to go, so I traveled on.
The cross was getting closer and I could start to see the shadow of it. I felt the tears creep into the corners of my eyes and the weight and pain from the baggage was almost too much to endure. My legs felt as if they couldn’t take another step. My body was weary and blisters had formed on my feet. I felt the sweat drip down my back and my head hung low. This journey was so hard, was it worth all this pain just to see the cross? I took a few more steps and stopped, my back ached and my head hurt. I set my baggage down and fell to my knees. How far had I walked, how much farther did I need to go?
As I slowly lifted my head, there before me stood the cross. It was larger than what I had imagined. I reached out to touch it, the wood rough as I moved my hand over it. As I leaned into the cross I stood up, the cross bearing my weight. I took a few steps backwards and took in the full view. It was large and as I looked closer it looked as if someone had splattered red paint on it. But it wasn’t paint, it was where the blood of Jesus had dripped and fallen. It made me catch my breath. Around the base of the cross, sprinkled on the dirt was more blood. The pain of what Jesus had endured became apparent to me. I looked closer and I could see where the holes were made that had held the nails that pierced his skin. The sign above the cross read “This is Jesus, King of the Jews”.
I stood there in the shadow of the cross. My baggage lay at my feet, the baggage that I had carried with me on this journey to the cross. And then a voice from behind me said, “I’m glad you made it.” I turned and there was a man I didn’t recognize. He spoke again, “I’m glad you made it. I’ve been waiting for you.” I took a step towards him to get a better look. Did I know this man? Had I met him before? He looked vaguely familiar. Was he someone from my childhood? It seemed so long ago that I was a child, safe and secure in my parent’s home. He asked me if my journey had been difficult. I almost laughed out loud but stopped myself. I told him it had been the most difficult journey of my life and I didn’t even know exactly why I had come, but there was something that had pushed me and wouldn’t let me stop. He told me that there were others who had traveled this same path. Some had turned around because it had gotten to difficult but there were more like me who had continued on and had stood right where I was standing, at the foot of the cross. I asked him if they were happy they had made it and he told me that it had changed their lives.
As he spoke to me he began to look familiar. But where did I know him from? Those eyes, I was sure I had seen those eyes before. They felt as if they could see straight through me, not in a piercing way but in a caring way. They were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen.  I asked him if there was a place where I could stay, a place to get a drink of water, have a meal, rest my weary body. He pointed to the north and told me there was a small village just over the hill where I would find a place to rest. I thanked him and reached out to shake his hand.
As his hand came towards mine, something caught my eye. It was a mark on his palm. It almost looked like a hole but how could that be? As my hand slid into his, my fingers touched the mark. I raised my head and looked at the man. Suddenly I remembered where I had seen his face and those eyes. My parents had a picture that use to hang in their bedroom of Jesus standing before a door. My eyes filled with tears and my knees buckled underneath me as I fell at his feet, my head bowed.
 I felt his hand touch my head and all at once the weariness, weight and pain that I had felt along the journey suddenly left. My body didn’t ache, my head didn’t hurt and I felt a feeling of love and acceptance that I hadn’t felt in years. He spoke to me in a voice that was soft and his words sunk deep into my soul.
He took his hand from my head and as I stood to look into those eyes once again, I saw that he had picked up my baggage. He told me that I wouldn’t need it anymore. He turned and began to walk down the path, carrying my bags, the weight pulling at his shoulders. I turned to look up at the cross, reaching out my hand to touch it, but when I looked back to see how far he had gone, he wasn’t there. The path was empty.
This journey that I had traveled had been long and difficult but as I stood in the shadow of the cross I knew that all that I had endured, the pain, the shame and the ridicule was no longer a part of who I was. Jesus had taken the bags that had weighed me down for so many years and as I stepped out of the shadow of the cross, I felt the light of the sun touch my face, and I knew that my life would never be the same.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Come to the Table

When you come to the table, do you approach slowly, sitting down and savoring the aroma of the meal and the time spent with others? Or do you rush in, sit down and quickly eat the food while barely tasting it?

"When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.”

Do you speak softly and listen intently? Or do you interrupt, not allowing others to finish their sentences?

And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

Do you share about your day, your experiences at school, work or home? Are joys celebrated and lessons learned?

Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”

Do you pass the food until everyone has been served and do you offer thanks to God for the blessings before you?

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Tonight we come to the table observing the Lord’s Last Supper. On this night Jesus would break bread and pass the cup and announce that one of those closest to him would betray him.

How do you come to the table tonight? Is your head bowed down? Are you filled with worry, regret and shame? Jesus said, “Take and eat; this is my body and drink from this cup; this is my blood, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

Tonight, come to the table. Sit with Jesus. Listen to his words. Savor his presence. Eat and drink from his cup. And give thanks to God.

“When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Path of Least Resistance

Last year over Labor Day Weekend, my husband Dave and I, along with our son Andrew, were staying in our family cabin in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The cabin is in Spearfish Canyon and the walls of the canyon face the front and the back of it. Dave and Andrew love to go for long hikes up to the rim rock where you can look for miles at the beautiful landscape of the Black Hills. They had found another trail and begged me to go on it with them. I wasn’t so sure about it but decided that I would go. Now I have to let it be known that the older I get the more afraid of heights I am. So this wasn’t going to be an easy task for me but I said a prayer and headed up the path.

The first few yards weren’t bad. We were talking and sharing observations with each other and I have to admit it was fun. The trail began to get a little more rugged and the climb steep. My breath became more labored but manageable. We had been climbing for quite a while when we stopped and my husband said turn around and look at the view. BIG MISTAKE!!! The only thing I saw was how far up the canyon we had climbed and how far down to the bottom we could fall. The hike suddenly became a path of resistance. I no longer wanted to talk, observe or view the scenery. I went into a panic and anxiety filled me. I became frozen. Dave and Andrew continued to talk about how high we had come, how beautiful it was and how fresh the air smelled as I sat completely still on a boulder. The only thought that was going through my mind was how in the world I was going to go back down that trail and would it really be that much of a problem if a helicopter could just hover over head, drop a basket that I could climb into and then take me back to the cabin?

Dave interrupted my thoughts by telling me it was time to continue up. I believe I gave him a look that said it all. There was no way I was going anywhere and especially going up that trail. It was over and I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. He started giving me the “pep talk” filled with encouraging words. I wasn’t listening and then Andrew joined in by trying to tell me that it wasn’t that far to go to the top. Tears filled my eyes and I silently prayed to God to just lift me off the boulder and place my feet on the ground below. I begged him for a miracle so that I wouldn’t have to face climbing down.

Dave soon realized that I was serious and told me that he would help me by being right in front of me and that we would take it very slow. We started down and I held on to him tightly. Each step felt like it was the last and at times I had to remind myself to breathe. When we finally reached the part of the path where it was easy I felt my body begin to shake. I had been so scared that I had tensed up every muscle.

Dave and Andrew love the adventure, exhilaration and challenge that they face when hiking and I hope they never lose those feelings.

I on the other hand, enjoy walking the path of least resistance. I don’t have to struggle to communicate with the person I am walking with. My words are not labored, my voice is not strained and my heart beats a steady thump-thump. The path is tranquil, serene and smooth. There are no logs to climb over, boulders to scale or tree branches swishing back into my face.

This is also the path that I enjoy the most when walking with God. I’ve walked down into those deep valleys with him and up those mountain trails. Those are the times that I don’t think twice about asking for his help. God has held my hand, pushed me up, carried me down and given me a pep talk filled with encouraging words every time. But the path that I really enjoy and sometimes forget that he is on with me is the path of least resistance. The path where there are no deep valleys or mountain top climbs. Sometimes I am walking on the path looking straight ahead and out of the corner of my eye I see his gentle face and his hand reaching for mine. “I forgot you were here”, I say as I place my hand into his. He turns his face to mine and says, “Child, I am always here, always near, never more than a heartbeat away. Take my hand and tell me about your day.”


Monday, March 26, 2012

Becoming Uncomfortable

Dear Bloggie Friends,

I wanted to share my message with all of you that I gave yesterday at Grace United Methodist Church where I am the Director of Women's Ministry. The title of the message is "Becoming Uncomfortable" from John 12:20-33 (NLT). Click on this link to watch the video http://vimeo.com/39150062


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Has Anyone Seen My Sneakers?

Made to Crave - Day 20

In May of 2010 I made a decision to start walking and to lose the excess pounds that I had been carrying around for the past years. My daughter was going to be getting married in October of 2010 and I did not want to go shopping for a dress and spend most of my time standing in the dressing room with a beautiful dress on that was too small while tears streamed down my cheeks. Been there, done that!!

So I joined Weight Watchers and started walking a 5.6 mile loop. That first day I thought I was going to die! I am not kidding you. It was the hardest thing I had done in a very long time. At one point I know that I was crying out to God for someone, anyone to come by and offer me a ride home. God wouldn’t allow it. I got home and collapsed. The next day I put on my sneakers and headed out the door, very sore and asking myself if it was really worth it. It was and I continued doing it every day. Even on the days that the temperature reached 100 I was walking. The weight started to come off and my husband decided to join me. We would have times of walking and talking or just walking and being quiet. We encouraged one another and by the time of the wedding I had lost 35 pounds.

I will never forget the feeling of finding the dress I would wear for the wedding. It was the first dress I tried on and it was a size 10. Not a 16 but a 10 and I felt beautiful. I did cry that day in the dressing room but the tears that fell on my face were tears of joy and accomplishment. I had stayed focused on the goal and I had achieved it. I was so proud of myself.

The only problem with the goal that I made for myself was that when the wedding was over, so was my goal. I found myself not having anything to work for. I still needed to lose about 10 pounds to get where I wanted to but I didn’t have anything to help keep me motivated. My husband and I joined a gym when winter came and we were good about going and I maintained my weight. When spring came I thought that I would just get back outside and walk but I didn’t. I started to make excuses that I was too busy or it was too hot or I was too tired. I stopped walking and I started eating. I have now gained back 20 pounds of what I had lost and I am miserable.

I continue to come up with every excuse possible to not walk and to not eat healthy. But then I read the scripture passage from 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”

My body is a temple and I am to honor God by taking care of it. Wow, that stung. I haven’t been honoring my body but dishonoring God. God sent Jesus to walk this earth and to die on the cross for me. Christ felt the pain of death on that cross. He felt the pain of the nails being driven into his hands and his feet, the thorns piercing his head and the sword cutting his side. When I picture Christ’s pain I realize that I no longer can use the excuse that I am too tired, it is too hot or I am too busy. Christ suffered so that I wouldn’t have to suffer. My being uncomfortable is no longer an excuse I want to make. My heart has been divided, one side knowing that I need to honor God but the other side being loyal to my cravings.

So now I will turn to God with my heart and pray that He will help me. “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” (Psalm 86:11-12). I can no longer be loyal to my cravings, desires, and excuses for not exercising; I will now be committed to being loyal to honoring God with my body which is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

"Has anyone seen my sneakers?"


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Nothing tastes as good as peace feels!

Made to Crave – Day 15

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food.” (Romans 14:19-20a)

Last night at my Made to Crave class, we were given our assignments for the week which are:

• To focus our thoughts on God, not food.
• To open our eyes and look for ways to love others.
• On a piece of paper, write, “Nothing tastes as good as peace feels” and then place it on your refrigerator, your pantry or wherever you will see it.
• And on another piece of paper write the word “peace” and place it over the numbers on your scale. Then every time you step on the scale, let the note remind you that your real weight loss goal is peace.

The first three I had no problem with, but that last one shook me up. I’m the person who as soon as I get out of bed in the morning I step on the scale. It’s how I start my day. Lately I’m not a very happy person when I see the numbers but I keep getting on thinking that just maybe the numbers will have changed.

When I saw this assignment I honestly thought there is no way I can do that. In fact I couldn’t even bring myself to put the piece of paper on the scale last evening when I got home from class. This morning though when I went into the bathroom I looked at the scale but I didn’t get on it. Something was pulling me away and I just couldn’t do it. So when I got home for lunch today I got a sticky note, got a pink marker, wrote the word “peace” on it and placed the sticky note on the scale covering the numbers. I then stood on the scale and looked down and all I saw was the word “peace” and I smiled. I read the word out loud and felt good. I didn’t feel the anxiety or the shame when I stood on the scale. I actually felt peace.

When we are so consumed by the numbers on the scale or the food that we eat, we will not have our eyes open to what God has for us even if it is right in front of our face. Seeing the word “peace” didn’t give me anxiety or leave me feeling defeated or stressed. When I read the word “peace” I felt calm and a feeling of empowerment filled my soul. I walked out of the bathroom with a determination I hadn’t felt before and I said out loud, “Nothing tastes as good as peace feels.”


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Caution - Having an unbalanced life can lead to weight gain!

Made to Crave – Day 14

“I tell you, open your eyes and look, at the fields! They are ripe for the harvest.” (John 4:35b)

I can’t remember the last time my stomach actually growled with hunger pains. I can’t even remember the last time I even felt a little bit hungry. It probably has to do with the 20 pounds I put back on over this last year, after working hard to lose 35. I haven’t allowed myself to be hungry. But I can tell you I have felt spiritually hungry and even off balanced in my spiritual and personal life.

I began a new staff position at my church in November of last year, which has taken over my life. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my new position. I am the Director of Women’s Ministry and I am so happy for this opportunity to serve women in the church and to actually get paid to do it. I remember Kathie Lee Gifford say on her talk show a few years ago, that the advice her dad gave her and her sister when it came time to figure out what they wanted to do in a career was to do find what they loved to do and figure out a way to get paid for it. That’s me. I love what I do and I am blessed to be able to get paid while doing it.

The only problem with this new position is that I want to reach as many women as I can and I am also trying so hard to show people that this new position is worth getting paid for. I so want to succeed that I have let my time with God and my family be pushed aside and that is what has caused the imbalance in my life. Seeking the balance is hard to do. Right now I feel that I am being pulled in 3 different directions: God, family and job and I am allowing myself to let my job pull me a lot further.

Seeking the balance in our lives is tricky. There is always someone or something that wants to pull us in their direction and so we let the other areas slip. Having an unbalanced spiritual and personal life will leave you feeling insecure, discouraged, overwhelmed, unorganized and aggravated. It’s not a healthy position to be in. When I am unbalanced in these areas I feel like I can’t accomplish anything. And the last thing I want to think about is what I am eating and when I’m going to exercise. So what do I do? I reach for foods like; cookies, crackers, chips, anything that I can pop in my mouth and fill that emptiness that I have created in myself from being unbalanced.

When we find ourselves being physically overweight and spiritually underweight we need to remember:

• Food can fill our stomachs but never our souls.
• Possessions can fill our houses but never our hearts.
• Sex can fill our nights but never our hunger for love.
• Children can fill our days but never our identities.

Only time spent with Jesus can fill us and truly satisfy us and he really wants us to really believe that. Only by being filled with soul food from Jesus – following Him and telling others about Him – will our souls ever be truly satisfied.

Instead of reaching for that sweet or salty morsel I need to reach for God’s word. Instead of getting out of my chair and heading towards the kitchen, I need to get on my knees and pray to the One who loves me unconditionally and can give me all that I need and can fill those empty places inside of me that I have created.

Thought for the Day (from the Made to Crave devotional) – "Food can fill my stomach but never my soul."


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Squeezing into small spaces

Made to Crave – Day 13

My family has 2 pets. A dog named Libby and a cat named Phoebe. We did have a turtle but poor Myrtle went to go live in a more heavenly pond last week so we are just down to the cat and dog. Phoebe the cat is 16 years old and is as feisty today as she was when we brought her home from the pet store. Every time she does something naughty I kindly remind my husband that he was the one who picked her out. The kids and I wanted a cute little gray kitty but my husband wanted Phoebe because she had the same black and white markings of a dairy cow. At the time that we purchased her, my husband worked for the computer company Gateway and their logo looked like the markings of a dairy cow.

Phoebe was a great cat until we brought home the dog and then she developed an attitude that hasn’t gone away. There is definitely some sibling rivalry on her part or she just thinks that the dog is the dumbest thing on four legs and is just too good to even bother with her. That is until she sits right in front of the dogs dish and will not let her eat until she is ready to move. This is a daily occurrence in our home.

The older that Phoebe has gotten the more she wants to lie in my lap, sleep curled next to my legs while I sleep or curled up in my chair. The only problem with her curling up in my chair is that she leaves behind white cat hair, which means that you have to take a lint roller to the chair every time you want to sit in it. So I decided to try and cover the chair with newspaper or magazines. This unfortunately didn’t stop her from getting on the chair because she would just curl up on top of the papers and leave her hair on the back of the chair. So my husband went and got a small box and put it on the chair but Phoebe just knocked it off and made herself comfortable. So he went and got a shoebox that had a lid attached to it and placed it on the chair with the lid up, next to the other small box. When I came home from work today, I looked over at my chair and found Phoebe tightly curled up in the shoe box. She was determined that she was somehow going to be on the chair even if it meant squeezing herself into a small space to do it.

How many times do we squeeze our self into a small space thinking that we will be comfortable only to find that we have no room to move? Or putting on those jeans that are a size or more too small just because we won’t admit that we’ve put on a little extra weight? Sometimes we put ourselves into small places because we feel more secure and less afraid. It’s hard to put ourselves out there when there is a fear of failure or defeat. The problem with small places or boxes is that there is no room to grow, no room to expand and no room to breathe. We keep ourselves confined because it makes us feel safe but in reality it makes us become even more afraid. To grow we must give ourselves the space to grow.

There was a Chinese custom that would be used on the feet of small girls to stop their feet from growing. They would bind the feet very tightly and that way the feet would be unable to grow. It was thought that women with big feet were not feminine. This caused major problems for the girls as they grew into women. The bones and muscles didn’t develop correctly in their feet or their legs.

When we place ourselves or others into boxes or categories, we stop the opportunity of becoming everything that God wants us to become. Removing ourselves from the small places we have put ourselves into takes courage, determination and faith. It takes faith in our self and faith in God. Faith is standing at the edge of the darkness and knowing that one of two things will happen…There will be something to stand on or you will be taught how to fly. Only God can give you the strength to take that first step and God is the only one who will give you the wings to fly.

Today, take that step out of the box you have put yourself into and experience the wings that God will give you to help you grow.

"Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love." 1 Corinthians 16:12-14


Monday, March 12, 2012

Springing forward into an amazing you!

Made to Crave – Day 12

This past weekend we had to “spring forward” our clocks. We lost an hour of sleep but gained an hour more of daylight. Some people don’t like it when we have to change our clocks in the spring but when fall comes and we get to set them back everyone is happy to do it. I on the other hand don’t mind changing the clocks. An extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day is worth the hour of sleep I lose!

To me “springing forward” is a way of letting go of the darkness of winter and saying “hello” to spring with a smile and a big wave. Last Friday as I was driving to work I saw my first robin of spring. This is huge for me! Starting in mid-February I start to look for robins. Robins are a sign of spring in Iowa and in other parts of the country. Robins are only around in the spring and summer and by fall they leave town for warmer areas down south.

Spring is a great time to “spring forward” in to eating healthier. It’s time to uncover our grills, set out our deck furniture and make a pitcher of ice tea. I know we could get that occasional spring blizzard but I like to be positive and think that old man winter has decided to go into hibernation for the next few months.

The produce sections at the grocery stores are starting to have more choices in fruits and vegetables and the farmers markets will soon be setting up shop. This is the time to check out some new recipes for dinner or desserts that are lower in fat and calories. Bookstores, internet and the library are good resources to find new and exciting recipes in cookbooks, magazines and T.V. shows.

It’s also time to spring forward in our thinking and outlook of who we are and what we want. Like the robin it’s time to come back home to who God intended us to be. It’s time to set our eyes on the beauty of spring and the beauty which is within us.

In her book “You’re Already Amazing” Holley Gerth writes, “It’s time you knew you’re amazing”. “You smile, laugh awkwardly, glance at the ceiling. “I know, I know,” you reply. “So kind of you to say”. I respond, looking at you more intently. “I mean it’s time you really knew. And there’s more:

• You’re not only amazing.
• You’re enough.
• You’re beautiful.
• You’re wanted.
• You’re chosen.
• You’re called.
• You’ve got what it takes…not just to survive but to change the world.”

You ask, “Who told you that? And I respond, “The only One who really knows – Someone who loves you.”

You are amazing!!


Friday, March 9, 2012

Desperate or Determined?

Made to Crave – Day 9

Desperation leads to bad choices if we aren’t careful. It’s those times where we find ourselves desperately searching for something or someone to give us comfort.

When we’ve had a really lousy day at work, our boyfriend, girl friend or spouse has decided to end the relationship, the teacher or principal has called to tell us our child isn’t doing well in school, we lose our job, the bills are piling up, a friend or loved one is ill or passed away, or someone close has betrayed us and we decide that food or alcohol will give us the comfort we need or will take away the stress we are feeling. We tell ourselves that a few chips, candy, ice cream, donuts, cookies, or glass of beer or wine is all that we need to comfort or relieve the stress and we will feel better. And then there are others who will turn to gambling, pornography, drugs or any other behavior that they feel will give them comfort.

Lysa Terkeurst said in her book “Made to Crave”, “We must be aware that desperation breeds degradation. In other words, when what is lacking in life goes from being an annoyance to an anxiety we run the risk of compromising in ways we never thought we would.”

1 Peter 5:7-8 tells us, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.”

“If we forget to be self-controlled and alert, we are prime targets for Satan to usher us right away from the new standards we’ve set in our life. That’s degradation. Yes, desperation breeds degradation.” (Made to Crave)

So how do we stop ourselves from becoming desperate? We become DETERMINED!! Determined to find other ways to comfort ourselves and protect ourselves from the choices that will lead us to degradation. It’s having a plan ready for those times when the stress, anxiety, ups and downs of life stop us in our tracks. It’s having a friend or two who will hold us accountable to staying away from those choices that are not good for us. Choose friends who you can call on, text or email for support, encouragement or help when desperation starts to creep in to your days or nights. It's turning to God in word and prayer and leaning on Him for the strength we need to have self-control.

Be determined to be all that you can. God created you for so much more and wants you to have a life that brings fulfillment to you and glory to Him.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

You gotta have friends!

Made to Crave – Day 8

There's a song that Bette Midler sings and some of the lyrics are:

But you got to have friends,
The feeling's oh so strong
You got to have friends,
To make that day last long

You got to have friends. I don’t know what life would be like if I didn’t have friends. What I have learned is that as you journey through life your friendships change as you grow older. My very first friend was my older sister and some would also say that the little stuffed bunny I carried around with me was just as good of a friend as my sister. When my baby brother was born he became a friend too. There were also my two imaginary friends, Cindy and Judy. Cindy was good and Judy was naughty.

When I started elementary school I added friends to my life. There was Karoline, Penny, Jean, Lisa, Libby, Amy, Debbie, Kristi and Melissa. Junior High brought more friends into my life such as, Sheri, Renee, Laurie, Stacey & Mary and in high school Katie, Sandy, Liz, Casey, Dawn, Cathy & Stacy joined the circle. There were other friends but these girls were the core friends in my life. We told each other secrets, cried on each other’s shoulders and had some of the best times of our lives with one another. I still keep in touch with quite a few of them and I am so happy for that. These are friendships along with memories that I will cherish the rest of my life.

In my adult life I have various groups of friends. There are my friends from college, my friends who I have worked with, my friends who I attend church with, my friends in my neighborhood, friends in ministry and my “faithful four” friends; Angie, Sandy and Jean. These three friends have laughed with me, cried with me, supported me, cheered for me and have been honest with me, even if I didn’t really want to hear it but needed to and I am grateful for that.

I can also add my mom to my list of friends. Who would have thought that when I was 14 years old I would one day call my mom one of my best friends? I’m sure she wouldn’t have believed it back then either. And now as my children are all adults I can say that they are all growing into becoming friends too. My closest and bestest friend is hands down my husband. If any one person has seen me at my best and at my worst and still loved me, it has been Dave and I love him with every part of my life.

This journey we are on with all its ups, downs, twists and turns couldn’t be bearable if it wasn’t for friends who help, support and encourage us. As you continue on this journey, reach out to one of your friends and ask him or her to help you. Whether it’s a husband, mom, neighbor, co-worker, sister or girlfriend, you will find that one of them will be your biggest supporter on this journey and they will help you reach your goal of a healthy lifestyle.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:12-15)


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Empty or Full?

Made to Crave – Day 7

I want you to picture in your mind this scenario:

You wake up, the birds are singing, the sun is shining, you eat a healthy breakfast, get ready for work, pack your snacks for the day, decide what you will be eating for lunch and dinner and head off to work. Doesn’t this sound nice? But then something happens right in the middle of your wonderfully planned day and your whole plan crumbles. Something triggered a response and you find yourself eating something you know you shouldn’t have. You now feel that your day is ruined, you feel like a failure and you return home after work feeling defeated.

So what triggered you?

• Was it a stressful project that your boss asked you to do with very little time?
• Was it a co-worker out sick that had you doing all of their work and your own?
• Was it treats brought in to your office for a special occasion?
• Was it a friend asking you to lunch to their favorite restaurant that doesn’t have healthy options on the menu?
• Was it returning home to find your kids arguing, your sink clogged, the check engine light coming on in your car or a telephone call that wasn’t good news?

The best way to deal with these moments which causes a trigger like response is to pause. Lysa Terkeurst suggests that we pause and ask ourselves, “Do I want to eat this right now because I need nourishment or because I’m feeling empty emotionally or spiritually?” If I need nourishment, I can choose a healthy option. If I’m just feeling empty, I must realize food can fill my stomach but never my soul.

If you’re not physically hungry then you must need to be filled in another way. The Bible tells us to seek God to fill that emptiness inside ourselves.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT)

Do you see the truth in this scripture? God can help you through those times of struggles and challenges. Because face it, we are going to face challenges and struggles every day of our lives. Some will be small and some will be big. But the truth you need to understand and remember is how wide, how long, how high and how deep God’s love is for you.

So remember to pause, and if you are truly hungry, wait and choose a healthy snack and then you will be truly full.

Thought for the day (from the Made to Crave devotional) – “The only way to negate an emotional eating trigger is to match it with truth.”


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Finding love in all the wrong places

Made to Crave – Day 6

It’s hard to stay on this path of eating healthy and exercising. Did I hear an “Amen” from some of you? It’s so easy to step off and wander away. And when we do, it is even that much harder to step back on and follow, especially when we go to food for love. How many of us as children, when we were hurt, sad or sick, did our parents or grandparents give us something to eat to help us feel better? As adults we use the same reasoning. "I don’t feel good but I bet ice cream and french fries will make me feel better." "My heart is broken so I better have that pizza to heal it." "Let’s go out to eat I’m too tired to cook and it’s been a really bad day."

Do any of those statements sound familiar? I’ve said all of them and a whole lot more!! The trouble with turning to food for love is that food can’t love us back. Did you get that? Food can’t love us back. When we overeat it makes us feel even worse. It causes us to feel discouraged, to be more stressed and to be ashamed of what we have done and how we look.

It is only when we turn to God not food that we are finally able to feel the love we are in need of. What food can’t give us, God can. God’s love never fails, God’s love is patient and God’s love is not based on our performance.

No matter where you are in your struggle with food or losing weight, know that God loves you and you are precious in his sight. God loves you just the way you are. God wants to travel this path with you. He wants to give you the strength and love that you will need to keep you going on this journey. Seek God out and you will find that victory is within your reach.

Thought for the Day (from the Made to Crave devotional) – “We are only one good choice from being back on the path of perseverance. But no matter how far off the path or how long we have been on it, God is patient with us and loves us as a dearly beloved child – part of His family.”


Are we to big of a risk?

A few houses away from ours, is a very large stone mansion. It’s very old and is beautiful, inside and outside. Unfortunately the house has sat empty for over the last year and has had no family to live in it or care for it. Just recently it sold and I’m anxious to know who the new home owners are. While on a walk with my husband last night I told him that I had seen a sold sign in the yard and I was so happy it would no longer sit empty. Empty houses make me feel sad. I like to have a house have lights on and have activity happening because then the house is finally a home and is happy. I know, call me silly but that’s how I’m made. My husband made a comment that has stayed with me. He said, “I don’t think I would want to buy a house that has sat empty for over a year. You never know what’s going to happen when you start to turn on everything and use it. It’s a problem waiting to happen.” But I said, “Oh but it’s so pretty and it just needs a little TLC and it will be fine.” He shook his head and said, “It’s just too much of a risk.”

As you can see we don’t see eye to eye on this particular subject. My husband’s profession is in insurance and he is always looking at the business/financial point of view and I always look at the sentimental point of view. But his comment really got to me, “…too much of a risk.”

Is that how we look at or treat people in our own lives? When someone walks away from God for a while and makes really bad choices, maybe lives their lives without thinking about anyone else but themselves and maybe has even treated us poorly, are they to much of a risk to take back in to our lives? Are we not to give them the TLC they need? Like a house that has sat empty, some people are empty to. Some are empty of love, support, self-esteem, self-confidence and care.

What if God looked at us that way? What if we sat empty of God for a while and strayed off the path and made really bad choices and lived our lives without seeking God’s care or guidance? Would we be too big of a risk for God to take us back into his fold?

“Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:3-7


Monday, March 5, 2012

Persevering when road blocks stand in your way!

Made to Crave – Day 5

As I checked my emails this morning at work I found one that informed me that the office copier had a problem and I needed to have a technician come and fix it. Of course, before I called the technician I went over to the copier and tried to see if I could fix the problem myself. Unfortunately, it was something I couldn’t do and so I called to have the technician come. The only problem was that I needed to make a few copies and found that my, to do list now had a road block placed in it. Before I could file anything, I needed to make copies and I couldn’t make copies because the copier wasn’t working. At first I found myself agitated and then aggravated. How was I going to get my work done when the one piece of office equipment I needed wasn’t working? I suddenly felt as if my morning routine was at a stand-still. I found myself sitting at my desk with nothing to do until I realized that just because a road block had been placed in my morning to do list, didn’t mean there wasn’t anything else I could do. I decided to look through my other emails, the calendar and notes that had been left on my desk. Through doing this I found other items I could take care of that didn’t rely on the copier and was able to check off a number of items on my to do list and tackle items that I didn’t think I would have time to do but now realized I did. When we find road blocks in our way we need to see if there isn’t something else we could be doing until the road block is removed or even try to work around it.

One road block that can stop us in our tracks is when we have had all our meals planned out and then someone calls and invites us out to dinner. This can cause anxiety and stress unless we can find away to work around the road block and enjoy an evening out with friends. Don’t let this stop you from continuing on your journey. There are many things you can do to help you when you are faced with this road block. If the restaurant has a website check to see if their menu is on line and decide before you go what you are going to order. If the menu isn’t on line than eat an apple and drink a glass of water before you go so that you aren’t hungry when you arrive. Tell yourself that it isn’t about the food you will eat but the people you will be spending time with. Don’t make food the focus but the conversation and fellowship you will be enjoying.

“You know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work.” (James 1:3-4a)

Thought for the Day (from the Made to Crave devotional) – Between any trial and the blessing that comes from that trial, there is a pathway I must walk – that pathway is perseverance.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Obeying or Wandering

Made to Crave – Day 3

Obeying God - It should be so easy, a no brainer, you shouldn’t even have to think twice about it. But why is it so hard to obey God when it is so easy to obey everything and everyone else? I’ve heard people explain it by saying, “I’m only human” or “God understands, he’s the one who made me”. But is that how we should be thinking or feeling?

When Moses and the Israelites set out for the promise land, God gave them Ten Commandments. Just ten, so how hard could that have been? I mean, here they were promised a land filled with milk and honey. A land given to them by God to keep them safe and to give them everything they needed. All they needed to do was follow God’s commandments and it would be all theirs.

A trip that should have taken them a small amount of time, turned into 40 years of wandering. 40 years wasted in a wasteland. 40 years that took its toll on them. 40 years of deaths and births in a dry and barren land. God gave them enough food or manna and water when they needed it to sustain them, but they could have had the milk and honey a lot sooner only if they had obeyed God. Instead they looked to others and manmade idols to obey and worship.

When we look to others for acceptance or approval, or to the scale to make us feel good about ourselves, we are no longer obeying God. We are like the Israelites wandering in a wasteland of dislike, disapproval and dismay. Instead of looking to others or objects, turn your face to God and he will give you everything you need.

So the next time you get on the scale and the number isn’t what you expected, ask yourself these questions:

1. Did I overeat this week on any day?
2. Did I move more and exercise regularly?
3. Did I eat in secret or out of anger or frustration?
4. Did I feel that, at any time, I ran to food instead of to God?

If you answered no to these questions don’t worry! You need to define yourself by your obedience, not a number on the scale. Keep continuing on this journey and God will help you reach your goal.

“Peter and the other apostle replied: We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29)

Thought for the day (from the Made to Crave devotional) – “I must obey God rather than the scale!”


Friday, March 2, 2012

Faith is a journey, not a guilt trip

Day 2 - Made to Crave

I found this saying a few weeks ago, “Faith is a journey, not a guilt trip”. This is so true if you are trying to make the right choices but sometimes don’t. Does God really want us to feel guilty because we had that chocolate chip cookie instead of going to Him when we were bored, upset or lonely? Did Christ die on the cross so that we would all feel guilty because of our sins? Christ died on the cross so that we could have forgiveness of our sins. Guilt is a human emotion that can help us to decide to change how we have been doing things. If we make that wrong choice, guilt will help us to change and move on. Don’t let guilt weigh you down to where you just give up and say “What’s the point? I’ll just mess up again anyway.” Just because you had that cookie, piece of chocolate, didn’t exercise today or are carrying around a few extra pounds, don’t be ashamed. Lysa Terkeurst said, “Guilt wrapped in shame is a terrible burden to carry.” If you are carrying around guilt or shame, give it to God and let him carry it. Be assured that God loves you, that God’s grace is freely given to you and the reality of God’s power.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Thought for the Day (from the Made to Crave devotional) - I wept as I realized this would be one of the most significant spiritual journeys of my life. A spiritual journey that would yield great physical benefits.


Thursday, March 1, 2012


(For the next 6 weeks I will be using this blog as a way to reach out to the women who are participating in the “Made to Crave” Bible study I am leading. If you are not in the Bible study I hope you will continue to take time and stop by my blog. If you would like to leave a comment or a question, you may do so at the end of each entry.)

Day 1 - Made to Crave

Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up, look at your day planner and think to yourself, “Today isn’t going to be too bad?” But as the day goes along things keep getting added to your day and instead of a smooth ride you encounter twists, turns and quick stops? That’s exactly how my day has been.

Everything was going along as planned until I left my office at noon for lunch and that is when the twists, turns and quick stops started. No emergencies, no drama or chaos, just simple things that were added to my schedule that needed to be done.

As I was coming back from my trip to the post office (which isn’t a very pleasant experience anymore, because it is now the only post office in our community and when you arrive there at 4:45pm you will undoubtedly find yourself waiting in a very long line) I found myself feeling a little bit out of control. I pulled into my driveway, went into my house and found myself standing in the middle of the kitchen. I walked over to the refrigerator and opened the door. Then I walked over to the cabinet and looked in it. Was I hungry? No. I stopped and walked out of the kitchen and up to my office. I knew what was happening. I opened my bag and pulled out a piece of paper. On the paper was one word spelled out in red letters, EMPOWERED. I read it out loud, “Empowered”. I read it again and again and again and then I walked back down to the kitchen, took a magnet and placed it smack in the middle of the refrigerator door.

Empowered is a word filled with hope and possibilities. It’s a word that can’t be said in a timid voice. Go ahead try it. It just can’t be done. It’s a word that makes you stand up tall with your shoulders back and your head held high. Empowered.

Being Empowered helps you make right choices. Being Empowered gives you the strength to say “NO”. Being Empowered allows you to look in the mirror and like what you see.

When we turn to God to fill the empty spaces in our lives instead filling it with food we are Empowered. God gave each of us an inner strength, that if we take the time to look deep within ourselves, and are willing to dig through the layers of self-doubt, anger, distrust, sadness, loneliness, despair, ect…, we will find ourselves becoming EMPOWERED.

Thought of the Day (from the Made to Crave devotional) – Unsettle me in the best kind of way. For when I allow your touch to reach the deepest parts of me – dark and dingy and hidden away too long – suddenly, a fresh wind of life twists and twirls and dances through my soul.


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

When God Opens a Door

One of my favorite Bible verses is Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” I’ve tried to live this verse each day of my life. Every morning before I place my feet on the floor I pray to God, “Lord I want to be a servant, a disciple of Christ. Lead me and direct me. If you open a door I will walk through and follow. Today Lord, I pray, that I will see those open doors.”

Some days I clearly see the open doors and I walk confidently through them while other days when I go to bed I wonder if there was an open door but I was to wrapped up in the world around me that I didn’t see it. I do know that there have been times when I have seen the open door and it doesn’t look like an easy way and I fight God on going through. March 22, 2011 was one of those days.

But right now I need to give you a little history before I proceed in telling you about that door I was hesitant to enter.

My brother Kirk is married to a wonderful woman named Gloria, who everyone calls Brock. This is my brother’s second marriage and Brock’s first. He has two beautiful teenage daughters, Olivia & Madison, from his first marriage who live a few hundred miles away with their Mom. They visit their Dad at Christmas and during the summer break. My sister-in-law Brock is a wonderful loving step-mom to my nieces and we are so thankful for that. After a few years of being married they decided to have a child of their own together. But after a while it became apparent that something was wrong and after many tests they found that Brock had endiometriosis and sadly it would be impossible for her to have children. With much prayer and thought they decided to have a child through adoption. They became licensed foster parents in hopes of being able to adopt a child and then they waited and waited and waited.

Fast forward to March 22, 2011. I was working in my office at church when I received a phone call from one of our members. He wanted to know if we could help a family who attended the church and who were in need of assistance. He explained that the grandmother had had to go and pick up her grandson who was 3 and his half-brother who was 3 months from a terrible situation in another state. She had nothing for the baby, not even a bed for him to sleep in. I told him that I would call her and we would definitely be able to help.

I made that phone call, made a list of what she needed and headed off to Walmart. I have to say that this was an enjoyable experience. Picking out baby clothes, blankets, bottles, lotion, shampoo, crib and many other items was so much fun!! I purchased the items along with a few gift cards and drove to her home. During the drive there I prayed for the grandparents and for the two little boys. It was during my prayer that God told me to tell her about my brother and sister-in-law wanting to adopt a child. This is what I said to God, “What? You want me to tell her about Kirk and Brock wanting to adopt? I’m not going to say that! I wouldn’t even know how to bring it up. Lord you have got to be kidding me. I’m not a direct person. I can’t do that. Please don’t make me!” But God wouldn’t give up. All the way there he told me to tell her.

When I arrived at her house I took the bags and crib in and was introduced to two of the most adorable little boys. The 3yr. old had the biggest smile and the baby who was 3 months had the biggest brown eyes. The grandmother placed the baby in my arms and I completely melted. She told me the whole story and how she was now the guardian but didn’t know if she was going to be able to keep them and that she was so afraid that they would be put into the “system” and she might not ever see them again. It was clear that their mother and fathers were unable to care for them. During our conversation the “door” opened and I told her about my brother and sister-in-law and how they wanted to adopt, but how difficult it was to adopt a child when they were in the “system”.

That was it, that’s all I said. I left that day thanking God for the opportunity to be able to help her through our church’s assistance fund and went back to work. Two days later I received a call from the grandmother. She told me that ever since my visit she had felt God telling her that the two little boys belonged with my brother and sister-in-law. She had never met them before. They didn’t live in the city that we lived in. I was speechless. I asked her if she was sure about this and she told me she was.

The door that I didn’t want to enter had led straight to the very children who would become my nephews, Jack & Jace.

I called my brother, told him the story and gave him the grandmother’s phone number. On March 26, 2011, I took Kirk and Brock to meet Jack and Jace. As we stepped through the door of her house I introduced them to Jack and I placed Jace in my sister-in-laws arms. It was at that moment I knew that this was all God’s plan. I knew from that moment that they were a family. I spent the next 2 hours watching them play with the boys and watching a bond start to grow between them. It was priceless. That night as I was saying my prayers three pictures appeared in my mind. A picture of Kirk playing catch with Jack, a picture of Kirk and Brock teaching Jace how to walk and a picture of the entire family; Kirk, Brock, Olivia, Madison, Jack & Jace. The next day I described the pictures I had seen to them and I told them that they shouldn’t worry. That this was God’s plan and one day Jack and Jace would be theirs.

Over the next few months there were struggles to overcome and when their patience was running thin, I would remind them about those three pictures and to trust in God, because he is in control and everything would work out.

On February 10, 2012 we celebrated the Adoption Day of Jack & Jace into our family. After the adoption hearing we went back to their home for a celebration and as I walked through their door, I felt a peace come over me and tears welled up in my eyes as I realized that God’s plan had come full circle. God had opened a door 10 ½ months ago that not only had I walked through but so did my brother and sister-in-law, a door that opened to a new life and a new family for two special little boys.

When God calls to you and opens a door, don’t hesitate to enter. He always has something on the other side that is so much better than we can ever imagine.

February 10, 2012 "Adoption Day"