A recent listen… Unglued, by Lysa Terkeurst

WOW! Have you read the new book Unglued? I must say it is spot on.

I honestly don’t have the time or energy to read many books so I have a membership through audible.com for audiobooks and have LOVED being able to listen to some great authors.

In her new release Unglued, Lysa helps us take our labels off and address the roots of what “unglues” us. She shares personal experiences from her own life and how God has chiseled her through those times to Lord willing, be a better wife, mom, and woman.

I listened to her until 2am because as she is narrating her own book, she sounds like a friend in my living room. A friend that has made many of my same mistakes. I actually found myself asking God… how could you let her write “my” book? The answer was of course that He hasn’t chiseled my form quite enough yet. I need this book and the practical, common sense advice that is both simple and profound. Why haven’t I already made road maps for responses? I learned in Bible school that you should make a decision about a decision before you have to make the decision. In other words, have a plan and know how to stand in that plan. Don’t come unglued by other people, things, or events, because there is already a procedure in place to follow. WOW. A procedure that has Jesus as it’s core and foundation. How simple, how obvious, and yet how many times do I just lose it and blow my testimony, especially with my greatest ministry right now, my children. Too many times for sure.

I am breezing through this audio book for the first time because I love listening to her and find myself wanting more and more. I know that I will listen again and slow my pace to have a focused change of heart.

I highly recommend this book, and it really isn’t for only women, I have heard the men on K-LOVE radio talking about their own perspective changes that they have learned from this book.

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Focus

Today I pray that the Lord helps me to remember that our children are the most pressing ministry at hand and all my other lists of things are the distraction, not them.

First day of school!

We were going to start last week but I still wasn’t feeling 100% so I gave myself grace and the kids didn’t mind at all. 😉

So today we start and I have to be honest, I’m still not 100% ready or prepared with all that I’d like to have but it is enough and the focus needs to be on what we do have and we will learn together how to fill in the missing pieces.

My biggest obstacle with educating our children at home is my own discipline. I have different lists for different responsibilities that I have and sometimes I put those other things… even if it’s housework, above training our children in wisdom and knowledge both of God and the world we live in. That would be an epic fail if that path continually is not maintained and I am purposing this school year to make my ministry to my children more effective and closer to God’s heart and desires for their growth.

Tomorrow I will share what we are using this year for our three students and toddler.

In the meantime, despite my restless night, God grace is enough and He will enable me to accomplish great things today! I pray the same for you.

Todays stand out verse in my quiet time:

Ephesians 3:12 NIV

In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Be confident today in His purpose for you!

 

Monday ponderings

We have been praying about what God has for our future. Some of the possibilities out there would mean a big change for us financially and of course another move.  This has led to well-meaning onlookers to warn us of the hardships of stepping down in pay and quality of life.

I have been thinking about our “stuff” and what we do with our current finances and how we long for them to be used to God’s glory. We have devoted a portion to supporting missionaries so I definitely keep that in our need to sustain side of decision-making.

Today I started my morning in Ephesians 1:7-14 and especially love verses 11-12

Ephesians 1:11-12 (NIV)

In Him you were also predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will,

in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.

Since I was a teenager I have been taught by wise youth leaders to use each and every situation or obstacle, good or bad, to bring glory to God. To make the time in those moments not about me and how hard things are for me, or how I wish for different or better, but to look to God and be willing to see what He has already planned out so that I might give Him glory in return. Sometimes it isn’t something seen immediately, but God will always use our experiences in conformity with the purpose of HIS will, so I might as well make His will my heart’s desire.

The benefits of changing our “quality of life” in financial realms are actually a massive improvement to our quality of life. Maybe not to everyone, but for the purpose of serving God more fully and storing our treasures in Heaven instead of earth, benefits far outweigh any sacrifices we may have to make.

All this said, we still aren’t even sure what God will do and if doors that we are knocking on will open, but we are standing ready and willing in excited anticipation on this side of the door. I have a sticker in the front of my Bible that I got the weekend that I made God the LORD of my life and not just my insurance for after-life… it says:

ALL I am…

ALL I have…

ALL I ever hope to be…

I now and forever dedicate to the Lord Jesus Christ for His use and glory, absolutely, unconditionally, now and forever.

Now LORD JESUS, Hold me to it.

I signed this January 12, 1992. I will never forget that amazing weekend and how God grabbed my heart and jump started it again to live and truly live passionately in love with HIM.

If God is the one in control of my life, and He is, I have nothing to fear. He cares for each detail and has proved that to me time and time again in little and big ways.

This morning I listened to a song I haven’t heard in a while. I had it in my heart when I woke so looked it up online to refresh all the words. Listen and watch He Is No Fool, by Twila Paris.

May you have a day of knowing God is in control and finding peace within that knowledge and courage and strength to seek out what He has planned for you to do in order for whatever is happening to bring Him glory according to HIS will at work in you.

Blessings,

Trip lists…

We have a camping trip coming up and it’s my first time camping since a class camping trip I was on in the 8th grade! Ha!

This time it will be my husband and I and 3 of our children. (ages 6, 4, and 2) Our 10-year-old will be down the road at his first week of overnight summer camp!

We’ll be at Word of Life Family Campground, my husband and I met as students at Word of Life in 1995 and haven’t been back since 1997. We’re looking forward to reminiscing and sharing stories with the kids. Our 13 year wedding anniversary is this month too!

We are trying to make this trip as frugal as possible so I am prepping a few meats and foil wrapping some breakfast burritos and chicken wraps ahead of time to throw on the coals or our over fire grill. I have a list in my head and on paper, but don’t want to be the only one working from the list so I put up small sticky notes up on two cupboard doors: one door has food prep list, the other has house-ready and errand items. We are living in a house that is for sale so it’s important that each time we leave it is show-ready in case the owner needs to bring someone by. (yay)

Some of the things we’ll be working on to prep ahead are marinated chicken and steaks, foil wrapping some ranch red potatoes, breakfast burritos individually foiled and frozen, oatmeal muffins, and a couple of other things. I’ll share as we go along what worked and what we tweaked. I have bottles of water frozen and ready and will be freezing grapes as well. Anything to help keep the cooler cold and feed us well! I am happy to say I don’t even have hot dogs on the list of meals!

We’ve set up the air mattresses we’ll be taking in the basement and have had weighted items on them for a few days to make sure they are hole-free as well! Being prepared with the right items is great, but not if they are defective! Thankfully they are still at the same firmness that we put them up with! Our kids seem to pop anything that can be blown up so this is a wonderful thing!

The littles that will be with us each got a special backpack (we home school so this is a BIG deal) and they will bring some of their favorite items for quiet moments throughout the week.

Any tips you might have feel free to share, if I don’t use them, one of my readers might!

There’s an app for that…

Noting my choices has made a big difference for me in this past week. I have always tried food journaling on past attempts to regain a healthy weight but end up giving up on that usually after only a couple of days. I found the app Lose It, on my EVO phone and LOVE it!! This is a free app that tracks my calorie intake as easily as selecting from a list foods pre-programmed by them, or by scanning a bar code, or creating my own by entering the serving size, calories, fat, fiber, and protein. I told the app how many pounds I wanted to lose in a week and how much I am currently, as well as my height, and it calculated how many calories I should have each day in order to reach my goals. I can also input exercise with their pre-programmed list of work-outs (including housework!) and the app plugs in how many calories I burnt on that activity. (of course this is an estimate, it doesn’t know if the sun is beating down on me while I’m biking and making me work harder or if the wind is strong, etc…) Overall I highly recommend this app for anyone that knows they need to keep track of their intake better and struggles to keep it all straight. I like that I can look at my day as a whole and see my nutrients for that day and add more protein or fiber in the next day or lower my sodium intake.

Putting plans in action

I have been continuing on with my Made To Crave book/Bible study and also listened to Bob Harper’s book, Are You Ready?, and I am excited to say that over the last 2 weeks I have lost 5 pounds! My ultimate goal is to get back down to where I was on our wedding day (150), which is still 62 lbs away, but I learned from Bob’s book that I need to set smaller goals for myself and stop being so panicked and hard on myself about my body and my food choices. So my first smaller goal for myself is to get out of the 200’s and get to 198. So far so good!  I learned I need to make deliberate choices about what we eat… because we all love simple indulgences that can be eaten mindlessly here at our home, I need to be careful even purchasing such items and then if I do partake to count out an actual serving and note my calories.

Keeping prayer and God’s promises to care for all my burdens has been a wonderful part of this journey. Yes, even struggles with weight loss is a burden He does care for and will carry for me if I surrender myself to Him. I have some friends that have joined this journey and we are all at different stages in our journey so sometimes I feel almost a justification to fall to temptation since actually taking time out to be on the phone and accountable to each other seems one of the harder parts of this process, but then I remember that it isn’t for that accountability friend that I am determined to have success in this particular study/challenge. My desire is to learn more about why I make the choices I make, whether with food or activity and how those choices affect my health here and now and also how they affect how I communicate with/depend on God. I am accountable to God first and foremost, I have asked Him to help me achieve this goal and if I don’t it won’t have been HIM that failed me, but me that failed to keep my focus on His power and authority in my life vs. foods power.

Am I willing to sacrifice what I think I need (chocolate, ice cream, fries) for what is better for me physically and what will allow me more energy and focus to be the woman God made me to be? YES! Truthfully, those Hershey Kisses we all love in this house have been less satisfying to me this week and less worth the calories too. Do I still like them? Duh, it’s chocolate! But asking myself why I want that sweet treat and what is making me grab for them as more times than not ended in me closing the cupboard door and turning to God in prayer for peace, strength, and whatever need drew me to that sweet spot in the first place. Sometimes it’s simply boredom, and that has been convicting as well, if I do have moments of quiet with nothing pressing to do, why am I not quicker to engage my hands to opening the Bible and spending more time with my Creator? THAT will always satisfy with no sugar highs or guilt for over indulging either! 🙂

The whole chapter of Matthew 19 is both encouraging and challenging to ask myself what I am willing to sacrifice to follow Christ, to be available completely for His use and Glory. It was a sacrifice that the rich young man in the passage was sad to be asked of, sacrificing his comforts financially was too much for him to cope with and he went away sad.  I know it’s wholly different to sacrifice wealth vs. sacrifice eating foods that don’t benefit, but it’s a sacrifice of this comfort food that will allow me to better know His abilities to care for me and use me more completely.

Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

So how are you doing? Don’t be discouraged, start again if stopped and we can talk from where we both are. Encouragement doesn’t have to come from someone in the same stage as you and each one on the journey can encourage the other no matter where they fall in line. (Just look at traveling Geese!)  Forgive yourself and move on, we weren’t created to live in guilt or regrets, multiple times daily I give my desires back to God and ask for help.

Blessings,

 

Simple Joys

We got a small pot belly pool off of Craigslist about 2 years ago and the summers have not been warm enough up here to use it until this week! Yay!

Our children are more than thrilled with the back yard addition even if it is still cold! It’s been so fun to laugh with them as they play and enjoy being outside. They usually have to be MADE to stay outside so this is a welcome change!!

The pool is shallow enough that our 2-year-old can stand just fine in it, but she stands there shivering so today I got her a tote bucket to call her own and filled it with about 3 inches of hot water and 4 inches of pool water and she loved it!

Using simple things to make life sweeter is so much fun!

Have a blessed day!

Thought for Food…

No, that title isn’t suppose to be Food for Thought, chapter 3 of our book study through Made to Crave is about preparing a plan of eating and action for ourselves.

This is a daily battle, not one that is a quick fix and not one that will be always fun or easy. Why bother then!?

James 1:2-4 (NASB)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Yes, my weight loss struggles, my choices to make between what is best for me and what would be fun to eat or do ARE trials that will produce perseverance and I will finish lacking in nothing, mature, and complete! THAT is the goal after all, the side effects will also be being trimmer, firmer, and able to fit into those goal jeans. Daily, I need to remind myself that choosing what is best is NOT depriving myself, but gifting myself with the JOY of self-control and health.

So make a plan, I see all sorts of different meal planning ideas out there and the key is to find one that works for each of us. Is there something that looks completely divine yet way too calorie full or fattening? See if you can find a way to cut the calories in it! This is a wonderful learning process that will encourage us that healthy eating doesn’t mean rice cakes and spoons of peanut butter as a meal. 😉

Take a few moments sometime soon to sit down and list out some meal and snack choices for the week and make your grocery list reflect anything your missing too.

Grocery store tip: Buying the low or reduced fat isn’t always best! Be a label reader. Many times in order to reduce the fat they load up the sodium and the calories remain the same. Compare labels and don’t be fooled by weight loss marketing.

 

 

An encouraging video

I hesitate to share this video only because I am not a fan of the 700 club and Pat Robinson, however, Karen Ehman was mentioned in my Made to Crave devotional this morning and a further look to her site www.karenehman.com led me to find her story in this format.

It is encouraging to see her success and to hear that it was not through a text book “diet”, but from making changes, even small ones. I feel the same way about weight issues and ministry as what she tapped on during her interview. My ministry can be so much greater if my body is healthier and showing my obedience to God even in my food and care choices. (like exercise)

http://www.cbn.com/media/index.aspx?s=/vod/SUT2_KarenEhman_090507

So, I’ll cover chapter 3 of Made to Crave tomorrow and it starts the planning process of making a plan. Have you made a plan? Remember, this is not a study about finding our how-to, but about finding our want-to.

In the Made to Crave participants guide page 12, Lysa defines the HOW-TO as diet programs and the WANT-TO as the spiritual and mental motivation to make lasting changes.

So lets talk. I will be calling those in Sisterhood of the Shrinking Pants group that personally know and setting up times with them to weekly talk and pray together as we encourage one another to continue on this journey to put food in its proper place and grow our relationship with God instead of our waistline. 😉

If I don’t know you and you would like personal accountability, I encourage you to connect with the person that referred you to this study and make a weekly appointment call.

In this call we can discuss… (the following questions are from the Made to Crave Devotional: 60 days to Craving God, Not Food, by Lysa TerKeurst page 18, which is from www.karenehman.com weight loss Wednesday blog topic)

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?

5. Before I weighed in, did I think I had a successful, God-pleasing week?

And our own personal questions:

1. Is there anything specific I can pray for you this week?

2. What verse encouraged or empowered you this week?

3. Are there any exercise tips to share?

The call doesn’t need to be a long one, but even writing the questions was convicting for me to be more pro-active in my steps to better health and shrinking pants.

Have a blessed day!

My homeschool convention journey…

This year I attended the HEAV (Home Educators Association of Virginia) convention in Richmond, VA. We use to live in that area so the 10, almost 11 hour trip for this wonderful convention and the opportunity to see an old friend again and some family was completely worth it.

My husband couldn’t get the time off work so the kids and I made a whole week of the trip and spent Tuesday driving, Wednesday playing with cousins in the pool, Thursday through Saturday in Richmond for the convention, visiting a good friend,  and hotel pool play, and Sunday at church with family and pool time again. Monday was a big day filled with going to the National Zoo in D.C. and taking a boat tour of some of the D.C. monuments.  It was a long day but lots of fun! (Other than the massive headache I ended it with that made it hard to even move or see straight…I’m thankful those don’t hit often)

The convention wasn’t what I originally dreamed it would be for me… a complete mommy break with me slowly strolling the convention booths and thoughtfully considering the plethora of choices that are presented. (whew! That was a sweet dream, but not a practical one!)

Instead, I had our four blessings with me, we drove around the 6 block radius of the convention hall for almost a half hour looking for available parking, stomachs were hungry after walking through one aisle. One! Ha! So we took a break within the first 20 minutes and spilled our drinks, chips, and various other munchies in the table area.

I made a decision after realizing that going to sessions wasn’t practical with four kids to purchase the convention MP3’s and that decision was so very freeing to me. I didn’t have to be upset that I was missing encouragement and refreshment or new ideas, I’d get them later and focus on enjoying my children now. I’m so thankful I did that!

God cares about my heart and wanted me to enjoy the children that I had been dreaming of having an escape from! We all had a great time, the boys enjoyed controlling Robots and getting their “robot drivers license”, the girls made bracelets, we played with puppets, watched amazing young jugglers, shopped the massive used curriculum, and my highlight was getting to meet Debbie Strayer.

I really had not heard of her before, but God knew she was exactly who I needed to speak with and be encouraged through. Debbie is the author of Gaining Confidence to Teach, and the co-author of the Trailguide to Learning series. (there are more too, but those are the key one’s I’ve looked at) 🙂  I spent a lot of time (at least the kids thought so) at her Geography Matters booth and even left after one conversation and came back in an hour or so for more.  She was friendly, understanding, empathetic, and offered practical solutions laced with grace and wisdom. She felt like someone I could easily spend hours at the kitchen table chatting with and an oasis to me as I have felt my soul to be in an emotional desert for some time. (especially in the long dark winters of our north country dwelling place)

I began reading her Gaining Confidence to Teach last night as it just came in the mail and within the first 3 pages she showed me again why I so enjoyed our short conversations together. Her daughter put it best… “She lives in the real world, she knows things aren’t always perfect”. (her daughter told me this when I was going to have the children apologize to Debbie for her having to sit them down and stop a squabble)

That’s it! That’s why I connected with her, I love transparent and real people. She is a woman who understands that life happens and chooses to allow God to teach through those happenings and make her a more effective ministry to others for Him. It’s what I desire, what I’ve been taught by wise leaders in my youth, to take each moment good or bad, and to glorify God because of it.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

Some people think we as Christians shouldn’t share when we are having a hard day or season or when we are struggling in certain areas, but in truth, in hiding our own weaknesses we are hiding the ability for others to see God at work in us.  I’m not saying we should be complaining or moping, or constantly negative, but things happen in life that aren’t fun! IF we are vigilant to seek God’s will for each happening, we are bound to bring glory to Him, or perhaps someone else may be able to help our perspective change to see His hand. I desire to always be willing to be used by God, even  if I feel inadequate. According to the above verse it would show God’s power even more greatly if I know that I was weak so that His power would be perfected.

Blessings,