Friday, October 31, 2008
But other times, when I picture this God-man in pastoral Yisrael, I see His eyes as fiery, burning into me and my fellow Pharisees. I see the hypocrisy in my heart, and I know that He does too. I see His words piercing me, ferreting out the lies of my own righteousness that I have fed everyone, including myself. And I feel the pang of His rejection of this deceitful heart. And just when I can bear it no more, I remember...
That I am already His.
I am His own.
Bought by His blood.
Declared eternally righteous because of the gift He bestowed.
How can such righteousness reside in one so very, very sinful? How can such vast Perfection and Holiness show love...and kindness...and mercy...and grace to one such as me? Because THAT is who He IS. It is His very nature, these things so wholly His character that it simply--though intentionally--overflows onto us. It wasn't because of who I was or who I would become; it wasn't what I could or would do that drew Him to me. It was simply, abundantly, unfathomably His loving grace that called me, "MINE."
I cannot put my brain around it today. But, it seems that since it is true, I'll have all eternity to plumb the depths of this kindness and sing the praises that I find there.
Oh may this simple, Pharisaical woman be...
To the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. --Ephesians 1:3-8, NIV
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.
I would like to kindly recommend that we each review that philosophy, and then vote it.
Thanks for indulging this political moment.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Ten Reasons I Listed at the Beginning of The Journey for Losing Weight
1. ...because control brings contentment.
2. ...because I'd like to get to know my cheekbones!
3. ...because discipline is never a wasted lesson.
4. ...because someday I'm gonna borrow my husband's shirt and I don't want it to FIT!
5. ...because Jesus really is enough.
6. ...because some of my health can be earned.
7. ...because swimsuit season shouldn't be an annual shame. ;-)
8. ...because I want to own a little black dress!
9. ...because being trim doesn't close doors, but being overweight does.
10. ...because life is measured on all kinds of scales, and I only want to be 'ample' in the fruit of the Spirit!
BONUS: ...because when I meet someone, I really want to them to only see Jesus.
And, bonus #2:
When I went back to these notes, I also found a list from those first few months titled, "I feel good about..." Here are a few of those:
Ten Outcomes of The Journey I Feel Good About...
1. ...gaining control and losing fat!
2. ...meeting my mini-goals!
3. ...not going hog-wild at Christmas!
4. ...not quitting after I gained weight at Christmas!
5. ...believing in the when, not the if!
6. ...moving more!
7. ...searching for ways to fit movement into my life!
8. ...my falling "Points" (copyrighted by Weight Watchers) values!
9. ...wanting to exercise!
10. ...refusing to stay discouraged!
Just another glimpse into my Journey. It's been a good, God thing. :-)
Joyful in The Journey,
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. --Psalm 16:11, NIV
Monday, October 27, 2008
I was just on another site, where someone was referencing a movie I haven't seen (so I won't name or recommend it). From it, they pulled a scene where each person at a dinner party was to list five adjectives (or nouns, in a pinch) that described themselves. This sounded, to my random self, entertaining. So I made my list.
But before I share it with you, I want you to know that I consider this a tit-for-tat arrangement. I'll share mine with you if you'll share yours with me. If you read my list without leaving yours in the comment section, you will discover a charge for $29.95 on your credit card statement at the end of the month for 'entertainment expenses.' Or not. Oh, just compose your list and share already, even if you post it anonymously. It's just fun!
Now, I haven't prayed over this or put lots of mental energy into it. I haven't consulted friends or a thesaurus, though I did reference a dictionary (you'll know for which one, promise!). That said, I am...
What say you?
Entertained by the simplest things,
P.S. If you need it, www.dictionary.com is a handy tool... *wink*
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. --2 Corinthians 5:16-19a
Friday, October 24, 2008
Well, today isn't quite so lovely. While I'm sure we need the rain, it is gloomy weather. (This picture was taken at the exact same time of day as the first one. Can you see the rain?)
However, the soup I'm going to make this weekend and the hot chocolate I'm going to consume will make it better, I'm bettin'!
I'm also planning to search for warm-weather gear: coats, sweaters, sweatshirts. All of these items have been out-shrunk(?!), which is wonderful, but... When you've lost a significant amount of weight, one thing that tends to happen is that your body gets colder, faster. (Remember science class? Fat is an insulator...) Anyway, I'm freezing constantly now, though our temperatures are still averaging 65 during the day. And it turns out, I don't like being cold constantly. We'll see what the Goodwill can do for me. :-)
Oh, a special little joy in my life right now (warning: I do have on my sarcastic hat...) is the second round of conjunctivitis I've got going on in both eyes for the second time in two weeks. So.much.fun. Really. You should try it.
Or not. ;-)
Well, the weekend is upon me. I think I head out of here. Hope your weather and other sundry items as less gloomy than here in the South. Don't worry about me; by tomorrow afternoon, it'll be a glorious, sunny, 70-degree day here! Jealous? ;-)
Just callin' 'em as they are,
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about...what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? ...your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. --Matthew 6:25, 32b-33
Thursday, October 23, 2008
--I can have anything I want (to eat): It's how much and how often (I eat).
--Don't waste your points/calories on foods you don't love.
--You can 'start over' at any moment. (i.e., don't wait for tomorrow, next week, next month--if you mess up, start over NOW!)
--Don't give up what you want most for what you want now.
--The first bite tastes as good as the last, so try not eating more than those two bites!
--Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.
--When you're craving something specific, eat some of it. Otherwise, you'll eat around the world and then end up eating it anyway!
--This isn't the last time you'll ever eat _____. Don't eat as if it is.
--SLOW DOWN! Savor the food you are eating.
--Take a break to assess your fullness (WW words: comfort zone).
--Try new things: new foods, eating less of something and seeing if that satisfies, new forms of activity, etc.
I'm not really a 'mantra' kinda gal, but I have found these truths--while not all self-evident--trustworthy. I try to eat healthfully, but I also always allow room for my highly-developed sweet tooth. So far, it's worked for me, and I think that it is something that I can keep doing for the rest of the time I have on earth. (I'm counting on the fact that we won't have to worry about caloric balance in heaven!)
There are other sayings/truths that guide my life generally:
--When you're unsure (say, about a major life decision), don't.
--Get permission first.
--Give as much grace as possible.
--Choose right. Your heart will follow your head.
Do you have any sayings or ideas that guide a particular area of your life? That have been particularly helpful? I'd love to hear them.
Lovin' the journey we call life,
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. --Mark 8:34-35, NIV
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The Journey has been filled with ups and downs, pluses (mostly) and minuses (a few). It has certainly been filled with pit-fall-ins and get-up-agains. But mostly, I've really loved this journey.
I am now at 85+ pounds trimmer. I find that very, very surreal. If you've never made this journey, or had as far to go on this journey, you may not understand this, but...I never imagined (really and truly contemplated) that I had that far to go. That far, and more. I tossed numbers sometimes, but mostly, you are just going through life, one over-eating moment at a time, and not thinking about what it would take to get back to a healthy weight.
And here's what it has taken me:
--13 months, so far
--Lots and lots and LOTS of daily decisions to do 'differently'
--Lots of self-/re-educating
--Lots of cash: Weight Watchers, gym membership, rebuilding my wardrobe--4 times!, healthy foods (they cost more!)
--Lots of emotional energy (You simply don't get that heavy without playing some mental games that have to be unlearned and redefined in the shrinkage process.)
--Lots of spiritual energy (It wasn't my genes; it was my choices. And many of those choices were sin, plain and simple.)
--Learning: to make wiser choices, to refute the naysayers, to put my old (gluttonous) nature into subjection
It's been hard sometimes. But not always. And there have been some very wonderful benefits:
--Getting to redefine myself through my (new!) wardrobe
--Being able to shop anywhere, not just at specialty stores/departments
--Being seen as taller (seriously!)
--Having people not recognize me (This actually happens quite a lot these days.)
--Not being able to recognize myself (I mean this literally. I sometimes mistake my own reflection for someone else.)
--Feeling oh-so-much-more comfortable in my own skin
--Fitting into chairs/airplane seats/fair rides more comfortably and without fear
--No longer fearing that I am too heavy for someone to save in case of an emergency
--Not feeling ashamed to eat in front of others
--Feeling more outgoing than I've felt in almost two decades
--No longer being overlooked (It's amazing how a larger person can simply become invisible sometimes...)
--Really liking the person I see in the mirror
--Finally feeling in control
--Knowing that I am setting a healthy example for 'my girls' (the girls I disciple)
--No longer having to think about me and my body at all times and in all places. I am free to do what Christ says and truly think of others first.
I sense more and more that I am returning to the person that Christ designed for me to be. And that makes all the ups and downs of this journey worth every minute.
May I be--in every way--to the praise of His glorious grace,
For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold...And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
--2 Corinthians 3:10-12, 18, NIV
Thursday, October 16, 2008
And since tomorrow is a major event here at work (Mmm...)...
--7:45AM: Rise, work on shining
--9:00AM: Leave for Church
--9:30AM: Teach my middle schoolers, coffee (aka, the elixir of life) in hand
--10:45AM: Rush to wrap up my class on time (I really love to talk, and I really love to teach about the Bible--a deadly combo for those poor kiddos!!)
--11:05AM: Arrive late, as usual, to worship after catching up with my high school girls &/or parents of youth.
--12:25PM: Church ends, and I uncharacteristically rush out the door
--12:45PM: I'm the last arrival for lunch with a couple from the church where I work (not the same as the one I attend). They are hosting our (single) guest artist from our Friday night organ concert. I suspect a tiny push in the set-up department, but manage to simply be pleasant and avoid the rest.
--2:30PM: Go to the grocery store to pick up the snacks for our guest artists for that evening's concert. These include 8 brass players in addition to the aforementioned organist--all guys. I get lots of food.
--3:15PM: Arrive at work, only to find that my boss did the one thing I was really pushing to arrive early in order to accomplish. Used the time wisely on other work, and all was well.
--5:00PM: Set up meal for artists
--5:30PM: Make sure artists and Maestro (what I jokingly call my boss) are all on time. Wander, greeting guests and making sure the ushers have enough programs, etc.
--6:00PM: Make sure everyone is in their places before plopping down in my seat. Enjoy an hour of gorgeous worship and find myself anxious to get to heaven, as that's the only place I can imagine that it will be better.
--7:00PM: Begin clean-up.
--8:00PM: Begin proofing the church newsletter, as I promised the secretary I would leave her an edited copy by Monday, but have now decided to take Monday off.
--8:45PM: Arrive at home and, in a decidedly uncharacteristic fashion, immediately change into my PJs.
--8:50PM: Talk to my roomie/BF, who says she's going elsewhere to watch the football games since I am not in a football kinda mood.
--8:53PM: Hear the most awful crash, screech, and bang just outside my window...
And that's when the day unravels.
My car, parked innocently (and legally, and safely) on the street in front of my house has just been hit by a slightly (? or more...?) intoxicated woman who was talking on her cell phone while her dog jumped around in her car. Or at least, that's what I reconstructed from the ensuing conversations.
The story is long, and difficult, and tiresome to even recall more-or-less to recount or read, so I won't bore you (additionally, that is. *wink*). I will say that it became much more involved and complicated than any other accident I've ever been involved with. Therefore, I began to pray two things:
1.) God, give me wisdom! (If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. --James 1:5)
2.) God, make this about Your kingdom.
#2 is obvious, but #1 was a desperate need. The situation grew so complicated that I felt completely out of my depth. I ask God to just give me the kind of wisdom (some translations use the term cunning) that Scripture says He uses with His enemies. It was that challenging.
So...two and a half weeks later, the dust finally settled this morning. It felt complicated, and it took a long time, but at the end of it all...I heard myself grousing. :-( It was not a pretty thing to hear. I was grousing about my fears (not reality), about reality, about people, about circumstances--all the things that swirled around me in this scenario.
And here is what I realized: God did EXACTLY what I had asked Him to do, at least on #1. (#2 remains to be seen.) In every scenario, though clearly un-life-skilled for these kinds of negotiations, God guided me. Every issue &/or wall that came up, I knew exactly what to do at the exact right moment (though not earlier). And as I heard myself grouse, I realized that God had fulfilled His end of the bargain. He really did give me wisdom!
And then I realized that while I had started strong--and remained so for about two weeks--in the end, I had not behaved or believed as a child of The Omnipotent God should have. I ended up doubting the outcome, worrying about the process, and--and I am most ashamed of this--defaming the participants.
In the race to behave righteously, God won and I lost. Of course, God always wins. But this particular race is structured such that others (in Christ) can win too. That was the finish line I didn't cross.
Perhaps this observation is a win of sorts, however. I recognize where I went wrong, and why. I ceased to keep my needs before Him and tried to work it out myself. A classic case of the storm sucking you under, no? Perhaps, next time, I'll hold out for right behavior all the way to the finish line. I think I'll make that a goal.
But perhaps 'next time' doesn't have to involve a car accident? I think that would be nice... *wink*
But a traveler on life's journey,
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
--Matthew 14:22-33, NIV
Sunday, October 12, 2008
However, recently they spoofed this quote from Shakespeare's As You Like It:
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
If the entire world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?
Well, it's actually an excellent question. And the answer is quite easy:
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. --Ephesians 3:10-11
Did you know that your life--and in this passage, specifically the mystery of the Church--is being played out on a stage for all the angelic beings (good and bad) to witness? It is designed so that they may recognize the wisdom of God.
It seems that this then begs a question: Are they recognizing His wisdom in my life? I don't know about you, but some days, I'm ready for the next part of the play to start, a tiny 'refresh' moment where I can get my 'motivation' right and properly prepare my 'lines.' So today...I'm declaring the start of Act II! :-)
Not play-acting, but an actor in God's play,
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. --Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Why would you care? Why am I telling you this? I share this with you so you'll know that even when I'm absent--as I have been often over the past weeks--I am thinking of you. ;-)
That said, I'd better post this now, before it becomes a draft!
Stackin' 'em up!
"See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord." --Colossians 4:17b
Friday, October 10, 2008
Here's the deal. I've never been able to determine my face shape. This becomes important for things like choosing hairstyles and applying makeup--topics I don't normally cover here. However, The Journey is a topic I cover here, and it is said journey that has changed things up for me. See, my face used to be round as a bowling ball:
But since God has brought me along on this journey, it is no longer round. But what is it?
So, just for fun, I though I would add a poll to my page. Check out the column on the right to cast your vote. It's not nearly as vital as, say, the election on November 11. But it might cause you less indigestion. ;-)
A Post Script Lament: I think it's cool that my eyes seem to have gotten larger. But why did my nose have to do the same?
P.P.S. In response to popular demand (thanks to the two of you!), more on The Journey is coming soon!
This recipe was taken from EatBetterAmerica.com, a nice website for recipes and coupons too. Here is the link to the recipe I mentioned, oh, forever ago:
Cucumbers and Tomatoes in Yogurt
Yum! I hope you enjoy too!
Recently, he's be walking us through the lives of various 'saints' from the Scriptures, most recently Saul/Paul of New Testament fame. On Thursday, this was part of the text:
Like Saul, we're no match for God. Checkmate is inevitable. It's no game either. God will do whatever it takes to bring us to a point of absolute dependence on Him. He will relentlessly, patiently, faithfully goad until we finally and willingly submit to Him.**
Let me help you hone in on what hammered home for me: God will do whatever it takes to bring us to a point of absolute dependence on Him (emphasis mine).
Lately, I've found myself focusing on the v...a...s...t...n...e...s...s of God's plans, and how He is working out history--both broadly and personally--for the BEST end. Here is what I mean by "the best end": It might be that I am desperately ill and need God's healing touch. But the greater lesson might be to learn how God can heal my heart, and perhaps leaving my body damaged is the means to that end.
OR, it might be that I need my bills paid. But a greater need might be that I am placed in a position to remember Who my provider is. And to learn that lesson, my bills might have to go unpaid. My credit rating might even need to be trashed. I might even have to declare bankruptcy. When God has a great refining furnace lit, he will not stop until His servants are purified--no matter how much heat needs to be applied.
See, if God is all about His glory--and He is, make no mistake about it (Isaiah 48:11)--then the greater needs in our lives, not simply the cessation of our pain, are the ones that cause the reflection of His glory. If we twist and squint enough, sometimes we can catch a glimpse of the bigger picture God is painting, the one where the various moments of our lives become eternally echoing notes of praise to His glory, joining the symphony of all such moments across the scope of time and crescendoing into a larger, grander, more intricate and beautiful work than any that has ever been heard on planet earth--a work far greater than even Handel's Hallelujah Chorus!
But, if you're like me, you often just want the discomfort to end. Now would be good. Yesterday if possible. But because of His love for us, his infinite desire to refine and restore us, He will not leave us alone. He will not stop when it is wished, but only when it is finished. He tailors our experiences such that we become natural reflectors of Jesus Christ. And when we do THAT, it brings glory to Him. I think it is one of the coolest things in the universe that as God is working out His own glorification, we are beautified--and blessed--in the process. That just goes to show the goodness, the kindness, and the loving nature of our God!
And so, I stand amazed, and say, "Yes, Lord. Whatever it takes." And I try not to kick against the goads.
On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' "Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' " 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. --Acts 26:12-15, NIV
(c) 2008, except where noted otherwise
**Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
However, every once in awhile, someone I actually know personally says something really great, profound, and/or noteworthy. I received one of those today from my ever-increasingly-profound-and-wise uncle. (It was actually his son who I referred to in yesterday's post.)
In a note from him, I received this gem:
Funny--the water never parts in the desert, just at the promise line.
That'll make you think, and then go, "Yeah. I agree; that's true." And later, the nice twist in the wording will hit you, and you'll appreciate it even more. At least that's what happened to me.
Hope it blesses,
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. --Romans 5:1-6
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I don't know how God does this, but I know He does. In the midst of the people of God He can bestow such comfort.
I am thinking today of my family in Texas. About this time two years ago, I was at a get-to-know-your-missionaries gathering in someone's home. I knew only a handful of the people, and only very casually, but we were all enjoying hearing how this family was planning to return to Africa to minister to health and spiritual needs there. During a break, my roommate called to check our home voicemail, and then called me over to listen.
The call was from my mother, and it was distraught. My 14-year-old cousin, the only son of my mother's brother, had just been hit by a truck...and killed.
I gasped, and when I felt my knees starting to go weak, leaned back against the kitchen cabinets and slid to the floor. I replayed the message to be sure I had heard correctly, made my apologies, and bolted for the door to rush home.
But in the driveway, I suddenly stopped. Where was I headed? I was 1000 miles from my family, so I couldn't go and help or comfort them. The thought in my head was to go home, but to what avail? And suddenly, I knew that what I wanted most was to walk back into that group of believers and pray with them.
I reentered the building and shared my desire with my hosts. This was a young group of people--mostly twenty-somethings, and I think that my request was pretty unusual to them. but they agreed. Even though I think some of that group was uncomfortable, even though most didn't pray, I found myself comforted just to be among the people of God as my heart cried out to him.
When I went to work the next day (I work at a church), the people of God there rallied around me in ways I had never imagined. And when I arrived in Texas, I found that the people of God there were buoying up my family.
It is a beautiful thing when the people of God behave as conduits for the Spirit of God. It is so amazing and healing and sustaining. And, I might add, when the people of God act instead from their old natures, it is more damaging than almost anything else that can happen to us.
As the old hymn says, I am so glad I'm a part of the family of God. I have spent most of my life in ministry, so it is no surprise that I have been deeply wounded and subsequently scarred by the Church. Yet, by God's grace, I see His hand at work in her...and I love her. She is uniquely commissioned and privileged to represent Christ on earth.
And when she does, it is the loveliest thing you will ever see.
Celebrating the work of the Spirit in the Body of Christ, to the praise of the Father,
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. --I John 4:7-12
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
"To choose suffering makes no sense at all; to choose God's will in the midst of our suffering makes all the sense in the world." --Oswald Chambers
Well said, brother. You are one wise man.