Monday, June 25, 2012

Time to take out the TRASH!



Trying to get the house 'back in order' today after 10 days away, I placed a newly purchased bag of Oreo's in a Tupperware and threw the plastic bag away. I continued my grocery journey into the bathroom to put the shampoo away when I heard the 'creeeaak' of the pantry cupboard. Bentley. I walked back into the kitchen to see him digging that same empty Oreo bag OUT of the garbage. Yuck!

"Yucky!!" I told him, as I re-tossed the bag into the trash. But as I dropped it back into the garbage, I thought how easy it is to mistaken our trash for treasure--even after we've tossed it out.

Last week, I shared an amazing experience with my High School Youth Group on a Reach Camps Mission Trip to Joliet, Illinois!! (If you've never heard of Reach, please take the time to look them up! They truly have figured out the perfect balance to spending time with JESUS and serving HIM for youth! )

During one of our last program nights, we were asked to write down an obstacle that blocked us from spending time WITH Jesus. Our program director shared that even GOOD things, like doing things FOR God, can get in the way of spending time WITH Him---it was like he read my heart. It wasn't hard for me to write a note to God detailing the things I'd allowed to blockade me from HIS will for me, spending time at HIS feet--just like Mary. After I wrote my note to God, I walked up stage and literally threw my obstacle into the trash. Gone of good, to never distract me from spending time with Christ again, right?!

But, what if, like that Oreo bag, my obstacle came back to surface? What if it looked new and shiny and even appetizing? My almost 2 year old was tricked by a new looking bag that when opened was void of any substance. That's just like Satan. He uses things that LOOK good, LOOK promising, they may even be called "Ministry" or "God's work". After all, if they were called "Satan's work"...we would surly turn away. That's how he knows to decorate obstacles that turn us from spending time with Christ. They look harmless, good deeds even, but if they're taking us away from spending time with Christ, then he is winning us over with an empty bag of Oreo's that have been dug out of the trash.

We imprison ourselves with these obstacles. The bars of temptation, busyness, gossip, comparison, work, comfort, vanity, materials on Earth....imprison us from spending time WITH God, and doing His will in response. Satan is not stupid, he uses things that look promising and good to distract us from THE promise and what is GREAT.

I've made a vow to God, as well as a fellow camper friend, to keep my trash in the trash. Satan can have it. There will be no recycling of my garbage distractions. NO....the empty Oreo bag may look appealing, but NOTHING compares to HOW HE LOVES ME SO!

This is a song a few of the girls in my Crew shared with us last week, and I simply cannot stop singing it. Thank you Crew #516...I want to be just like you when I grow up!



Thursday, June 14, 2012

We will OVERCOME...

Mitch & Kaylee's perfect day!
Wow! 3 months have somehow passed in a chaotic whirlwind since my last post! An update on life: my cousin, Naomi has begun infusion treatments for her Crohn's and we are praying their benefits begin to show soon! I have a new Sister!! My brother is now a married man and the wedding was beautiful! Their new house is being built and each day I praise Him for His strength and goodness that carries us all the days of our lives! After all, "if our God is for us, then who can stand against us?"




It seems God just continues to show us His almighty STRENGTH through one tribulation or another. This song has intertwined itself to the deepest heart strings of my soul. As we praised our King this past Sunday at Lighthouse Community Church, even the walls of an elementary school cafeteria could not drown the heartfelt praise for our "healer, awesome in power, OUR GOD!" After walking away from a beautiful building to stand on the truth of HIS WORD, God has proven ten-fold that "If our God is for us, then who could ever stop us? And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?" 
                                                                       



                                      



Well, Satan never let's his guard down. I praise God for all the GREAT things HE has done in the lives of those I love and the direction God has led our church, but Satan is always on the attack of those who LOVE CHRIST! Throughout this process, our church family has become a united vessel that I'm certain burns Satan to his core. (for more details on LCC and our STAND, see Pastor Steve's BLOG) 

So, it is in the moments when we are weak that Satan comes to attack. For me, that was looking at an elementary storage room: tables, chairs, boxes, papers, carts, and school supplies strewn everywhere. Lord, how will this suffice as a nursery? Where will I put these tables and chairs? How will I ensure the toddlers safety from these table corners? ....and Lord, you KNOW my son is going to climb all over those stacked chairs! 


"For I know the plans I have for you [daughter], declares the Lord.
Plans to keep you and not to harm you"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 
Jeremiah 29:11

His gently whisper in my ear at just the perfect moment. But Lord, this isn't even in the same league as our precious mural-painted, toy filled, comfort-filled, created for us Comfort Bay Nursery. These kids deserve more. Better. Safer. Cozier. Lovelier. Comfy. 

"Remember the former things those of long ago; 
I am God, and there is no other; 
I am God and there is none like me. 
I make known the end from the beginning, 
from ancient times, 
what is still to come. 
I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. 
From the East I summon a bird of prey; 
from a a far-off land, 
a man to fulfill my purpose. 
What I have said, that will I bring about; 
what I have planned, the twill I do" 
Isaiah 46: 9-11

Trust me daughter. 

It was in the is uncomfortable moment that Satan was ready to have me weeping on the thinly carpeted floor; mourning for all that I felt I had lost for HIS Children's Ministry, He sent one of my close friends and fellow Children's Ministry leaders. She and I flipped and moved tables, stacked and 'hid' chairs, cleared and re-filled shelves--a few times! After about 30 minutes, the room was clear of clutter and the donated toys we feared would not fit in the room, fit perfectly on the cleared shelves. Plenty of room for rocking chairs, baby swings, cribs, and any other nursery item we may need. It was PERFECT.  Because it was from HIM. 

Sunday, I anticipated more uncomfortable moments. New beginnings are always uncomfortable aren't they?  Walking into what WAS a school cafeteria, I entered a beautiful house of worship...REALLY! I had expected a sterile feel to the room,  a few glitches in the video feed that was installed the day before--and would have called that a good morning of worship for the first time at a new location. But that's not our God. He doesn't do good, He does GREAT! The room was beautiful with a curtain back drop, greenery, mounted video screens, same band, same family, same TRUTH...same BODY! As I worshiped with my church family, there was an unexpected natural feeling to our new location, all the uncomfortable from the days and weeks before were gone. I can't explain it, but to say it was just like any other Sunday. We came together to worship our King for all that HE has done, is doing, and WILL do through us. God uses all these uncomfortable moments to push us to where HE wants us to be, to do the work HE has planned to bring HIM glory!


Because, God promises that He "will do" "what I [God] have planned" by "a man to fulfill His purpose"(Isaiah 46 excerpts).  And it is when man, woman, the BODY of Christ do what He has planned that "we will overcome"! when we come to HIM for HIS strength, HIS truth, HIS plan, HIS living water, for HIS PURPOSE. Through "the blood of the lamb, and the word of our testimony", we receive our Creators greatest gift of all...and over all...we OVERCOME!


I'm not saying it's going to be easy. But His word promises that when a fire takes every last belonging, when a disease depletes every once of energy we have, when a building is temporary. 

He. Will. Overcome.

We are a blessed people to be used by our Creator who loves us SO much more than we can even fathom! It is a privilege to be called by the King of all that was and is and is to come, to do HIS will. Yes, it is a privilege for God to make us UNCOMFORTABLE! So my friends, tighten your seat belts, because it's time to drive out of your comfort zone and be the HANDS and FEET of God!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who HE wants me to be...

You may remember a previous post that held heartfelt thoughts about my cousin, Naomi, whens she was hospitalized a few weeks ago for complications with her Crohn's disease. Praise God! She is doing better, and regaining strength and "life" back a bit more each day!
No sooner than she returned home to begin recouping, I received what I presumed to be my future sis "butt-dialing" me after her second shift. The clock said 12:01am..."mmelllo..". The frantic voice on the other side of the phone quickly brought my heart rate past awake and straight to hyper-drive. There had been a fire. My brother was sleeping. He escaped moments before his room was consumed by flames. But he was okay. He was okay. Wait...what??? Really God??? The next week was somewhat of a blur of offering support, running a B & B out of my home and attempting to sleep and take care of my family on the side. Naomi had only been home for 5 days and in between that time my husband had announced a calling in our lives that would rock the financial security we stood upon for the past 7 years. I'm not strong enough to do this God, I don't have the muscle to hold all these things up and keep myself together! Really God? Why all the people I love? Should I sleep with one eye open? Are my children next?! Lord, please, please please...not the kids. I'm just not strong enough for this. Not. Strong. Enough. 


Support from family, church, friends and complete strangers poured out from every avenue. My brother and future sis-in-law were lifted up in prayer and being showered in an abundance of love in various forms. But the hurt was still there. The nightmares don't just cease. The sleep doesn't come so easy. "Normal" doesn't even have a definition anymore. They had been striped to nothing...nothing.

My brother and his fiancee lost their house 3 months before their wedding, my cousin and bff has lost her health, my household is losing security, and let's throw a little family drama in for good measure!! I REALLY am not strong enough for all this. IT HURTS!! Lord, I am broken....so very broken for all the suffering around me. It's suffocating me, I'm just not strong enough.

"You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory." 
Psalm 73: 24

I don't enjoy being broken; don't know that I've ever acknowledged a time when I was--no matter how obvious it may have been. Admitting I was broken to God through my tears from beneath my cozy covers wasn't so hard--I've never been so grateful for my husbands strong hold to calmly chase my anxiety attacks from my body. He knew I was broken too. I wasn't able to play Polly Pockets with my daughter without randomly showering them in my tears. Even at six years old, she knew I was broken. I cried out to my cousin--in less than perfect physical condition herself--she was quick to share prayers, thoughts and scriptures that had carried her through the previous week's battle. Some things I had actually shared with her...I now needed to hear or read. Isn't God amazing to give us just who we need when we need them?I thank God for her everyday...every day.

It was clear that my new "responsibilities" required an intense strength that ONLY God could give me. So I prayed. And I prayed. And I submersed myself in the Word. And I prayed. And I read. And I prayed. Again, God spoke to me through my Bible Study of David. My heart spoke every word with David before he died, as he praised God for bringing him from a shepherd boy to a King, through trials and sins, to lead the people of Israel closer to Him. David was broken many times, read with me: 

"The waves of death swirled about me; 
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears."
2 Samuael 22:5-7

David had been broken. I was broken. The waves of death had "swirled about" my best friend and my brother in less than one week. My brother kept asking me, "What do I do next? Where do I go from here? I don't understand!" David tells us in "my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God...my cry came to His ears"!!! God wants to hear our cry's, He cares! He loves us and He cares!

So with permission from David and few close friends, I cried. I cried, and I cried and I cried. At no time did I doubt that my Savior's plan was perfect, nor did I doubt the beauty on the other side of this tribulation, but in the midst of the flaming fire before me...I cried. I cried for the one of the most Spiritually beautiful women I know--trapped inside a failing body. I cried for a husband wanting to provide for his family. I cried for a man who faced death in his own home. I cried for a bride who nearly lost her groom before their perfect day. And then I selfishly cried for myself, the common denominator in all these negative equations. God, what are you trying to teach me? In all these trials, you've placed me--a tiny pebble--to help hold up a large structure. Are you sure you want me? I really don't have the muscle for this...really, me?! 

One of my Dear Sisters favorite quotes to me.

Wouldn't it be just like God to bring me to His house of worship to uplift me?! And wouldn't it be just like God to use a dear Sister to guide me and pray for me?! After four days of chaos, the reality of the fire was setting in for all. Time to return home, to return to work, time to start a new day. My parents left with instructions to call if they were needed. "You're the oldest, take care of your brother and call us if you need anything. Remember, you're the closest rock for him to lean on".  Well, no pressure there! I tried to argue that I was a mere pebble incapable of such tasks, but they wouldn't hear of it. While I poured out my overwhelming questions to my Dear Sister at church, she stopped talking. She grabbed my hands. And she prayed with me. She prayed for strength---which only He can give. She prayed for clarity--which only He can give. She prayed for patience-which only He can give! She advised me to take one day at a time, one hour if necessary. To stop looking at the big picture and ask God, "What would you have me do in the next 30 minutes?"

I woke up Monday morning, and started my day with Beth Moore's study on David. She talked about starting with what we know to figure out what we don't know. My FB page told me I was being used by God to encourage 2 close friends with their trials. A loving husband told me I was worth loving. And a ministry team told me they were certain GOD choose me! He choose me. He didn't plague me! He choose me! He had clearly surrounded me with hurting loved ones. He had given me an opportunity to hold their hands, pray with them and walk alongside their troubled paths. Who doesn't want to be used by God in amazing ways? Who doesn't want to watch God doing monumental things through them? Who doesn't want to be THAT person? Anybody?What an honor! What a privileged! What an inconceivably flattering calling that God DID choose me. In the last month, my relationship with Christ has grown ten-fold; likewise, He is now calling my relationships here on Earth to a new height! Me?! Really?! Oh Lord, this is a HUGE privilege to shine YOUR light and share your strength with the people I love most. I can ONLY do this if I am CONSTANTLY renewed and filled with the Spirit every hour of every day. THIS is the relationship you've been asking me for...

I am so excited to see how God uses the turbulence in our lives to make us stronger. To bring us home to rely only on Him, and none other. And David prayed: 

"You are my Lamp, O Lord;
the LORD turns my darkness
into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
As for God His ways are perfect;
the word of the Lord is flawless,
He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
and who is the Rock except our God?
IT IS GOD WHO ARMS ME WITH STRENGTH
AND MAKES MY WAY PERFECT"
2 Sam 22:29-33

This is my absolute NEW favorite song!

I am a weak and small pebble--incapable of anything on my own. But when I quench my thirst at His well...I become the rock IN HIM that cannot be shaken!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

My husband enjoys teasing my daughter and I that, "Valentines is a Hallmark Holiday!" as an excuse to the void of a vase of flowers, or a heart full of chocolate on our kitchen table every year. Now, honestly, I agree with him; it IS a Hallmark Holiday. However, it's never a bad idea to show the one's you love just how much they mean to you. And just because Jesus didn't celebrate Valentine's Day, doesn't mean He doesn't smile down on us as we share His love with one another!
So, how do we do this? Does it require a $7 singing card? A huge box of assorted chocolates? Roses? A heart-patterned panda bear? No. (although, chocolates are welcome in my home AND office anytime!!)
We can use even these somewhat silly holidays to show our children Christ's love for them as well as our love for them. Here as an idea I came across from D6 Family's Splink Newsletter today: 


Valentine's Day Treasure Hunt

Items Needed: clues (below)
Treat—candy, cookies, or small prizes
Celebrate Valentine's Day with a treasure hunt. 
Print the clues below (or make up your own) and hide them all, except the first one. Give the kids the first clue to start the hunt. Wrap a small gift for each child or put a box filled with goodies for them to find at the end. (You may have to adapt these a little for your house.)

Clue 1: Look on the bookcase to find what you must do.
              If you do this, you will get your next clue.
Clue 2: Say “I love you” three times as quickly as can be;
              Then look behind the TV if your clue you want to see.
Clue 3: Roses are red, violets are blue;
              Go to the guest room to find your next clue.
Clue 4: Kiss each person on the forehead.
              Then go look under your parent’s bed.
Clue 5: I wonder where the next clue will hide;
               Maybe in the place where the clothes are dried.
Clue 6: Say something nice to each person in the
               room.
              Then go to the place where we keep the broom.
Clue 7: Good things come to those who look;
               A clue can be found in a favorite book.
Clue 8: Concerning clues, if you want to find more.
               Go to your dresser and count down four.
Clue 9: Turn around now and give each person a hug;
              Then go to the bathroom and look under the rug.
Clue 10: If you want to find Clue Number 10,
              Look in the room where people come in.
Clue 11: This hunt is fun; we think it’s really neat.
              Look on the bottom of what you put on your feet.
Clue 12: You’re close to the treasure, you’re almost a 
              winner.
               Look under the table where we eat dinner.
Clue 13:  Unlock the door and go down the stair.
               There’s a treasure hidden to show that we care.
When you obeyed what the clue said, you eventually found a treat! It is always good to obey.
I may sneak into Walgreens on the way home for a few treats to hide for the kiddos tonight!
I pray you are blessed today buy those you love and the love you receive, especially that of our Heavenly Father...who IS love! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

God wants ME...a weak and feeble woman

In the last couple weeks, and last few days even more, God has been gently guiding me to a new understanding that HE has a time for everything. Now, we all grew up studying the verse:

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity 
under heaven:

A time to be born a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to be silent and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace." 
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

Now, I say He has been gently guiding me because for the last week, I've been suited up with my sword, metal armor, helmet and shield--ready to fight the devil to the ground. Why would I feel the need to take up my armor and fight? What could possibly be so wrong that I would want to slay the enemy? And more importantly, I'm now asking myself: What did you really think you were going to do with that sword? But until an hour ago, I didn't care, I just needed to fight. Fight for justice, fight for peace, fight to make a wrong situation right, to put on my shield and take the daggers that my sick and broken friend was enduring and fight Satan back with all I was worth!! 

Let's detour a moment. The person that I can share my deepest and ugliest thoughts with, my happiest laughs with and darkest fears with, the person who has the ability to speak truth in love and hit me to the core, my absolute BEST FRIEND in this world, has been suffering--(see her blog here). I don't mean a scrapped knee that requires a band-aid, not a migraine she can sleep off. NO. She has been suffering excruciating, breath-taking, body-chilling, mind-numbing, pain (even is she pretends she is "ok"--she might beat me for writing this=). Now the doctors were helping her any way they could, increasing pain meds (a defeat in her natural-remedy world), encouraging her to ambulate as much as possible (each step bringing tears to her sullen face). And I'm not a doctor, so what could I possibly do to help? What benefit would there be to her physical health for my presence to be physically in her hospital room. None. Now, my best friend is hurting, and I have TO ADMIT TO MYSELF AND MY GOD...that I a weak and feeble human, do not have the super powers necessary to take away her pain. Increasing my desire for the unattainable even more-so. 

The fourth day of her hospital stay, after many ups and downs, I received a message. Now, up until this moment, she had been the picture child of strong faith in desolate times. She said to me, "I can't do it!". And I cried. But, for the first time, they were not tears of fear or frustration, they were a release of hope. Hope, that God was ready to build her back up, to restore her, to HEAL her, because she was bowing before His thrown saying, "I can't!". I resisted the urge to bolt and poured my heart out to my woman's bible study...we studies this verse:

"Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be
disabled, but rather HEALED."
Hebrews 12:12-13

The next morning, I woke with a heavy heart. Feeling the need to shake her and yell Beth Moore's words, "I know that if God knocked me down to my knees, I'm gonna stay down until he builds me up. Otherwise, he will cut my legs off until I am down--so HE can PICK ME UP!"  
She responded in the same way I would have (funny thing about BF's, they are much alike!) "I don't know how." And in my mind I'm thinking, neither do I. Because just as badly as she wanted to control her pain, to FIGHT for her strength, to get better; just as badly I wanted to take up my sword and fight FOR her. To run to my car, to wave to my family, my ministry, my home and my life and make the 7 hour drive to cradle her in my arms, to hold her hand, to stroke her beautiful long hair.  But God said, "let me".
You see, even now, knowing that she will be released from the hospital in a few hours and is doing drastically better than before, I WANT to be there physically. Let me say that again, I WANT to be there. I WANT. I WANT. I WANT. What can I do to heal her? Nothing. What medical powers do I have. None. What healing hands do I posses. Not one. My best friend has been fighting for her life!! And God says, "No daughter, let me". But God!! But Daddy! Ugh [insert teenage foot stomp with hands on hips]...she's MY best friend, she NEEDS ME! I NEED to see that she's ok, I NEED to be there for her, I NEED to make her better! I NEED her!

There are a few more I's and Me's in that paragraph than I care to count. She doesn't need me, I don't need to see her to know she's taken care of by the great physician Himself. God has this under control. HE needs to be her rock, HE needs to see to it that she's ok, and only HE can HEAL her. Hmph--fine Dad, I'll let do it, even though I WANT to do it myself! 

Just this morning on my way into church, I released the grip on my sword and gave it to our Father, the HEALER, the COUNSELOR, the ALMIGHTY ONE while sobbing to this song: 



As I listen, I pray the words for both sides of the pond that divide my cousin and I, ""whatever you're doing inside of me, it feels like chaos but somehow there's peace and though it's HARD TO SURRENDER to WHAT I CAN'T SEE, I'm giving into something heavenly". I will continue to surrender to Him and His timing of when and if I should go or stay. I pray that her surrender will result in a restoration of physical healing, and emotional peace and spiritual fruit. I am so blessed to have her in my life, and basking in this time GOD has given us to share together on Earth. For such a time is this.

I am so blessed and absolutely in love with a Father that will heal my sister in Christ and take the pain from her body. A Father that not only promises to love us and protect us, but does so on HIS own TIME. And SOOO grateful, that HIS time was now. She will be released to go home in a few hours. She is weak, but God is good. He hears our prayers, He WANTS us to cry to Him, to lay our broken and feeble bodies at His feet, to allow His healing hand to touch our face. He WANTS us. He wants us today, tomorrow and forever. Amen?!

P.S. If you are a praying brother or sister, please remember my friend in your prayers---she is so special to me.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Let's get down to the nitty gritty...

 

Last week I shared with you how God slowed down my life--literally! He shattered my daily routine, and started in the wee morning hours to rebuild my day starting with HIM. I concluded my last post with this,  "Routine. Yes, HE has given me a NEW ROUTINE...simply coming before HIM each day to see, specifically, what HE wants me to do that day."
Now, praise God, we have all been healthy since Saturday (3 days ago) and seem to be back into our daily grind of school, work, groceries, and birthday parties! (Yes, my baby girl turned 6 Sunday! Uhh...it breaks my heart and warms my soul all at the same time!) Well, this beautiful girl went back to school on Monday, giving us our first "trial run" of our new routine. Now if I had to give myself a grade, it would be easy: "F"...fail...do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars...reeee-jected!! We overslept, we did not do devotions during our granola bar-to-go diet, and I certainly did not have time to personally sit down with my Savior BEFORE all of this chaos began. Wow...God makes His will for me specific and clear...no guessing, no waiting for pictures in the clouds or writing in the sand...and STILL I fail.
I shed a few tears dropping Alyssa off at school. Such a small precious child, with innocence and compassion overflowing, walking away from me and into this BIG elementary school of  knowledge, relationships and challenges that will stretch her far beyond her years. I tried to smile through the heartache as she raised her precious little hand and waved goodbye to her brother and I (crying in disappointment of her departure). This beautiful young child (admit it "MOM" she is no longer a toddler) NEEDS me. She needs me to be the best, strongest, knowledgeable, focused, determined, Godly Mom who ever faced this Earth. God has given this tender hearted angel to me, and it is my job to raise her up in the ways and the word of the Lord. I will never forget the image of her brown Ugg boots (ok, so they're a Old Navy knock-off, who pays the price of those things anyway?), skinny jeans, purple coat (yes, it HAS to be purple!); adamantly waving her homemade mittens from Great Grandma, her pearly whites peaking through her big smile and her eyes...oh her beautiful blue eyes...sparkling! Yes, she needs me! (just as much as I need her!) I prayed the whole way home,
"Lord, my baby girl needs me (as does her little brother). I know that you want me to start each day with you. I know that she needs me to feed her from the Bible at breakfast each morning. I know that she needs time to talk about her day after school, her friends, her homework, her teacher, her reading, and of course: recess! Lord protect my baby girl from Satan in his many forms. She's getting older, and I cannot follow her every step Lord, but you can! Lord, I have failed you today, but I will NOT fail! Help me to make a permanent routine with YOU first, help me to raise this child in a knowledge and comfort of your arms. I am so sorry that I have failed you, and my family. Help me to know the specific ways to make this change permanent. You have helped me overcome so much, in the same way you guided us to make healthy living choices of diet and exercise, guide us to "pen" you into our calendar each and every day. And Lord, if that means me getting out of bed with the chickens...may the coffee be strong! Thank you for your word, thank you for your wisdom, thank you for my baby girl, thank you for my beautiful family and the life you have given me with them. Amen."

This is not really me, but you get the idea!
I resisted the urge to run after her and begin homeschooling immediately and voyaged onto our next mission: Bootcamp! This may sound torturous; (and some days it is) however this is part of a different change God called me to make. It started back in July after I saw a very large me (10 months post baby) on a VBS recording in front of church. I was absolutely DISGUSTED! I was ashamed to be a walking billboard for McD's to the church, my family and to myself. What had I done to this temple God has given me? That day, I committed to losing 37 lbs and changing my life for the better. I soon found great motivation and accountability with a group of woman at church, through a fun health challenge we call, "Accountability Adventure" a.k.a. "AA" (great ice breaker to tell someone you are in AA! LOL). For 4 weeks we keep track of points we earn for eating fruits/veggies, drinking water, exercising, keeping a food journal, etc. This was a HUGE change for me. How am I going to eat 4 servings of fruits/veggies a day?! Do I even like that many veggies?? I don't have time for 30 minutes of exercise a day! 6 days a week, really!? God has given me these woman to be my Earthly rocks to lean on!  Although it's a game, everyone is extremely supportive regardless of their team name! Our woman's ministry also offers kickboxing class twice a week with child care at our church (I literally have the ability to walk out of my office door and into a boot-camp class!). Six months later, I'm registering for my first 1/2 marathon--and looking forward to it! And again, I have to figure out a new routine: How will I train for this? How many days of running a week? How many miles? 

The same way I needed a chart to record my calories, fruits, veggies and water intake, I need a chart of how I am going to reach my goal of spending more time with my heavenly Father. The same way I still have to schedule my workouts throughout the week, I need to schedule my quiet time with God. Where do I start? With the calendar and an agenda...just like my workout calendar! It's time to settle down in a new routine, that priortizes God's will for my life. My heath is important, but spending time with God is more important, and ensuring that my kids are being spiritually fed is vital to their health! So, making this new routine..will take some sacrifices, waking up earlier, no more HGTV until 11pm, and flexibility of my workout schedule and work schedule. I recently previewed a new Bible Study we are starting with the woman at church called, Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst, and loved what she had to say about 'settling' into a new lifestyle or routine.

"The funny thing is, I’ve spent my whole existence trying to find a place to settle down, people to settle down with, and a spirit about me worthy of all this settled down-ness. All of this is good. A contented heart, thankful for its blessings, is a good way to settle.
But there are areas of my life that have also settled that mock my desires to be a godly woman — compromises, if you will. Attitudes that I’ve wrapped in the lie, “Well, that’s just how I am. And if that’s all the bad that’s in me, I’m doing pretty good.”
I dare you, dear soul of mine, to notice the stark evidence of a spirit that is tainted and a heart that must be placed under the microscope of God’s Word. Yes, indeed, unsettle me, Lord."

 Anytime God asks us to "unsettle" our lives, it puts us type A: organized, orderly, don't-like-change Dutch people in a hurricane of uncomfortableness! And amidst the chaos of change and transition, I "Praise be to the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle." Psalm 144:1. Maybe we are not training for a physical battle like David was, but we are constantly under attack as Satan attaches us to our comforts in life. Whether that be chocolate, HGTV, sweatpants or angry birds, we all have comfort zones that we run to when change presents itself. So how do we do it? How do we change? How do we step out of our comfort zone? How do we take off the sweats, put down the chocolate, set down the iphone and make a change? I'm going back to Beth Moore's method, starting with step one! I have prayed about it and through His word (and great mentors) recognized two specific needs to accomplish the task he has set before me!

1. Specific Need: 
   -" Lord,Help me to wake up at 6am each morning. This will give me an hour of quiet time with you before the kids get up and the unpredictability of each day detours me from your word!
    -Help me to wake Alyssa up 30 minutes earlier to give us time for devotions at breakfast before she                goes to school. Give me the discernment as a parent to know if we need to also make her bedtime     earlier."

To some of you, this may seem simple. Wake up earlier to ensure you have a long quality time with God each morning. However, I don't do mornings! It may take a wake up call, literally, to make this happen! I know that through prayer and accountability, I can make this time change become our new routine. because God never gives us more than we can handle!

I pray that whatever God is asking you to "unsettle' you would find accountability in a Christian mentor to see that your routine is His will for your life. Likewise, I ask for your accountability in making the changes God has asked me to begin!