Thursday, January 31, 2019

LOVE is Patient

Today should find us in Willemstad, Curacao. And the plan for the day? KT's Beach Party!
That is, all the folks who are part of the KT and Friend's Cruise get to enjoy a private beach party hosted by Kathy Troccoli.
So, while I'm playing in the sun, I hope you will enjoy these thoughts of mine from July 11, 2017.

Yesterday morning I walked into the kitchen to discover a counter FULL of dishes which had not been washed the night before - by one of my sons who claims he always does them before he goes to bed. (We've argued over my desire that they get done right after dinner. And compromised that the time frame could be extended to at-least-before-bed.)
But yesterday the kitchen was a mess when I walked into it.
And that did not make me happy.
Nonetheless, I pushed through my disappointment in a job-not-done and went downstairs to exercise. However, as soon as I reached the bottom of the stairs I noticed a suspicious dark spot on the carpeting - and I knew Mindy had peed on it.
That super-duper did not make me happy.
I mean, seriously. She has these "accidents" waaaaaaay too often. *ahem*
I begrudgingly cleaned it up, and went on to my work-out. And in the middle of that, I noticed a small shovel which I'd been seeking this past weekend. I was doing some weeding Saturday morning and could have benefited from having that shovel - but, no! The last person who used it (a nameless son of mine) didn't put it back after he'd last used it, and no one could find on Saturday. But there it was in plain view Monday morning - adding to my angst of things-not-done-right-around-my-house.

I am not sure how it happened, but somehow I persevered and finished my exercises. *wink*
And when I sat down to eat my breakfast, and I bowed my head to pray - the strangest thing transpired. Thoughts of the un-done dishes, the peed-on carpet, and the not-put-back shovel flooded my mind.
For a moment I thought of the guilty parties.
Then I thought about some of the (many) times I have not done what I was supposed to do - or have done what I wasn't supposed to do - and my view of the morning's guilty parties changed. Before I had even thanked God for my food, I found myself thanking Him for His patience with me.
And oddly enough, my cereal tasted an awful lot like Humble Pie.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Turning Mountains into Molehills

The plan for today is to spend the afternoon into late night in Oranjestad, Aruba. Brian and I will take a Monutain Bike Adventure, tourning Aruba's historic and natural treasures. How appropriate, then, that I share this post from September 30, 2015 about mountains.
I totally did not plan the mountain-to-mountain thing when I scheduled this post for today. It just "happened" to come up this way. God is so clever! *wink*

"What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground."

~Zechariah 4:7

I spent a good amount of time yesterday talking about this verse with the women in my Precepts Bible study. The context is that God is encouraging Zerubbabel that he will, indeed, finish the work of re-building the Temple. Even though the Israelites have been facing opposition in the reconstruction. Even though progress has been stalled for 14 years. And even though Zerubbabel is just a man.
None of that matters because God has promised the completion of the Temple - "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)
Zerubbable faced a mountainous task of leading the recently-back-from-being-exiled-scared-of-their-oppressors-down-hearted-would-like-to-find-a-rock-under-which-to-hide-people of God in the re-building of the LORD's House. It was overwhelming. Certainly too much for a guy like Zerubbabel to handle. Which is probably why the LORD gave Zechariah such a vision of encouragement for his pal.

So, the question for today: As you seek to follow God, are there any great mountains you face?


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

How Can You Tire of a Miracle?

The cruise schedule for today is a "Sea Day".
So, while I'm sailing along the beautiful blue seas, here is something for you to read which I originally posted on September 4, 2013. Whether you're a mom whose miracles come in the form of children, or someone whose miracles come in another way, I pray it blesses your heart.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost - also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"

Numbers 11:4-6

We never see anything but this manna!
Does that statement cause anyone else to do a double-take?
Or am I the only one?
Back in Exodus 16, manna came on the scene for the very first time. The Israelites had been grumbling because they were hungry. They accused Moses of bringing them out of Egypt and into the desert to starve them to death. But God told Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you." (Ex. 16:4) And that is just what He did. In the morning when the dew was gone, "thin flakes like frost" covered the ground. And they tasted like wafers made with honey. (Read Exodus 16 for all the details.)
And that was it! Every morning - through no effort of their own - the Israelites were provided with bread from heaven. God performed a miracle for them Can you even imagine what that would have been like?
Hmmmm. I wonder what's for breakfast today? Oh, look! God gave us manna again!
Every morning. Another display of God's faithfulness and power in the miracle of manna.

Yet, somehow by the time we make it to Numbers 11, they're tired of it. "We never see anything but this manna!" And I'm left thinking, What? How can you tire of a miracle???
I understand, these men and women were tired. Probably scared. All that walking through the desert likely made them a bit *ahem!* irritable. But part of me wants to grab their shoulders, look them in the eyes, and plead with them, "C'mon, folks! This is God we're talking about. This manna He's providing is a miracle. Do you hear me? A miracle! You wake up every morning and - Bam! - there it is. How could you possibly be tired of this?"
Standing on the outside looking in, I could see the wonder of what HE had done. In my heart I just wanted the Israelites to embrace the miracle, and honor God for His power and faithfulness.

Just as I came to that realization, God met me with another one: Sometimes I'm just like them!

Fellow mom, are you ready for this?
Motherhood is a miracle.
Our children are miracles.
They're gifts!
Yet, there are moments, days, weeks even - when I am so tired of motherhood. Sometimes I want to legally change my name so I no longer feel compelled to respond whenever someone wails, "Mmmoooooooommm!" There, in the midst of the trial, my view is clouded and I neglect to see my children as the miracles they are. Do you know what I'm talking about?
That's why on the day I was reading about the Israelites despising manna, I felt like God was opening my eyes. In the same way I wanted to plead with the Israelites, I believed God wanted to plead with me. Karen, I understand you get tired. I know motherhood can be scary when you can't see what's around the corner. And you get irritable when you have to go through the same thing over and over again. But I want you to remember, dear one, these children are miracles. Do you recall at their birth when you would marvel at their little toes and eye lashes, and wonder at how I could do such an amazing thing? They've grown bigger, but they're still miraculous. Darling, when you're tired of motherhood, please pause for a moment and remember the miracle.

May these words speak to your heart as they spoke to mine!


Monday, January 28, 2019

Friday, January 25, 2019

It's Time to Turn

So, this was on my mind yesterday and I posted about it on Facebook:

One friend posts about the atrocities of the New York decision to allow babies to be aborted up to birth - and I am reminded how wicked we are as a nation.
Scroll down a couple posts.
I see another friend asking for prayer for our soldiers, federal employees going without paychecks, understanding from landlords/bankers with first-of-the-month payments soon coming due, end to the turmoil so many are facing right now - and I am reminded how desperate we are as a nation.
And desperate.
Not a good combination, if you ask me.
We shun Him, but we need Him!
America, wake up!
We need to humble ourselves, pray and seek God's face, and turn from our wicked ways. Holding on to wickedness is not going to ease our desperation!

The thing is, we have people so eager to seek God's help in the midst of our suffering - but not so many recognizing our need to repent and turn to Him in humbleness of heart. And the more I think of this paradox the more I realize: we simply cannot have it both ways.
Our world today seems very quick to make the need known and expect it to be met. Whether it's praying for furloughed federal employees, asking for physical healing, or seeking comfort in the midst of sorrow - people seem quite adept at wanting God's help. Even if they may not necessarily believe in or look to Him in other times.
(Please know, I am not saying it is a bad thing to seek God when we are in need. He knows we need Him. We were made to need Him. He is not afraid of our needs. It isn't bad to seek the fulfillment of our needs in Him. Hang on with me to process the whole thought...)
However, our world today also seems very slow to acknowledge God as more than an answer-er of our prayers. For the most part, we go after what WE want. We do the things that please US. The things which make OUR lives convenient or comfortable or care-free. Rather than worshipping the One who gave us life, we worship life and all it's pleasures - sacrificing hope at the altar of SELF. We have lost sight of
(or never had it to begin with) God's holiness, and the response to Him we ought to have - of reverent fear and awe.
And I cannot help but wonder, Why? Why would a holy God answer the prayers of a people who disregard Him - His righteous standards, who openly and proudly mock Him with their laws and policies, who profane Him with their words and actions, but who seek Him when times are troublesome? WHY???

Friends, God's grace is amazing.
His love is eternal.
But we have to surrender to Him and His ways if we want to receive that grace and love.
We cannot have it OUR way if we want HIS blessing.
It's time to turn.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Kindness of God

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Romans 2:4

This verse was quoted yesterday during the video I watched with my Precepts class - after we discussed Ezekiel 8-11. We had just been reviewing how the glory of the LORD left Jerusalem in preparation for the coming judgement. How God had given Ezekiel a vision of executioners going through the city, striking down all who had not been marked as "men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which [were] being committed in its midst." (Ezekiel 9:4-5) We had noted the multiple times God declared there would be no pity for those in Jerusalem who had practiced these abominations.
And I found myself thinking, Kindness? What???
How is it kindness to tell a people, "Now the end is upon you, and I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways and bring all your abominations upon you."? (Ezekiel 7:3)
What kindness is there in proclaiming impending doom and destruction on a people, such as is written in Jeremiah 5:14-17?
That is to say, we had just participated in an excellent discussion of God's warnings which He gave to His people regarding their sin - and the call which was given to them (and largely ignored) to turn from their wickedness. I could readily see describing His actions as just. Befitting. Deserved, even.
But kind?
I wasn't so sure about kindness.
Until the Holy Spirit reminded me, God's intention is always restoration. Though He threatened His people with judgement, His desire was that they repent and return to Himself. In spite of disasterous prophecies, God's longing was for renewal. He didn't want to send calamity.
He wanted His people back!
Thus - out of kindness - God spoke harsh realities, that His people might repent of their wickedness and return to their God.
That understanding showed me clearly, it is the kindness of God which leads us to repentance.
When we have been thoughtless with our words and injured someone's heart, when our actions are self-centered and we neglect the needs of another, when we put our desires ahead of God's plans and find ourselves convicted, sorrowful, and even regretting what we have said and done - that is the kindness of God, leading us to repentance.
May we always have soft hearts which are ready to respond to His kindness.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Psalm 31 and Me (And You!)

14 But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.

Psalm 31:14-15
OK, I haven't done any background checking, so I do not know what was going on in David's life when he wrote Psalm 31. But one read through it and you'll know - things were not good for David at this point in time. Honestly, would you use words like anguish, sorrow, grief, distress, groaning, affliction, and contempt to describe your circumstances - if all was well with them?
I think not.
Happily, in that regard I cannot say I relate to this psalm. However, God's Truth goes far beyond identical circumstances into the minute details of each of our lives.
And because of His all-encompassing Truth, I can say I relate to this psalm.
Specifically, the verse quoted above.
What I mean is, I was coming into this week rather harried. I've so much to do, and I didn't see how I was going to be able to get it all done. Most of it is good, good stuff (Like getting ready to take a cruise with my husband next week!!!) but there was just so much. And in ways, my list of things to do did feel like an enemy which was pursuing me.
An enemy who would try to steal my joy.

But I trust in you, Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands;
deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
from those who pursue me.

And there, in the midst of it, my God - in whom I trust - swooped in and reminded me that my times are in His hands. HE reminded me to ask for help. HE reminded me to trust. HE reminded me that not everything on my list "had" to get done. (Anyone notice that I didn't post a video devotion yesterday? Yeah, that was HIM freeing me from "should" and giving me rest, instead.)
The thing is, I stopped my pursuit of getting-it-all-done long enough to acknowledge God might have a better idea. And I asked HIM to direct my steps, to order my path, to lead me, to help me.
And can I give a witness here?
OK, the week isn't over yet. There are still lots of things to do. But my God - in whom I trust - calmed my heart, delivered me from the enemy who was threatening to steal my joy, and is helping me navigate through the stuff. Indeed, my times are in His hands.
And I continue to see that when I surrender my times to Him? He works it all out.

What enemies are pursuing you today? God will help you if you ask Him!


Friday, January 18, 2019

The State of the Union

I saw a piece of news yesterday about the State of the Union address.
The details about the story, however, weren't nearly as important to me as the burden the Holy Spirit placed on my heart as I pondered those words.

The State of the Union.

The State - the particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time, condition, shape, situation, position - of the Union.
I mean, not counting the political nonsense currently underway, what is the STATE of our Union?
If the LORD, Himself, took inventory of the condition, shape, situation, and position of our national behaviors, policies, priorities, thoughts, and attitudes - what would HE say???

Hey, kid, you're lookin' good!
I cannot stand these abominations!

As I continue my study of Ezekiel, I have to believe God's evaluation of the present State of our Union would fall into the latter category. So far this week I have studied chapter 8 in which the people of God commit greater and greater abominations in the temple, and chapter 9 in which God brings their conduct upon their own heads. It is a picture of a people who have turned their backs to God - the One who has saved them and delivered them and rescued them, and required their faithfulness - and have gone their own way, doing what pleases themselves, thinking God cannot see.
Sound like anyone you know today???

Oh, United States of America, we need to wake up!
The State of our Union is terrible. We utterly disrespect God's holiness, and show complete disregard for Him as Creator. We rebel against Who He Is, we go our own way, we demand our pleasures be met, and we cry like babies when He doesn't succomb to our wants.

We've got it all wrong!!!

Seriously, read the chapters in Ezekiel which I linked to above. See if God doesn't rend your heart as you begin to recognize how steadfast He is in righteousness and holiness. Take a look at the world around you and compare it to the one which existed in Ezekiel's time - and see if your spirit doesn't grieve just like mine is right now.
We need to return to the LORD in humbleness and penitence. 
As indiviuals and as a nation.


Thursday, January 17, 2019

HE is Faithful

I just have to give God praise!
Last night I spoke for chapel at the women's shelter of the Lansing City Rescue Mission. Speaking for chapel is something I have been doing monthly for the past 2 or 3 years. (Another senior moment - I honestly cannot recall what year I began...) But I think this time I labored over the message more than I ever have before.
Which isn't a bad thing.
Actually, it has proven to be very good.

For the past several weeks I have been thinking about it, praying about it, and making notes about it. I've asked others to pray for me. I have been "on alert" for input, and have frequently felt God's Spirit nudging me in different directions.
Finally, Monday afternoon I had the opportunity to sit down and formalize what I intended to say.
Then Tuesday at the beginning of my Precepts class we were reviewing the previous week's chapters and somebody pointed out what God did to Ezekiel in chapter 3.

"Moreover, I will make your tongue stick to the roof of your mouth so that you will be mute and cannot be a man who rebukes them for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you will say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD.'"

Ezekiel 3:26-27
She marveled at how God would shut Ezekiel's mouth and only allow him to speak when HE said so.
And that immediately became my prayer.
LORD, please shut my mouth except for what YOU want me to say!
I asked my Precepts sisters to pray thus for me, and I repeated that prayer for myself until the moment I walked into chapel last night.
And may I just say? HE is faithful!!!
The feedback I was getting from the women as I spoke told me that they were engaging with the message, and I could sense HIS presence among us. I had a couple of conversations with women after chapel at which time I found out God had spoken specifically to hearts and needs.
And I was so encouraged!
But it was when I was driving home - in the quiet of my van, with time to reflect - that I really became aware of God's hand (or mouth-glue, as the case may be). In my preparation Monday I thought it necessary to give instances of how we might be "like" the Israelites - though we don't build altars or worship statues of silver and gold. However, as I was driving I realized I had completely skipped over those examples, and it was as if God's Spirit said, That's because it's My job to convict hearts. I didn't need you to make suggestions.
Then it occurred to me I had left out some other statements from my notes, and I remembered a section I had completely cut out prior to putting the "finished" stamp on my talk. HE shut my mouth.
Honestly, I cannot even recall the exact words I used in several parts of the talk I gave.
But I know that I asked God to allow me to only speak the words HE wanted me to speak - and I believe that is exactly what HE did.

All glory to GOD!!!


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Senior Moment Alert

Yesterday a friend of mine asked my opinion about a recent sermon. I didn't recall the specifics of what she was asking and told her I would check it out and get back with her on it.
So I did.
As I was getting other work done, I listened to the sermon online and paid extra attention to the parts she needed addressed. Then I sent off a text message, telling her I thought the message was 'right on'.
Her response confused me, though.
She said, and I quote, "Wondering why you think I needed this but it was already on my list of things to do. Were we talking about it?" I think I read her words five or six times - trying to figure out if she was being sarcastic and playing with me (We do that to each other sometimes!) or if she was genuinely confused. I mean, it hadn't even been two hours since we'd seen each other.
Part of me felt embarrassed for her.
How could she forget so quickly that she'd asked me to do this thing?
So after some thought on how to address her situation I replied, "Yes. This is Karen Hossink. You asked me in Precepts today to watch it and let you know what I thought." For a minute I supposed she might think she was texting with a different "Karen". I decided to do my best to graciously set her straight. And when she responded moments later I became confident that she was, in fact, straight in her thinking.
She said, "I'm sorry Karen, but I'm sure that wasn't me. The only time I talked to you was to ask you if you were cold."
My mind quickly went back to that conversation about being cold. And that's when I realized - she was right. It was a different friend who had asked me about the sermon! Nevermind being cold anymore. The blood rushing to my face in a show of complete embarrassment took care of that problem right away. I laughed out loud and quickly sent another text confessing my mix-up and humiliation. And I asked if she thought I was too young to be having a "senior moment".
Fortunately, I have very gracious friends - and this one laughed right along with me, and made me feel less foolish for my error. Although, it would have been OK with me if she hadn't agreed that I am not too young for a senior moment.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

When Will We Know?

I had intended to write a light-hearted post today, reflecting on how my kids are growing - and how I am growing older. But I just finished my Precepts homework for the week, and I am feeling anything but light-hearted at the moment.
My Precepts group is going through the book of Ezekiel this semester, and this past week we looked at chapters 4-7. (It is not a light read, by any means. But you may be interested to take a look.)
A quick background: Ezekiel was a priest/prophet and wrote this book while in exile in Babylon with most of the rest of the people of Judah. At the time of this writing, Jerusalem had not yet been destroyed. You may (or may not) know that Judah's captivity came after God had repeatedly called upon His people to repent from their evil ways and idol worship, lest destruction come by His hand. Yet they refused to listen.
OK. With that history in mind, chapters 4-7 of Ezekiel are filled with prophecy regarding what is about to happen to the land of God's people. Destruction, doom, death, and disaster are all foretold. And these things are said to come because of the ways and abominations of the people. It is very difficult to read - knowing the terror could have been avoided if they had just listened to the LORD.
And then?
Then came the application question: Might God do this to your nation? Why?

Oh, LORD, have mercy!
So many do not know. But they will.
That was the prayer which flowed from my heart in response to the application question, as I considered how severely the United States has rebelled against the ways of the LORD. We have gone so far astray, and we desperately need God's mercy.
I realized, however, most people have not studied His Word. Most people in this nation are not familiar with the history of rebellion and judgment and restoration through which God's people have gone/are going. To be fair, most people simply don't know. But I reflected further on what I have been studying and my heart reminded me - Though they don't know right now? They will.
That is to say, even though some people may not know what God says because they haven't studied the Bible - I believe everybody knows within their heart if they are rebelling against God by going their own way, doing their own thing, following their own system of what feels right to their self.
Each of us knows when we have done wrong.
And in case we miss the knowing, Ezekiel painted a picture of how it would become clear to the people of Judah. The phrase, Then they will know that I am the LORD is repeated several times in chapters 6 and 7. And this is what I saw as I marked that phrase:
Ezekiel 6:7, 10, 13 When disaster comes to the mountains and the slain fall among them...
Ezekiel 6:14 When the land is desolate and wasted because of the LORD's outstretched hand against it...
Ezekiel 7:4 When their ways and abominations are brought upon them...
Ezekiel 7:27 When they are dealt with and judged by God...
...then they will know that [HE is] the LORD.

Oh, that the United States would turn from our rebellious ways in submission to God - before His righteous hand of judgment has to fall upon us, that we might know HE is the LORD.


Monday, January 14, 2019

HE Will Help You

I've come pretty far.
The older version of me would have had a fit that I had less than two cups of catsup for the sloppy joes - when the recipe called for four. But the current me shrugged it off and said we'll survive.
The older version of me would have cringed at the glare on my face from the lighting on today's video and immediately re-recorded it. But the current me shrugged it off and said I'll survive has guests coming over and doesn't have time to re-record it. Haha!

Anyway, hoping the glare won't detract from whatever God may have to say to you today. *wink*


Friday, January 11, 2019

Praying for Strength

So, I was telling you about the journey of baby steps I have been on toward five-minute planks...
One question I frequently hear when talking to someone about this feat is, "What do you do all that time???" And I have to tell you, the what do I do portion of this journey has been the greatest of blessings - which I did not anticipate when it all started.
In the beginning, I would get myself situated on the floor with my phone in front of me and the stop-watch app going. To keep from staring at the time (and agonizing over how much of it was left!) I would close my eyes and recite the lyrics to hymns or praise songs. And that worked well when I was holding planks for up to 90 seconds. But much longer and my mind was going elsewhere, while my eyes were staring at the stop-watch.
So I started praying when I was planking.
And I discovered something wonderful.
Whereas the lyric recitation had been intended to serve as a mere distaction, my plank prayers were so much more. The longer the planks became, the greater the physical challenge got for me - the more earnest and passionate were the prayers which flowed from my heart. When you know someone is struggling with a trial, when there is a desperate need for endurance, when somebody is on the edge of giving up - and you're praying for them and asking God to give them the strength and grace they need for their situation - while simultaneously fighting for the strength (and asking God for it!) to hold a physical move, believe me! Your prayers take on a whole new level of urgency.
And when you fall to the floor after hitting your goal, thanking God for holding you through the moments you thought you were going to collapse - but realizing you didn't - your belief that He will similarly hold the ones for whom you have just been praying increases exponentially.
The thing is, I don't think God is any nearer to me when I pray during a plank than when I'm praying any other time. I don't think He's listening more or with greater compassion while I'm planking. He certainly isn't more "good" or more "faithful" or different in any other way.
But somehow, when I plank and pray, I feel nearer to Him. I feel like I am more a part of the battle - more of a participant in fighting for the ones for whom I am praying. More invested in the outcome.
Though God isn't different, I think I am.
It seems to me there is something about my physical act of struggling as I pray for those who are also struggling in physical or spiritual ways which brings me closer to the battle. Because of the physical, my spirit is more aware of the fight. I won't pretend to understand the link between our physical and spiritual worlds, but let me tell you - I know it is there. And I understand now that as I pray while I plank - asking God to strengthen those who are in the midst of battles - I join with the heavenly armies.
What an honor it is to fight with them!


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Baby Steps

So, I'm doing this thing.
I don't exactly know when I started it, but I'm almost there.
That is, I am on my way to doing five-minute planks.

And if everything goes according to plans, I should be there Monday.

It all started, well, I just said I don't know when it started.
But, generally, maybe last spring I made an attempt to get back into working out regularly. And I made planks a standard part of my routine.
That is, I do three sets of five exercises when I work out - and a plank is always the first of those five movements. So, last spring when I was getting into the grove of doing planks I probably started with 45 to 60-second holds. Going into the summer I gradually increased the length of each plank until I impressed my husband by holding them for three minutes. And for some reason I just kept going.
Probably because I like impressing my husband.
Well, I tend to work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Three days. Three planks per day. And it seemed reasonable to me to add five seconds to one plank each day, which resulted in a complete five second addition each week.
I mean, really, five seconds isn't a big deal. Anyone can hold on to anything for "five more seconds," right? So I found myself taking baby steps toward an unknown big goal.
Then I came to mid-October. I hit the four-minute mark and I had to ask myself, How far am I going to take this thing? Because I didn't think it reasonable to keep adding five seconds a week for the rest of my life. *wink*
That's when I decided on five minutes.
And I distinctly remember thinking at that time, I'll never make it to five minutes.
Although... at two minutes I probably wouldn't have considered being able to do four.
Yet there I was.
I had made it that far by taking baby steps and, according to my math, I determined in twelve weeks I could baby-step-it there.
So, yesterday I did two planks for four minutes fifty-five seconds and the third for four minutes fifty seconds. I fully expect that I'll be able to do all three for the full four fifty-five tomorrow.
And come Monday? I'll hold my first plank for five minutes.
Indeed, twelve weeks ago I didn't believe this achievement was reasonable, possible, likely, or ever going to happen. But here I am. The baby steps have been huge for me in achieving this goal. (Yes, I included that paradox on purpose. Did you catch it???) And there are some wonderful spiritual lessons which can be applied to the journey on which I have been going. There has been a far greater benefit/blessing I have discovered from my plank-challenge, however, which I didn't anticipate at the onset. 'Nuff said for today, though. I'll write about that blessing tomorrow!

Do you have something large looming before you? Think baby steps might help you overcome it???


Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Moving Day

It was almost 21 years ago that my son made his first move - from my womb into the world. (The actual anniversary of said "move" is Sunday.) He moved from depending on me (my body!) for everything, to letting his own little body function for itself - as it had been preparing to do for 9 months.
And today that son of mine is making another move. One of greater distance, and perhaps more significance. I say "more significance" because that first move still had him pretty dependent on me. Though he could eat and breathe on his own, he couldn't do much without my help.
But today?
Today that boy man is moving out of my home and into his own apartment.
And it's a good thing, really. It's time. He's ready to take this step of independence. He wants to grow up more, and he knows this decision will cause him to do just that.

I have to say, though, the past several weeks while I have watched him prepare for today have been interesting. And I mean "interesting" in a good way.
For one, my husband and I have become smarter. That is, this son of ours has become remarkably more interested in our input on things like budgeting and daily living.
For two, I have become a better cook. At least this son of mine has been markedly more verbal in his appreciation for the meals I prepare.
And, for three, purchase decisions have become a matter of thorough contemplation and consideration. Because "somebody" now has a greater financial commitment in life and he's thinking hard about his bottom line.

These changes which I have observed (not to mention God's gracious remninder for me to BELIEVE His promise) are building my confidence in letting my son spread his wings to fly. He only had nine months to prepare for his move into this world. But for nearly 21 years we've been preparing him for today's move. And, by the grace of God, I believe he's ready.

I just hope he finds a way to subsist on more than Ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches!


Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Finding Joy

So, I am not sure I've ever even mentioned it here, but I have a new job.
Well, sort of.
I mean, it's sort of new. If you consider a four month old job "new".
It is super part-time - as in I only work nine hours, every other weekend. Which is part of the reason I haven't said much about it here. Not a lot of time to accumulate blog-worthy stories. *ahem*

But that all changed this past weekend.

That is, when I got home Sunday night I realized I had just lived such a story.
You see, the thing is, I have been struggling with finding joy in my work.
I am a Resident Assistant at a care facility for the elderly. And you KNOW how much I love working with that population. When the job became available and I was hired, well, I figured it was a perfect match for my passions and gifting. (And the fact that it was only nine hours every other weekend made me think it wouldn't interfere with family life.)
But when I was finally on the job and reality set in, let's just say it didn't meet my expectations.
The biggest disappointment was this: my list of tasks and things-to-do (combined with the amount of time I have to accomplish them) doesn't leave much room for doing what I love most. That is to say, if I want to complete the things for which I am being paid I don't have time to spend loving on, listening to, and caring for the residents. Oh, we have brief conversations in passing - and there are moments of joking and laughter while I am rushing around the dining room. But I miss the opportunities to sit with a person, and hear their life story, and pray for them, and let them know they are not forgotten.
Honestly, there is one task I feel like I don't do well - so that gets me down. Cuz I tend toward perfectionism and, well, that just isn't a good combination. So I gravitate toward joylessness when that part of the job is being featured.
And there are various reasons why I was wrong about the job not interfering with family life.
Truth be told, quitting has entered my mind more than once.

But God.
Yes. Let's go with But God.
But God has convinced me to stay.
Early on in my tenure at the care facility I was driving through town, seemingly following a yellow car. (As in, everywhere it turned, so did I. Only I wasn't following it on purpose. It just seemed like we were going the same way.) And yellow cars always prompt me to pray for a certain young lady who is precious to my heart. (Hence, the fact that this yellow car was constantly in front of me made me feel like God had something He wanted to accomplish for my young friend.) So I was praying for this dear girl, asking God to provide the financial support she needs for the ministry in which she is embarking. And it was as if He whispered to my heart, Hey, you have that job now. Why don't you devote one weekend each month to the support of her ministry?
And I thought, God! That's a brilliant idea!!!
So I committed in that moment to work one weekend each month for her.
And the idea filled my heart with joy.
Which is why each time the thought of quitting enters my mind I push it aside.
Therefore, Sunday afternoon as I found myself emptying trash cans and soiled linen barrels (The not-so-glamorous aspect of my job.) I began praying. God, thank You that I am able to do this job for Emma this weekend. Thank You that I am able to earn money to give to her ministry. I sought to take my eyes off of myself and remember that I am HIS - His vessel for His purposes. I stopped feeling sorry for myself because my job isn't all I had hoped it would be. And I carried on with my to-do list, while doing my best to find moments to love the residents.
(Even had an opportunity to pray with one lady!)
And the crazy thing is, at the end of my shift - I felt joy in my heart.
I did my best to recall the entire shift, and I honestly couldn't remember joylessness in it.
I realized, once I made the decision to alter my focus - it seems God corrected my perspective and changed my heart. And therein I found joy.

Does your focus need altering in any areas of your life today?


Monday, January 07, 2019

Friday, January 04, 2019

You Have Been Faithful

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’
26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

~Matthew 25:14-30

If you have been around church and the Bible for any amount of time, I'm guessing you're familiar with this parable. So familiar, perhaps, that you skimmed over the reading above - because you're busy, and besides, you already know what it says?
If you find the previous sentence convicting, please take two minutes and read the above passage slowly. Ask God to speak to your heart.

I'll wait.

What stood out to you as you read this passage?
You might know from the title of this post the phrase which stood out to me.

You have been faithful.

I mean, I know there are a lot of things going on in this parable and many lessons which can be learned. But that one statement is speaking loudly to my heart today.
The master called his servant who turned five bags of gold into ten faithful. He called the servant who turned two bags of gold into four faithful. (And I have a feeling he would have called the third servant faithful, too, if he had put his own bag of gold to work.) The master had given wealth to his servants according to their ability and he was delighted by their faithfulness.
I do not see any indication that the master was more delighted with the servant whose efforts produced more bags of gold. Or that he was less delighted with the servant whose efforts produced a smaller number. It was their faithfulness which pleased him.
And this idea of delighting the Master by faithfulness has me thinking about how we operate and perceive things in our world today.
Isn't it true that we often see the people with five (or two) bags of gold, producing five (or two!) more bags, and we think, Wow. I wish I was gifted like he/she is. Wouldn't God be pleased if I was a part of making that kind of impact on the Kingdom? We relinquish any ideas of pleasing our Master as we think, I'll just sit over here with my one bag. Nobody will notice, anyway. And we sit there with our bag, feeling ashamed that we don't have more with which to produce more, not realizing our Master gave us that one because He wanted us to be faithful with that one. Because He knew that one would make a world of difference to someone.
Yeah. Sometimes I feel small and insignificant. Sometimes I think I have nothing to offer. I don't speak to huge audiences. This little blog doesn't have a large readership. My reach doesn't go very far. Honestly, if I disappeared not much would change in the world.
But that statement echoes in my heart.

You have been faithful.
You have been faithful.
You have been faithful.
You have been faithful.
You have been faithful.
You have been faithful.

I believe faithfulness is what matters to my Master, and I want to delight His heart.
So I'm going to take this one little bag of gold I have, and I am going to put it to work.
With the help and guidance of His Spirit, I am going to use my little bag to bring glory to my Master.
And I pray that when I see Him face to face I will hear Him say,
Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful.

What are you doing with your bag(s)?


Thursday, January 03, 2019

Why Keto Works for Me

Have you heard of the Ketogenic Diet?
I am not sure how long it has been around, but several months ago my husband discovered it when he was searching for a diet which would reduce inflammation. He was concerned about inflammation because of his family history of heart disease, and decided he wanted to start a keto diet. (And because I didn't want to make two different options for each meal, I decided to have the whole family eat keto.)
The more Brian researched the keto diet, however, the more I became interested in it for my own health benefits. (Because he usually watched videos about it while I was within ear-shot, so I got to "research" with him.) That is to say, I wasn't interested in it for the weight-loss or the anti-inflammatory or diabetic benefits. But when I heard that some people who battled depression were actually able to quit taking their anti-depressants while eating keto?
Well, let's just say my keto-enthusiasm quickened.
I researched what-to-eat and what not-to-eat.
I started scouring the internet for keto-friendly recipes.
And I stopped taking my anti-depressant.

Now, those of you who've been around me for a while know there have been a couple of occasions in the past when I tried putting my meds aside. And you may recall that I swore off the insanity of ever attempting that again.
The thing is, each of the times I contemplated ditching anti-depressants in the past - I was motivated by shame. I felt like I "shouldn't" be taking meds. Since I had learned how to monitor and manage my negative thinking, I figured I ought to be able to continue on in life without the drugs. That is, while I made every effort to legitimize my prescription and talk myself into accepting the help, I still struggled with needing it.
But when this keto idea came around I was willing to give it a go once more.
See, this time it wasn't just a matter of stopping what was working because I was ashamed that I needed the help. Thanks be to God for bringing me past the point of shame - to being able to trust in whatever way He chooses to work. Rather, this time there was science and a reasonable explanation behind the endeavor. So I made the decision to stop taking my anti-depressant - fully aware that I might need to return to it, and completely OK with that option should it prove to be necessary. (What I mean is, a Ketogenic Diet isn't the answer for everyone who battles depression. And I still believe medication is beneficial, according to the way God chooses to work in each person.)
Now, I am not even going to pretend to be able to explain or fully comprehend the reason this diet is helping my brain. But I do know that heavily limiting carbs in my diet has caused my body to find a new way to "fuel" itself. I'm creating ketones for energy, and somehow those fuel molecules get my brain to operate differently in whatever way is necessary to help me avoid and overcome depressive episodes. How's that for a vague, non-scientific interpretation?
The bottom line is this: My brain is deficient in some way, and I need help.
For years that help came in the form of fluoxetine.
Now it's coming in ketones.
And to be honest? I miss a few things. Like popcorn. And chocolate. And ice cream.
I have taken a couple "keto-breaks" - on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have another one planned at the end of the month while my hubby and I are on a cruise.
Did I mention I really miss my popcorn?
But I feel good.
I feel happy.
Sometimes I feel sad, too, but the feelings don't overwhelm me.
I can cry when feelings move me so. (That's something I couldn't do when I took Fluoxetine. Even when I tried "adjusting" the level. I wished that I could cry at appropriate times, but I couldn't. And it was a trade-off I was willing to make, so I didn't cry uncontrollably.)
Yeah. I miss popcorn.
But I really like the way I feel.

And that's why Keto works for me!


Wednesday, January 02, 2019


Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.

Luke 1:45