Sunday, December 30, 2007
9:30am...Here I sit at my kitchen table where normally I would be enjoying teaching in the Word at church.
It was supposed to be a day for Dan & I...just the two of us. We had our plans, we had our agenda, and I couldn't wait. Then...my two youngest boys got sick. It's the ever fearing worry that I dread. I know these are not feelings from the Lord, alas I hate (and I don't use hate often!) when my kids are sick. I worry about their little bodies getting better, hoping the cough doesn't hurt them too much, but knowing that the fever is doing what it needs to in order to get my children well again. This is Levi's first cold/cough and wouldn't you know he gets sick after his first visit to the nursery!! urgg!!
On the flip side, I am yet again dying to self. I find the Lord constantly teaching me in this area. I am ashamed to say that there was this part of me that wanted them to get better quickly for selfish reasons...I was excited for a break...excited for some time with just my love (and of course Levi too!). Thankfully our in-laws were gracious enough to come over and watch all 3 boys, amidst their illness so that my husband & I could go see a movie...a rare treat. And thankfully we are re-scheduling for this next week and going to try again. But, as much as I'm now looking forward to this next week I was disappointed and found myself wallowing in my own selfishness. My plans were shoved aside and my agenda delayed. But, this is what we as mothers do and we'd do it over again without hesitation.
Dying to self is a hard thing to learn, yet I find my greatest example in Christ. Do we really think He wanted to come to earth, leave what I can't even begin to imagine is an amazing Home, and begin the journey of His death for us on the Cross. 33 years of knowing that He would face an excruciating death...I can't imagine. But, all for the love of us, His children. So, I'm learning again today as I care for my two sick children that I do it all because I love them and I would do it all over again in a heart beat because you see, this mother's heart is dedicated to her children and loves them with a deep love that she can't express. The selfish nature tries to creep back in and I'm thankful to the Lord that He gives me the opportunity to die to it again knowing that the rewards far outweigh the break. For you see, these children are a gift to me & I cherish them...
Friday, December 28, 2007
Habits are great things...good habits, I mean. They are great until you fall off the wagon and have to start all over yet again. My eating habits had been great...doing what I needed to do...feeling great....lots of energy....exercising and surprisingly loving it....proud that I was putting good fuel into my body....Then....Christmas came.
As I am pulling myself back up onto that wagon, it's hard. The bad foods stare me in the face and in reality what I need to do is pitch them! Why is it so hard to part with the junk food...the food that I know will only do a disservice to my body. I know I will be sluggish, bloated, gain weight, feel yucky, and yet it still finds its way into my mouth. It's appealing. I think I want it - only to be reminded so quickly after I eat it, of the thoughts I had the prior time I "blew" it. Those yucky bodily feelings. It's not worth it and yet I find myself facing that same wagon all over again & having to pull myself up.
My friend Sarah had a great posting today of the Lord forgiving our sins as far as the East is from the West. I found myself thinking about how my struggle with falling off the wagon is the same exact struggle that we have with sin in our lives. We know it's bad...we know it can destroy a heart...we know is crushes the Lord's heart when we follow our fleshly nature and yet there we are again. We can already for-see the future because we've been in this spot before & yet we do it all over again and I find an immediate sensing of my humanly failures afterwards. But as Sarah so wonderfully put it, the Lord forgives us without hesitation because it's a free gift along with His grace in our lives. Do I strive to lead a sinless life...absolutely. Will I succeed, not on this side of Heaven, but still I try. And my loving Heavenly Father wraps His arms of love, grace, and forgiveness around me, only to then let me go and allow me to try again.
So, I am pulling myself back up on that wagon & throwing that junk food away!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Snow is falling again today reminding me ever so strongly of winter....Christmas has been completed for yet another year. All is put away in our home and we now move into the New Year. January is my least favorite month of the year. The hype of Christmas is over, my husband is back to work after being so amazingly blessed with his presence for 2 weeks, and routine begins again. The only joy I see to find is the birthday of my dear son Caleb...a spotlight of light in what has been in the past a dimmer month.
What I see this year is the chance to snuggle into life this next month...to settle in. Taking the time to rest as the winter snow bounds us to home so many days. Spend more time with my family, possibly read a book, get on the floor and play trucks, watch a good movie snuggled next to my husband as I enjoy a latte. These are the things that I now look forward to in the winter...in the dimmer January month.
I change my attitude, change my perspective, and focus on that spotlight of joy along with the delights of home and family. Enjoy the peace as I watch the pure snow falling to the ground....cherish the warmth around me not only in the heat of these warm walls around me, but in the love of those that reside in it....treasure all these in my heart because soon, January will be over...the winter will pass and I'll see Spring again.
Friday, December 21, 2007
As these snow flakes fall, I can't help but think about how we are going along on our merry way, doing what the Lord has for us and then...we are blown, tossed, and thrown around until we finally fall exactly where God wants us to land. It might not be where we thought we'd be or how we'd get there, but alas...we're where God wants us to be. Our plans never seem to be ours and yet I'm so glad that He always prevails in what I hope is every area in my life.
Life has struggles, hardships...we are blown & tossed around. Sometimes not knowing why or where we will end up, but trusting...trusting His heart.
As the sun comes out, the snow lying on the ground in wait finally starts to melt....being used to moisture our earth or rise in evaporation. So, why we may have started out being blown, tossed, and thrown around, we land and wait in quiet...we wait on Him until He's ready to begin the process of bringing "moisture" or His love to this earth all the while rising up to be used by Him yet again.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Now, I know we can honestly say that we enjoy each of these languages, but there's always one that will "fill your love tank." Receiving Gifts and Quality Time are almost neck & neck with me. When we got married, the Love Language book was given to us & we actually read it on our honeymoon. I was fascinated by it & figured mine out pretty quickly.
What I've learned over the years is that we tend to give love the way that we would like it shown to us and honestly that doesn't always work. My husband's language is Words of Affirmation and so when I give him a gift, he enjoys it but it doesn't mean as much to him as my building him up with words. Trying to meet his needs, I decided early on in marriage to write down my love words for him in a card in order to build him up & so there was my combination of gifts & words. The thing I learned here was that he loved the words but the card was just nice. I think it's kind of a guy thing that sometimes they think cards are a waste of money....I know not every guy feels this way though. So again, another learning curve as I finally figured out he likes a face to face, my words directly flowing from my mouth to his ears. On the flip side, my husband has had to learn what meets my needs and realize that my 2nd language of quality time didn't mean sitting together in front of the TV...at first. As time has gone on though & we now have kids it's not until evening that we finally get to enjoy an hour or so together just the two of us before we go to bed. I realize now with 3 small children that I'll take the quality time with my husband however...as long as I'm with him. It's all a learning curve and your love language can change over time as well.
It's interesting as I've tried to figure out all my friends & families love languages and some I'm still trying to figure out. As soon as I want to show someone thanks or love, I tend to go for that gift, but some of my friends would honestly just love some time together. As would I, but my first instinct is that gift.
I challenge you all to really evaluate how to show the friends and family in your lives love. Not based on how you would like it shown to you, but how they would love it shown to them. I am trying to constantly work on it in my marriage and really focus on how my husband would receive love shown to him. Showing someone true love can sometimes be a simple task, but there are times in which it takes some thought on our parts and some time. Take this time to do that...it's important.
Life can get so busy and sometimes we forget to really & truly take the time to show others how deeply we care & love them...the way they'd like to be shown love. Other than the Lord in my life, my friends and family are the dearest to me, so it's definitely worth it.
Friday, December 14, 2007
And this is my finished result...off to a cookie exchange tomorrow!!
And this my friends...is my early Christmas present from my wonderful husband!! I am enjoying it so much and just had to share....Oh, who wants to come over for a Hazelnut Latte or a Mocha?? All I do is push a button!! Imagine that!!
The touch of His passion upon your soul….His grace that amounts to more than we can fathom….the love of His saturating presence obsessing. The birth of Christ…a miracle we could grasp only for eternity and yet we find it in the everyday. Life without Him is meaningless. Life with Him is eternity.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
I love this picture of my Benjamin. He's my middle child, but I affectionately call him "my 2nd firstborn child."
He loves life...loves his brothers...loves his daddy...and I find that his heart loves me.
He screams at the top of his lungs...pinches his older brother....and likes to tell me "no".
The way he talks can melt my heart...not every word fully forming as only 2 1/2 year olds can do.
He loves his balls and cars and is truly a boy in every sense of the word. Playing animal is his newest thing.
The way he says my name, his lips as they try to come together to give me a kiss...
All of these things give me joy because I always remember he was given to me...
Recently he's clung closer to me than normal...calling my name more often....wanting me to "hold you."
He holds a dear place in my heart...his cute little body, his arms around me as we hug..I love him dearly.
It's a big responsibility raising a heart for Him....he was given to me & I am honored that the Lord chose me to raise such a precious one.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Not too long ago I had a situation come up with a friend that upset & frustrated me. It wasn't a huge ordeal or something that I felt really even warranted talking about with this individual but needless to say it started eating at me & I found myself becoming a bit bitter. It wasn't too long after this, I was sitting in church listening ever so intently (can you do that while nursing a 6month old in the nursing mother's room amidst other distractions?) and this is what I heard..."You know, I really feel like bitterness is our own choice." That one sentence convicted my heart yet again & led to a whole string of thoughts about the choices that we make in living with our emotions and feelings. Now, we as women do have extra hormones that like to kick in here & there and honestly, sometimes our feelings are definitely warranted, but it's what happens from there.
So, every time I thought about this situation with my friend I would stop those thoughts (or at least try to) dead in their tracks and say, "I choose to not be bitter or upset." As I began this process and started thinking so much about what our pastor said, I realized this...we truly do have a choice in how we react & proceed with situations in our lives. In the situation with this friend, I could choose to continue playing the victim role and feeling sorry for myself & become bitter or I could choose to not let the enemy get a hold in this situation and choose to not be bitter & just go on. And you know what, letting it go takes so much less effort than continuing to hold on to it! There are situations in our lives that will definitely warrant us to working through them with friends, but instead of letting the person or situation take control of us, what if we laid it at the foot of the cross and let the Lord handle it?!
This life is sometimes hard...we have struggles, hardships, ups and downs with friends, and many other things, but what I've learned is this....how am I going to choose to respond? What choice am I making? My circumstances might not be ideal to what I'd like right now, but you know, I choose JOY! I might be frustrated at a friend but you know what, I choose to forgive and not be bitter! I'm beyond tired & had a rough day, but you know what, I choose to find my strength in Him & press on.
I challenge you to look at your life and evaluate what choices you are making in how you feel about your life & situations. It's all easier said than done when you have an outside view, but I've been right there and understand the battle within...just like anything we have a choice. John 10:10 says, "The thief (satan) does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." Don't let him steal your joy...steal your friendships, steal your life.....Make that choice.
Now, remind me of this again when I am choosing the wrong emotions.....:-)
Monday, December 10, 2007
A group of alumni, all highly established in their respective careers got
together for a visit with their old university professor. The conversation
soon turned to complaints about the endless stress of work and life in
Offering his guests coffee, the professor went into the kitchen and soon
returned with a large pot of coffee and an eclectic assortment of cups:
porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal - some plain, some expensive, some quite
exquisite. Quietly he told them to help themselves to some fresh coffee..
When each of his former students had a cup of coffee in hand, the old
professor quietly cleared his throat and began to patiently address the
small gathering... ''You may have noticed that all of the nicer looking
cups were taken up first, leaving behind the plainer and cheaper ones.
While it is only natural for you to want only the best for yourselves that
is actually the source of much of your stress-related problems."
He continued...''Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the
coffee. In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we drink.
What each of you really wanted was coffee, not a cup, but you instinctively
went for the best cups... Then you began eyeing each other's cups....''
''Now consider this: Life is coffee. Jobs, money, and position in society
are merely cups. They are just tools to shape and contain Life, and the
type of cup we have does not truly define nor change the quality of the
Life we live. Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the
coffee that God has provided us... God brews the coffee, but He does not
supply the cups. Enjoy your coffee!''
The happiest people don't have the best of everything, they just make the
best of everything... So please remember: Live Simply. Love Generously.
Care Deeply. Speak Kindly. Leave the Rest to GOD.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Now, a high love language for me is receiving gifts, so this one really hit home with me. I've always known how wonderful the Lord's grace is in my life and knew what it meant, but when this woman said, "They receive a gift that they truly don't deserve."..it hit me like a ton of bricks. Almost as if her kids had really been misbehaving that day & she pulls out the gift of all gifts to reward them.
Don't you feel it...you're in the store needing to do some shopping & your kids are out of control & frustrating you terribly. I don't know about you, but the last thing I want to do is reward them with a gift and yet that's how we act in our sin & again the Lord over & over pulls out His gift for us. We don't deserve it...we did nothing to obtain it....and yet He gives. That is His Grace...that is His Love.
It opened my eyes yet again to the Lord's grace in my life. I had been misbehaving due to the sin in my life & still do misbehave continually, and God's grace comes in & gives me the ultimate gift ever and in spite of how I've been misbehaving He still loves me and wants to give me His greatest gift...Himself and in that is forgiveness.
I love this time of year because it reminds me that the birth of Jesus is where His gift of grace all began....
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Yes...both. I guess I prefer to open a gift with wrapping paper because it makes it last longer.
2. Real tree or artificial?
3. When do you put up the tree?
4. When do you take the tree down?
Pretty much right after Christmas. Once it's over I tend to pack everything up.
5. Do you like eggnog?
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Money was tight growing up seeing as my Dad was a Christian school principal. We never had alot so one Christmas I had really wanted a new doll. My parents told me they couldn't afford it, but low & behold on Christmas morning, there she sat. I cherished that doll I think because I knew my parent's had sacrificed for me.
7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes. I actually have 3 of them.
8. Hardest person to buy for?
Probably all the men in my family, except for my brothers. My brothers like clothes, so it's easier for me; otherwise I'm just not sure.
9. Easiest person to buy for?
My mom! Anything pink & she'll love it!
10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Honestly, I can't remember any...
11. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
MAIL! I think Christmas time is my favorite time also because of all the Christmas cards we get from friends & family! It's like a little gift in the mail everyday..I love it!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Miracle on 34th Street
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Late October - early November
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Hmmm...I'm sure I have, but for like a work Christmas party or something like that. Never for family or friends.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Oh goodness...where to begin. Fudge...my mom & grandma's fudge. Also, there amazing sugar cookies. One of a kind. Cinnamon roles my mom makes. Prime rib we have for Christmas lunch. My grandma's homemade cheese potato soup....
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
17. Favorite Christmas song?
Ava Maria & O Come let us Adore Him.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Travel 30min. away to my parent's house. Nothing like going home.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Neither. We actually have nothing at the very top of the tree. I always have put an ornament at the top of the tree that has a picture of me when I was about 18mo. I like being at the top! Ha!
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
We usually got to open 1 gift on Christmas Eve. Growing up it was PJ's from my Grandma. Everything else was Christmas morning...BUT, now I get to open up a bunch on both days! Christmas Eve with my Clark family & Christmas day with my family.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
I have to agree with Sarah...the huge bummer when it's all over & January. Oh, other than my son's birthday, I really dislike January.
23. What I love most about Christmas?
On the spiritual side, I love celebrating Christ's birth and now incorporating that with my children. On the non-spiritual side, being with family & the presents! I'm a gift person & love presents!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I love this picture of my Caleb. It symbolizes to me..freedom. He made it to the top and there's this sense of freedom you can't experience from below. He stretches his arms, points his fingers to the sky in unashamed freedom. Not holding back.
The carefree nature of our little ones. Sometimes seeming to have little fear and excited at the possibility which becomes reality in reaching the top. The joy, the pure and holy pleasure of having His light shine on his face in rejoicing!
I desire to have the heart of my Caleb. I desire to have the Lord continually take me to the top. For although I learn in the "below", I find renewed strength in being as what might seem closer to Him...the top. Stretching my arms as far as they will reach, praising Him with every rejoicing movement I have. For He stretched out His arms for me in His sacrifice that eternally bonded me to Him. Why would I dare even dream to hold back....
So, I stretch out myself to you Lord...take me for all I have and may I always know the freedom that is in You.
Monday, December 3, 2007
I've learned a lot through this process & am finding that truly the more junk food I eat, the more I want & the worse I feel. I didn't to do well on Thanksgiving Day with the little fun peanuts & M&M's that were out. I felt really yucky by the end of the day. Then this past weekend I hosted a woman's brunch at my home with my accountability group and we had Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake, Hashbrown Casserole, and Hot Chocolate. As much as it tasted wonderful for the moment, I then felt yucky as the day went on. Then my eating education all came back to me. When eating a lot of sugar, I'm spiking my blood sugar levels for a bit which makes everything feel good, but then after a bit it comes crashing down & I feel bloated, sick, & just out of it. When I was first told this, I was like..."ok, whatever! Junk food doesn't do that to me!!" But, after having eaten so well for awhile, I'm realizing it's true.
This week I listened to another one of the videos I've been asked to watch on this all & she said that when you eat a lot of sugar & your blood sugar is spiked, your body has now been taken out of fat burning mode. Even if you eat really well the rest of the day, you're not in that fat burning mode like you need to be which requires a stable blood sugar level. Also, I think we all know this, but skipping meals is just so bad for your body & metabolism. It's like putting fuel (food) on a fire (your body) & if the fire goes out, so does your metabolism. They really do suggest the 6 small meals a day, but you need at least breakfast, lunch, and dinner to keep that blood sugar steady, along with the fact that when you don't give yourself the right amount of food your body goes into possible starvation mode and will hold on to what you're eating since your body is feeling like it won't be given much food...I know, opposite of what we've always thought in dieting, right?! The less we eat the more we lose...NOT! Of course you have to eat the healthy, right foods though. I'm realizing I did so much harm to my body!! So, I'm learning a lot.
Mostly, I'm learning to pray a lot and realize how incredibly amazing our bodies were designed by the Lord! I'm actually pretty shocked how wonderfully I feel and how much easier this is than I thought. It's really true...when you eat the right foods & properly, the cravings and desires aren't there as much. Now, don't get me wrong...I have moments in which I really want that chocolate...thus the lesson of praying. I still battle in my mind at times.
With that all being said, I am doing my first official weigh in my with friend tonight. I did honestly check to see where I'm at this morning & since first starting my whole weight loss journey just 2 months ago, I've lost 27 pounds. Praise the Lord! All glory to Him!! I feel this program is an answer to my prayers that I've had for years and years.....