Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wonder Woman?

I found a book in my husband's office the other day called I Married Wonder Woman - Now What?  I suppose at first I was a little flattered.  My husband thinks I'm Wonder Woman?  How sweet!  Then I realized it was a book about the Proverbs 31-type woman of this century (a P31 woman is a woman that the bible talks about who has is a sort of wonder woman). Someone who's got it all together, who is organized, efficient, and has a great balance in her life as she seeks and conquerors the next big adventure!

Nope.  Doesn't sound like me at all! 

Ok, I admit it - I do seek adventure.  But organized?  Having it all together? Efficient?  Balance? Not so much.  I mean, I try.  I try a little too hard at times.  I must admit it's tough being a woman today.  And if I am being compared to Wonder Woman, the stakes are raised even more!  I mean, have you seen how tiny her waist is? 

Have you ever looked at another woman and thought that she had it all together?  I hope you never looked at me that way.  It couldn't be further from the truth!  But if that's the case - if people think that - then I'm doing something wrong.  I must be wearing some sort of mask (does Wonder Woman wear a mask?).  Today I'm feeling the need to rip that mask off though, and let you know how it really goes down for me in my house:

Proverbs 31:11 Her husband can trust her; and she will greatly enrich his life.
Reality:  My husband must remind me to do just about everything and I often feel as though I probably make his life more difficult sometimes.  He says it's a good balance and that without me he'd be too straight-laced.  I say I'm blessed to have a husband who looks at it that way.

Proverbs 31:12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
Reality:  I wish.  It seems he spends a great deal of his time fixing things that I mess up because I tend to act before I think.  God bless him for loving me in spite of this!

Proverbs 31:13  She find wool and flax and busily spins it.
Reality:  I don't know what flax is and the only time I spin is in my cycle class.

Proverbs 31:14  She is like a merchant's ship, bringing her food from afar.
Reality:  The grocery store is like a mile up the road.  I bring our food from aclose, not afar.  And sometimes, I bring it from Taco Bell.

Proverbs 31:15 She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household and plan the days work for her servant girls.
Reality:  I do get up before dawn but I don't do it to prepare breakfast - I do it to have some quiet time before the household wakes up.  Once they do, they pretty much fend for themselves with breakfast because I usually enjoy my quiet time a little too much and then wake them up late.  And about preparing a plan for my servant girls....um...I wish I had some servant girls to prepare a plan for!  This verse makes me realize that the P31 woman gets a lot of help and maybe THAT's why she's so amazing?!

Proverbs 31:17  She is energetic and strong, a hard worker.
Reality:  I hit a wall by about 3pm and slide down from there.  Coffee helps.

Proverbs 31:18  She makes sure her dealings are profitable; her lamp burns late into the night.
Reality:  I am lucky to make it to 10pm. 

Proverbs 31:22 She makes her own bedspreads.  She dresses in fine linen and purple gowns.
Reality:  Seriously?  I don't sew.  And I don't wear linen because it requires dry cleaning and pressing - no thank you.  I rarely wear purple - mostly black because I hear it's slimming.

Proverbs 31:26  When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.  
Reality:  When I speak, I usually try to take back what I said because it didn't come out the way I intended.  I try to give instructions with kindness but if I were honest, I'd admit that it doesn't always happen that way.  I can be kind of cranky at times.

Proverbs 31:28 Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her.
Reality:  My children often tell me how I am the only mom in the whole entire school that doesn't volunteer all the time and how they wish I would be more like so-n-so's mom.  My husband does praise me but I think it may be because he knows my love language is words of affirmation.

I think you get the picture.  I'm usually falling woefully short of the P31 woman standards.  But you know what?  This wonder woman isn't reality.  But reading about her can help me to evaluate and set some goals for my life.  Look over this passage every now and then for a reality check and to take inventory of your own life, but don't hold yourself up to that standard.  God loves you and is changing you one day at a time.  This can take a lifetime to do!  In the meantime, thank God for the small victories you have as you become more and more like Christ with each day.  He does love you - no matter how much like wonder woman you are (or aren't)!

On a side note, I just told my husband that I can't believe how UNlike the Proverbs 31 woman I feel I am.  He said "Maybe you're more like the Proverbs 3.1 woman?" 

Gee.  Thanks, honey. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Fear of the Unknown

There's a lot of scary stuff going on in the world today and I can honestly say it is just more than I can process in my mind at times. What is going on in our world?  It can be tempting to begin to fear. Fear the "what if's" and the "how come's" that we naturally feel when things don't make sense. And on more than one occasion lately, I believe those very words have come out of my mouth: This makes no sense.

In Matthew 14:22-33, we read about a storm the disciples were facing on the boat in the middle of the sea where they were being tossed by the waves.  As frightening as that may seem to us, there is no mention of the disciples being afraid until verse 25..."Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying 'It's a ghost!' And they cried out in fear." 

I think that is interesting.  They were just fine with the storm, but it was something they could not explain or comprehend in their mind that tipped them over the edge into fear.  When our brains see something unexplainable, we panic. 
Immediately, Jesus said, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."  Another version of the Bible says "Take courage! It is I; do not be afraid."  And yet another says "Take heart! It is I; do not be afraid."  So, Jesus knows they are afraid of what they do not understand and he knows that in order for them to overcome that fear, they must take courage.

Did you get that?  It wasn't something that came naturally.  It was something they had to take, a choice they had to make, an action they had to take.  And in His presence, they were able to settle their hearts.  Peter even had the opportunity to walk on water!  But once Peter began to walk on water, his mind, again, didn't comprehend how he could be doing it so once again he became afraid and started to sink.  Again, Peter was faced with another opportunity to "take" when he reached out to take the extended hand of Jesus and He pulled him out of the water. Jesus understood the fear Peter felt and had compassion on him, but again, it had to be a choice Peter made to take what Jesus was offering freely.

Today, if you are beginning to feel paralyzed by your fear or if you are sinking because you feel like it's more than you can comprehend, I want you to remember this verse and repeat it over and over in your mind:

Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJ)

We cannot trust in our own understanding when things don't make sense, but that doesn't mean we have to panic or fear.  God is still in control.  He is still sovereign, or He wouldn't be God.  When we cannot trace His hand in a situation, we can always know His heart. He knows what is happening and He has a plan, even if we don't understand it. 

"Lean not on your own understanding" would also include when we don't have any understanding at all. Instead of focusing on the things we don't understand, as Peter did when he began to sink or as the disciples did when they saw what they thought was a ghost, let's reach out for the One who understands everything completely.  His arms are always reaching for us and He will give us peace in the midst of chaos, joy in the midst of uncertainty and rest in the midst of a world that is most definitely in a state of unrest.  Fear can be paralyzing or mobilizing.  We have a choice.

So, what's going on in the world today?  I'm going to trust in the Lord with all of my heart and lean not on what I do or don't understand, acknowledging Him as Lord along the way.  Then, and only then, can I "take heart".  It's a choice I must make.  It's a choice we all must make. There are always going to be things we may not understand, but one thing we can always know for sure...God is still God.  That will never change.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lifting the Cynical Fog

My friend let me borrow the book A Praying Life by David Powlinson a couple of months ago and it has taken me awhile to pick it up due to my busy schedule. I finally picked it up last week and for some reason, I began reading it in Chapter 9. The title of the chapter? Understanding Cynicism. 

I was instantly drawn to it, as if it had all the answers to all the questions I'd been struggling with for the past year and a half. I've read Chapters 9, 10 and 11 so much I've practically memorized them at this point! They all deal with the sin of cynicism.

I have always been an optimist, a very happy, half-full kind of spirit. I went through some rough spots in some different areas of my life, where I began to see that not everyone was genuine. It seems as though every couple of years, I'm faced with the reality that people are not always what they appear to be and I somehow would be able to push through with God's help. But this time I just didn't seem to have the strength to fight the lies. I kept telling myself that it didn't matter, I needed to focus on Christ, people are not perfect...I kept telling myself those things, but clearly I was not listening.

Fast forward a year and a half later and I've got a real struggle with cynicism. The very thing I hate the most.  And I am learning a lot as I work through this. I process things so much better when I write them out, so here are some of the things I'm journaling about in this journey - I want to share them because as I talk to others about it, I'm realizing this is a big, big problem in the church. We all know it's a big problem outside of the church, but that's for someone else's blog. I'm just going to address what I've seen inside because that's what Paul reminded us to do in 1 Corinthians 5.

Here are a few "gems" from the book:

Cynicism is the opposite of a childlike spirit. It dulls your soul. It questions God instead of believing Him. 

Cynicism begins, oddly enough, with too much of the wrong kind of faith, with naive optimism or foolish confidence. At first glance, genuine faith and naive optimism appear identical since both foster confidence and hope. But the similarity is only surface deep. Often, with naive optimism, faith is put into the goodness of humanity instead of the goodness of God. But optimism rooted in the goodness of people collapses when it confronts the dark side of life.  

A cynical spirit will give you the illusion of righteousness. It assumes you know better than others, it assumes motives of others' hearts and basically, it's rooted in pride.

To be cynical is to be distant. While offering a false intimacy of "being in the know" cynicism actually destroys intimacy. 

The first sin was initiated with cynicism - questioning God. The serpent used cynicism to get Eve to question God. We've been doing this ever since. You see the results!

Cynicism makes us go from seeing the bright side of everything to seeing the dark side of everything. It shifts our focus from Christ to our circumstances.

A cynical spirit clouds your judgment. With every lie you believe, imagine the fog settling into your vision. I've noticed that when I'm cynical, I get depressed easily and I cannot see the good in much of anything. It reminded me of the photo of my front yard view on a sunny, clear day contrasted with the same view on a cloudy, foggy day. Nothing has changed except the circumstances around me. The view is the same, but I cannot see it. I must have faith that it is still there, even though I cannot see it. Cynicism tells me it's not there anymore.

So could you be cynical? Ask yourself a few questions:

Do you question other people's motives? Do you trust less than you used to trust? Do you find intimacy with others difficult? Do you isolate yourself? Has anyone in a ministry or church leadership hurt you and as a result, has it effected your faith? Are you focused more on the circumstances of your life than you are the truth that God is good?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, please pray and ask God to show you the root of your cynical spirit. I've been struggling through this and though it has not been easy, it is really helping me to understand that a lot of my cynicism comes from my naive optimism - my faith was in people, not God.

Here's a Psalm that has been helping me, too. I almost gasped when I got to verse 11. It nailed me down to a tee! God's Word cannot fail, my friend.

Psalm 116

I love the Lord because he hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,
    I will pray as long as I have breath!
Death wrapped its ropes around me;
    the terrors of the grave overtook me.
    I saw only trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “Please, Lord, save me!”
How kind the Lord is! How good he is!
    So merciful, this God of ours!
The Lord protects those of childlike faith;
    I was facing death, and he saved me.
Let my soul be at rest again,
    for the Lord has been good to me.
He has saved me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling.
And so I walk in the Lord’s presence
    as I live here on earth!
10 I believed in you, so I said,
    “I am deeply troubled, Lord.”
11 In my anxiety I cried out to you,
    “These people are all liars!”
12 What can I offer the Lord
    for all he has done for me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
14 I will keep my promises to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.
15 The Lord cares deeply
    when his loved ones die.
16 Lord, I am your servant;
    yes, I am your servant, born into your household;
    you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving
    and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people—
19 in the house of the Lord
    in the heart of Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

Monday, November 9, 2015

It's Not About the Cups

I have a confession.

It's not going to be pretty. Fair warning.

I got angry today.

I was angry because I heard that some Christians were said to be angry about red cups at Starbucks not representing Jesus well during the Christmas Season. How ridiculous. Seriously? Personally, I don't know anyone who is angry about this but I digress.

Then I became angry that the media, yet again, seemed to be putting down all Christians because of the reactions of some. My eyes rolled. Why must I always defend myself? I vented. It felt great for a few minutes. After all, I wasn't that kind of Christian. And people needed to know!

Then I noticed everyone on social media was venting, too. I began to get a little irritated by that. Now I was angry that everyone was angry. I was even angry with myself. Why did I fall for the hype?

I opened my Bible because I wanted to know what Jesus thought about cups. (smile)

Here's what I found:

Jesus tells us not to be concerned about the outside of the "cup", but more so with the inside (Matthew 23:25-26).  Once the inside is clean, the outside will eventually become clean, too. He was actually speaking to the religious folks, the ones who thought they had it all together. I came to the conclusion, based on Scripture, that He's probably not concerned about the outside of Starbucks' cups. Jesus had bigger fish to fry. That's all I needed to know.

I paused. I prayed. I realized....

The inside of my cup was not clean. I was nursing anger. Anger doesn't produce the things of God. God was using this cup hilarity to show me my heart. It had nothing to do with Starbucks. It had everything to do with my heart.

So, I asked God to forgive me. I was angry, I was frustrated and I was self-righteous. Again.
(I told you this wouldn't be pretty)

All of this to say:

Thank you, Starbucks. Thank you for the brilliant marketing strategy that has everyone talking. I fell for it, hook, line and sinker. God used it to reveal my heart to me and even though it wasn't pretty, it was important for me to see.

Oh, and thank you for bringing back Carmel Brulee Lattes. They are amazing.

#mycupiscleannow


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rise and Shine

I have to figure out how to make this my alarm. I need to hear this every single day - first thing!

I feel like I can do everything God has asked me to do when I hear this.

Now, if I could just believe it every day....

Thursday, September 10, 2015

How Important is Rest?

When people come into HUB Fitness, they sign in through our computer with a key-fab that alerts us that they are there. However, if we walk away from the computer, it shuts down into sleep mode after about 3 minutes.  Someone programmed it to do that, so it did.  But when people try to sign in, it won't allow it because my computer is asleep! I decided to change the programming to "never" sleep hoping it wouldn't do that and we would just remember to shut it down. This is the message I received:


Interesting.

This is a lesson I learned last year! I was so sleep deprived, that it had begun to really take a toll on my health. I've learned so much about the importance of rest. I'm thankful I learned it before things out of hand with me. 

In the movie Inside Out, they show (very adorably) that when your body rests and goes to sleep, that is when your brain sort of goes into "organizational" mode. Your brain stores memories, cleans up and gets things in order and ready for the next day. Your blood pressure goes down. Your heart rests. Our body goes to work the moment we stop working, basically. But if we aren't resting enough, our bodies will shut down.  

Just like our computers. 

Seems we may need some re-programming.

When is the last time you rested, I mean really rested? Jesus is super clear with us that rest is important. He even encourages us to, "Come to Me all who are weary and carry heaven burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) 

God commanded the Israelites to rest on the seventh day. He also told them to work for 6 years, and take time to rest on the 7th year. They pushed through for many years, not observing that rest, and ended up in captivity as a result. You see, God wasn't commanding rest to be controlling or to be demanding.  He was commanding it because He programmed us. He programmed us to need rest. Even God, who is perfect, took time to rest! And like our computer at work, if we never sleep our lives will be shortened and/or we will end up in captivity. God gives us commands because He knows how we are built to thrive! And I think we would be wise to listen to our Supreme Programmer.

I want to encourage you today to re-evaluate your schedule and make sure you are taking time to rest. Sometimes, like me, people learn the hard way. We crash and burn and then walk away having learned. But if you can learn before that happens, and take the steps you need to rest, you will never have to experience that crash! That is my hope for you, my friend.

Feel like you don't have time? God will take care of redeeming the time. He never asks us to do something without giving us provision to do it. In all honesty, you cannot afford not to rest. The time it puts back into your life will be well worth it.

Rest, my friend.

Exodus 34:14 The LORD replied, "I will personally go with you...I will give you rest. Everything will be fine for you." 




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Physical and Spiritual Fitness Paralleled

It's been such a whirlwind of excitement over the past few weeks as we have settled into our new adventure at HUB Fitness. Rod and I purchased the facility back in June and our feet hit the floor running from the moment we signed the papers. I absolutely love it!

Things are coming together and I'm beginning to see more and more the eternal purposes God has for me at HUB. We are a fitness facility and the main thing we do is offer a place for people to go to learn, workout and be active together. But as a believer, I am fully aware that God has even more in mind for me there. He always has a bigger picture and an eternal purpose, no matter where He places us. And I look forward to seeing how He plays it out in the days to come.

Having been in ministry for so many years, I've noticed a lot of similarities between fitness of the body and fitness in the spirit. Going to the gym is a lot like going to church. Being healthy physically is a lot like being healthy spiritually. They have a lot of the same characteristics, struggles and victories. Here are a few that come to mind:
  • They both take a lot of work and self-discipline (Philippians 2:12-13)
  • There is no quick fix for either. (Philippians 1:6
  • You need accountability in both areas to succeed. (Hebrews 10:25)
  • It's easy to make excuses not to do either one. (Proverbs 12:15)
  • The benefits far outweigh the demands. (1 John 5:12)
  • Physical and spiritual fitness do not take time from your life - they put life into your time. (John 14:6)
  • You need rest to recover both physically and spiritually.  When you pour out, you need time for re-filling. (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • Lifting will make you stronger in both.  In physical fitness - lifting weights; in spiritual fitness - lifting His Name (1 Timothy 2:8).
  • We should not compare ourselves with others in either one, for we are each designed specifically by God for the purpose He has for our lives. (Galatians 6:4-5)
  • Both are extremely beneficial in growing our confidence. (Proverbs 3:25-26)
  • It's inspiring to see someone who is succeeding in being spiritually or physically fit. (Proverbs 28:12)
  • It's always a struggle in the beginning, but once you start to see and feel results, you wonder how you ever lived without it. (Joshua 1:7-9)
I'm sure there are more examples - these are just the ones that came to me. If you can think of others, leave them in the comments section! It's really baffling to me that the things that matter most to us and to our health (physically & spiritually) are the most difficult to begin and keep up with sometimes. We find excuses, we justify our (in)actions and we suffer so much (unnecessarily) as a result. I wonder why that is? One thing I do know - without God's help in both, I'd be a mess.  He is the One who gives me strength to fight the battle and equips me along the way, both physically and spiritually. 

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  1 Timothy 4:8

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Together

I've never been more proud to live in South Carolina. We just experienced an unspeakable tragedy and yet it seems we are coming together and being of one heart and mind instead of being angry and unforgiving. 

I have thought a lot about the shooting in Charleston over the past few days and I believe that if it had been me that was shot and killed, my one dying prayer would be that God would use the tragedy to bring others to Himself - that He would redeem it and bring good from a senseless and ignorant act of hate and evil. It seems that is just what is happening. I believe God is showing us how big He really is right now.

I know I am a white woman and I have no idea what it's like to be treated with such hatred and disregard by ignorant people because of the color of my skin, but I don't have to be a black woman in order to feel the sting of loss here. These may not have been my brothers and sisters in race, but they were absolutely my brothers and sisters in Christ. How do I know?

They were studying Scriptures - together. 

They were praying - together

They were doing what believers do, even as they were gunned down - they were growing in their faith - together

And they stepped into the presence of the very God they loved so faithfully - together.  

I truly believe they would not want people to react with hate, violence and anger. Their families are a beautiful example of the grace and forgiveness I believe they would all show. They will know we are Christians by our love. (John 13:35)

We are believers. It's what we are called to do - together.

May God be glorified, may hearts be made new and may Christ be Lord over this tragedy, silencing the ignorance of evil intentions.


#RomansEightTwentyEight


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Fun News!

I've already made an announcement on Facebook about this, but I wanted to share with those who
follow my blog that my husband and I are going to be business owners! We are in the process of purchasing HUB Fitness in the Downtown area of Travelers Rest.

I've been working there for the past year as a fitness instructor, and I've grown to absolutely love the people, the location, the classes and pretty much everything about this place! It's a true blessing for Travelers Rest to have a facility like this - right in the heart of TR's fast growing Main Street! And the members are such a blessing to us.

Jennifer Arends, a successful triathlete, long-distance runner and Ironman competitor, started HUB Fitness on in April of 2014 and it has been a successfully growing business. She also started HUB Coaching, where she coaches athletes who are training for triathlons, races, marathons and ironman competitions. Both businesses grew so much in the first year, and in order to be able to give her clients the attention they deserve (while still being able to spend time with her family), Jennifer made the decision to sell HUB Fitness to me and my husband. She knows I have a passion, much like hers, for not only HUB Fitness, but for helping the entire Travelers Rest community get fit and healthy.  I guess you could say it's a "win-win" situation!

Please come visit us online at www.hub-fitnesstr.com or better yet, if you are in the area, stop by and say hello! And if you live in the area, there is a free week pass you can sign up for on our website. We want you to come check us out and see what you've been missing! Our whole philosophy at HUB Fitness rests on commitment, consistency and community. 

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us - yes, establish the work of our hands. 
Psalm 90:17


Friday, June 5, 2015

The Root of People Pleasing

"I'm a people pleaser." You hear it a lot. Maybe you even say it. Many of us are always trying to please everyone - and frankly we're exhausted. It's a struggle we think is rooted in "niceness", so it
can't be that bad, right? It's almost as if it is a sin we think is okay because it makes people happy. God wants us to make people happy, right?

But what if we're wrong?

What if our desire to please everyone is rooted in pride and has nothing to do with being nice?

What if we are trying to please everyone because we have a deep desire to be well-liked? 

What if it has nothing to do with the other person being happy, but it's all about ME being liked? 

That is what I began to see the other day as I drove down the road, listening to Greg Laurie preach. He mentioned that Satan's fall came because he desired to be worshipped, instead of worshipping God. I felt a nudge in my Spirit. Wanting to be "well-liked" isn't a too far off cousin from wanting to be "worshipped". It struck fear in my heart.  I began to see my true motive. It wasn't pretty.

Lately I have been feeling God trying to pry my white-knuckled fingers off my people pleasing issues. I guess I always thought it was because I really liked people, so I want them to be happy. But I'm beginning to see it in a whole new light. It is rooted in my desire to be liked.

I'm entering a new chapter in my life as my husband and I are purchasing a fitness center in Travelers Rest called HUB Fitness.  I know we will not please everyone in this process and that scares me so much. As long as I try to please everyone, though, guess where my focus will be? Not on my vision. Not on my purpose. Not on God's best...but on their idea of what is best.  Have you ever noticed how everyone's idea of what is best is always conflicting with other people's ideas? This can lead to considerable frustration if I don't trust God to help me through it and change my heart!

Perhaps that is why Paul adamantly proclaimed in Galatians 1:10, "Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant."

Thank you, Father, for your conviction and for revealing my heart in this. Give me strength to be okay with people not agreeing, people not liking me, and please give me wisdom to stand for what you want me to do - no matter what anyone else may think.




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