Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I Believe In You

Back in 2007, I was a contestant on Survivor China. I journaled often before, during and after my experience so I wouldn't forget the incredible adventure God had me on during that time. Here is a journal entry from the day I left for China for almost eight weeks:

June 16, 2007
 

Wow! Saying goodbye was so incredibly difficult today. I am at the hotel in New York now and we leave for location tomorrow morning. It all seems so surreal – like a dream or something. I already miss my family but I am so thankful they are so supportive of me in this adventure. What a blessing!
 

On the plane, I listened to the Bethany Dillon song “I Believe in You”. It spoke volumes to me. I felt the Lord speak to my heart “I delight to give good gifts to my children – have fun!” I don’t mean audibly or anything, but in my heart I know that’s what He whispered. The line in the song that says “I know that you feel like every eye is watching you…waiting for you to fall, expecting you to lose. But I see victory, so all you have to do is remember, I believe in you” brought tears to my eyes.
 

This week has been especially difficult because I was dreading saying goodbye to my family. Now that I have that behind me, I am going to choose to focus on the assignment ahead. I know I’m going to grow tremendously in this and each difficulty will make me a stronger woman. I pray for strength, wisdom, and comfort. I also pray for protection over my family and for peace. I pray safety over our entire group as we travel and that things will all fall into place smoothly.
 

I pray for all of those involved – the staff, the producers, the camera people, and the competition. Lord, I pray you will bless each one of them and teach them about you somehow in this trip. Thank you so much for your love – thank you for believing in me and for not allowing me to give up on this dream!
 

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen

My Reflection Today:

This was the day I had dreamed of for so long – and yet the goodbyes were so difficult. God says
that all things are possible, but He never promised all things were easy. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I knew that it would be two months before I would see or talk with my family again. It was bittersweet to be at this place.

Hearing the words to that song “I Believe in You” was so encouraging because at this point I was
beginning to wonder if maybe God felt that He had chosen the wrong person for the job! I was emotionally falling apart, but knowing He believed in me was like the push I needed to move forward in spite of my fear and sadness. I knew God would never leave me.

It was strange going from dream to reality. It was actually rather surreal if I were completely
honest. I felt like I had to pinch myself to make sure it was even real! But it was. And it was hard,
but it was so cool!

Truth for Today:

Matthew 28:20…be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

Joshua 1:9 This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Isaiah 139:3-6 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am about to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

What About You?

Have you ever felt alone or lonely? Did you realize that God never leaves you, no matter where you are? Once we realize this, loneliness loses it’s death grip on us! According to Joshua 1:9, how can we be strong and courageous?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Those Awkward Questions Kids Ask...



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Kennedy held up the cigarette lighter in the car and asked me that question the other day.  She’d never understood what those “things” were and asked why people used them.  When I explained they were cigarette lighters, she thought that was weird that car companies would put that in as an accessory.  I agreed.  And then the question came…”Mom, did you ever use one of these?“  I knew I had to be honest.
 
My kids know I used to smoke years ago.  I usually smoked only when I would drink alcohol (but I drank often).  Man, of all the lies I fell for in my life, this one is just incomprehensible.  What did I ever see in it?  It smells bad, it discolors teeth, it’s a waste of money, it’s bad for me and anyone who was around me…I can’t honestly think of anything good about this habit but I was so blinded that I couldn’t see it.  Thank God He opened my eyes!
I’m honest with my kids about many of the things I used to do “B.C.” (Before Christ).  Sometimes I hate talking about it because I’m a completely different person now.  It comes up occasionally, though.  I can’t evade it, but I am learning to use these moments as a time to really teach my kids about God’s amazing grace – and how we are all trophies of that amazing grace of His!
When I became a Christian, I became a New Creation because of Jesus Christ. That’s such an important lesson to learn as a believer and it’s one I want my girls to understand.  And the earlier the better!  So I explained to them that I refer to my “old self” as Fleshlie (smile).  Fleshlie made some bad choices and still tries to get me to make bad choices, but she doesn’t have power over me.  Jesus does now (that’s what being Lord means!) Kennedy said her “old self” must have been named Sinnidy.  Peyton said she must have been Hate’in.  We laugh, but it’s a powerful picture of our old vs. new creation.

Why is this such a big deal to me?  Well, let’s just say the person I used to be, although I was a friendly person, was not exactly a picture of morality.  I was actually quite insecure and the fact that I made some horrific life choices made that matter so much worse.  Maybe you can relate to this?  I had absolutely no respect for myself because I was living two lives.  My friends probably didn’t respect me much, either, because I was a chameleon.  I was a different person at church than I was when I was with my friends.  I was straddling the fence – big time – and I was getting splinters.  If I went to a high school or college reunion, many of the people there would have a hard time seeing me as anyone else other than that person I used to be…but God sees so much more!

I’m not proud of who I was, but I’m so very excited to say that in spite of all of that, God loves me and uses me to share His truth with others.  He uses my past sins and mistakes to refine me and they no longer have the power to define me.  As a result of what I’ve been through from the consequences of some of my choices, I can totally relate to others who are struggling with the same things.  I get it.  I’ve been there.  And honestly, I still mess up a lot – but God still loves me because who I am in His eyes is not dependent on my behavior, but my Savior.

So…back to my story.  How did I respond to my daughter’s innocent question, “Mom, did you ever use one of these?”  I simply said: “Yes, the person I used to be – Fleshlie – used one of those before.  But not the person I am now!” She smiled big.

I think she gets it.

Do you get it?  Are you still allowing past sins to define you or will you allow God to use them to refine you?  Walk in the truth of who you are and don’t believe the lie that your past defines you!  Beth Moore said it best, “You cannot amputate your past to step into your destiny.”  It’s true…we cannot hide our past.  But why would we want to?  How, then, would people be able to see the amazing miracle of God in your life?  Only He can take something the world would consider unworthy and make it a trophy of His grace.

2 Cor. 5:17….Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Demolition!

What a mess!

There was sawdust everywhere, the kitchen and bathroom had been gutted, I could see the floorboards and the rafters, the ceiling was torn up in some areas and the floors were dusty and dingy.  That was the scene when I went to visit at the house we bought a few weeks ago.  Honestly, one might think it was hopeless.  But I know what's coming.

In order for our house to be the house we need for it to be, there has to be demolition.  The house is basically gutted in some areas and there is much work to be done - hard work. But in a few short weeks, we will have a brand new home!  If we had not done this, the electrician would never have found the problems he found (which could have been extremely dangerous), our ducts and insulation would not have been effective and the contractor would have never discovered that our ceiling was not straight and needed fixing in some areas.  These are things that were not visible to the eye, but are very important to the longevity and safety of our home.

Looking at it today, you would probably never be able to imagine what it could be. But I can see through it. To me, it's got incredible potential and in no time, it will be the perfect home for our family.  It reminds me of so many of the HGTV shows where the homebuyers look at a home that is outdated, crowded and has decor from 1972.  The homebuyers always remark how they don't see how this house could EVER be something they would love, yet at the end of the show, they are in tears and happy as can be with their new, beautifully updated home.

In some ways, my life is just like my house. When I came to God, I was an empty shell with not much to offer. Slowly and methodically, He is changing me.  He sees my potential.  He knows there is hope for me and I believe He is right.  But as the demolition continues, He is revealing issues that need fixing that are not obvious to the eye.  It's a painful process, but I know what's coming.

If God has you in the demolition phase of your life, hang in there.  If you are feel you have nothing to offer, think again.  There might be some things that need fixing and it may look worse before it gets better, but know this: God has a plan for you and He will not give up on you until He is finished making you into the person He knows you will be!


And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.  -Philippians 1:6

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Quietly Judging You...

I was reading this morning in Luke 6:6-11 where Jesus healed a man with a crippled hand on the Sabbath.  I was reading the New Living translation of the Bible and it talks about the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, and how they were "watching Jesus closely". They were not interested in learning from Him, of course. They wanted to see if He would "mess up" and break a law or say something wrong so they could have a reason to stop Him. They completely missed the point.  Do you know someone like that in your life?

I suppose it happens to us all.  There are always people who are sizing us up, making sure we are good enough, on target and speaking truth. It's important to be discerning with people and we all do this at times. But what's more important is the posture of the heart of the person doing the judging. If it is for discernment, that is one thing. But that is not what the Pharisees were doing. They were out to prove Jesus wrong, so anything He did right was completely missed. The posture of their heart was wrong. They were prideful and trying to prove they were right instead of listening to Jesus. They could have really learned something from Him if they were not so critical.

The passage in the NLT goes on to call the Pharisees "critics" in verse 9 and then in verse 11, they are called "enemies of Jesus".  We must realize that when we are sizing someone up and all we are doing is trying to prove them wrong, we are acting as their critic and their enemy. This really got to me, because I realize that I sometimes do this very thing! The last thing I want to be is a Pharisee. But I find more of their qualities in myself than I would care to admit at times. Critical people can be impossible to please.

Could you be someone like that?  What is the posture of your heart today?  If you are visiting a new church, I want to encourage you to visit with an open heart. Don't try to find what's wrong...try to find what's right. If you are in a situation today when you find yourself quietly judging the person and not really listening to them, I encourage you to pause and ask God to give you loving discernment. The pride in our heart wants to prove we are right, but the Spirit wants us to love and seek the best in people.

After all, don't we have enough critics and enemies in this world? We certainly don't want to be counted among them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Found My "Want To"!

I think Rob knew what he was doing when he asked me to be a team leader for his "Rob's Big Loser" program with His Radio. I was so excited to help lead some people into a healthier lifestyle! He knows I love to encourage people and that I used to have a big passion for fitness and health.  It was a great fit. This program helps people lose weight and teaches them how to live a healthy lifestyle.

On Monday night, we had the Kick-off for the event and I met my teammates for the first time. One of our members didn't get to come, so I decided to be a good example and go through the whole evaluation with everyone.  They took our weight and body fat, hip to waist ratio, blood pressure, had us do a stretch test and also a minute-timed push up and crunches test.  I have to say I had the highest numbers on the push up test (yay!) and I did 63 crunches in 1 minute! But I also had high numbers on all the other tests as well - including the blood pressure, weight and body fat. I realized quickly that my purpose for being a team leader was not just to encourage those on my team - but to also open my eyes to my own issues. I have some work to do, to say the least.

As I drove home from the kick-off, I began to cry. Why had I let it come to this? Once I got home, I went straight to my husband and told him I was sorry.  I was sorry I hadn't been taking care of myself. I absolutely love what we have! Such a great man, such a great husband and we have such a wonderful family. I love them so much. I have so much to be thankful for! And I have so many reasons to take care of myself.

I have to confess that I have (many times) said that I was going to begin my journey back to fitness and even posted some blogs about it with excited efforts to do it initially. But nothing has stuck.  I lost my "want to" in my fitness journey.  I taught fitness for 18 years, was a personal trainer and nutrition consultant and even wrote a book about fitness in 2004.  When I quit teaching fitness a year and a half ago, I quit fitness. I suppose you could say that my get up and go got up and went! I was so burned out from over-working my body for so many years. Some weeks I would teach 13 classes! It was just crazy. Honestly, once I stopped instructing, I couldn't find the desire to work out and my weight, blood pressure and body fat have slowly crept up.

Today, I'm coming to terms with my new reality. I've lived in denial for awhile. I suppose I'm comfortable with my body and I don't feel like it's out of hand - but honestly, it's getting there. It's not about being "fat", but more about being unhealthy.  My blood pressure was so high that the guy taking it had to re-take it and told me to relax. I could tell he was a bit concerned. He took it again and it was 158/96.  I used to have 110/60.  This is what got me motivated, not my desire to be "thin" again. I am ready to lose, but not so I can fit into a size 6 again. It's so I can live a healthy and longer life with the greatest gift God has ever given me - my family.

If you are struggling, I get it.  I know what it's like to not have a "want to".  But I think it's more of a "have to" when it comes to being healthy. I tell my kids all the time that sometimes you have to do things you don't necessarily want to do in life because if you don't, there are consequences. Now I'm taking my own advice.

My team is called Women of Mass Reduction and we are ready to fight! (haha - love the name) I'm excited about this 12-week journey and will keep you posted on my own results as we go.  So far, it's only been a day and a half but I can tell something has clicked in my heart and I'm ready to make the sacrifices and decisions that need to be made in order for me to be healthier in 2013.

To read about the journeys of some of the others who are taking this challenge, go to www.robsbiglosers.com.  Most everyone is blogging (including me) and you can encourage us by leaving comments on the entries and see how everyone's doing along the way!

Friday, January 4, 2013