Whose Race Do I Run?

Monday, October 31, 2011  ::   11 important comments

True confession: Sometimes I get trapped in Comparison-ville.

It's true.

"Her kitchen is so pretty."

"That lady has the most amazing figure. I wonder how much she works-out. Oh great. She's probably a runner and I hate to run."

"I will never be able to fix my hair as well as she does."

Deeper still? 

"Her blog is amazing."

"How in the world did she gain so many followers so fast and how can I do that?"

"Of course she's guest blogging again. She's the guest blogger of the universe."

"Her pictures are perfect. Her kids are perfect. Her hair is perfect. She must be perfect."

Deeper still? 

"I must have sounded like an idiot when I prayed out loud just now."

"I wish I knew as much about the Bible as she knows."

"I should write some more profound stuff about God on my blog to keep up with all the other amazing bloggers in the entire world."

Ick. For reals. 

Lately, I've had to confess to Jesus the comparison in my heart. I've asked him to remind me of the roles of leadership he has given me and to increase the joy and delight in my heart as I serve Him.

On Saturday, I was having breakfast with a few friends and talked to them about how strange it is that I have 71 followers. A couple of them told me they always read my blog but they weren't official followers. I jokingly said, "Come on! Sign up!" Another friend asked why they needed to if they already read it regularly. I replied, "You don't. It's just to make me feel good." We all had a nice laugh.

In terms of the blog world, I started this blog to have more influence in the lives of the women of Moxie. Through my blog I'm able to communicate with the women of my church through a very convenient and frequent venue. I did not foresee that I would gain followers outside of my local ministry. To be honest, it's pretty cool. I enjoy reading and following other blogs. Of course I welcome more followers, I just want to make sure my motives are to glorify Jesus only.

Not myself.     Not my family.     Not Moxie.  

My encouragement and joy comes as I look to Jesus to find my significance, purpose, and contentment. Whether you are a blogger or not, wherever you have influence...school, job, home, the gym, the market...let's commit to one another to run our own race without comparison to the glory of Christ alone. Sound good? 

When the Boys are Away

Saturday, October 22, 2011  ::   7 important comments

Chad and Kyle are camping on Mt. Lemmon with 40 other guys for the weekend. Men on Mountains is a Second Mile tradition that happens every third weekend in October. Over the last five years, my girlies and I have developed our own little traditions to enjoy while the men are away.  

Each year during Men on Mountains weekend, we start Saturday morning by watching Elf and sipping hot chocolate. This is fun, different, and has become a tradition, and I love traditions. What's not to love in a movie about a man who thinks he's an elf? Right, Jenn??

After the movie we just hung out and relaxed. Esther started working on Spanish homework (remember Nerd Extraordinaire?), so Morgan, Carah, and I thought it would be fun to bake up some treats. 

I'm determined to not let Pinterest just become a time waster, but to actually try the recipes I pin to my boards. Today we made three recipes from my "sweet treats" pin board. 

We had so much fun! They were skilled at following directions, measuring ingredients accurately, and licking spoons thoroughly.  

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars were our first experiment.  

The finished product. Aren't they lovely? Next time we will add a lot less sugar and half the amount of chocolate chips. They are delicious, but a little over the top.  

Next up:  Iced Pumpkin Cookies minus the Iced 

Morgan carefully measuring cinnamon. 

Carah diligently mixing wet ingredients. 

The finished product. The girls described them as "delicious clouds of pumpkin."
 I agree, and you know I love me some pumpkin! 

Pretending to sample the goods and looking ever so cute. 

Actually sampling the goods...much more authentic. Carah's response? "Oh man, these are good." Morgan simply giggled and chewed.  

 And finally, Cinnamon Muffins. 

I have a feeling these are going to be delightful because the amount of butter in these crazy little bundles would shame Paula Dean. The girls and I agreed that we would only eat one for breakfast along with scrambled eggs and apple slices to make ourselves feel better about all the butter.  
Oh my. I can't wait until breakfast!

Today was great fun with my girlies, but maybe I should
 start thinking about my work-outs for next week.... 

The Darker Side of Biology

Thursday, October 20, 2011  ::   9 important comments

Insane Talent

Tuesday, October 18, 2011  ::   5 important comments

My friend, Angela, recently told me about this video. 
If it doesn't {encourage} you, I don't know what will. 


Loosening the Grip

Monday, October 17, 2011  ::   3 important comments

My hands hurt. Literally. I'm not sure what is going on, and I don't plan on going to the doctor until I just can't stand it, but they hurt.

The last people that owned our house didn't do a great job of doing things right the first time, so every time we re-do a room, we have to scrape all the paint off the walls before we can proceed with making it beautiful. Chad and I scraped the hallway walls for two hours this morning. Oh man. My hands hurt.

Last night at Second Mile, Chad told the story of the game he plays in the pool with our kids. He tightly grips the pool ladder with one hand, then all four kids simultaneously try to rip his hand off the pole. The concentration Chad keeps astonishes me. The kids never win. Ever. Chad wouldn't have it. It will be interesting to see how much stubbornness will ooze from him as our kids age and grow in strength.

I played this game with the kids. Twice. The first time we played, I dominated. I rubbed their faces in it and told them I was too strong for their little spaghetti arms. (I'm such a nice mom.) The second time, it only took Esther and Kyle a few minutes to easily rip my hand off the swimming pool ladder. My hands ached both times I subjected myself to our silly family game.

During Chad's message last night, I realized I have a strong grip on a pretty shallow area in my life.  Chad posed the question, "What idol in your life is God trying to topple?" Immediately an answer popped into my head. I even made an ick face. (Thankfully, Chad didn't notice because sometimes my facial expressions distract him, especially if they seem a little off from what he's talking about.)

Turns out this grip manifests itself in my thoughts when I'm alone, when I'm about to be with people, when I sit down for a meal, when I'm working out, when I watch tv, when I think about my age, when I process how I want my daughters to view themselves. And guess what...my spiritual hands hurt.

So here is the ugly truth. I'm talking about my appearance.

There. I said it. Isn't that ugly? And shallow? And shouldn't I be past the age where I obsess about my appearance?

Truth be told, I wasn't surprised by the revelation. You see, I'm getting older. My waist is getting thicker. My skin is doing strange things. My hair feels stringy. Clothes are annoying. Working out doesn't produce the same results that it used to. My joints are achy.

I had an extreme prophet thought that I should shave my head, wear the same outfit for a month, and fast from make-up and mirrors for as long as it takes to get over myself. Makes me chuckle just typing it out. An extreme outward response only promotes the issue, and more than likely wouldn't solve anything.

Isaiah 66:2 This is the one I esteem: He who is humble, contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. 

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Psalm 33:18-19 The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver us from death and keep us alive in the famine.

Jeremiah 9:22-23 This is what the Lord says, "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, or the strong man boast of his strength, or the rich man boast of his riches. But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on the earth for in these I delight," declares the Lord. 

I'm tired of my hands hurting from gripping this area of my life. I'm asking God to transform my heart and mind through the power of His word.

Heb 4:12-13 For the word of the Lord is living and active, sharper than any double edged sword, able to divide soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. 

I pray we all think deeply about areas in our lives we need to surrender no matter how deep, shallow, shameful, or prideful. 

My hands are already starting to feel better.  

Moxie Memorizers

Saturday, October 15, 2011  ::   16 important comments

If she can do it, so can we!!

She is so ridiculously cute. I especially love how much joy oozes from her little lips and face. I bet this stuff makes Jesus smile a lot.  Do you ever think about the pleasure it gives God when you love His word enough to memorize it? Think about that for a bit...your spiritual disciplines not only bring you closer to Jesus, but you bring him pleasure when you engage in activities that draw you closer to him. Whoa. That's pretty awesome.

Thankfully, He has enabled me to exceed my goal for October. Right now I'm back on pace to reach my year end goal. I'm continuing on in Romans 12.

Romans 12:11-13 
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

I'm looking forward to reading the verses you all are memorizing!  


Tuesday, October 11, 2011  ::   2 important comments

A week ago I wrote a post about not feeling so great. Funk-ness had set in. So, I took last Friday and Saturday off. I mean, completely off.  No work, no meetings, no email, no phone calls, no ministry. It was glorious.

On Friday morning, I lounged, walked around Target, got an iced Chai, and planted some flowers.

I sure hope these don't die because the first batch I planted a few weeks ago didn't make it. Want to hear something cheesy? I actually prayed that God would make them grow.  I hope He helps me out in this!
 I love fresh rosemary and basil. I'm looking forward to rosemary potato soup when the weather cools off a bit more. 

On Saturday our family along with two other families headed up to Mt. Lemmon. We knew it would be significantly cooler than the city, so I couldn't wait. It was actually really cold. Forty-five degrees! For us desert rats, that is ridiculously cold. We had a picnic and good conversation. We moved around to the different sunny spots to find some warmth. The kids hiked and explored. We simply relaxed and enjoyed. 

My man and me 

My four big explorers

Esther and her cool dad

Cuddle Bugs: Being in the fresh mountain air makes everyone more loving. 

He is either pondering the deep things of life or showing off his sweet beard. 

Catching some sun trying to stay warm.

All the kids but one who wouldn't eat her lunch. Love these cuties! 

So, yes, a couple of days off is just what I needed. During the time I found clarity in four specific areas that were contributing to my heavy-heartedness. Quieting my schedule led to quietness in my heart which lead to clarity in my brain. I'm thankful that Jesus ministered so sweetly to my spirit. I hope you take time when you need to pull away, take time off, and seek God so that he can refresh your soul!  

Linking up with Jami. 

Keep On Pressing On

Tuesday, October 04, 2011  ::   13 important comments

Today is {We Encourage} day in the blog world. I don't read a ton of blogs because I get sucked in easily, but I love spending time clicking through the links on Jami's blog on Tuesdays. Each blog author shares parts of her heart to encourage others. I really love it.

I've especially enjoyed it today.

To be honest, I'm tired. I don't want to be encouraging. I want to take a nap.

It's been hard to smile today. I've wanted to complain and I've teared up several times.

A few discerning people in my life have asked if I'm ok, or commented that I seem heavy-hearted. There have been no profound answers to their questions. I'm just blah. It seems like most people I know go through funks from time to time.

So, very authentically, let me {encourage} you to keep on pressing on when you have times of fuzzy-headedness or exhaustion or when you just need to pull away.

Take that nap.
Plant some flowers.
Walk around your favorite store.


Read your Bible.
Put on your favorite worship music.
Review your memory verses.

Know that His mercies never fail and they will be new when you wake up in the morning. (Lam 3:22-23) Don't give up when you are really weary because He says we will reap a harvest if we don't give up! (Gal 6:9) Remain in Him and He will remain in you. (John 15) Now that is some good news!

Emily Shares

Monday, October 03, 2011  ::   5 important comments

This is a first for my blog: A Guest Blogger! Isn't it exciting? I asked my good friend, Emily, to share some of her thoughts on Retreat de Moxie. What she shares with us, speaks with authenticity, strength, and dignity. Emily expressed concern that it was too long, but let me just say if you think that, get over it. It is totally worth the read! Please be sure to leave her some comment love.

Thank you so much, Emily. Your heart blesses me more than you know! 
I was talking with Angel the other day about how her week was after Retreat de Moxie. During the conversation, she mentioned that she had gotten several comments about how this year's retreat was “easier” than some past retreats. (I'm sure “easier” wasn't the specific word that was used, but that was kind of the idea that was conveyed).  This surprised me quite a bit because I haven't found that to be the case for myself at all.
As Angel talked about in an earlier post, the theme of the retreat was sharing Jesus with non-believers. Reclaiming the word evangelism. Opening our mouths to tell the story God wrote for us specifically in order to bring glory to his name, especially with those that don't know him. She challenged us to pray for the gift of evangelism and boldness and a burden for the lost.  Now, I don't know about you, but this is not “easy” stuff. This is hard, hard, heart-wrenching stuff.  The kind of stuff that makes me want to close my eyes and stick my fingers in my ears and sing really loudly so that I can't hear any of it.  But since I'm 30 years old, I decided that would be a little foolish, so I prayed God would help me engage and listen and absorb, that I would be open to conviction and change. So, of course, I'm still pondering a lot of things that I heard on the retreat.
Like I said, Angel asked us to start praying for the gift of evangelism. Maybe this was easy for many of the women there last weekend. Maybe the thought had just never occurred to them and when Angel said this, they thought it was a great idea and did it. But not me. I furled my brow and dug in my heels and thought to myself, “There is no way! I don't want that gift. That's hard and requires a lot and will put me in a lot of situations where my heart will pound and I hate being in situations where my  heart pounds.”  But, I wanted to be open to what God had for me, so I prayed really hard that he would put the desire for the gift of evangelism in my heart. That I could get to the point where I would really want to pray for that gift. I continue to pray that and will probably continue for a while (until he answers, I guess).
Here's why I think evangelism is so hard for me. It's not because I don't believe in it, because I do. I want people all over the world to know who Jesus is and what kind of love and power and healing he has and to lift up his name. I moved to Tucson to do exactly that. I've believed wholeheartedly in sharing Jesus with others for so many years. But my fleshly side really, really cares about what people think about me.  I want to be known as the nice, fun girl that laughs a lot.  I don't want to be known as the crazy Jesus freak that makes conversations uncomfortable. And I know there are a lot of issues in those few sentences that I need to work out with God, but that's what I'm really thinking deep down.
Also, God created us in such a way so as to get attached to people.  And I have a lovely, wonderful friend who doesn't know Jesus that I care so deeply about. And I want her to know Jesus so badly, but I also love being her friend.  I love talking with her and laughing with her and doing things with her. So, in my head, it makes perfect sense that I would want to share Jesus with her too. But in my heart, it is not so easy. Because in my heart, I'm wrestling with the fact that I may love our friendship more than I love Jesus, or at least more than I want her to love Jesus.  There is a very real fear that if I share with her, it will make it awkward and change our relationship. Maybe she won't want to spend time with me anymore. Maybe I'll lose her as a friend and that would break my heart.
However, maybe that's one of the reasons God gave me the spiritual gift of faith. Because in the deepest part of me, I know that if the above happened, it would be alright. God is good no matter what. If I lose friends for him, then it's just like what Paul says in Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” I pray that this will be true for me as well, and I'm at the point now where if I lost this friend, my life wouldn't end, but I would be really sad.  I know it's just something I have to get over. God continually put this friend on my mind and heart during and since the retreat. He put me in her life for a reason and I pray I don't waste the opportunity to join him in his work in her life.  But how to share with her? How do I bring things up naturally, so that even though my heart will be pounding I don't look like I'm nervous?
One thing Angel asked us to do over the weekend was to think about our story of coming to know Jesus. Think about it in such a way that we could clearly and concisely communicate it to others. This was difficult for me at first because I don't have one of those dramatic, make-a-Christian-movie-out-of-it kind of stories. I believed at a young age with no serious time of rebellion in my life. For a long time I've struggled with believing this makes my story irrelevant. What God revealed to me this weekend was that my story is a good one, the perfect one and the one he designed for me. For the first time in my adult life, I was so, so grateful to have MY story and not wishing for someone else's. God has done amazing, wonderful things in my life. I need his grace and mercy every bit as much as the next person. Without him I am a prideful, nasty, judgmental, petty person. When I walk daily in his grace, I am a patient, kind, faith-filled and joyous woman. And why would I not want to share that with every single person I come into contact with?  I believe this is going to be the start of how I share with my friend. My heart will still pound, but I will continue to pray that God uses my story the way he wants.
So that's a little bit of what I've been processing this week. I have found it every bit as challenging and difficult as anything I've dealt with from other retreats.  God continually answers my prayers to speak to me during these retreats and grow me in ways I don't even want to grow. I feel that he is building this body up for the next step towards the cliff he's put in front of us. I pray that I will never stop growing and am grateful he allows me to be part of a community that pushes me and helps me do that. If the conviction that you may have lost opportunities to join in his work in the lives of those around you isn't a punch in the face, I'm not sure what is.
Beautiful Emily! Thanks again! 
Photo by Laura 

Moxie Memorizers

Saturday, October 01, 2011  ::   10 important comments

October 1st. The leaves are turning. The air is brisk. Pumpkins sit on front porches next to cornstalks and scarecrows. Wouldn't that be nice? If only. Good news for those of us in the desert: it is actually a tad bit cooler. It is getting light a little bit later. And, the feel in the air is definitely autumn, even if it is a desert sort of autumn.  

What I'm reminded of the most in writing this post is we only have three months left to complete our first year of memorizing scripture together. I have some pretty lofty memorizing goals to reach before the end of December. To be perfectly honest, I'm growing more and more skeptical that I will actually reach my goal, but I'm pressing in none the less.  Do you have a goal you're hoping to reach? A specific number of verses you were hoping to learn this year? A passage you're really hoping to complete by January? If not, set a goal or two for the next three months. Challenge yourself beyond what you think you can do and go for it! 

One of the reasons I'm concerned about my own personal goal reaching is my focus on Retreat de Moxie stole time away from truly memorizing my September verses. I reviewed on a regular basis and tried to memorize, but if I'm honest I don't quite have the new verses down.  However, I'm going to go ahead and add two new verses into the mix.  If I don't have them all by October 15th I won't add anything new. Sound good? It works for me.

Romans 12:7-8 
If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I can do it. Self-discipline will be a must, but I will take the challenge to heart.  

Please share what you will be memorizing. Feel free to share your goal reaching status. If you haven't thought through goals, take some time to consider what you could do, what would push you a little, what would require steadfast discipline to accomplish.