Going Public

Thursday, April 26, 2012  ::   7 important comments

On January 1st I weighed the most I've ever weighed, had just purchased the biggest pants I've ever owned, and felt the grossest I've ever felt. I knew how to hide all the extra I had accumulated, so some of you may be doubting my assessment. Or, some of you knew and never told me. We had a pact! You were supposed to tell me.

In the fall I went through a book with a group of people titled The Character of Leadership. Self-control was a character trait we read about and discussed. The author shared an example from his own life about his eating being out of control and to master it, he fasted regularly. As I read the short paragraph, I felt drenched in the heaviness of the Spirit's conviction. I knew that my lack of self-control manifested itself in my entitled attitude towards food.

I deserved a Diet Dr Pepper in the afternoon because I had spent so much time carpooling kids all over town.

I deserved french fries at Chick-fil-a because I worked hard in spinning.

I deserved ice cream at the end of the night because I had so many meetings during the day.

I deserved peanut M&Ms because the stress of Second Mile was heavy.

I deserved pasta, bread, refined whatever because I was a good cook and should get to eat what I made.

I deserved, I deserved, I deserved. 

Ironically, "I deserve" is one of my least favorite phrases in the English language and I was abusing it daily without even recognizing my growing, ugly self-entitlement.

Through the last two weeks of December I devised a plan. My heart's desire was to surrender my will and I asked God to increase the fruit of self-control in my life. Chad and I also planned to put one of our Christmas gifts to good work. A good friend of ours said, "Merry Christmas, chubbies! Here is Insanity for you!" Just kidding. She would never say that, but we had shared our desires for health with her and she bought the program for us as a very generous gift.

We exercised our butts off.  Literally. Jumping, kicking, squatting, sweating, crying. So, so hard. I never made it through an entire workout without taking significant breaks. But Chad and I went for it. But, to be honest, this wasn't my struggle. I've always enjoyed exercise. It was difficult to be sure, but not as much as the changes I was making in my eating.

As food was my idol of choice, breaking myself from its grip became painful. I threw a temper tantrum or two. I felt hungry. I was annoyed. I didn't want to measure out portions. I just wanted something salty and crunchy or gooey and sweet. Essentially I was struggling to break my will and focus where my dependence should have been. Stress very often sent me to the refrigerator and not to my knees in prayer.

The change had to be radical. This may not be true for some of you. Remember this is my story. Some of you may need faithful, gradual change. In my life gradual leads to attention deficit. I needed to go all out.

My mantra for many years has been "moderation is the key!" I've discovered this is such a lie! Saying I could enjoy something in moderation was another way of disguising my entitlement. I've since learned that wisdom is the key. Even in eating.

Moderation says, "It's ok to have a bowl of ice cream every night if it is a small bowl." Wisdom says, "Read the labels. One half cup of that premium choice ice cream is 325 calories."

Moderation says, "Diet soda doesn't have calories." Wisdom says, "Do I really need all of those fake ingredients running through my body?"

Moderation says, "Vegetables are good for you." Wisdom says, "Eat as many vegetables as you can possibly pack into your gut." True statement.

"If any of you lacks wisdom he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5 

"Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." James 3:17

It's the end of April. I've dropped a couple of sizes, my blood tests look wonderful, and I feel good. There are no before and after photos because the main point of this journey for me has not been about physical change as much as it has been about spiritual change. As I continue to pray for wisdom and self-control in the area of eating, I'm asking for real, lasting change.

"For the kingdom of heaven is not about eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit."  Romans 14:17

Let me encourage you to think through your own life. Do you have any "I deserve" areas that may need the attention of the Holy Spirit? If you do, would you be willing to ask God for wisdom in dealing with it? How are you refining your character to be more like Christ?

This journey is a personal one. But, I'm hoping going public with parts of it may inspire you to look deeply into your heart and allow the Spirit to bring about change that impacts not just your body, but your spirit as well.

**I've written Part 2 to Going Public if you are interested in reading the practical side of this life change. Please click over to read it if you would like more of the story.

Reflecting on the Nines

Sunday, April 22, 2012  ::   2 important comments

I just turned the big 3-9 on April 17th. One more year in the 30s.

The day started in my spinning class. I told the class the week before that my birthday was coming and I would bring them presents to celebrate. I arrived with a large plate of M&M pecan cookies and chocolate oatmeal moomoo bars. Some of them complained about burning calories in my class and then being tempted by cookies. But, I think they liked it.  

There were so many cookies left and I certainly didn't want them in my kitchen, so I passed them out wherever I went through the day greeting people with, "It's my birthday. Would you like a cookie?" Strangers were surprisingly willing to take a homemade cookie and then tell me interesting stories about their life. It's amazing what someone will share with you over a baked goodie. 

My family gave me great presents. We went to eat at a Japanese teppanyaki grill for dinner. It was a lovely day.

Thinking about turning 39 over the last year was definitely worse than actually turning 39. As I've thought about age and reflected through the years of my life, I realized the nines have each ushered in significant seasons of difficulty, change, and growth. I'm sure this is true for most people. 

When I was nine years old about to be in fourth grade, I made a commitment to God to become a missionary. I met a wonderful woman named Melissa King who talked to me about serving Jesus with my life. I only spent one short week with her, but she made an unforgettable impact. My parents invested in me and did their best to teach me the ways of faith in Jesus. They loved (and still love) me so deeply

Unfortunately, my new commitment was put aside for the next few years. I wasted so much time drinking, partying, finding comfort in the arms of boys who pretended to be men. My spirit was wrecked in seeking security and love through the approval of my peers. I was desperately lonely and sought to fill the holes with rebellion and popularity. Not surprisingly, the empty shell that was my spirit was the only thing that was filled. 

When I turned 19 years old I was at New Mexico State University. My life had swung from one extreme of partying to the other extreme of seeking after God. Healing in my heart continues to be one of my pursuits, but the four years I spent in college laid a foundation of scripture, prayer, and community that God continues to use in my life. 

Over the next few years I married a man I never thought I would find. We traveled, lived in another country, adopted a beautiful daughter, had three other children, and moved to two different states. God used the adventures to teach us great things about Him, ourselves, and each other. My heart's capacity to love and be loved was one of the greatest gifts God gave me through my 20's. 

At the age of 29 I lived in the beautiful city of Lincoln, NE. I remember a friend of mine named Gina who was also from New Mexico said, "We get to live in a place that has fireflies!" She was right. The greenery, the flowers, the people, the Husker nation, the cleanliness of Walmart all showcase some of the beauty that is Lincoln. The prospect of turning 30 seemed bright and glorious as I lived out my version of the American dream. 

I wrote on the first page of my new journal, "I wonder what God will have for me in my 30s?" Little did I know my family was about to embark on our biggest and most difficult adventure. A few months after that journal entry we decided to move to Tucson to plant a church. After moving to this mountainous, beautiful desert I began to see that my heart was so similar to my surroundings. God crafted me together which is beautiful, but I had built high places of defeat and self-hatred which led to a personal dryness and a tough exterior.  

The truth is I continued to carry lies I chose to believe from my childhood. Struggling to gain the approval of others plagued me. Believing that I was the fat, ugly, dumb girl in the room consumed me. In my early 30's God freed me from this lie through much prayer and refinement. He has used my 30's to fortify His work in my life and teach me about myself, the gifts He's given me, my talents, strengths, and weaknesses. 

And now I'm 39 years old. Each decade has been stuffed full of character refinement, personal growth, and life-altering, God-given direction. The thought of turning 40 messes with my mind quite a bit to tell the truth. I'm not necessarily afraid of getting old, but I definitely want to be sure I'm not wasting time, that I'm living for a greater purpose, that I continue to grow and change. 

What will the years look like when I look back when I turn 49? Will I have a deeper sense of purpose? How will I be processing all of my kids living outside my home? What will my friendships look like? How will my marriage to Chad be richer than it is today? What will be the greatest lesson I learn in my 40's? 
LKM Photography
Only God knows the answers to these questions. I'm glad He hasn't given me any clues to what the next ten years hold. To be honest, if I would have known at age 9, 19, or 29 what I was about to go through, I would have absolutely chickened out. He obviously knows what He is doing! 

Psalm 40:5
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak of them there would be too many to declare. 

Mom of the Year

Thursday, April 19, 2012  ::   8 important comments

A few months ago on a Wednesday afternoon, I happily started the trek to Kyle's school to pick him up. I was super proud of myself that day because Chad had extra meetings on his plate and I offered to be the awesome helpmate wife and pick up all the kids from school. This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but my kids go to three different schools that are nowhere near each other. Chad and I make an excellent carpool tag team.

A side note to this story that you should know is our school district dismisses students on Wednesdays one hour early. Every Wednesday. Which we've been experiencing for eight years now.

As I arrived to our designated pick up spot, I noticed Kyle sitting on the sidewalk looking slightly downcast. I smiled as he opened the door as I always do when I pick up the kids and said, "You are out here early today." He stoically replied, "Did you forget it's early out day?"

Ugh. Punched in the gut. I had left my child sitting at one of the busiest intersections of Tucson for over an hour. Yes, I cried. A lot. I asked for his forgiveness which he freely gave. Then I told him I would take him to Dairy Queen to get a large Artic Rush Float, but he had to promise me he would not associate eating with people disappointing him. In his own words he responded, "Mom, I promise to not emotionally eat when people wound me." Punk.

Spring time brings Kyle's baseball season. Games and practice go until 9:00, so Kyle usually isn't settled in and ready for bed until almost 10:00. My kids make their own lunches for school (best idea ever), so Kyle has to make his before he goes to practice because he doesn't have time when he gets home. Last Thursday handed our family a very chaotic afternoon. He did not have time to make his lunch before practice, and before he went to bed he asked if I would make it for him. Because I'm such a stellar mom I agreed to help. When I picked him up from school the next day he told me how hungry he was. Apparently he took his empty lunch box to school that was sitting on the table that morning. My eyes were huge, I gasped, and again profusely apologized. I jokingly stated, "Well, in my defense you are supposed to make it before you go to practice." With the charming wit he often uses to slay me he replied, "Well, in my defense you told me you would make it before I went to bed." Touche. 

What's the point of telling on myself? I want to share with you some of the best parenting advice Chad and I ever received. 

Apologize when you mess up. Do not be too proud, too afraid, too apathetic, too unaware of yourself to tell your kids you are sorry. Apologize with sincerity, with clarity about your mistakes, and with intentionality to change. Apologize to your kids! 

Parents are the authority over their children, but what I often see is that parents take that authority to a level of pride and hard-heartedness. The "because I said so" mantra (another blog post entirely) or "I'm the boss" or "well, I wouldn't have yelled, publicly scolded, overreacted if you hadn't pushed my buttons" ruins relationships. 

If my desire is to be able to have adult relationships with my children when they are adults, they have to know that I know that I'm not perfect. This keeps our relationship in balance, teaches them that I'm approachable, and models humility to them. 

Apologize when you mess up. And guess what. You will mess up. 

For extra help in this area that will not only benefit your parenting skills, but also your human skills please read The Five Languages of Apology by Gary Chapman and Jennifer Thomas. This book gives practical and insightful tools to keep relationships whole. If we hurt someone specifically, a simple, non-specific "I'm sorry" isn't going to cut it! For what are you sorry? Will you really take ownership in what you've done? How will you make amends? This book gives good strategies in learning how to truly apologize to someone when you've wronged them. 

Photos by the talented and lovely Laura K. Moore
God will be honored, your kids will respect you more deeply, your personal humility will grow, and when they are adults it will be implanted on their hearts that you are approachable and love them deeply. 

Moxie Memorizers

Sunday, April 15, 2012  ::   18 important comments

The number of women around Second Mile quoting scripture in conversations continues to increase. For this I am thankful, happy, and proud. God's word is at work in you! I hope the discipline of memorizing scripture is becoming more and more part of your weekly routine.

This week I had the privilege of watching Morgan review her memory verses without me reminding her. She had her packet out and methodically went through her verses. She has enough memorized that it takes her awhile to review. She spent time in her own sweet little world enjoying the quiet of remembering parts of the Bible she has implanted in her heart. I loved it!

One of the reasons I enjoy summer with my family is because time is set aside daily for scripture memory and review. The kids and I get out our packs, review, and learn new verses. I'm already looking forward to that time together. Have you thought about teaching your kids a system of learning scripture? If they can talk, they can memorize verses with your help. If they can read, they can memorize verse with your promptings. What better gift to give your kids than a heart full of God's word?

Right now I'm continuing on is Psalm 95. My memory is hit or miss right now. Sometimes I feel like my brain is so stuffed full that I don't feel like I can squeeze one more thing in. I wish I could tell you it is full of wonderful and glorious content, but that would be a lie. I am realizing that memorizing scripture isn't as easy for me as it used to be.  I must be at that age.  Excuses, excuses.

Psalm 95:6-7 
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord, our God, our Maker!
For He is our God,
and we are the people of His pasture,
and the sheep of His hand. 

In college we sang a worship song that had these verses in it.  I can't help but to sing it every time I read these words. "Just the she-e-e-ep of His ha-a-a-and. Just the she-e-ep of His hand." I'll have to get over my cheesiness as I memorize these two.

What are you memorizing, friends? We are four months in. How is it going? Are you still going strong? Have you struggled in consistency? How are you seeing God's word as living and active in your life?

Praying that each of you are filled with power out of His glorious riches through the Holy Spirit in your inner beings!

You're Just at the Age

Saturday, April 07, 2012  ::   6 important comments

It's a phrase I've been hearing a lot lately.

"Well, you're just at the age where you can't eat like you used to."

"You're just at the age where you can't do what you used to do."

"As you know, you're at the age where you will have to drive your kids all over the place."

"You should know, you're at the age where you will have to go to the doctor every year for blood work and a physical."


This morning I woke up with my hands in fists, my jaw clenched and shoulders tight. Immediately I saw five beautiful, young faces in my mind's eye, faces of women who received Cord of Hope gifts last night. Tears welled in my eyes as I soaked in the details I could remember of each young woman.

Two of them, sisters, looked wild, naive, intoxicated with money and attention. Two others stood with gifts like little girls exclaiming how perfect their new gift fit their personalities. They gushed thanks and giddiness. The last girl looked somewhat withdrawn, insecure, embarrassed, but bold enough to ask me questions about Easter church service in the park.

My heart aches today. My tears won't stop. My mind is full of wild schemes of throwing young girls over my shoulder and bringing them home with me. However, this outreach is no different than the others. The women still dance for men. They are still someone's sister, daughter, friend. They are valued, loved, and treasured no more or less than any other time we've gone into the clubs over the last eight years.

But I am different.

I'm at the age...

I'm at the age that I am old enough to be their mom.

I'm at the age that they aren't my peers.

I'm at the age that I've embraced my maternal instincts everywhere but in the clubs. Now I must wrestle with how to process my strong desires to love them like daughters when before I've always loved them like sisters.

I'm at the age that I actually know the two young, wild, naive, intoxicated sisters. I know them. I literally could be their mom. Today my heart breaks in such a way that I feel like their mom.

For eight years I've been honestly saying, "God, whether we see women come out of the business or not, whether we see fruit in this ministry or not, we will continue to walk in obedience in taking gifts to these women as a tangible example of your love for them." This morning my heart scoffs at the idea.

I don't want to leave young girls there. I want to drive my soccer mom mini-van to the clubs tonight, push the button for the door to automatically open, give them my mom stink eye, and tell them to get in. I weep at the thought of leaving them there. My heart aches at the counterfeit love that fools their longing for security and significance. I'm stuck in my inability to rescue each one.

But Jesus whispers...

He alone rescues. He alone saves. He alone died for them. He alone loves purely. He alone redeems. He alone is worthy to do the work in my heart and theirs that only He can do.

Please pray for the women who received gifts last night. Please pray for the five young girls I've mentioned.

Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna! Save them! God, save them! Only you can save them!

Spring Break Twin Fun

Thursday, April 05, 2012  ::   4 important comments

Having kids on different school calendars has its pros and cons. One con is two kids have different breaks from school than the other two kids. One pro is that two kids have different breaks from the other two kids. Planning a cool trip or fun outing with all four kids would be practical and inclusive. However, three days with just Morgan and Carah has been just what the three of us needed.

Little did they know this week I planned to have "the talk" with them. Kyle and Esther heard some of the mind blowing information in third grade, but for some reason I didn't feel like Morgan and Carah were ready last year. Fourth grade would be the year for them to hear all the goodness.  

My friend, Angela, has asked me to write some parenting blogs. Thank you, Angela, for trusting my parenting skills enough to ask me to write about them. I'm actually excited to share some lessons I've learned over the last 15 years. Hopefully, some of you can glean something helpful to put in your parenting pocket. However, this is not one of those posts. You will have to wait to hear my ideas for spilling the bodies changing, emotions run wild, where babies come from beans. 

What I want to share with you is that I'm completely blessed by my beautiful twin daughters, Morgan and Carah. When I found out I was pregnant with twins (at my 20 week sonogram because my doctor was a ninny) I burst into tears because the thought terrified me. I only wanted three kids. I was convinced I wasn't a good enough mom to have four. I was certain my capacity would be stretched beyond reason and my kids would be left to fend for themselves. Sounds dramatic, yes? The drama in my heart consumed me for two weeks. I cried and prayed and then decided, "Hey, this could actually be kind of fun! Oh, and I should probably trust Jesus since He knows what He's doing." 

Life without Morgan or Carah would be wrong. I need both of them. They each fill their own role in our family beautifully. It has been an honor parenting them this far. 

We celebrated spring break by eating Easter cupcakes from Mini's Cupcakes. Two German chocolate cakes and one coconut rum cake. 

Happy are we! 

Sweet Morgan

Sweet Carah

After eating cupcakes we went to water the Seeds Community Center garden at Howell Elementary School. Seeing how the plants were growing provided a good topic of conversation.  

Time with just Morgan and Carah this week has been life-giving and rejuvenating. Kyle and Esther get to join us for a break from school the rest of this week. I know we will all enjoy time together celebrating Easter. 

Have you had quality time with someone you love lately? What did you do? Do you have special plans for Easter weekend? How will you celebrate with people you love? 

Longing for Jesus

Wednesday, April 04, 2012  ::   4 important comments

For the last few days I've been reflecting on Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey before he was crucified. The people were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes! Hosanna!" Through my study, I've read that what they were shouting was more of a request than a declaration. Essentially, they were shouting, "Save us! God save us! You can save us!"

For the last month or so, my heart has been extremely heavy. Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with the darkness of the world in which we live. Murder, hatred, greed, selfish gain and ambition plague every continent in our world. Impure sexuality overtakes television, billboards, music. Little boys and little girls, men and women are bombarded with a million ways to live for their own fleshly desires and deny the God-given freedom available to them through Christ. 

But, He saves! He came to earth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and rose again. It is a beautiful mystery. He was delivered over to death to pay for our sins. The glory continued in Jesus being raised to life for our justification, our vindication, to alleviate our condemnation. 

Last week the heaviness in my heart lifted. To be sure, the heaviness in the world still abounds, but my focus is on Jesus. This week my heart longs for Jesus to redeem the world proclaiming, "Save us! God save us! Only you can save us!" Through his death and resurrection he saved me. Now my heart proclaims, "Come, Jesus! We need you! Please come again!" 

I pray that each of you reflect deeply on Jesus' death and resurrection, not only this week, but continually. Let Him go to the deep places of your heart and teach you to long for his return. 

Moxie Memorizers

Monday, April 02, 2012  ::   18 important comments

Well, friends, I missed posting on the first. Last night after the gathering when we were putting the gifts together for Cord of Hope, Emily sweetly reminded me that I hadn't posted a blog yet for our memorizing group. It unsettled me a bit, but then I decided I would not hurry home and throw something up to meet my self-imposed deadline. So here we are on Monday, April 2nd. Thank you for being patient.

I will continue to work on Psalm 95.

Psalm 95:4-5
In His hands are the depths of the earth;
   the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his for he made it,
   and his hands formed the dry land. 

Post the verse you are working on for the next two weeks in the comment section. If you are willing, please also leave a sentence or two about an aspect of Jesus' death and resurrection on which you may be reflecting this week.

I shared last night that the women going to Jesus' grave with spices and being greeted by the angels who exclaimed, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here! He is risen!" has been swirling in my mind and heart.  Why do I look for Jesus in the dead things of life? In significance in my roles? In gratitude for what I do? In material goods? In the lame substitute the world offers? Jesus is not in the dead things. He is alive!

I will be praying that our hearts grieve over the death he paid in substitute for ours. I will also be praying that our hearts rejoice and worship because his resurrection to life also bring us life!

Jesus is risen!