Seasons of Heaviness

Thursday, May 31, 2012  ::   11 important comments

For the last three or four months my head has been spinning with thoughts of foster care, adoption, Walmart, mommy wars, discipleship, 7, politics, church leadership, vacation, burn-out, obsessive habits in health just to name a few.

When I get in these unfortunate heavy brain places, confusion and lack of clarity sets in. It doesn't take long for me to be in a place that pondering becomes a burden that feels unshakeable and words won't come to express what weighs me down. Chad can see the wheels turning, but can't relate to why I can't stop them from turning. He is gracious and patient through these strange seasons.

This is also the reason for my lack of blogging. I just can't find the words. To be honest, sometimes the words are there, but more than likely I would offend many of you and that isn't the purpose of this blog. I have no desire to stir up controversy based on my opinions.

So here I sit. Waiting to get over myself. Asking God to teach me and lead my heart to know the difference between human passions and opportunities, and His passions and opportunities.

My dad once called me "a woman with a cause even if there isn't a cause to be had."

What this means is if I watch a documentary about how a major corporation builds itself on the backs of its employees and actually costs our country billions of dollars in hidden costs, I get angry. But there is no place for this anger to go.

What this means is if my family decides to close our foster care license for a season because the rest of our life is so overwhelming, I'm afraid to tell anyone because our city needs good foster homes and I feel like a failure saying, "I just can't do it right now, but I know fostering children is important."

What this means is when I read a book called 7 I struggle through sorting through the ways I may be wasting God's precious resources and feel so heavy hearted that I'm left paralyzed struggling through how do I not exploit the poor, yet at the same time live here with my big house, my nice clothes, my plentiful food, and my nice life.

What this means is every time I see a political advertisement I'm nauseous and struggle to believe any of them. When I receive phone calls or fliers from people who call themselves Christians I resent being told if I really love Jesus I will vote a certain way. Change in our country is so needed, but we are so polarized and selfish, change seems impossible.

What this means is I long to have deep conversations about church and leadership and affecting change in our city, but I wonder if people will be scared away by the intensity of hopes and dreams. Leadership is challenging, uplifting, exciting, but can also be confusing, difficult, and lonely.

What this means is as I pass people on the street, or talk to old women in store parking lots, or workout with friends in my spinning class, or see women and children without homes, or know there are children who need parents my heart is overwhelmed and the only words that come to my mind are "Oh Jesus. We all so need your help."

I trust and believe this heaviness is for a season. I'm praying it will lift soon. I will continue to ask God to teach me and lead my heart to know the difference between human passions and opportunities, and His passions and opportunities.

Psalm 94:18-19 

When I thought, "My foot slips," your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul

Moxie Memorizers

Tuesday, May 15, 2012  ::   11 important comments

I had an amazing idea this morning.  
Twice a month I try to write something inspiring about memorizing scripture. Part of me feels like my words have begun to sound a bit like Charlie Brown's teacher. I know. Some of you are incredibly kind and love me a lot and want to argue right now. But, what else can I say about this topic? I love the Bible. I think it is important to memorize it. You should memorize it with me. Duh. 
So, here is my idea.
Do you want to write a few paragraphs of how God has spoken to you, changed your way of thinking, used you in a situation by memorizing His word? I've been writing about my passion in this for a year and a half, and it is time for your story to be told. Why do you memorize? What victories have you had? What has been your favorite passage to learn? How have you overcome difficulties in discipline? 
Oh, I'm getting more excited just telling you about it! Instead of me talking about memorizing scripture twice a month, I'm going to have some of you guest blog about your journey! Brilliant! 
I will be asking specific people to share. It doesn't have to be long. But, please don't wait to be asked if you feel like it would bring glory to God to share your story. Any way that we can lift high His great name on this little blog, let's do it! 
Send me an email if you are interested: angel at secondmi dot org 
This month I am continuing to work on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.  I started on the first of the month, but need to keep at this one, as well as the others I've memorized over the last few months.  
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal
What are you memorizing? Post it up, friends. And, don't forget to let me know if you would like to share some words on this subject.  

Honoring Mom

Tuesday, May 08, 2012  ::   5 important comments

My mom loves Jesus. One of her spiritual gifts is faith and for as long as I can remember she has bugged me with this gift because she so beautifully and emphatically believes God, takes Him at His word, and seeks to obey Him. It bugs me because I often struggle with faith. I admire my mom's ability to approach God and the world around her with faith.

This year I've been contemplating what meaningful gift I could give my mom to honor her for Mother's Day.* This morning Living Proof Ministries blog provided an idea for the perfect gift for her.

As Our Own is an organization in India that rescues children of women who have been sex trafficked. Please go to their website and read about their work. I will not do justice explaining this ministry.  

There are so many wonderful organizations who work diligently to eradicate trafficking in our world. Why did I choose to donate to this one in honor of my mom? 

My mom would do anything she could to protect me, my brothers, her grandchildren. She is a defender, supporter, encourager, pray-er. She would fight for any of us if necessary. In reading through Prema's story I was overwhelmed with the terror that her mom faced in desiring to protect her little life. Knowing my mom would grieve for this mom's decision to help protect her baby girl, I knew that she would be honored to know a gift was given in her honor to support this ministry so that more and more children could be rescued from a life of sex slavery. 

What are you giving your mom for Mother's Day? Beautiful flowers? Jewelry? A special hand-made treasure? I'm sure she will love it. 

Would you also consider giving your mom a gift that represents her fighting heart for you? If you are not yet a mom would you consider giving a gift to represent the type of parent that you hope to be one day? 

*Some of you may not have even considered Mother's Day. Let me assure you this is not just a Hallmark holiday that is meant to trick us into buying gifts and cards. Moms really do value Mother's Day. It is day where we reflect on our role as mom, we desire to be acknowledged for the work we put into our families, and we hope to be honored by our husbands and kids. Don't blow it off. Show and tell your mom that you love and value her. Show and tell your wife that you are blessed by her. Just a little helpful tip. 

Proverbs 31:28
 Her children rise up and call her blessed. 

You are blessed, Mom! Happy Mother's Day! I love you.

Going Public Part 2 :: The Practical Side

Wednesday, May 02, 2012  ::   6 important comments

The response I've received from Going Public Part 1 has been different than any post I've written. Some of you have emailed, called, texted, stopped me at church to thank me for my vulnerability, and share where you are in the "I deserve" journey. I've also noticed that food and exercise posts touch a nerve. In the church we often side step being honest with one another about health, finances, and sex. Interestingly enough, those three areas often ruin people.

Several of you asked me to share my eating and exercise plan, so I'm going to do that. Please remember, this is my story. Some of the principles can be true for almost anyone, but what worked for me was the conviction God brought into my life which led to desiring to change for His glory above my own. He is so gracious and giving that I, too, benefit from this change in my body.

First, exercise. Chad and I used Insanity. The name does not do the ridiculousness of the workout justice. At the end of one of the workouts, Shaun T. says, "That *beep* is bananas, yo." He ain't lying! I would never recommend someone who is just starting to exercise to use this plan. However, I've been teaching fitness classes for almost 12 years. My body was so plateaued and I had no desire to figure out a new plan on my own. Insanity seriously kicked my butt in major ways six days a week. If you are just starting, go for a walk. Meet a friend and do something active. Get moving.

Second, food. My friend repeatedly told me good eating is 90% of fitness. On some level, I agreed with what she said, but now I've experientially learned this to be true. You see, I hurt myself three weeks ago and I've only been able to do two spin classes a week. Guess what. I've still lost three pounds. That's where I want to say, "That *beep* is bananas, yo." Paying attention to calories and quality of food helps me feel good. I'm moving food out of the focus of my mouth, stomach, and mind. It does not consume me they way it has in the past.

Here are some examples of what I eat.

Almost every day I eat one cup of cooked oatmeal with 1/4 cup nonfat or rice milk with 2 tablespoons of chopped pecans. No sugar. You get used to it and start to enjoy it. I promise. By the way, last week the doctor told me I had the lowest bad cholesterol levels he had ever seen. I'm convinced it's all in the oatmeal.

Every once in a while, Chad and I will make ourselves omelettes with two eggs, some turkey or chicken, tons of broccoli, mushrooms, red bell peppers, and salsa. So, so good.

I have a snack in the morning and afternoon. 12 almonds OR a piece of fruit OR a nonfat chai from Starbucks because I love it OR carrots and a couple of tablespoons of hummus OR popcorn. It doesn't matter to me what my snack is as long as it is a normal serving, real food (no processed stuff), and filling.

Chad also makes smoothies. Sometimes we drink them as snacks, but when we are in a hurry because of kid sports or meetings we use them as meals. For both of us, he adds one cup Greek yogurt, a banana, a cup of frozen berries, a huge handful of spinach or kale. He experiments with ingredients, and most of the time, it's tasty. Sometimes he adds a little peanut butter and/or honey. He adds some ice and blends it all up in our normal blender. Good stuff.

Lunch and dinner I eat 4 ounces of a lean protein and as many vegetables as I can eat. I cut out pastas and breads. In the beginning I thought I was going to die without them, but I honestly feel better now that I'm not eating it anymore. Sometimes I will have a sandwich with one piece of bread or a sandwich from Subway minus mayo. Sometimes I will overfill my plate with raw veggies and eat them with hummus or salsa. Salsa has a lot of salt, but I make my own and decided it was ok for me. If I want to eat it, I google calories and nutritional value first and then make a decision.

I only drink tea and water. Chad drinks coffee, but I haven't grown up enough yet to have acquired the taste. Like I mentioned above, I will have a my beloved Starbucks chai, but it counts as a snack, not a beverage.

Also, Chad and I have done a lot of google searches on our favorite restaurants. Did you know a Chipotle salad sans dressing with beans, fajita veggies, beef, and salsa is only 400 calories? So delicious. Did you know that Kung Pao Chicken with all those great vegetables and fresh chicken at Pei Wei has 960 calories not including the rice? Sheesh! That's crazy and way too many calories for one meal! I really do google everything I may want to eat at any given restaurant. I've found the real food places and happily skip the others.

This is important:

I'm not a food freak. If someone has us over for dinner and serves a big cheesy pasta casserole I will eat it, love it, cherish the hospitality. If our family needs a break, I will order a pizza and eat some. If I'm at a party and someone made a cake, I will have a small piece. I'm not obsessive about this. As a family, we are making conscious decisions about what we put in our mouths, but we still live with freedom.

Before you start thinking, "I could never do that" let me remind you that the first month and maybe longer, I threw temper tantrums. I hated the smoothies Chad made with Greek yogurt, spinach, and berries. They were so sour and gross. They needed sugar! One time we were out of spinach so he added cauliflower. I was so annoyed I could hardly look at him. But, my tastebuds have changed. They aren't spoiled little bumps any more. I love our smoothies. It takes time to retrain your taste buds and your brain. You can do it.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment. This isn't an inspiring blog post where you can hear Chariots of Fire playing in the background. It is practical. It is a glimpse of how Chad and I have changed our entitlement issues with food. It is a window into my weird little world.

I look forward to hearing from some of you!

Moxie Memorizers

Tuesday, May 01, 2012  ::   18 important comments

God really spoke to me through His word yesterday. I love when I'm paying attention enough to truly hear from Him. I'm reading a book right now called Leading on Empty. It is a good book, but the content is difficult for me to swallow. I've asked God several times, "What am I supposed to do with this information?!?" It is overwhelming to know changes need to be made and be unsure how to make them.

Yesterday He calmed my heart with a great passage. I will be working on memorizing it for the next month or so.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal

Sometimes we memorize passages because it is a good word in general. We read it as truth and it easily applies to our lives and the lives of those around us. Sometimes we memorize passages because we aren't sure what else to memorize, but we know that through discipline He will shape our hearts through His precious Word. Sometimes we memorize passages because He has spoken deeply and intimately to our hearts. We long to cling to the revealed truth because the freshness the Holy Spirit breaths into us makes us more dependent on Him.

Where are you in this journey? Which category best describes what you are memorizing right now? Are you able to stick to it when it is out of discipline? Do the words stick more readily in your brain when He's massaged your heart with a specific verse?

Keep it up, friends! You are doing a great job taking His powerful Word into your hearts and minds!