Sunday, July 20, 2014

Twenty-Something: When Not Enough turns to Bitterness

I want to share a bit that has been on my heart for awhile.  This past week was rough for me.  Nothing out of the ordinary happened but my attitude was poor.  My anger was out of control and I did not treat my mom, sister and even the dog with the care and gentleness they deserve.  I know exactly why the week was rough: I believed all the lies that Satan was feeding me.

I'm going to share some, most of them have the word enough in them.  Not good enough, my fitness transformation isn't big enough, I'm not pretty enough, smart enough, worthy enough of love, I don't pray enough, read enough, and the list goes on and on.  I let every single one of them take root in my heart.  You know what happens, God is pushed out.  I stopped reading my devotions and praying and wanting to spend time with Him because I was drowning in lies.  My heart hardened and I become Bitter, just like Naomi

After my week of blogging and the freeing feeling of writing, the devil strikes.  I wasn't prepared and my heart wasn't guarded.  In some aspects I feel ashamed because I should know better but then I can't beat myself up.  We live in a broken world where sin is rampant.  That is not an excuse but a reality.  I can be better prepared and pray more to keep the devil out.  Another way is to fill my heart with the Truth of God.

I also starting reading a book this week called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It struck a cord with me because she is trying to find solace in giving thanks to God always and in all things.  It has challenged me to rethink many things in my life and my relationship with God.  There are many aspects that I need to tweek or add to nourish and grow the relationship.  I will write another post about it later but it got me starting to think.

When I don't feel enough I become bitter but how do I turn enough into plenty?  In Matthew, Jesus feed the crowds, not once but twice, with only a few fish and loaves of bread!  Ann points out a very key aspect of this miracle.  

"Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves....They all ate and were satisfied." 
Matthew 14.19-20 (emphasis mine)

"Then He took the seven loaves and the fish, and when He had given thanks, he broke them....They all ate and were satisfied." 
 Matthew 15. 36-37 (emphasis mine)

Do you see the key in there? Jesus gave thanks!!! He didn't just simply say some magical words and the food multiplied.  He acknowledged the One who had supplied the original amount in the first place and thanked Him.  All the people who ate were satisfied and there were even leftovers.  How can we be running over in plenty? Give Thanks!!

Maybe that's what I need to do! Thank God for the little patience He has given me and it will multiply because I acknowledge the Giver.  Also because I ask for more of His patience and rely on His strength to get me through each day. 

Also another thought occurred to me.  Friday was my sister's Birthday, after a week of screaming and yelling I was determined not to ruin her birthday.  Why did she only deserve one day of the "nice" me??  Why can't I wake up every morning thinking that I won't be responsible for ruining anyone's day (believe me I have ruined probably a total of 10 years in days of my mom's and sister's lives over my lifetime).  Why do I still hang on to those relics of my past life before I found myself in Christ?

It's a journey for me and I know this post is a bit jumbly but I need to get it off my heart and work though this past week. 

So next time the voice in my head tells me that I'm not enough, I won't believe it and go straight to the Word and read that God has chosen me and loves me and died for me, which is enough for me!

This is going to be my focus this week:

Comment or message me your thoughts and how you deal with the devil whispering lies to you.

With Love,

Friday, July 11, 2014

Twenty Something: My Body is a Temple

This is a topic that I have been thinking and praying about for a longgg time.  Now just seems to be the perfect time to share.  Today's post inspiration comes from Paul's letter to the Corinthians:

"Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (emphasis mine)

Wow, just take a minute to let those words sink in.

Let's break it down into the 3 phrases that I put in bold.

Your bodies are temples.  What did the temple mean to the Jewish people? Well if we look back to Genesis, the temple was the dwelling place of The Lord.  The first temple was a tent in which God came down from Heaven to give Moses instructions.  So Paul is telling us that our bodies are dwelling places for God.  Right, now what do we do with this information. Well let's look at the next phrase.

You were bought at a price.  Do you know that price?  Who bought you?  Jesus bought us when He paid the price of our sins on the cross----death.  So Jesus paid for us with His blood, cleansing us from sin.  How does that relate to our bodies being temples?

Paul says "you are not your own".  God created us to use us.  He wants to come and dwell within us.  Read that again.  He paid the price of our sins so that He could dwell within us.  He needed to cleanse us from all past, present and future sins before living within us because He cannot ever be near sin.  How amazing and wonderful is our God???? 

Now for the last phrase: Honor God with your bodies.  The hardest part I believe.  What does this mean?  From my point of view, it is about freeing yourself from the bondage of sin and especially sin that hurts this physical body of ours.  Your physical body is a gift from God to use while here on Earth until we go to Heaven where we won't need bodies (and until we get our ultimate resurrection body).  How are you treating that gift? I am going to be honest and say that I haven't been the best at using my body to honor God, but I'm learning how to take better care of it.

I say this post is perfect timing because I have just signed up to be a Coach through Beachbody.  I want to help others take care of their bodies, whether it is to serve God or not.  I think we all need to feel good in our skin because it's the only body we will have here on Earth.  Let me tell you straight up why I exercise and fuel my body properly: so that I can better serve My Lord.  That's my reason, what is yours?  I want to be in the best shape to have the strength to get through the day and use all the resources that God has given me to serve Him.   

Before I wasn't taking care of my body, running it down and not using it to honor God.  The main way that I needed to improve taking care of my body is my health.  I have always been a runner and I thought that was enough but when I started to put on weight and not keep it off I knew there was another aspect that I was missing: my eating habits.  I ate everything and anything I wanted.  The little voice in my head said "hey you ran x amount of miles today go ahead and eat those 3 extra cookies" well it got me into loads of trouble.  I was tired and cranky all the time and never looked like I was active.  I wanted to have muscles and couldn't figure out why I never increase muscle mass.

My nerdy science side is going to come out for a minute.  God created our bodies.  He gave us the amount of fat cells we would have for the rest of our life.  We can never decrease or increase the amount of fat cells of our body.  So you might be asking how can we gain or lose weight?? The fat cells act as storage units of energy.  When we eat more calories than our bodies need, the excess gets stored as fat.  Why fat? Because the design of the molecule can have the potential for great amounts of energy, in case food sources are scarce.  So to lose weight (percentage of fat) you need to use up fat storage and shrink those fat cells down.  You do this by exercising but more importantly your diet!

I wasn't eating right and not fueling my body with what it needed to be successful.  After a few weeks of flexible dieting (I say flexible because I still have one cheat day a week and I count my macronutrients-carbs, fat, and protein, in addition to calories so as long as the foods fit the parameters then I'm good to eat it!) and a few months of strength training I am starting to see results and the muscles I have craved for years.  It's hard work but sooo worth it because I have energy and I feel like I can better serve God when I'm not weighed down with bad eating habits.  

Finally seeing some definition! 

If I can help you in any way, please drop a comment or message me!  Remember your body is a gift but more importantly are you treating it like the Lord lives in it? If we look at it that way, then maybe we will be a little nicer and fuel it with foods it needs to perform amazing tasks everyday.  

With Love,

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Twenty-Something: Anxious and Sweaty

If you have known me for any length of time, you might have seen how much I can sweat, primarily my hands.  That's right I have extremely sweating hands.  I'm not talking a little clammy and cold when you are nervous (that's how it started when I was about 8), now at 24 my hands have the potential to pour sweat.  Like rushing down my arms, dripping everywhere.  The rest of my body sweats but that's a little bit more normal.  

On an average basis only my hands, feet and armpits sweat profusely.  However if I'm working out, all bets are off but that's normal and acceptable.  I can be in a full sweat when it's -20 degrees outside if I'm anxious.  Did you get those key words…anxiety is the primary cause of my sweat (I say primary but my body is normal and sweats to cool also, just more than most people).  Chalene Johnson, a fitness coach, says that if you start sweating from the warmup than your body is efficient at cooling.  Lately that's how I see it during these hot summer months but what about those other times when it's cool out and the reason I'm sweating is not to cool my body?

I have been to the dermatologist many times regarding this issue.  I was about 15 when it started to become worse and socially embarrassing.  She diagnosed it as hyperhidrosis, which is a true medical condition.  But when you identify something, it doesn't automatically make it go away.  So after about 10 years of different treatments, I still haven't found a medical remedy for my condition.  Since then though I have found a spiritual remedy.  

The thought occurred to me when I was distressed one day that nothing has helped decrease the sweating.  If the sweating does go away there are tons of side-effects.  Like the one pill I took that stopped all sweating, so in the summertime I would overheat.  The newest one I tried was a deodorant to put on your hands but it burned when I sweat through it sooooooo I stopped trying.  I was so distressed until I realized that never once that I can remember did I pray about it. WOW. I cannot believe that in the past four years as I have been growing closer to Christ did I tell not Him about my sweating issues.  Of course He already knows about them because He made me, but I never asked for help! 

That was a game changer.  As I recognize the underlying issues that cause me to sweat more, I ask God to help me deal with the situation in a way that will not trigger my anxiety.  It has helped some and even as I pray more I find myself overall less anxious.  Even sharing this story on the internet, which is extremely personal to me hasn't caused a sweaty flare up! 

K-LOVE's Encouraging Word of the Day is perfect for Today's Post:

God wants you to go to Him in prayer about anything!  He is our Heavenly Father and cares about every second of our day.  Therefore tell Him about it!  I've learned that prayer isn't simply asking for healing and guidance but just daily conversation, nourishing that relationship just like we would with any human.  Conversation is important so start talking to God!!

I always thought that if I would just stop the sweating then maybe I could date so it would be one less thing to be worried over.  I hold back when it comes to meeting people especially guys because who wants to date a sweaty girl?  Those are the lies I have been telling myself for years.  

I thought that I needed to stop my sweating before God could use me in the teaching or ministry field because the students and young kids will make fun of me.  But guess what, God calls me as I am right now.  Just like my post on Broken Pieces, God says: "Come to me, as you are."  

For me that's sweaty.  I have to learn to work through the anxiety and embarrassment of being sweating.  There are way too many times I have passed on an activity or outing because I was worried how my sweaty hands would affect people liking me.  I'm done losing out because God made me this way and I want to show others that each of us has a uniqueness.  Mine just happens to be more public and easily noticeable than others.  God doesn't want me to change for Him to be able to use me and I need to learn to accept myself just as I am right now too.  Maybe in the future I will be less sweaty but for now I know what I need to work on to get there and accept the circumstances where I can't control the sweating.  

So my question to you is what do you think you need to change before God can use you? I bet He is using you despite what you think needs to be changed! 

With Love,

*UPDATE* Here is Today's 7/10 encouraging Word and it fits perfectly into the topic as well!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Named by Our Circumstances #SheSharesTruth

Today's prompt is from the book of Ruth.  If you aren't familiar with it, I suggest you take a peak because it's a 4 chapter book that is so beautiful and rich with God's grace and provision.  Ruth is actually a matriarch of Christ's human genealogy but she wasn't born into the Israelite Nation so how did she become part of God's Story?

It begins with a man named Elimelek and his wife Naomi who lived in Bethlehem (does that town name ring a bell??).  There was a famine so they moved to Moab (an enemy nation land) to live.  They married off their two sons to Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth.  Soon all the men died and Naomi was left with her daughters-in-law.  She decided she wanted to go back to Bethlehem to her people.  She told the women to go back to their families and find new husbands to take care of them.  Orpah left but Ruth was determined to stay with her mother-in-law.  She says some beautiful words:

"Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.  Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.  Your people will be my people and your God my God.  
Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.  May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me." 
Ruth 1: 16-17

Ruth was willingly accepted Naomi's God which meant leaving behind all her gods and people.  This woman showed amazing sacrificial love, a trademark that we will see again in her descendant ;)

When Naomi and Ruth return to Bethlehem, Naomi tells everyone:

"Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter." 
Ruth 1: 20b

Naomi has renamed herself because of her circumstances.  She no longer wants to be called the name given to her by her parents (most likely influenced by God) but she wants to cast that aside for a name that describes how she is feeling about her life.  She is bitter.  She has lost her husband and sons.  Who is going to take care of her?  

How often do we cast off our names for something better? A nickname or pet name? While these can all be nice and good, our parents chose our name for a reason.  God knit us together in our mother's womb and knew our name before we were born.  He also calls us by many names: Beloved, Child, and Forgiven to name a few.  None of which are dependent on our good deeds or circumstance but God's Love for us!  

This prompt timing is nicely after I spent a few days at Creation Fest NorthEast where Matthew West performed.  He wrote a song called "Hello My Name Is".  Below is the video if you aren't familiar or would like to refresh.

Basically the song is about replacing all the names that we give ourselves with the names that God has given us.  Most importantly Child of the One True King! So what are some names that you have called yourself that don't reflect your true character? 

Me personally, a few years ago before I gave my life to Christ, I named myself as slutty and rebellious.  Often times I was proud of that name but deep down I wanted to be different but didn't know how to be.  Then I found Jesus' love and forgiveness.  Now I have erased that name and put on a new name tag, one filled with positive names that won't change based on my circumstances.  The world gives us names usually based on our appearance that will change but God names us based on His never changing love.  

So think about the names you give yourself, erase them and ask God to reveal some names that He calls you!

With Love,

ps Finish reading Ruth to find out how the beautiful story ends!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Twenty-Something: Broken Pieces

This past week, I spent at the beach with my mom, sister and dog, Layla.  It was a wonderful vacation to relax and enjoy some soulful rest.  The weather was gorgeous so we went to the beach everyday!  One of my favorite activities is to walk along the surf collecting shells.  I have had a fascination with shells since I was a little girl.  I would spend hours in the surf looking for beautiful shells to show off.  So as I was doing this one of the morning, God whispered some truths to me.  

I am always picking up shells and throwing out the ones that are broken and not pretty.  There are however those few that are broken but still hold some value because if they were whole, they would be amazing.  The Lord showed me that maybe this is how I view the broken pieces and parts of my life.  I am constantly searching for that whole part of me.  I only want to accept myself if I'm whole, but God says something different!  He wants to accept me just as I am, right now, this way: broken!!!!  He wants to use all those broken pieces, broken by the waves of life, to make a beautiful plan for me!  It's true for you too.

After David, commits adultery and kills a man he cries out to The Lord:

"My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise."
Psalm 51:17

He knew that he was broken but that's all he could offer to God but he also knew that God would accept him!  Isn't that wonderful news.  God accepts the broken pieces of our lives just as we are.  

Then I got to thinking about the broken pieces that I have been holding onto that are not serving any purpose.  Maybe I need to let go of those to make room for pieces of me that God desires for His plan.  Therefore I challenge you too to look at your heart and examine the pieces.  Are there parts you are clinging to but shouldn't be? Do you feel like it would be too hard to let go? Go to God! Ask Him to help you determine which pieces you need.  Just a like a puzzle, there are only the ones that belong to make the larger picture.

Lastly I want to leave you with this image.  It's wonderful being here on this Earth that God created for us to inhabit because He reveals Himself many different ways and places.  That day I saw His Hand at work in the bay: His calm but powerful nature able to transform landscapes and hearts while whispering calmness and rest.  You don't need to vacation to the beach to see God.  Where do you see Him around you?  Leave a comment, I want to know! 

Some of these thoughts about brokenness were also influenced by a book I just read: Finding Spiritual Whitespace.  If you click on the link, it will take you to my review of it!

With Love,

p.s. I'm going to challenge myself this week to write a post every day! I have had a few in the works that I never finished and I'm finally ready to get them all out there.  Come back at least for Friday for an exciting announcement ;) 

p.p.s here are some extra pictures from the trip!

Layla stole my chair!
My mom and I rocking the baseball hats!

The three musketeers!