Wednesday, December 29, 2010
It started like any other December, I suppose but soon the month was interrupted by my granddaddy dying rather suddenly on December 12. It was a huge answer to prayer which sounds terrible but just trust me - he's with Jesus, right where he wants to be. That week was shot (and by shot I mean I got to spend a few unexpected days with my family!). The next week consisted of Christmas blur and now it's December 29. My mind wants it to be December 28 but it's not. Holiday weeks are so confusing for the order in my mind.
I was listening to Matt Chandler last week at work and he said something that I've adopted as my motto this year. He said (and yes, I pause, rewind and type out word for word) :::
My prayer is that we would experience a holy discontentment with where our lives are and a hope for where they could be.
Do you get that? I actually get choked up seeing that phrase. I've wrestled with discontentment all year yet most of what I was discontent about was Holy. And instantly pride filled my heart with that realization. And that is the ever encompassing battle I have with Light and Darkness.
This year has brought so many changes in my heart. I have starting writing out my thoughts and I'm so thankful I actually did it. It's not easy writing things out. When I put my weaknesses, strengths, quirks, and neurotic behaviors out there I am giving people close to me (or not) a right to ask further about the deepest parts of my life. I've gotten frustrated about it and have fought through my struggle.
I remember sitting with my friend Becky (I wrote about her here) on her couch and she was bawling her eyes out saying that she craved beans and rice. She craved more for her family. More than her husband's job, her beautiful house in suburbia. I am now the age she was at that moment and now I know. I have knowledge, true knowledge of what she was feeling. I know we aren't moving to Mexico to be full time missionaries but God has called Martin and I to adoption. And my holy discontentment with the American dream, the sickness of the American church, and the unholy contentment of the American Christian has left me seeking God for mercy one minute and frustration with my life the next. Again, the ever encompassing battle I have with Light and Darkness.
It's almost been a year since I started this blog. My goal was to lose weight. I have. And I've put some back on. And I've lost some again. It's just like the title is called ::: two steps forward one step back. But God has started taking Martin and I somewhere. He's been so patient with us. He's been very loving by disciplining us. Martin and I have grown so much this year and we truly love each other more.
So if I don't get around to a New Years blog then we'll just say this is it okay? Thanks.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
While meditating on this question a lot of things came out. One was pride (surprise, surprise). I don't want to be that person. Someone who, ten years down the road tells a struggling woman who is thinking about adoption, Oh yeah we were going to adopt but as soon as we started the paperwork we got pregnant and we never went through with it. Honestly, there isn't anything wrong with that person because I believe that if you're called to something and seeking after God he will not let that calling go from your desires or life.
Lots of questions came up as I was meditating on this too. One was, should we still go on with the adoption even though I'm pregnant or hold off? The normal thing to do is hold off. But I'm not that normal so part of me wants to continue on with the adoption process while we are pregnant.
Then the guilt part came up while thinking on this. Guilty feelings all around! Should I bring a child into the world then go get more children from halfway around the globe in a matter of months or years? Or, is it fair to our children we adopt to have a baby at home to spread my time with?
So my solution to all of this? Birth Control. That's right, birth control. I need to go on birth control. That way I'm in charge.
BUT God's solution to this? Get over it and leave it to me. Stop wasting your time worrying and calling it "meditating."
So, I'm just not going to talk about it, worry about it, or "meditate" on it anymore. Starting now.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Now, one thing we have in common with other followers of Christ is that we can take someone to the Word and show them Truth in any situation. But that's not what I want to write about.
As many know, we've been walking through the adoption process. God has taken our hearts to places we never knew it could go! We are so thankful he has worked in and on us before we have started the paperwork and now that we are in that process I want to go over some silly things people say.
A little background first: My friend Christine and I have talked about how people say dumb things and don't realize it. She was single for years and people have said all the typical things to her: Christine, as soon as you are content in being single then God is going to bring you someone. Or Christine, I know of a guy who works with my second cousin and I'm not sure where he is spiritually but he's single and your single so maybe you should go out with him and see what happens!
She and I would laugh at these things but honestly, I've said just as many dumb things as the next person. It usually isn't with something I've been through. It's usually something I think I know about. And there lies the problem. I believe God allows us to go through trials and tribulations ultimately because it brings him glory and that's all that really matters but our God is so unique and smart that he gives us opportunity to share with others who are going through the same thing or to educate those who aren't - all to bring him glory!
And without further adieu, here are some silly things people have either said to me or assumed about me on the subject of adoption. They aren't wrong or sinful, they are just silly:
1. Don't assume the person adopting is struggling with not having "children of their own." Please don't feel sorry for them. I'm not saying the person doesn't or hasn't struggled with this - just don't assume they are sad they can't have children the traditional way. For me, there was a time of mourning of a dream but God showed me this is what he's intended since before time began (Although I could be pregnant next month, only God knows). The children we are adopting are not plan b they are simply our children.
2. Don't discourage people who are talking or thinking about adoption with adoption horror stories. I wish I could erase from my mind every story I have had to sit through about failed adoptions. I think the worst line is "all the kids of their own turned out fine, but the ones that were adopted turned out terrible." Even if this is true, please assume someone else has told them an adoption horror story. I promise it isn't your civic duty to educate them. And oddly enough, in the last six months I haven't had to sit through these stories. I am guessing it's the "talking" or "thinking" about adoption conversations that people think it's okay to share the stories.
3. Don't assume when there are fundraisers for adoption that they are looking for free money. Did you know the cost for foreign adoption is around $30,000? Even private American adoptions can be $25,000. Most people get pregnant for free. It's just the next 25 years (or more) they are paying for the child. I've had educated, godly people say they can't believe people have the audacity to ask for money to adopt children. Now, I will say that the parents need to be sacrificing financially in their own lives too. But $30,000 is a ton of money. Don't judge. You don't know what God has called them to and you can either be a blessing or a curse. Sadly, I'm a curse in many situations but I'm thankful God has graciously revealed to me my stupidity.
4. Don't say - as soon as you adopt you will get pregnant. I have said this before! I can't tell you how many times I have said this to people. But reading a great book (great book for anyone-not just those thinking of adopting) Adopted for Life, Russell Moore says that when we say this line we are minimizing the person's infertility or desire to adopt to a stress problem. I had never thought of that before. When Martin and I were at an adoption seminar a couple of weeks ago we went to a class on trans-racial families and as the speaker was describing his family he got to his third child and said Charis is three and we got pregnant with her. Yeah, we're one of those families. We all laughed and he continued on with the rest of his children. We all know it can happen. And I'd say 90% of parents it has happened to don't regret adopting. Those other 10% should have never adopted in the first place.
So as I step off my soapbox please know that I have absolutely no one in mind saying these things to me. I'm not sending out hidden messages to people I know, hoping they will get the hint. These are just some things that have been swirling in my mind for years.
And the cool thing is when I do get people saying these things to me I don't get upset anymore. I just try to remember the next time I am talking with the older single girl who wants to get married or the woman who can't seem to get along with her mother-in-law or the friend that is dealing with a difficult child to simply do two things: pray for them (and tell them I'm praying for them) and always bring the conversation back to Jesus. Because my stupid opinion is just that: stupid.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Saturday we filled out our application to our adoption agency. It took about an hour! I think God knew we needed a slow start to paperwork. Martin and I work well together when we are purposeful about it. Otherwise, it's a disaster.
Martin and I have been talking about names these last couple of weeks because we might be adopting a sibling group so we need to have several names in the back of our mind. And let me tell you, (which I know you all probably know this) it's hard! You think of a name then remember that your friend from college has a child with that name and it may be awkward to name your child that too. You throw out a name and your spouse says, Eww, no. I knew a kid in school with that name and he was so mean. And I've tried that whole, Then let's redeem the name mumbo jumbo and that went over like a lead balloon.
I want a name that isn't trendy but a name with meaning. Whether it's a family name or a biblical name or a personal name - but I'll say it again, it's hard! I don't want all of our kids to have the same first letter in their name. I'm not much of a pattern person.
I also have a hard time with meanings of names. Now, what I'm about to say is very Old Testament which can be VERY superstitious these days. Because I don't think God works in every way that he did back in the day. But my name is Sarah Elizabeth. That is TWO women that were barren for years in the Bible! So either it's nothing, a coincidence or I'm going to be getting preggers between the ages of 80 to 100. See? I know it sounds crazy but I'm just being honest. And you don't hear of many Jezebel's out there. That's all I'm saying.
I have decided to keep my name selection private (starting now). My friend Jayme did that until all four of her children were born and it not only kept the comments from friends and family at bay, it was also a great practice of self-control and I'm always looking to bring that one up on my Fruit of the Spirit list!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
He was a simple man. That term in today's society sounds so negative. But it's not and we should all strive to be simple like the Russo's. Pete and his wife Linda were Martin's youth leaders. The two of them spent countless hours devoting their lives to people - and teenagers at that. A self-proclaiming hater of teenagers this man prayed, counseled, taught, fought and goofed off with them for years. Then they didn't just let the teenagers move on - they stayed a part of their young adults lives and was able to see many of them grow to have their own children.
Pete died today after a long battle with cancer. He was young by the world's standards, 64. It's very comforting to know God had his days on this earth numbered before he took a breath on that April day in 1946. He had them numbered before the foundation of this world.
I was introduced to the Russo's when I was friends with Martin at Word of Life Bible Institute. It was during Snow Camp and Martin asked me meet some people from his church. I think the conversation began with Pete saying, "So why in the world would you want to hang out with this guy?" And, I was hooked.
When Martin's grandparents weren't able to make it down to Tennessee for our wedding, Martin asked the Russo's to stand in as his grandparents (although they were way too young for it). We were honored to have them there. And my family, especially my mother fell in love with them.
After Martin and I were married, we moved to Vineland, NJ and started working with the youth at Faith Bible. Pete and Linda, head youth leaders at the time, took us out to eat (Chinese buffet - they knew the love of my heart, they actually shared it). They asked us questions and listened to the two newlyweds talking about how they were going to change the world (we were fresh out of Bible college, cut us some slack). Pete simply said, "We need to de-Word of Life you guys." Pete loved Word of Life so we were very confused and offended by this statement. We argued with him until it was time to go up for more food.
Years later I finally understood what he meant by that statement. We didn't need to change the world, that was God's job, we just needed to live for Him. See what I mean about being simple? Because of their simple lives, God has done radical things through this couple. These are a few things I have learned from them:
1. Invest. The Russo's never had a huge house. They lived in the country of South Jersey. Instead of working too much, they invested in people's lives. They spent the majority of the week with other believers in Christ.
2. Love on your family. Do you know the Russo family? They all live around Pete and Linda's house. I like to call it the Russo Holler. There is never a day when you can't see a granddaughter running through the woods to visit their house. Pete and Linda have two sons who are following in their dad's footsteps. They love God, love others, and are living simply. God made two totally different boys who He's brought to his Son Jesus in two totally different ways. They have two wives that are equally different and amazing and both have special places in my heart. These families are investing in others.
3. Don't complicate life. Pete lived out loud. You always knew where he stood. He could be completely politically incorrect but you never wondered what was going on his heart. Some didn't like that. I think it's because his honesty made you look at yourself and examine why you were keeping things hid away in your heart.
I hope I haven't portrayed Pete Russo as a Super-Saint. He would yell at me for that. I hope I haven't portrayed a man who loved others more than God, because he didn't. I hope you have learned from him too. From missions trips, to hunting trips with his sons and granddaughters; from completely terrible jokes to crying when he would find out that one of his youth kids walked away from the teaching of Christ, Pete Russo was a disciple of the Most High God. And he got to meet his Savior today. Lucky duck.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
I read a blog the other day (surprise, surprise) that talked about how many people give and willingly accept the "savior complex" when it comes to adoption. I hope that I never portray that to others and it can only happen if I don't let that seed of pride take root in my heart. I am not doing something better than those who have babies through the belly. I am just doing what I think God called Martin and I too. So it's hard to explain because it's deeper than us wanting children and doing anything to get them but at the same time we aren't the saviors of the children that we will (Lord willing) one day adopt. I don't want others to think we are doing something bigger than they are. The comparison game is an evil one to play. I play it on so many levels then slug my sorry self back to the cross, remembering that we all deserve hell and that's it, outside the work Jesus did on the cross.
So if I may be honest and frank (why does frank get to be a proper noun and an adjective?), I think we all desire for something more. Something different. Something radical. We all want to make a difference in this world whether we know Christ or not. It's what we do with that desire that is the biggie. Outside of Christ, our works are like the grossest of garbage. But inside of Christ when we do something, we purposefully glorify Him. He'll be glorified no matter what, but when we are purposeful we get to join in that. That's good stuff. Good, good stuff.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
First, I wanted to put pictures on for my mother. I was a matron-of-honor at a dear friend's wedding this past weekend. Christine was a beautiful bride! The whole weekend (starting Thursday night) was a whirlwind but it was so much fun. Martin was away and although we were sad he had to miss the wedding, I was able to focus on my duties and hopefully met Christine's expectations. Here are a few:
Jayme took a picture for Martin after the ceremony.
I LOVED my hair! This is at the end of the night. I loved the "messy" look.
Not the best picture in the world but this is me singing "Oh the Deep Deep Love" while the rest of the wedding party and family prayed over Christine and David.
Last time I wrote I talked about what a funk I had been in. I really do allow my joy to be based on my circumstances. And I am trying to work on that. I see how amazing God comes through when I am in need of everything from Him. And I miss it (although He continues to provide) when I'm busy or not "needing" Him. I read in someones blog this week about when they were in Sudan earlier this month she needed to rely on God for every breath. Every step. Every word. But here in the states, she can easily sit at her dining room table and read her Bible then get up and go throughout the whole day without giving what she read another thought. It makes it so evident that we don't live radically. We live very safe. Blah. I hate that but yet I love it because I do it more than not.
So, I am trying to trim down on our finances. BIG bills are going to be due soon with our adoption and I want to stay home, at least part time, in a few years when (if) God allows me to become a mom so I need to start living like that now. But I must admit, it's very hard and it's quite time consuming. And I've only been doing it for two days.
Don't judge me for my last sentence. I know I sound like a baby. It's only because I am. Yesterday I went to our local wholesale club, BJ's. It was after work and I was quite excited to have my dinner by walking by all the sample booths. To my utter distress, there was only one sample booth set up and I walked by about ten times and the sample was still in the microwave. I instantly decided I would not be buying that demo item (I never do but please don't tell them that). Anything that has to be in the microwave that long other than hot water to loosen the splattered food (and even that) is not worth eating. I don't feel like I bought a lot of things. I got deli meat for next week, chicken breast, steak, breadcrumbs, raspberries, Greek yogurt, string cheese, shredded cheese, a french baguette, and a pair of Calvin Klein slacks for Martin ($16.99 - what a steal!). It was over $125. I guess I need to reevaluate my priorities. Like boneless chicken breast. I pay a lot not deal with the bones. And steak. Maybe frozen Bubba burgers are the only "steak" I should buy. And french bread. Probably should stick to American. And shredded cheese. I can simply shred my own cheese and it will help tone my arms too. Bonus!
Anyway, I debated whether or not to go to Wal-Mart. I didn't need a lot of things. I could have simply stopped at Target. It was in the same complex as BJ's. But, I recently read a great article in Fortune magazine about the Wal-Mart CEO and all the things he's doing with the company. It warmed my heart, mainly because I am a firm believer in capitalism and Wal-Mart is the true example of capitalism, so even though I have a love/hate relationship with it - they get their items for cheap so I can get my items for cheap (love) yet they pay their employees very little (hate), I still go because it's really all about me. So I went about 10 minutes away to Wal-Mart. I have found a quiet Wal-Mart. It is built about five miles from a loud Wal-Mart and I just enjoy it so much better.
Like I said earlier, I didn't need a lot of things. I walked down each isle. (Side note: not sure why they put the frozen foods up front. Are we supposed to start shopping from the back? Is that the plan? They need arrows like Ikea has if so.) I needed breadcrumbs (yes, I know I just bought some - I needed real breadcrumbs - I bought Panko breadcrumbs at BJ's), alfredo packets (thank you Jayme), Pepperidge Farm wheat crackers, and a dessert mix for Martin's "Welcome Home - I missed you more than a kid at fat camp misses cake" dinner. I got to the packets first. I looked for several minutes (fine, it seemed like minutes - it was seconds) for alfredo packets. Then I saw on the top shelf, an empty spot. I looked at the label below and it said "McCormick's Alfredo Packet." I guess the word got out it was better than fresh Alfredo sauce because they were plum out. Next, I went down the dessert isle. Martin loves peanut butter and I love chocolate so I got Reese's no bake dessert. It has the calorie content of three days in a small square but worth it. Then, breadcrumbs. Never found them. And here's my thinking around that - Wal-Mart is a southern store. Most southern people don't bake breaded chicken. They fry it so the idea of buying breadcrumbs and not flour is foreign to them. That's something Wal-Mart needs to work on - knowing what Yankee's like too. Because we southerners are much better at adapting to them than they are to us - trust me. The last thing on my list were the crackers. By this time I'm a little upset. I have been up and down almost every isle in the food section avoiding the customers that put their frozen foods in their carts first and are rushing around trying to finish shopping before their ice cream becomes simply cream. I get to the cracker isle and after looking behind almost every Pepperidge Farm box, I concluded that southerns must not eat wheat crackers either.
I thought about complaining but remember my statement earlier about the employees not getting paid a lot - that kinda backfires on you when you want to complain. They simply do not care. So I put my dessert away and left. Went to Target, and laughed when they too didn't have the crackers and the alfredo sauce mix.
So, see? It is hard! If I wasn't concerned about trimming down, I would have gone to Shop-Rite and gotten everything there. I know they have it all (except skim milk that doesn't expire before the weekend - but that's another story).
But I will not give up. I will continue on this journey of trimming down. I will succeed. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
On the last full day of vacation I always seem to start wanting to get home. I'm sad to leave where I am but there is a pull to go back home to normal. I'm usually tired of eating so much at dinner that I feel sick. I want to get back to the gym and work off the pounds that I've gained while enjoying myself. I want to get back to real life.
But then we got home and their is no food in the fridge, because why go grocery shopping for home before you leave for vacation???? We have to put everything away (Martin unpacked EVERYTHING this year. I am blessed!). Our first day back at work was so chaotic we were too tired to go to the gym (well, I went to the gym on Monday then realized I forgot my water bottle and towel - and they won't let you in unless you have both - so I returned home, defeated and didn't go back). Now it's Thursday and although we've done okay eating for most of our meals, we haven't had the best week back, when it comes to exercise.
I just wonder why it seems to take the next week after vacation to become normal again. But next week it won't be normal at all. Martin leaves Sunday night. He's headed for Indiana for two weeks of training and Christine's wedding is Saturday, October 9, and I am going to Lancaster for three days to celebrate that.
I was going to go home to Tennessee the next week but it's the first week of school for our second session at work and my boss asked if there was any way I could go another time.
It now looks like I now may go to Tennessee the last weekend in October and stay into the first week of November instead, while Martin goes to his new job's national conference in Arizona.
I say all of that to say - Maybe November will become normal again.
Oh, and we're broke. That always makes things fun and interesting. No matter how hard I plan and save for vacation we always seem to be broke when we come back. I've been writing a blog post about money but God keeps revealing so many idols in my heart about it - it's honestly very hard to finish.
Gotta get out of this funk and just realize - this could be our NEW NORMAL!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Doing lots of this:
And enjoying this (this is the best soda in the world and I can't get it in New Jersey):
Martin has been doing interviews over the phone with VP's, CFO's, HR management, and company controllers. And today he was finally approved and offered a NEW JOB!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
As my mother says, "We want what God wants." So if this interview doesn't turn into a job offer then so be it. It wasn't because he didn't study and pray to prepare. And we are thankful that he presently has a job that provides for our needs and even our wants. I'll let you know how it goes!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
This has made someone very upset (I will not mention who but I do happen to live with him and have been married to him for eight years.) Martin LOVES to weigh in. He's fascinated by the way the body works. He can got to bed and wake up three pounds smaller. He can take a shower and gain two pounds. I think he's nuts for weighing like he does but it works for him. I used to tell him he was obsessed but now I tell him he's crazy, but to each his own. It doesn't discourage him when he gains two pounds after a shower (does he drink the water? I don't know) and so far he has done an amazing job. This morning he weighed and has lost 17 pounds since the end of July. GO MARTIN! He wants to loose 30 more pounds. Not sure where that's going to come from but that is the weight doctors and nutritionist think someone his height should be.
I know if he's lost then so have I and that's enough for me right now. My clothes are loose and I'm very happy about that. I am trying to not buy new pants until I am two sizes smaller. I see no economic sense in buying new pants for every size so I (and probably you who have to see me) will have to deal with droopy drawers Sarah for another month or so.
My camera comes in today. Mother, you will soon be seeing random pictures on this blog and on your digital picture frame at home. Hopefully that brought a smile to your face (or maybe you are thinking - I'll believe it when I see it)!
My next post will hopefully have some good news about Martin and a job. We'll see! And I need to talk about me going back to school. I guess I just don't like a slow, boring life because Martin and I seem to run towards chaos. But being busy does one important thing: requires me to prioritize my time. I am more purposeful in spending time alone with me and God when I am busy. And this pours over to my time with Martin too. But that's another post.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
I used to make fun of my mother listening to Elisabeth Elliot every day on the radio. I looked up her old saying "'You are loved with an everlasting love,' - that's what the Bible says - 'and underneath are the everlasting arms.' This is your friend, Elisabeth Elliot..." My mother turned on the radio twice every day growing up. Once was for the daily Bible reading and once was for Elisabeth. She often started many words of advice (unsolicited of course), "Well Elisabeth Elliot always says..." The conversation always ended with me rolling my eyes, groaning and walking away.
Fast forward 20 years or so; lots has happened since then. The first being I'm a new creation in Christ, the rest are just details. I am now reading Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot. It's a small book full of many chapters, which makes it really easy to put beside your bed and read before dozing off. She wrote the book for her daughter Valerie. I'm not sure if it was a series of letters through the years or just something she sat down and wrote.
I was reading recently about how Elisabeth was single for many years. Valerie was already married when she wrote this but she was saying that she didn't know it then but she had the gift of singleness during that time. I always have struggled when people ask if they think someone has the gift of singleness. 9 out of 10 times the person desires to be married and perhaps one day have children; they just haven't met anyone worth doing that with. So the simple answer would be no.
But Elisabeth described it in a way I've never thought of before. When you are given a gift from God, it's not something you choose for yourself. God gives them. He gives the gift of Salvation, we don't deserve it and can never pay Him back. He gives the gift of talents, we can't go from being tone deaf to singing beautifully by skill alone. He gives gifts and singleness might be one of them. It's not necessarily a permanent gift but if it's where God has you now, then it's a gift He has given not a cross you bear, as we love to say.
I have been meditating on this for awhile now. Seeing how this looks in my life. Obviously I don't have the gift of singleness but I do have the gift of infertility. Ha! That sounds like an oxymoron but think about it. God has allowed Martin and I not to have children for eight years. It's not something that we chose. It's not something I necessarily want or like but it's obviously from God and because of that it's a gift. I say it's a gift not a cross I have to bear because in the midst of not having children Martin and I get to be an uncle and aunt to SO many! Not only to my brothers and sister's kids but to many here in New Jersey. We love it.
I'm also thankful for the gift because it's made us see our God as so much bigger. Now when I think of my future children I don't just think of little black haired, blue eyed babies running around (a good mix of Martin and I) but maybe African babies or Asian babies or maybe just children and no babies. And this isn't just another option for us. We truly see it as where God wanted us all along.
So, as much as I hated my mother quoting good ol' Elisabeth Elliot, I am very thankful for her wisdom on the subject of gifts. Whether it's the gift of singleness, infertility, motherhood, empty nest, poorness, uncertain future or where ever we all are - we must remember that we don't pick our gifts, God gives them and He knows what's best and it may not be for forever, but only for a season.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
Thanks Elisabeth. Thanks Mother.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I've been on a new "diet." I hate calling it that although it calls itself that. It's called The Flat Belly Diet. The editor-in-chief of Prevention magazine put it out a few years ago and I heard about it through Kami who had heard about from a friend Kellyanne. And now Martin and I are doing it. I was VERY sceptical at first. I imagined a diet book with a hot pink cover and a stupid blonde on the front in a stupid bikini and it told you that you had to eat grapefruit and drink water with hot sauce in it. But Kami quickly assured me it was legit.
I bought the quick reference guide (hooray for tiny books!) and the cookbook on amazon.com for about $18.00 total (but not before previewing the book on Amazon - I sound like I'm promoting Amazon), got it two days later - it was at my door step when I got home from California.
Here's the gist: belly fat is bad, bad, bad. It causes diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It takes monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and puts them in every meal then combined with lean meats, fruits, veggies and healthy carbs you've got yourself a smaller belly!
Well what has MUFAs in them? I had no idea a couple of weeks ago. They are oils, nuts, avocados, and wait for it, wait for it - dark chocolate! That's right folks - chocolate.
Martin and I have been doing the 32 day plan and we are on the second week and love it. We eat four meals a day, no meal is over 400 calories, we eat less than 5 grams of saturated fats a day, and eat a MUFA at every meal. It gives you a shopping list for every week and the items that you should have left over from the week or weeks before are italicized so you don't buy them again. It also gives you alternatives if you don't like something or can't get a certain item.
Here's the kicker - we don't have cravings. It's so weird. I don't feel like I'm depriving myself and I'm not hungry. Now, I'm only in my second week but this is usually the time that if I don't get a Snickers bar soon I'm going to hurt someone. I think it's because we get yummy meals (snacks) like - a whole grain waffle with a quarter cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top in the oven then a cup of fresh strawberries poured over it. Who needs a Snickers?
Martin has been trying new things and I'm very proud of him. He's been more adventurous than me (what can I say - I hate sweet guacamole - give me spicy and I'll be fine but NOT sweet!). He told me he might try some stuff with mayonnaise in it. I'm not going to force the issue but hey - we might have a convert (although it's canola oil mayo but still).
I'm not going to weigh until the 32 days is over. I'll let you know. I can tell my clothes are loose and that's enough for me at this point.
It's a good lifestyle adapter. I like that. And August is the perfect month to try it because all the fruit and veggies are fresh and (sadly, more important to me) cheaper!
Okay, that's all for now. I've got to get back to work. SO much to do and if I don't do it here, I do it at home.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
San Jose is a beautiful city but I'm finding that it's got it's fair share of shady characters! I'm used to being in Philly or NYC and being able to blend in. But here, if you are walking alone you are noticed by the shady characters. So for that reason I am happy to be tucked in to my hotel room around 7:30 every night.
As for the conference, I'm loving it! I'm a little fish in a big pond here. Most people are from major universities and schools all over the country. There are IT (tech people) here, faculty, and administrators. And then there is me - I know just enough about everything to be dangerous. I love my job and am so thankful that I've been able to build IJS online from the ground up. I'm learning about all these new little gadgets that I can explore when I get back. The funny thing is - IJS is ahead of the curve. It's so funny. Major universities are just now starting to dabble in distance learning. Their thought process is what our faculty thought process was last year: Will this work? How can I truly communicate and teach through the Internet? All of these are very scary thoughts for a teacher.
One of the things I've battled with here is a desire to go back to school to get my computer science degree. I know I could learn so much from going back to school but I just don't think it's a reality for me now. And is computer science what I would want to major in? I must admit that I have found a love for taking a bunch of nonsense and making it into designs or programs. I guess that's the formula lover in me. I hated math and chemistry but give me a formula (NOT in a word problem!) and I would take up two pages trying to solve it.
But this I know, I have the perfect job right now and Lord willing, we will be working on our adoption process and that on top of being a wife and ministry at church is making my life very full and will continue long after I leave San Jose. And if that desire to go back to school stays and I'm able to - then okay.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Paul Trip, whom I follow on Twitter just tweeted::: Self-righteousness: I am constantly aware of the need for change in others in the very same places where I am blind to needs in myself. Good stuff.
I find myself writing out quotes when I'm listening to sermons. Sometimes I need to write it out so I can read it over and over. One in particular is from David Platt. He's the guy that wrote the book Radical that everyone needs to read. Here it is:::
We do not have time to play games on our lives. And we don't have time to play games in the church. We do not have time to waste our lives on a nice comfortable Christian spin on the American dream. We have a Master who demands radical sacrifice. A mission that warrants radical urgency.
We take Jesus and we twist Him into a nice, middle class American. A Jesus who looks like us and talks like us and here's the danger: As we take Jesus and we craft Him into our own image, then the reality is when we gather together in our churches to sing our songs and lift our hands, we are not lifting up our hands to and worshipping the Jesus of the Bible. We are lifting up our hands to and worshiping ourselves.
We were talking about this yesterday in Sunday School (ABF - whatever, it's the class you go to before service!). We make Jesus into who we want and what we want and we make him very appealing to the masses when in fact, Jesus was hated by the majority when they realized what He was about. "What? You aren't going to FIX my life with the Romans? You want to reveal my heart and sin that is in it?" Those were the thoughts that sent Him to the cross. This is a big part of what the book Radical is about (I'm plugging the poor book everywhere I can!).
I was also reminded yesterday that we should never pass up the opportunity to share the TRUE, unadulterated message of the Gospel. There were people in our class that truly didn't understand the Gospel. I forget that. I used to think that it was overkill to share the Gospel every chance we had. But as God continues to change my view, I see that presenting who we are (sinful humans, thinking we are doing good, infected with the curse of sin, running from God), presenting who Jesus is (God in flesh sent to give His life, which was sinless, as a sacrifice for ours), presenting why God allowed this (because He loves us that much and wants a relationship with us so He sent His innocent Son to die a painful death and raised Him up, so we don't have to die and be separated from Him because of our sin).
I guess it has hit home for me more lately because I was 21 years old when God opened my heart to hear the Gospel. I've struggled lately with the timing. Getting upset with myself and others at the timing of my salvation. Why did I close my heart all those years? Why did I waste so much time? But I am reminded that it was God who opened my heart at a time He saw fit. I lived in a great Christian home where the Christian life was lived out Supernaturally every day by my parents. I probably heard the Gospel over a million times (seriously - I lived in the south people) but it was God who opened my heart when He did.
I was thankful the women spoke up with their questions yesterday. An open atmosphere is exactly what church should be, where we can ask the questions that are stirring in our heart and not feel attacked.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
This is also for my mom - I'm reading Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot. I'll write about it later. I just know my mom will be really impressed to see this. Me simply reading anything by Elisabeth Elliot shows the Holy Spirit is working in my life - right mom?!?!
Friday, July 2, 2010
My dad sent me this video and it's David Platt speaking. He's the pastor that wrote the book I recently finished, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. It's not the book that is changing me, it is God. But it is the most practical book I've ever read. Showing me what I've become and the lies I've chosen to follow about the American dream. Click HERE for the link to the video. It's about 2 minutes long.
Hope everyone has an amazing holiday! Martin is headed up to Word of Life in New York to move Pastor Joe and his family. I'm thankful he is able to help. Tyler, (Pastor Joe's son and our temporary roommate) is also going so you would think I would enjoy a nice few days by myself but Dave and Pam, a couple in our church, are coming home from their honeymoon tonight and I'm picking them up at the airport and they are moving into Pastor Joe's home tomorrow (they recently bought it from them). So I am helping, as much as I can without hurting my back. Martin will be home on Sunday and we're hoping to spend a nice relaxing Monday at his parent's house. Then Tuesday, Martin's mom and I are headed to Ocean City to sit at the beach ALL DAY LONG with Danielle who is down there for the week. 93 degrees is the high and the cool, non-BP oil beach will be a perfect place to be. Good location, good friends, good conversations.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Next, I remembered our youth director's phone number. Dr. John's son was Martin close friend growing up and for some reason I just remember Martin chanting his number. I was able to talk to one of their sons who promised to call his parents and let them know. Next, I called my close friend Jayme. Jayme is an "old friend" of Martin's that was at Word of Life the same time Martin and I were. She introduced us to one another and Martin was in her wedding and she was in ours. I had recently started working at her church as their bookkeeper. I called their home and it rang and rang and rang. But then Dave, her husband answered. I broke down at that point. I had not talked to anyone I was close to and poor Dave got the waterworks! He told me that Jayme was outside in the car and she was taking him to work and he would let her know.
Eventually they took Martin to the I.C.U. Silly, naive me figured this was a step-up from the E.R.! We took over the tiny I.C.U. waiting room. Family, friends and church people filled the room. I still had not talked to my mom and dad. Martin and I had been married almost three years by this time but not having any of my family there was so hard. I missed my family, my friends, my church family. I was thankful for Jayme when she walked in. She was my oldest friend in the room. When my dad called I once again broke down. I can't imagine how my parents felt. They were in Idaho with no way to get to me.
The I.C.U. nurse, Angel (I'm sure she gets the comments all the time) called Martin's parents, brother and I in his room for us to see him. I didn't realize they figured it would be the last time we would see him alive. We prayed over him and I held his hand. When we had to leave I told Martin that I had to go but that I would be in the next room. He squeezed my hand. I didn't think anything of it. I told his family that it seemed like he squeezed my hand. I repeated that I wasn't leaving I would just be in the next room. He again squeezed my hand but this time much harder. I told the nurse who gave me a sympathetic smile. She didn't believe me. I understand, I wouldn't have believed me either. He had brain damaged, they thought. I tried to pull my hand away and I couldn't. He was holding on too strong! I showed Angel and she went and got one of the doctors.
I went back to the waiting room and was grateful for the gift I felt God had given me. The night was filled with visitors and little sleep. As I was laying down on the couch around 3 AM, my mother-in-law was cleaning the room. I told her that my soul was at peace. Almost like God had sent his angels down to sing to my heart, music that only my soul could hear.
The next few days were hard. They got Martin's body temperature down so low he got hypothermia. They had to find a way to regulate his body temperature. No one was sure what happened to him. They eventually ruled out spinal meningitis. They attempted a spinal tap but he was too full of fluid to do it. He has yet to forgive me for allowing it! They did dialysis on him every other day. Eventually his heart (it was doing crazy, wacky things the day after his accident because it had virtually stopped the day before), his lungs, his liver, all started working again. He was responding well even in his coma. The neurologist was optimistic about his brain activity with his responses.
They told me he would be in the hospital for well over a month and a few months in rehab, learning to walk again (most of his muscles had melted). Then he would be on dialysis for his kidneys for as long as it took for them to come back, if at all. He was home in two weeks and although he had to do physical therapy three times a week and dialysis three times a week, he was home.
Honestly, being home was the hardest part for me. He was still weak and I had to help him with so much. He was home and not working and I had to deal with those emotions. He couldn't drive and I couldn't sleep in the bed with him. He was propped up here and there with blood clots throughout his body and he had a port for dialysis coming out of his neck. I know I didn't handle those times like I should. But God was gracious and patient with me. He taught me so much during those times and is still teaching me about those times. I try to be sensitive to those wives who have husbands at home after accidents or health issues. There is something in a man that God puts in them to provide and be the leader in the home and when the woman has to step up and do it for whatever reason, there is a humiliation there that can be taken out on that wife. It's hard but God teaches us through it.
As I look back on all that happened June 27, 2005, it really blows my mind. First of all, I have no idea why it happened. I can't sit here and tell anyone that God allowed Martin's temperature to get that high because there was a doctor at Shore Memorial that was doubting His existence and God chose to use Martin. People were telling me over and over, don't worry, God will let you know why He allowed this one day. But my dad (who eventually got to come up), in such wisdom, told me not to cling to that. Not to cling to a hope that one day God will let me know why He allowed that. Because honestly, God owes me nothing. He can do whatever He wants. But this I know: He does ALL for His glory. That's it. That's all I need to know and care about. And I count it a privilege that He used us.
I want to list the things that were nothing but God showing off. Things that are almost humorous when they are put side by side. Things that no one, not even the doctors could explain.
1. Little Shore Memorial Hospital had dealt with heat strokes before. They are near the Coast Guard training center and have had some men come in with heat strokes, and all that have come in with Martin's temp and some below have died (not because of the hospital, but because of the circumstances). But they are confident in this area.
2. That Monday night, the last Monday of the month was the department head meeting. This means that all doctors from all the areas of the hospital were in a meeting there when Martin came in. As I understand it, the E.R. doctor interrupted the meeting and gave them the stats of Martin. They all talked it out and Dr. Schreyer (Martin's kidney doctor) suggested he put a line in Martin and do dialysis to cool the blood. They all agreed and off they went. I guess it's not normal to have doctor after doctor, specialist and specialist come in to the death room and ask questions on a Monday night at a tiny hospital.
3. Everyone I called was there. Like I said, I didn't have my cell phone and sadly, I just know a few numbers by heart. But the three God brought to mind, someone answered everyone. Even Dave who ran back in the house to pick-up his forgotten dinner.
4. We never paid a dime for anything. Well, I take that back. They did make us pay $35 for the t.v. in the I.C.U. I have no idea why the t.v. was on while Martin was in a coma but I did walk in a few times and it was on and when I was there with him while they took his breathing tubes out. I was thankful Regis and Kelly were on so I could watch them and not my poor husband as they were taking them all out. I gladly paid the $35. Everything was covered by workman's comp.
It's been five years since all of this. I'm happy and thankful to say that I love Martin so much more today! But more than that - I am so awed by my God, so humbled by Him and oh so thankful for Him. I am truly learning more from His Word than ever before. I am learning more about the ways He wants me to be and am amazed at His pursuit and change, through the Holy Spirit in my life.
In five years we have left our old church family for a new one. It was hard but it was in God's plan. We now own a home in a perfect location. Martin went back to college and completed his Masters of Business Administration at Rowan University last year. He went back to his old job after he was asked by me and his doctor to not go back to the Sheriff's department. We are thankful his job took him back. He is now at a new job and has the flexibility that most people don't have. We've been on two overseas mission trips together.
Mighty is our God.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
They took me to a room that I call the death room - it's a tiny room that they probably have in all E.R.s. I call it that because it is a small, windowless room with a couple couches, and a telephone that you can call anywhere in the U.S. and they take you there to either tell you someone has died or is going to die. Maureen sat me down and told me that Martin had collapsed at the academy and when they brought him in his body temperature registered 109.7. Honestly that number didn't mean much to me. She went on and said his kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart had all shut down or were shutting down and they had no idea about his brain. He was on life support and she said the doctors were going to be coming in asking me questions about his health.
I was asked if I wanted to see Martin. I went over to him. He was shaking and his eyes were open. It was not the typical "my husband's in a coma" scene you see in Hollywood. He had bags of ice all over him. There was an odd machine beside his bed that was attached to him with blood coming in or out of his body, I wasn't sure. There were about four people working on him giving me sympathetic looks. "Why is he shaking?" I asked them. "He's probably having multiple seizures." They said. "Maybe he's just cold," I thought. "Why are his eyes open like that?" They quickly tried to shut them. They told me to talk to him. It was weird trying to talk to someone who is having multiple seizures, with ice bags all over him and wires and tubes coming out of him in way too many places. I stood at the top of him, stroked his freshly shaved head, and told him I loved him.
As I was standing there the oddest feeling came over me. I had to pee. I know that sounds crazy but the feeling was so strong I could hardly hold it. I asked Maureen if I could go to the bathroom. She took me in and told me she would be waiting outside and that if I took too long she would come in. What I didn't know was that Maureen was scared I would go into shock. What she didn't know is I was terrified she'd walk in on me going to the bathroom! I went quickly then stared in the mirror at myself. Pinching my arm over and over I asked God to wake me from this dream. Looking back I think God gave me that feeling so I wouldn't go into shock. She knocked on the door and I came out quickly. She wouldn't stop looking at my eyes. It was annoying at the time, now I know she was looking for signs.
When I got back to the death room I was left alone. "God, please save him. Please make all of this go away. Please heal him." I squeezed my eyes shut and pressed my hands together pleading with God. Then I knew I needed to say something. I needed to say it out loud. Even if I didn't agree with it or want it, I had to say it. "But Father, not my will but yours be done." I said it out loud and quick. And as soon as I said it I added, "But please, please let our wills be the same!"
The next couple of hours were a blur. Doctors were coming in and out asking me questions about Martin's health. His mom came back at some point. The doctors all asked the same questions. Does he drink? Does he smoke? Is he on steroids? Has he taken drugs recently any drugs at all - prescription or non? Has he been sick? Has he been around anyone who has been sick? How was he feeling this morning the last time you saw him? Doctor after doctor. Specialist after specialist.
The E.R. doctor came in at some point and I think he saw that I wasn't getting it. Yes, I knew Martin was sick. I knew all his organs were shut down or were shutting down, but he saw that I didn't realize he was going to die. So he said it, "If he doesn't die then he will have brain damage. We have no idea how much." "What? IF he doesn't die he could be a vegetable?" I didn't say it but I thought it.
My mother-in-law went out front to get cell phone reception and I was left alone in the death room. I didn't have my cell phone with me so I could only remember a few phone numbers. My parents were in Idaho where my dad was teaching at a pastor's conference. I didn't know any of my siblings cell numbers but I remembered my dad's church's prayer line. I called that hoping to leave a message for someone to call me back.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I first named this post "The Day He Almost Died" but that's not the case at all. Martin did come close to death in human terms but it's not like God was surprised by all of this. So I appropriately changed the title.
Five years. Five years since Martin collapsed during physical training in the Police Department. Five years since he was rushed to the hospital with a 109.7 body temperature. I only want to give the background not to dwell on the despair or hopelessness we all felt that night or the dream that was lost that day but the way God preordained it before time began and how it all played out just to His liking. The way He showed off. Our God, oh how He loves to show off!
It was hot. Humidity was so high that it was hard to breathe outside. The temperature was in the high 80's. There was a mist of rain most of the day but not a cool, soothing rain, more like a hot shower mist. I spent all day praying for Martin. He had been sworn in as a Sheriff's officer a few weeks before and had been working at the Sheriff's Department leading up to that day but this was his first day at the Academy. He was very nervous but so excited. A dream he had since he was a little boy was coming true!
We had given up a lot for him to become a police officer. He had turned down a promotion that exceeds how much he is making at his current job today. He was 26 years old, we had no mortgage, no children and it seemed like the perfect time to follow his dream. It was a huge leap of faith. We both sought God about it. There wasn't a right or wrong choice. Nothing sinful about either one. It finally came down to: Which choice would we depend on God more? We both agreed that leaving his current job, turning down his promotion offer and taking the Sheriff's officer position was in fact how we could step out on faith and trust God to provide and it was Martin's heart's desire.
I got the call around 4:30. The Sergeant at the academy was letting me know that Martin had passed out and was taken to the hospital. He said they had to close their gates and his car would be locked away for the night so someone needed to pick him up. Shore Memorial Hospital is where they took him. Not knowing where on earth that was (other than obviously close to the shore) I asked if I should leave now or wait a bit. He told me he wasn't sure and that he would call me back. I called Martin's mom to let her know. I wasn't alarmed, I was more annoyed. "I bet he didn't drink enough water and passed out! He probably had to get an I.V. and will be sitting up drinking a diet coke when we go in!" Those were pretty much my exact words.
My mother-in-law said she would like to drive me so I waited for the Sergeant to call me back before we left. He called back about 45 minutes later and said we could leave now, he would probably be ready and that some of the other cadets had taken his wallet, keys and ID down to meet me. So off we went, not having any idea what we would find when we got there. Knowing now that God was protecting my heart and comforting me through the work of the Holy Spirit without my knowledge.
More tomorrow. This post is way too long.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Pray for me, I didn't go workout last night and today, I have a huge headache (could have something to do with this 95 degree heat). I really don't want to go tonight but I need to. My biggest obstacle comes when I get home and get distracted (sometimes on purpose, sometimes not). Martin is out mountain biking this afternoon so he will not be going with me. I CAN DO THIS, by God's grace!
Buy the book or the download it.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I'm reading a book called "Radical" by David Platt. He's a pastor in Alabama about my age and the book is nothing new, just looking at Jesus and his real teachings. Not taking his extreme teachings and molding them into our white, middle class America. I highly recommend it. We've got to stop thinking that it's okay to continue living like we are. Something I have been wondering more and more is that what if God allowed America to be prosperous so that we can take the Gospel to ALL. But in our selfishness, we have built ourselves a heaven on earth (our homes, our pleasures, our churches) and all we do is feed ourselves to be fat, lazy, disgusting people. I don't want that. I'm done with that. Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell everything he has and follow him. Because He knows that He treasures his things more than God. I think God is allowing us to see that things are things and we can not be satisfied unless we are satisfied in God - so I'm listening.
It's Father's Day, and I need to say I have the best dad's in the world! My dad still continues to teach me through his sermons and then how his life reflects the Word of God. He is not perfect but he's available and God continues to change him. And my father-in-law has raised an amazing son that will one day, Lord willing be an amazing dad too. And he is our biggest advocate on adoption. I love seeing God change all of us!
I posted this on our adoption blog (yes, I started one) but I'll put it here too. My dad's church did a video on adoption. It's great - click here to watch.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Then last night at Wal-Mart I was walking in or out of the store, I don't remember, and I looked up and saw the sky::: Blue and pink with white brushes of clouds and my heart automatically went to worship, not because God made it for me but for the simple yet complex idea that He made it! "That's it!" I thought. That is victorious living. Falling down (what seems like constantly) and allowing God to pick you up off the ground brush you off, and you worshiping Him, thinking of Him, talking with Him, being amazed by Him, growing in Him through His Word. That's it!
My brother Clint, his wife Becky, and their boys Billy and Spencer are coming to visit for a few days. We're headed to NYC, Ocean City and who knows where else. I'll try to have some pictures. I am terrible at remembering to take them (sorry mom).
Thursday, June 10, 2010
So my brother Aaron sent me a link to a video. It's 55 minutes long. Wait, wait, wait, hear me out. It's of a 37 year old woman who is dying of cancer. She went to speak to a women's group and it ended up being about 600 women.
He warned me I would cry. I did. It's worth a watch. She has four points: Know God, Know you, Know Jesus, Know your purpose. She's very engaging and just the fact that she slept all day and took tons of meds to stand up in front of all those women for an hour to speak deserves a watch. I will warn you again, you will cry but it's not a sad, woe is me cry, it's a wow, this is amazing what God is doing cry.
Click here for the link.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
I am an insane Christian. I have this disconnect with knowing and doing and I know yet I do nothing over and over again and expect to grow in Christ.
I might look good on the outside. I am busy with things of God. I disciple, I am in ministry, I try to serve Christ through loving my husband, I am constantly learning through the teaching of others. But there is a disconnect.
James talks about it. "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does" James 1:21-25.
Paul also talks about it in Romans. "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me" Romans 7:19-20.
I was in the car this morning singing and crying having a wonderful time of worship while driving yet as soon as a girl cut me off, I got mean. Seriously? You were just singing that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead lives inside of you? Seriously? Yes. And so goes the pattern of my life. The best way to put it is a disconnect between knowing and doing. It's easy to love God on my terms but in the day to day walk, I fail constantly.
It's easy to see it other people too. I see it in my husband. I see it in my friends. But God continues to bring it back to me. It's about me and Him. And I have to choose moment by moment whom I will serve.
One way God has convicted me is my evenings. Whether we go to the gym or not, I come home, fix dinner, eat, clean-up, then veg. There is no reason that I should be vegging for more than a few hours a week. And when I say I veg, I mean I sit in front of the t.v. and flip and watch nothing of eternal worth. I'm not saying I need to be out with people every night or have people in my home every night. That's not healthy for marriage. I mean I can be finishing my trim painting in the living room, or reading one of the hundreds of books on my shelf. This is one of my biggest disconnects. Taking that precious time (nights at home with no plans are truly precious) and using it for something other than filling my mind with worthless trash.
The good thing is that I know I am a child of God. And it's not just because of what I know. I see the evidence in my life. I see LOTS of discipline from the Father. I have conviction of sin from the Holy Spirit. I am nothing without Christ and His work on the cross. These are why I am a child of God not because of what I do. That's the scariest disconnect of them all. When those who think they are children of the most high God are depending on what they do. And God has allowed me to show those around me Himself. That's what it is about. Just making my God look good. That's why we were created.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I think I appreciated her transparency in all things of life the most. She struggled and allowed all to see those struggles but she also loved and ministered just as fervently as she struggled and all the while - glorifying God in all things. We got together often and prayed much, cried much, and laughed much. She went on a short term mission trip and felt an instant calling to full time missions. Her husband did not go on the trip and was very happy right where they were in life ::: serving in our church, working a great job, being a dad, and being around family.
We started praying with some other women. We did a fasting chain (where we all fasted one day a week and prayed for one another). I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing with my life. I was in school but felt called to something more - even though I wasn't sure what that was. Becky prayed for God to give me clear direction on where to go to school and also for me a Godly husband. I prayed for Becky that God would DO something with this desire that was burning so deep in her heart for missions. Either change David's heart (her husband) or change hers. I remember sitting in her living room crying with her as she told me that she was not satisfied with all she had. All the furniture in her house, her occupation as a nurse, as a middle class mother (to three amazing kids - Susanna, Landry, and Bowden), her American dream.
David soon decided to go on a mission trip to South America. We prayed so hard that week he was gone. At this point Becky had started craving beans and rice constantly! It was hilarious. He called from the airport when he got to the states and said he was ready. It was amazing. Around this time I was accepted to Word of Life and was in the process of moving up there. Their house sold quickly and all their furniture was bought and given away. She had this red chair that was her devotion chair. I wish I had asked her for it. So many tears were shed there before God.
She wrote me while I was up at Word of Life. David had to take some seminary courses before they were able to go to South America, not a bad deal since the Southern Baptist do not make their workers raise support. Meanwhile I met and started dating Martin. I only saw Becky once or twice after I left for Word of Life.
But on the eve of my wedding she called me. She wasn't going to make it to my wedding because she was leaving for Mexico the day of my wedding. The two things we had prayed for, God had allowed them on the same day.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Part of me wishes I could read the Bible as much as I listen to Godly men that preach it. But the reality is, I can't. I do my devotions in the morning but then I have to go to work. So, I enjoy listening when I can. The past month or so I've been doing pretty mindless work, catching up on things I've neglected for the past year. It's been a real treat.
Through different sermons, I've been learning what it's really like to see where your treasures are. That's where my heart is. So, I took last months bank account statement and categorized it. That's what one pastor said to do. Look at your bank account and that will show you where your heart is. And guess what I found out? Our hearts are at Starbucks. Well, and other optional places. I looked at how many times we went out to eat this past month and the majority of the time it wasn't with someone else. It was alone or just the two of us. So our hearts (idols) are our stomachs. They are also at Target. I buy a lot of my groceries at Target but I also buy optional items there too. Looking at our spending made both Martin and I sick.
So, as one pastor said as I was listening while I was working out, what am I going to do about it? Am I going to nod and make the appropriate "hmmm" in my pew on Sunday or am I going to do something about it? After talking it through, Martin and I have decided to keep a spending journal and keep each other accountable. Some friends did it this past month for other reasons and if they can do it - we can do it. If we really want to invest in things not of this world we need to make real changes and not just spend without purpose. I was convinced we were going to sell our house earlier today but I think that might need some prayer and fasting attached to it, not just emotions as I'm crying in my office repenting of my wrong spending and idols to God.
I never thought God would take me this route when I started 120 days ago. I thought I would be 20 pounds smaller and growing in Christ my way. But once again, He's shown me that He is so much bigger than my outward struggles and more importantly, much bigger than my inward heart struggles.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
1. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawerence (17th Century dude - amazing little book)
2. The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
3. Desiring God by John Piper
I try to read them every few years. They aren't easy reads. It took me over a year to read Desiring God the first time. Martin bought me The Pursuit of God on tape when we were dating. I just listened to it again a couple of years ago on my commute to my old job. Makes me sad I don't have a tape player any longer. It was one of the first books I read after I was saved. And my dad gave me his copy of The Practice of the Presence of God soon after I was saved. I just found it on my book shelf at home and have it on the table to dig into again. I think the thing I love about all three of these guys is the difference in their beliefs. I'd guess that Brother Lawerence had some catholic thinking in his theology and well, Piper and Tozer could be renamed Calvin and Armenian. But non-the-less, they all believed/believe Jesus is the only way to heaven and have great insight taken from the Word of God. And well, that's all that really matters.
I think you should share your favs. Because I love good reading. But please, don't put the Bible. I think it has it's own category. : )
Monday, May 17, 2010
I'm kind of tired of planning. Is that bad? I told Martin yesterday that I'm just going to live life day by day and keep trucking along but not plan much beyond that for awhile. I'm not being lazy I don't think. I'm just going to stop thinking ahead. I don't mean I'm going to live for today and spend my money like there is no tomorrow. I'm not going to stop investing in people. I'm just not going to plan my future for a bit. I think it's become a way that I build idols. So for now, I'm shelving planning.
This means that if people ask me about plans for adoption, I'm going tell them I really don't know. And when they ask how I'm feeling about Martin and law school, I'm going to reply that if it's what God wants it's what I want. And so on.
Because when it all comes down to it, I just want what God wants and for now, I'm going to stop planning and just seek Him alone. That might be kind of easy for people but Martin and I are planners. Our plans might change daily but we are still planners.
Also, if you're reading this, please pray for Martin. He's walking through something right now that he needs God's wisdom and so do the other people involved. It's complicated so I'm just going to leave it at that.
Oh and Jesus, if You and the Father could talk it over, could you come back today? Thanks. Selfishly, that would rock.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I really wish there was a 10 step program that could rid me of being a legalist. But even if there is one out there it doesn't change the fact that my heart is the problem my words and actions are just the overflow of what's going on in there. I hate but love when sin is so evident to me. It's evidence of the Holy Spirit but it's what I do at that moment that really matters.
:::John Piper says::: "So legalism is the pursuit of the law with some other engine than faith, on some other steam that the Spirit. What is the engine of legalism? Paul calls it 'works' (Romans 9:32) and he calls the fuel of this engine 'flesh' (Galatians 3:3). 'Works' is the opposite of 'faith' and 'flesh' is the opposite of 'Spirit.' So legalism is not whether you strive to obey the commands of God, but which engine and which fuel you run on."
:::Found this on theResurgence.com:::
How to Become a Legalist:
1. Make rules outside the Bible.
2. Push yourself to try and keep your rules.
3. Castigate yourself when you don't keep your rules.
4. Become proud when you do keep your rules.
5. Appoint yourself as judge over other people.
6. Get angry with people who break your rules or have different rules.
7. "Beat" the losers.
Anyone else have allergies all of the sudden? Gotta love May in Jersey! Hoping to call my mother tonight and also get some trim painted in the entryway, after the gym of course.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
As I've said before, I'm going very slowly through the book of Romans. Chapter 9 has had it's challenges for me. I don't find it as exciting as chapter 6 or 8 and it has a different tone than chapter 7. Paul's getting into why God chose us.
I believe Matt Chandler says it best - God doesn't look down on the human race and pick people because He sees potential in us. He's not like, "I want that guy on my team! He will make Me look really good." We have no idea why God chose us. It's so much deeper than any our pea brains can comprehend. I know I sound like a broken record but I need to hear it and read it - we all deserve death. Sin's only punishment is death and just us being born deserves death because the disease of sin is all over our body. We are already infected. Each cell in our body holds sin.
From that, God has - for some reason much bigger than all of us - chosen those who He will show mercy to through Salvation of Jesus. AHHHH! That is so amazing! We all should have judgement but He has shown His mercy for some. That blows my mind. Paul writes in Romans 9:14-24 -