Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 32 - Excel

I've been at Microsoft Excel classes for the past two days. I'm drained! Learning in a classroom is quite exhausting. Hopefully I will be able to put into practice what I've learned. I feel like I learned so much in two days that I will need a lifetime to process it but at the same time if it takes me that long to process it then I'll forget what to process. Shew! A vicious cycle.

Not much to say today. Again, I'm drained. I know that's hard to believe. I'm still here. Just letting you know.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 29 - Pounds Lost? 4

I think weighing in on a Monday should be banned! Okay, maybe not. I actually enjoy doing it in a weird way because it helps me on the weekend. One of the many times I did Weight Watchers I went to the Friday evening meetings. That was a bit much. I not only starved myself Monday through Friday until 5 PM, I ate like a queen Friday night through Sunday night. I've manipulated the scales all my life. I'm not kidding anyone by doing that.

Sunday nights are hard because we usually don't eat lunch on Sunday until after 1 PM and then we have Crosswalk at 6 PM so by 8 PM I am hungry. We go to different people's houses after Crosswalk or stay at the gym so there is always food afterwards but not good food. It's the snacking food that is cheap (since we as leaders buy it) and the calories can add up but the fullness of your stomach doesn't. I usually leave feeling unsatisfied and in need of meat. Last night I wanted a burger from Wendy's so bad. I had already eaten plenty of food (cheese, crackers, an oreo - double stuffed - mmm, another random cookie, and a sliver of pizza). I wanted meat but it was 9 PM and there was no reason for me to eat that late. I wrestled with my thoughts on the way home. We spent a lot of money on food last week because of our kitchen renovation (things add up!) and financially it wasn't wise and the fact that it was 9 PM and I was going to be in bed by 10 PM really wasn't wise. So I went home and cleaned out the refrigerator, did some laundry and went to bed. And guess what? I didn't die. It's quite amazing, actually. If you go to bed a little hungry you will not die.

I know, I need to post some pictures of our new wall in our kitchen. I'll try to do that soon. I'm so thankful it's over and I can now cook and be normal in my kitchen! Homemade chicken tenders and potatoes tonight!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 25 - Listening to Sermons

I guess I'm officially old. I love listening to sermons at work. Working and listening to someone talk - if I was thirteen that would be SO BORING. But I now love it. My job doesn't allow me to listen as much as I would like (I sometimes have to think and read which doesn't do well for soaking in a sermon).

One of the guys I enjoy listening to (other than my dad, that's a given) is Matt Chandler. He is a pastor in Dallas and around my age. He was just diagnosed with brain cancer. They found a tumor that was malignant and the cancer is fatal. They are doing all they can to prolong his life but I believe two years is the best case scenario. He has three small children and a growing church. The tumor probably started growing twenty years ago but on Thanksgiving he had a seizure and that's when they found it. He has an amazing outlook. He says he welcomes this suffering. This was no surprise to God.

One of the reasons I relate to him is because he teaches against "bible belt" thinking. I live in New Jersey and a big group of people up here are catholic. I almost got hit yesterday because there is a big catholic church down the street from our neighborhood and it was Ash Wednesday so everyone was going in to get their ash smudge on their foreheads. I see all these rituals that catholics believe will get them to heaven eventually and it is no different than "bible belt Christianity." So many southern Christians hold to a magic prayer they said one Sunday and then they do their duties as Christians - go to church when it's convenient, pray for hurting people, feel guilty when a curse word slips, and smile and be nice to all who they come in contact with (even if they hate their guts - at least they were nice!). And we think that's all that is required to get to heaven (the prayer part) and win God's favor (everything else). I know this is not only southern Christianity - it's in the north too but it's much more widespread down there.

I enjoy him and relate to him because he teaches it's all about your heart. You need to be revolving around God not the other way around. We're not here to do things for God because He needs us. It's not like he saw us and thought - hmmm - now that's someone I want on my team! (Totally stole that thought from Matt Chandler). No, he chose us for our weakness. He chose us for reasons we can't comprehend but He promises us they are for His glory.

As I walk through this "new me" that I am trying to develop from the inside and praying it will show on the outside, I am shown how dirty I am inside. I can stop putting tons of bad stuff in my body but it was already dirty before I added anything. That's why I have to renew my heart and my mind before any of this is going to work. And it's only because of Jesus' innocent blood on the cross that makes any of this change possible. This life is SO not about me. That is a chunk of truth I need before me daily.

On another note, we have finished our kitchen renovation! I will post some pictures this weekend. Feels good to be finished. Martin took off yesterday to work on it and then I came home last night and got right to work while he went to a meeting. I finished around 10 PM. Long day but totally worth it!

We've got a missions committee meeting tonight. Oh and Martin has decided to become a deacon at church. More on that after I sort through the selfishness in my mind on the subject.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 23 - Snow, Wainscoting, and Chalkboards

Okay, I've got pictures of life! Well. our life minus us. Below are some shots of the snow and our small kitchen renovations. I saw on HGTV where a family changed a wall in the kitchen into a chalkboard. I loved the idea and Martin took it a step further and added some wainscoting (which he is downstairs cutting the trim now) and we painted the chalkboard wall with magnetic paint so we can put fun magnets and pictures on the chalkboard (isn't that great?!?!).

Above and below are pictures of our house in the snow. The snow is about a quarter of what it was. On the roof of the porch the snow was well above halfway up the windows! And below the snow was over halfway up the light post. You can see our big piles of snow left over from our driveway that Martin spent hours shoveling. At least it was good exercise!

Okay, this is our small, fast, and hopefully non-frustrating kitchen renovation. After Martin finishes the trim I get to fill in the nail holes and caulk everything. Trim isn't easy - so my husband has displayed today. I guess you have to get the edges perfect or it looks really bad (to which I said, "that's okay - we'll just fill in the weird gaps with caulk!" To which he replied, "No." Oh well, I tried.). Below is the chalkboard magnetic wall. The wall isn't super magnetized. It can hold simple magnets with a piece of paper. I think it's just so cool! Can't wait to hang stuff and write on it.

Below is our phone! We wanted a silver phone and found that this phone was the only one that Target, Amazon, and Walmart sold online. Who had the cheapest price? Target! But I have free shipping with Amazon so we bought it from there because overall that was cheaper. Can't wait to see it on the wall.

Something Martin wants on our magnetic chalkboard is a "House To Do List." So I made one out with who is responsible for what beside each of the task. It's long and it will probably be time to start at the top again once we get to the bottom but hey - goals are good. He also wants to make an "Adopt a Baby To Do List" too. That one will take a bit more research.

Day 23 - Days Fly By

Oh man! I need to post some pics of the snow piles outside our house and our fun project we're doing in our kitchen. I'll try to take a few moments tonight and do that.

This weekend we painted one of our walls in the kitchen with magnetic paint and chalk board paint and then we're putting wainscoting up on two walls. It looks amazing so far! I love progress on our house. We've lived there for three years now and I don't think we will ever stop with projects. We made a list of projects we want to do in the house and it is LONG! But we've decided to be there for as long as God allows so making it the house we may die in is kinda fun!

I've got to get on the elliptical tonight. We've broken our relationship in the last week with me being sick. I need to get reacquainted with him. So after I exercise I'll post some pics. How's that for a deal? I need to put my life through pictures on here too.

Haven't weighed in awhile. I think I will next Monday. I'm curious.

Lots to do in the office this morning.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 19 - Why Does He Have to be Invisible?

I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit. I am focusing on myself and He gently reminds me that life isn't about me. I am very consumed in feeling hopeless right now. But I am gently reminded that when I am feeling this way I am looking at the world through human lenses and not God lenses.

I find it so easy to look at myself and my circumstances (most of which I have put myself in) and not being able to see a way out. What foolishness! I serve an awesome God who wants to do over and above we can ever ask but I fall into the hearer of the Word and not the doer of the Word when it comes to things like this.

Here is what it comes down to: Glorifying my God through living a faithful life to my God is far greater than anything. Anything. Anything. Anything. Better than children? Yes. Better than being debt free? Yes. Better than being home in Tennessee? Yes. Better than my happiness? Yes. Better than anything.

I write this because I need to see it. I need to allow these words of truth to penetrate my soul like a slow rain on a thirsty soil. I don't want pouring rain because that doesn't give the soil enough time to absorb what it needs. I need a slow steady rain on my soul. I need to read them over and over and over again. Then live as if the words I write are true. Because His Word is better than life.

I am an extreme person. I am hot and cold. I am a rush or a wash-out. But a mature Christian is steady. Two steps forward, one back. This is what this journey is about. Becoming a consistent person for the glory of Christ. Repentance helps in that process just as well as being in the Word and praying. I am so fast to keep repentance out of the equation. Which is the most humbling of all three.

I was listening to the words of Andrew Peterson's song Invisible God and was just reminded that we serve a God we will never see but he puts it so perfectly:
And oh, I long to see your face, Invisible, Invisible God.
All the works that you have made are clearly seen
and plain as day, so mighty and tender.
Oh Lord, let me remember,
your power eternal,
your nature divine.
All creation tells the tale that Love is real and so alive.
I feel you, I hear you, Great God Unseen.
I see you in the long, cold death that the winter brings
and the sweet resurrection spring.

I have a feeling I will be reading Day 19 for years to come. At least I hope so.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day 17 - Very Bad Day

It's been a bad day on a lot of levels. I don't want to write anything because I just need to get over most of it. On a better note - we did have a day off today because of the crazy snow. I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow so I can have a memory of the craziness!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 15 - Snow, Snow, Snow!

I'll get some pictures up here soon of the mass of snow that is in our region. They are calling for another storm Tuesday night into Wednesday (another 12 inches). We got about 28 inches this weekend. Martin shoveled the driveway and sidewalk and it took him a total of 5 to 6 hours. Our driveway can only fit about four cars. There was just that much snow. It's beautiful. I hate driving in it. The roads aren't fully clear and my car informed me this morning that I was driving with "no traction" going up a hill that was covered with ice. "Go for fresh snow!" is what my dad always taught me. I kept an eye out for it as I going. I should have had Martin drive me in the Jeep but I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning.

Still sick. Not sure what is wrong with me. I don't have a lot of energy but I've felt worse before. I was able to do tons of laundry and keep the kitchen and family room clean all weekend. I can't sleep well and that's probably the reason I am not getting better. I am resting but not sleeping. I go to sleep then have crazy dreams and wake up every hour. I'm not sure if I have a fever or I'm just weird. Maybe both. I hate taking meds and I keep hoping that all of this will just go away with old fashion vicks vapo rub, the neti-pot, rest, and relaxation. Mornings and evenings are the worst.

This morning I received an email from some missionaries from ABWE (Association of Baptists for World Evangelism). We are now on the Missions Committee so we get all kinds of missions updates now. They said that after nine years the CIA finally released the video of one of their missionary plane being shot down.

I remember this well because nine years ago Kevin Bowers came to Word of Life for the annual Missions Conference. Kevin and his wife were missionaries in Peru. They had two children - a boy (around 3 or 4) and baby girl (around 9 months). They had a houseboat and ministered on the river. The Peruvian Government along with the CIA were cracking down on drug trafficking. The CIA followed their plane and had a Peruvian Air Force plane come to check out who the plane belonged to. In the video you can hear the CIA operatives saying they aren't sure if they are enemy or not. The Peruvian government was sure they were. They sent the plane a message that if they did not identify themselves they would shoot them. The only problem was, the plane was on a different frequency. The plane was on the air traffic control frequency as it should have been. And they were communicating with them. After no interaction from the plane with the government, they shot the plane. They quickly realized the plane was not a drug plane and help was sent to the river it landed in. Kevin's wife and daughter were shot with a single bullet through their stomachs (his wife was hold their daughter), killing both of them. He and his son survived.

I remember this well because Kevin came only months after the tragedy and he talked with us at Word of Life and he was so transparent and his pain was so raw it still brings me to tears today. What he said was that he and his wife lived in a houseboat with their children. It was a "mini-America" floating among the natives. They left the boat when they felt like it, ministered to whomever they felt like and was almost as comfortable as if they lived in their old house in the U.S.A. He said it took a tragedy like this for God to show him that he is on this earth for Him. Not for anyone else.

The video is terrible. It's five minutes long and I was begging them not to shoot. You can hear Kevin after the shots were fired, probably after he saw his wife and daughter shot, screaming for someone to help them.

We'd love to blame our government or the Peruvian government. But I'm afraid we'd be missing the point. We, as Christians are told to take up our cross daily and walk with Him. That's exactly what we must do. And if that means death then so be it. I spend all day thinking about how I can make my day easier for me. How I can get home faster. How I can make an easier dinner so prep and clean-up will be easier. But I rarely look outside myself. Looking outside ourselves is the best way to grow but it's also the best way to heal. I've got to stop looking at this world and the circumstances I am in as if I am in control. I am not. I am not here for me. I'm here for my God. To serve where He sees fit and love where He wants me to love.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Day 12 - Still Sick and Pondering

I worked a half day today. I couldn't do the afternoon. I wanted to lay my head down on the desk and sleep. Laura, a friend at work, and I always say - it's time to go home if you are envisioning yourself sleeping on the floor somewhere at work. It was getting to that point.

I did some shopping before I came home because they are calling for 12 to 18 inches of snow tonight and tomorrow. I stayed away from the major grocery stores and Wal-Mart and it only took me about an hour. I'm exhausted but every time I get into this house I perk up. I have no energy but sleep seems to leave me. I have a bright house - lots of windows so maybe that's what it is.

I love snow storms. This is the most snow (this season) we've gotten in years. The downside is I want (again, the deserving thing I talked about last week) to eat the whole time. Make a big breakfast, snack constantly, drink carbonated drinks like they're going extinct, and make hot cocoa like your life depends on it. I'm trying to get out of that mindset. It's okay to fix a fun breakfast but I don't have to eat half a pound of Bob Evans sausage (and you think I'm joking)! This weekend is going to be a challenge. Hopefully I will feel up to exercising so if I do eat too much I can work out to burn some of those extra calories off.

It's so hard to change my mindset. I want to sit around and eat carrot sticks and drink water and when I get the urge for hot cocoa - I'll heat up hot water and pretend I'm drinking cocoa with marshmallows. That really is easy but that's not reality. Reality is hot cocoa and marshmallows, pancakes and sausage, popcorn and diet coke. I want to enjoy snow weekends with my husband and our future children in years to come. Eating those things is not the wrong part - it's the lack of self-discipline.

I have been pondering for several months about Christmas and my husband and how we were raised (this is linked to my thoughts above, just follow me here and trust I'll bring it together in the end). I was raised with the mindset - if you need something, like clothes or shoes, then you get them. I emphasize need because when we grew out of clothes or shoes we did get new ones but when they left the "cool zone" we still had to wear them. Martin was raised with the mindset - if you need something then you will get it for you for Christmas or your birthday.

My family had small Christmas's by most American standards. Mom and dad spent $25 on each of us until we were older then it went to $35. Now, we are at $75 (I think they are just happy they don't have to support us anymore so they reward us and our spouses with that). My grandparents and aunt, uncle, and cousins lavished us with many gifts. We were so fortunate to be able to get fun stuff and clothes from all of them.

Martin's family went all out for Christmas. They usually didn't spend the holidays away from their home and what their mom and dad got them - was pretty much it. They did get fun sussy's (as my mother-in-law calls them) or small gifts from aunts, uncles, and grandparents but the majority was from mom and dad.

Mesh both of those childhoods together, add some over-indulgence, and poor practicing of self-discipline and what do you get? A couple who has HUGE Christmas' and birthdays mixed with the lifestyle of "oooh I want that so I'm going to get that now." Pretty disastrous if you ask me. We have now been married for almost seven and a half years and this Christmas, I finally put a stop to it.

Sounds great huh? Yay Sarah - she put a stop to it! She's so responsible! No. Notice I said I put a stop to Christmas. Christmas wasn't my problem. It was Martin's. It's easy for me to stop something I haven't done all my life. I was convicted that I need to stop it all. And by stopping I don't mean eliminating it altogether. I just mean pulling back the reigns. Do I really need that? I need to be asking that question in everything I buy.

Kohl's just informed me today via mail that my credit limit with them has been extended to $2,500! Really? There is stuff at Kohl's that I need that cost $2,500? I don't think so. But because I'm such an amazing customer it's their thanks to me. I love Kohl's. They send me great coupons but I don't need to go shopping there every weekend.

So now I'm bringing it all back together. It's all about self-discipline! It touches every part of my being. Sometimes I think we put self-control at the bottom of the list when we look at the fruit of the Spirit. It should be near the top. Because without it we can't see past ourselves to love, have peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, or gentleness. Just pondering as I'm sick and laid up. I'm pretty sure my mind will be the first to go on my body. I use it the most. Or maybe it will be the last since I work it out so much. Hmmm.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 11 - SICK

Started feeling bad yesterday. Had the aches and pains all over and felt like my legs had just been in a marathon. My throat felt raw and I just couldn't drink enough water. By last night I was bundled in about six blankets including my snuggie that Laura got me for our Christmas gag gifts.

Today I haven't been able to talk much. I'm sure Martin has been okay with that. I've had a rather wonderful day other than the feeling of being sick. I watched three hours of the Masterpiece Theater Emma, watched LOST from the other night, and the Biggest Loser. Sometimes being sick has it's perks.

I haven't done great this week with exercise. My eating has been better. I need to remember that life doesn't always give me a consistent schedule so if I'm not able to exercise I need to be watchful to what I eat even more and vise versa! This is going to be a LONG process. And it's only day11.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 9 - So Slow

I look back on the last few years and see how fast it has flown by. Days blur into weeks and weeks into months and so on. But I've noticed this past week that life seems to be going a bit slower. I'm not sure if it's because I'm feeling tortured by eating less or if it's that I am embracing each day by recording the day and giving it purpose. I hope it's the latter. That makes me look more mature and spiritual.

Jack, our student ministry pastor said something Sunday night at Crosswalk that I've been meditating on. He was talking about how we will all suffer as Christians but we should also be suffering for Christ. They are two different things. He made such a great point. In Egypt, there are Christians persecuted every day. But he asked if all people in Egypt, not necessarily Christians, go through heartache in their lives. Cancer? Loss of a child? Fires? Financial hardship? Yes, everyone does. Well then why do we as Christians call that "suffering for Christ"? It was such a great reminder. We can suffer well with something God has brought our way but circumstances like that are brought on by sin - as a whole - in this world, not from serving Christ!

I am a middle-class American. I am a white woman. I have a four bedroom house with two and a half baths. I live in a neighborhood with sidewalks. I park my newer car in a warm garage. I work at a Christian organization. I have a great office with two (yes two) huge computer monitors. I have a great chair with great ergonomic support. I am 20 feet from a bathroom. I have a church that will support me if anything ever goes wrong in my life. I have a family that would give everything for me. I have a husband who works hard to provide for me and loves me.

I say all of that because I DON'T KNOW SUFFERING FOR CHRIST. I have a hard time wrapping my head around why I live the way I do and if I should be living differently. But this I know: right now, this minute, I am following the will of God. I am reading His Word, praying to Him, seeking Him for idols in my heart, being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, trying to confess when I see sin in my life. Because I don't know what my future holds. I don't know where I will be in ten years. I don't know what God's preparing me for but I know He knows and that's all I really care about today.

Thanks Aaron and Sonya for posting the persecution blog. Great reminder and also a great confirmation to the chewing I've been doing these last couple of days.

On a lighter, non-spiritual note: The first episode of the last season of LOST is coming on tonight and I'm excited to head over to Justin and Beccah's to watch it with some people.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Day 8 - Weight Lost? Zero

Okay, I forgot to weigh last week so I don't know how much I lost. I know I've lost something but I'm thinking God allowed me to forget because He wants me to see this as a life change not just a numbers change. Because of that - I may not weigh every week. I'm not committing to that statement yet because I need to pray about it.

Looking at numbers can be really good. I can be encouraged to see my weight going down and it also gives me a push when I have become stagnant in my shrinking process. But I can also get obsessed with it and get discouraged because there might be change going on inside of me that numbers can't see. So, I don't know. I did weigh today. I wasn't thrilled with the number but that's not surprising.

Had a very busy weekend. I ended on a bad note food wise. I did the whole "deserving thing" that I wrote about a few days ago. We went to a couple's house for lunch and had yummy chili and salad. Ended with good coffee and a bit of a cinnamon roll. But then (six hours later) we were driving home at 9:30 last night after Crosswalk and a leaders meeting and I was starving. Instead of going home and eating a light snack of cereal, I got Wendy's. It wasn't pretty. It was better than I would have done prior to my commitment for self-discipline last week but it still was bad enough I had to confess my poor choices (health and financially) before God this morning. I am thankful that I was sensitive enough to feel the conviction from the Holy Spirit in this area.

The hard part is I told Martin that I had confessed my sin of wrong choices and he apologized for taking me there. That is going to be the hardest about all of this. I don't want Martin to feel he has to go on this journey with me. I want him to support me but not be forced to actually do it. But I am just giving that to God. I can't control all of it.

Tonight is our missions committee meeting. Every line in the budget is being cut. I hate the fact that the missions budget is a part of that but I'm trying to see it as an opportunity to cut out some fat (I hate to call it that but we support some pretty odd things). Our church is walking through some hard things financially but nothing we aren't working through. Being on committees make me feel like a grown up. FINALLY!