Feb 13, 2013

Understanding sacrifice...

I've heard of people 'giving up' things for lent, but wasn't really sure I understood why...? I've been researching conflicting reviews as to whether God calls us to observe this and 'fast' something of importance for 40 days in preparation for Easter or not - I will just honestly say: I don't know all the answers with this, but I've never whole-heartedly considered participating in such a thing until this year, probably because of my most recent revelation (see my last blog post). Regardless of the dates lent & Easter are recognized... I am fully aware that my Savior. died. for me... with that revelation comes the realization that I 'forget' this important fact on a daily basis! I must be forgetting, because I constantly allow my flesh to choose my identity...

I'll give you today as an example: If you read any of my earlier posts you'll recall my struggle with lethargy/depression/laziness... whatever you want to call it - well today it all tried to creep up on me once again. I didn't get to bed as early as I would've liked last night, but honestly I've gone to bed earlier & couldn't fall asleep til later and got through the day just fine... something funny was going on... After putting Sarah down for her nap, all the guilt and self-loathing flooded in... how could I basically ignore that precious life I brought into the world with the love of my life??? How can I allow my flesh to win over my deep desire to love on my baby girl and shower her with love, affection, & attention as often as possible? How could I let my low energy steal my joy & time with my princess? How much time was wasted lying on a couch, hoping my daughter wouldn't notice I was practically falling asleep all morning???

I looked my evil, seething struggle in the face and named it. Then I claimed what Christ did for me. His blood covered that... this isn't my battle - He died for all this so I could claim victory over my flesh & move in His strength, power, & might. I wrote the word on my hand, drew a little drop above it to remind myself... His sacrifice, His blood, covered this 2.... then I stared at that selfish little word & just wanted to kick its @$$!!!


The best thing I could think of that would be the opposite of laziness was to: Workout (high-intensity cardio when I had NO intensity to give! lol) - Clean the house - Make supper for my family - & had lots of fun playing with Sarah after she got up from her nap (since her mom had clear perspective now!). Every time I was tempted to sit down & quit what I was doing I saw that word on my hand & refused to disrespect the precious blood of my Savior that covered this sneaky rat & kept pushing forward.

The struggles with my flesh (sins) ebb & flow with each morning I am given - sometimes it'll be a familiar struggle, sometimes it may be something totally off the wall... something I didn't even realize I struggled with, but in the end: there it is again trying to steal my ability to experience fullness of joy, peace, & love! The word on my hand is going to be different some days, but this really is my focus right now... not just because it's lent, but because it's timely and so necessary.

What am I 'actually' giving up? Well, I'm going to take this week by week so I am staying 'fresh' with what God has for me in this time. For now, I am only drinking water (still eating food). So no more pop or juice or whatever else you can drink. I oddly had a sense that red wine was ok...??? To assure you that I'm not a lush looking for a get out of jail free card: I do not like wine. Period. The point is that I am able to take communion with red wine (like a sip or a shot... well u know those little communion cup thingys? A shot sounds so un-christian... anyways!) along with bread to be taken in remembrance of Him and what He sacrificed for me. I find it interesting and yet not so ironic that God has been showing me so much in regards to understanding what I am freely offered... so close to the beginning of lent? Well I'm rolling with it ;) call it a sign, whatever, I'm convinced! There's a purpose...

The 'what for' in all of this is painfully obvious, but along with all of this revelation and purging of my selfishness - I do feel called to pray for something specific. Steve came to mind so quickly and obviously when I asked God if there was something specific I should go to Him in prayer with whenever I'm tempted to grab whatever I'm abstaining from, so for the hubby it is! With this of course will be prayers over our marriage, his role as a husband, a spiritual leader, a father... you get the idea... (note: this should be the daily cry of my heart anyways, but I'm taking it seriously now!)

The revealing of all this is not to boast, brag, or otherwise make myself look holier than thou by any means. This blog, in its essence, is a place I felt compelled to store my thoughts, dreams, & revelations to look back on for my own use and hopefully to inspire others. I do think that the fasting in the bible is in regard to food, but I'm gonna go with if you can 'sacrifice' something important to you then you will draw closer to God in prayer during your fast... and much more often! Is drinking water only a stretch for me? Well, I would go as far as saying I am addicted to mountain dew... this will be my greatest struggle with drinking only water and the occasional (but daily if desired) sip of red wine for communion purposes. I don't like to drink water... ever... unless I'm working out that's all I want, which is also new for me, but anyways... 

This is where I'm at - feel free to hold me accountable ;) I don't know what each new week will add on to my 'abstaining-from' list... which makes me a bit nervous, but I trust it'll be for the best. I will continue my research on fasting, intercession, & the lent season as I venture forward. I'm expecting deeper understanding/wisdom/revelation in my walk with God & breakthroughs for myself, my family, & our relationships with others.

"Lord may your will be done in our lives. Give us grace when we fail You, perseverance to push through, & an awareness of the things we allow ourselves to struggle with... many times for absolutely no reason at all! You are forever faithful & worthy of any sacrifice we could ever fathom giving."

Feb 12, 2013

He died for that... (remember who you are!)

So I've been doing this 'thing' lately where I actually allow God to be a part of our conversation when I pray.... sound crazy? Well, consider how easy it is for us to lift up all our requests and forget to take a moment to just be still and allow Him a chance to speak... make sense? I know He speaks in a multitude of ways, but there's just something so precious about taking a moment to shut your mouth & your busy thoughts and make room for what HE wants to share with you!

Last night was the first time in a long time I 'tested' this out... here are my results (lol): 

After reading Matthew 7 & 8  I closed my eyes & asked God to give me the spirit of wisdom and knowledge. I started thinking about things I struggle with on a daily basis - I would see these labels scroll across my mind's 'tv screen'... then I saw the cross... glowing brightly! Zooming in, I see Christ hanging on that cross... 

He looks up at me...

My attention is brought to the blood dripping from His hands (kinda gory right? keep reading!). Each drop of blood dripped onto my struggles (those words/labels). One drip falls onto the word "self-loathing"... the word dissolves... (honestly I didn't even think I struggled with that, but God knows my heart better than I do. As I thought about it more, it made sense). Then a drip fell onto the word "depression" and it was gone - "bitterness"... on and on His blood drips onto these struggles & I begin to see with clearer understanding (wisdom?) that His blood truly covers my multitude of sins! 

Acting out in anger could cause me to reflect back on this & remember... He died for this! His blood covered that already... WHAT AM I DOING?!? HE DIED FOR THIS!!! He died so that I might know the fullness of His love & salvation & grace over-flowing, not dwell on my faults or the faults of others... to be impatient or angry or depressed... (!!!) wow... how did I get this all so messed up?

So... how to live this out I wonder? My 'thoughts' quickly bring me back to words I recently read: "Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger..." (James 1:19 - luv that book). I need to close my eyes, take a breath, & CONSIDER my responses (how it will affect myself & others) - not just spit out whatever comes to mind first or go with whatever voice is loudest... the Lord whispers so we must BEND, STRAIN, SEEK to hear His truth, spoken in LOVE... always in love...

I ponder all of this... how to truly live this life for Him - respecting the sacrifice He made so that I wouldn't have to be a slave to all of this... CRAP! I pull my blankets up & the pages of my bible spin back to Matthew 7, once again... (I end up reading Matthew 7, then 6, then 5, then all of them again... growing... going deeper... considering Christ's words... receiving whatever He has for me... need to grow up!)

"Lord, like a sunflower follows the sun, may our hearts follow after Your Son! May we truly be a light, shining your grace on the dark places of our own & other's lives... Remind us of who we are & what you overcame by Your sacrifice on that cross - remind us that "IT. IS. FINISHED..."  *Amen*

Another example of how God speaks to me: 

As I was typing the words to my prayer above, the movie 'The Lion King' came to mind?! The part where I guess the spirit of Mufasa (Simba's father) was speaking to his son, Simba, saying "remember who you are.... remember" - He was calling him out to step into his role as rightful king. I think God is crying for His children to remember who they are - children of the most high God - royalty - forgiven - made new - a light... don't forget! Remember who YOU are... 

(Remember who you are...) Lion of Judah anyone?

(God is light, we are to be a light to the world - we can bring light to dark places)

In case you don't feel like watching the whole movie, here's the scene God brought to my mind... and don't get creeped out or confused by Rafiki or the 'circle of life' reference in the video link below - take from it what God gives you personally... it'll be good practice! ; )

*** http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maARmxjj3f0 ***

I love it when God brings to mind a single clip from a movie or lyric from a song to speak to my heart! He can use anything to speak to us ya know... Just imagine the lion of Judah, God himself, calling you out to remember your identity - who He created you to be - don't forget Him or what He did for you! Don't run from your past, learn from it & grow! All this from the Lion King (*snorts) God cracks me up sometimes ;)

Feb 9, 2013

How I'm fitting fitness & other healthy habits into my life...

I started 'Turbofire' workout videos & am trying to drink more water this month - the videos I ordered came with a calendar that takes me through what workouts to do 6 days a week for the next 3 months. If I workout tomorrow I will have gotten my 6 in for the week and here's what I'm noticing so far: 
  • I have more energy after I workout (It'd be great if I could always workout early in the morning, but if not then at least early afternoon during Sarah's nap. I've noticed if I squeak it in late at night after Sarah goes to bed it makes me feel all hyped up and I can't sleep!).
  • I feel much stronger (There has been soreness, but each time I do a workout I can do it better and with more intensity so that's a major plus!).
  • I sleep better (As long as my workout was earlier in the day, plus I wake up feeling much more refreshed instead of groggy and having to force myself out of bed!).
Getting fit in February for me is mostly focusing on 'working out' which naturally encourages me to drink more water - it's all you want when you're gasping for air!!! The food I eat hasn't changed a whole lot yet apart from I'm trying to eat more often, something small every few hours if possible (and with the energy I have I've noticed I eat more anyways). January was when I made the shift with my sleeping schedule (started out pretty strict & now the consistency/groove of it is that I go to bed when Steve does or at least before midnight and I'm up when Sarah wakes up). There's room for improvement, but I'm highly motivated to not allow myself to get as bad as I was - caffeine, too much water, or even working out late at night affects the quality of my sleep so I try to be aware of that). Making quiet times with God more of a priority began in January as well (seems silly that I have to plan it, but somehow I'd forget and wonder why I had such a bad day... it needs to START with God - oftentimes at the end of the day I take a moment to make a list of things I'm thankful for - or 'gifts' from God. The list is already over 100! If I'm having a 'down' moment I just start reading through my list & before long my perspective changes for the better - it's very therapeutic for the soul...)

My goal is to try something new monthly - I know I can't go crazy with these 'betterment' changes or I'll burn out. I have a new goal each month so I have that whole month to get my groove and form a new habit before introducing something else. For all I know March is going to be my attempt to simply remove pop from my diet or greatly lessen it... just to make the effort and go slow with healthy food choices. I haven't decided yet what next month's goal is going to be. February has gone great so far and I'm enjoying working out, it's fun when Steve joins in as well & hilarious when Sarah says 'let's exercise!' - I want Sarah to see our good habits at a young age so it's not foreign to her as she grows up.

Note: As you can see from the photo below my major goal with working out is not weightloss. If I tone up that's fine, but basically I live a very sedentary lifestyle and my energy has taken a major toll from this - my motivation is: I want to be able to keep up with my crazy beautiful lively toddler. Make healthy changes at a pace you can keep up with - don't burn yourself out. The goal is not to 'diet' or take a crash course on anything, but to make positive lifelong changes that will improve the quality of your life. Blessings to you!