9.29.2011

Seize The Day- NOT!

If you try to seize the day, the day will eventually break you.
Seize the corner of His garment and don't let go until He blesses you.
He will reshape your day.
~ Paul Little


Well, my head is about to explode and I felt the strong need to share this with the Blogosphere. The fact is I cannot keep up with:

1. All of the blogs I am following (although I am so in awe of the wonderful Christian Community in the Blogosphere!)
2. My housework
3. The ideas that are randomly flying through my brain and desiring to be birthed and blogged!
4. The stack of books on my nightstand
5. Scrapbooking...it's been MONTHS...(OK, I confess- I did 2 pages during Hurricane Irene before we lost power)
6. Did I mention my housework?
7. My own workouts  (but the dogs have been enjoying more regular walks and are thrilled about this fact)
8. My poor, pedicure-less toes...still lacking some attention and a sassy Fall color
9. Blog "hopping" - apparently I stink at this, but I am still trying!
10. The latest, newest, greatest trend in anything (nor do I seem to care - a sure sign of old age)

So is there anything you feel you cannot "keep up with lately"?
Fill in the blank. Come on, be honest with yourself. It's OK.

I just cannot keep up with: ____________. Go ahead fill it in AND add another.
Doesn't it feel good to just say it. My head feels less explosive already! How about you?

Now let's consider what we ARE doing and keeping up with despite our feeling that we are not able to measure up to our own standard, or the standards of others (both perceived and actual).

By the grace of God I am healed and exercising again. SO WHAT if I am inconsistently consistent. In June, I could barely walk and was in excruciating pain! Praise my Great Physician! By the grace of God, despite a job loss and a 50 percent income reduction we have been able to keep our daughter in her Christian school (thanks to Financial Aid provided from the wonderful school community). Praise Him who is Our Portion and Provider! By the grace of God, I had an interview where I could more clearly articulate my goals. Kinda. Praise the God who is Redefining Me and who is Our Refiner! By the grace of God I am walking by Faith and not by sight and able to share grace and truth with others, as He leads. Praise Him who is is The Light and The Way, The Truth and The Life. By the grace of God, despite a car accident in February which left my neck whip lashed and car totalled, I have a restored neck and a newer model car which accommodates our family nicely (and the dog, of course). I am stylishly mobile AND safe! Praise Him who is the Burden Bearer and the Restorer of the crops the locusts have eaten.

The things God has allowed me to "keep up with",  that are not burdensome and which bring me joy: The whole Summer shared with my daughter since I was "jobless", prepping and teaching Sunday School lessons for two, sweet (1st and 2nd grade) boys, One on One time for Bible/Book Study with a Sister in Christ this Summer (and we finished!), The Proverbs Challenge with some of My Bloggy Gal Pals and  Guys too, leading our school Moms In Touch Group weekly, praying and/or fellowshipping with some very faithful friends as we carved out, travelled and squeezed in precious time together. Times of grace and refreshment with my hubby despite a very random work schedule that really keeps us on our toes.

I love that when I am not able - I have a God who is!

Now go and Seize the Day-

NOT

Be still and KNOW that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalm 46:10

Whoever is wise,
let him heed these things
and
consider
the
great love
of the Lord.
~Psalm 107:43


9.26.2011

Cast Down, Armour Up and Walk in the Spirit!

"Never doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light,"
Raymond Edman
  
   I have just returned home from a *wonderful woman's retreat in the beautiful mountains of upstate New York. These times can be uplifting and God does reveal himself in wonderful, special ways which remind us of his faithful love and unique call on our lives as women, mothers, daughters, and friends. Returning home is sweet, yet suddenly, what He spoke to us in our solitude, there on the heights, can seem distant, dim and faraway in the present light of our reality. We know He whispered a sweet word to our hungry hearts but the enemy desires to steal it away from each of the Daughters of The King.
      So this morning, as I reflected on what I heard on the mountain and long to cling to in the valley of my doubts, fears and circumstances called this life, I heard the voice of my Teacher say to me:
"Cast down and armour up, walk in the Spirit". So I dove into His Word.
 I will share what He shared with me:
First I ask this of the Lord:
Lord, I long to walk in the valley
as if I was alone
with you on the mountaintop.
Always. 
I ask this also for all those who seek you.
In Jesus name,
Amen.


Cast Down:
2 Corinthians 10:5 ~  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
1 Peter 5:5  ~ Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for "God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble."

Armour Up:
Colossians 3:12-13   ~ Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion,kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Colossians 3:14  ~ And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Ephesians: 6:10-13 ~ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:14-18 ~ Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Walk In The Spirit!
1 Peter 4: 1-2 ~ Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.
Colossians 2:6-7 ~ So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Colossians 3:23 -24 ~ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

      So are you ready for the battle, my friend?
Are you clothed with humility? Are you dressed in His
mercy? You cannot battle with the Sword of the Spirit without His Righteousness. I am so thankful that the Righteousness I claim is not my own. He took the filthy rags of my righteousness and by His grace clothed me in His Robe of Splendor! He gave His life on a jagged cross, enduring the pain, the shame- so I can live, and walk by Grace and Truth! Rejoice with me and Join in the battle!
Our King is worthy! Fight with me! Get on your knees and commune with our great King and He will prepare your heart for battle! Onward Christian Soldier! Onward. The battle belongs to the Lord! He is Victorious. He is Mighty to Save and BIGGER than all of our fears.


* I will be sharing the details of this retreat in an upcoming post!

9.21.2011

ReDefining Me

A birthday card from my West Coast BFF, Sara
This is NOT who I am!



 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2



Well, I guess I didn't completely blow it. The interview that I went on this week, that is. I mean you'd think that after the phone call, I would have had some kind of epiphany. I would have clarified my "goals". Are you kidding? My feet have felt like Fred Flinstones as I have been making way around and about in the circles of my life. Yabba - dabba -doo! Yet, my heels have dug in and I have been stopped in my tracks with the possibilities to come. Here is how it looks in list form:

1. Unexpected life event/change
2. Anger
3. Reality knocks
4. Denial
5. Possibility knocks
6. Grief, Denial and Anger mixed= Perceived Injustice
7. Reality Barges In, Possibilities Unseen
8. FEAR @ Future, confidence shaken
9. Faith steps in (about time, where have you been?)
10. Step Out in Faith
11. Fall Flat on Face
12. God sweeps up the mess, sets me back on feet
13. Faith, Peace, God confidence increased






 I have been walking with Him long enough to know,
that when I lose sight of His footprints,
he has not lost sight of mine.


This morning I woke up with the most amazing sense of peace. You know the kind that comes when others have prayed for you, and you know that you know that you know, it is SUPERNATURAL.

What is an END in one sense is a beginning in another.


 NOT the End of the story.


      Redefine -1. To define (as a concept) : REFORMULATE
                          2. a. To reexamine or reevaluate especially with a view to change                          
                                              b. TRANSFORM 


The exciting news is:

He Is Redefining Me
It's OK, that I do not know what tomorrow will bring,
because I know Him who is the King of Kings!
Wherever He wants me
He will bring it to pass
He directs the hearts of men,
He guides me as I ask
What was meant for my end
will surely bring something new
as I learn to depend
on the one called
 Faithful and True
Why would I doubt Him?
Why should I fear?
What today is unknown
Tomorrow will be clear
Waiting on Him
Seeking His Face
Leaning each day on
His amazing grace
My time is in His hands
each moment, each breath
all of my plans
May I hold on so loosely to who I believe I am
and yield myself freely
To the Great I AM.
May I learn to be who He wants me to be
Not bound by roles
which are temporary
I am His
That's who I am
May I believe with my whole heart
forever His lamb.

©Dawn Paoletta



He has taken me to the banquet hall and his banner over me is love.
Song of Songs 2:4






9.19.2011

Could We Redefine the Question?

“The will of God is not something you add to your life.
It’s a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God…
or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.”
Elisabeth Elliot



The first time she asked, I was caught off guard. After all, I had only put my resume out two hours earlier. As I was simultaneously preparing dinner, chatting with my hubby, and  monitoring homework/after school time with my daughter, I nonchalantly picked up the phone, not quite sure about the wisdom in that decision. SO imagine my amazement when I heard this statement, point blank being shot at me, "What are your goals?"  Imagine my relief that she could not see the stupefied expression on my face. Goals? Oh, like for the position I applied for recently? Or, like for the next 45 minutes? I am pretty sure the goal of getting my family dinner and daughter focused on homework and not the latest Apple "app" is probably my "immediate short term goal". Oh, that's probably not the right answer. How about the goal of having hair roots that are actually a color on the color chart as opposed to the "steely grey" look that is peaking out of my crown. Or my toes, which have been woefully neglected, and are strongly desiring at the very least a fabulous Fall coat and a good sloughing  as well. Oh, maybe you should know that the ceiling fans are well overdue for the little broom "thingamagiggy" my mom bestowed upon me to address the "work" left, by the very active dust producing fairies that live in our humble abode. Yes, that would be a goal filed under: Immediate Action Required. Goal.
A word I used to cling to like a Holy Grail of sorts. A few years back I went through The Purpose Driven Life   by Rick Warren with a small group (actually two small groups and two separate times). I came up with a mission statement which reads:

"My life purpose is to know God, love Him with passion, trust Him completely, grow in His grace, minister His truth and serve Him wholeheartedly wherever I am, whomever I am with at all times, forever. Amen."

So, what are my "goals" ? is the question.

1. Goal: (noun) the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end. 2. Finish.
A goal can be long or short term. I have a short term goal of writing a blog, but the long term goal is to author a book. I had a goal of making a career in Fitness and competing in Bodybuilding and Power lifting. I am finished with those goals. I guess the reason I felt so like the deer in the headlights is that I am currently "goal-less" when I think of the Fitness field. It has always been my passion to help others sort out fact from fiction, with regard to fitness and bring a balanced approach in an otherwise "extreme" and potentially out of balance environment. That approach has always fueled my fire. As of late, extreme is all the rage. I find myself in a challenging position. I know I need to press on. I feel as though I am in the process of being REDEFINED. I am not sure of the direction my faithful, Leader is pointing me.
You see it's not as if I don't want to have an answer to the question,
it's just that my answer is wrapped up in Him.
He is free to DEFINE me anyway He desires.

Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

9.17.2011

Yearning

Wherever we go, God, we're trying so hard to make every place
 feel like home left behind...

Yearning


One of my very favorite all time songs is called "Yearning" by
Basia Trzetrzelewska , although this song is not "Christian" by definition, it is a song which has always resonated within me. I believe this song accurately describes the longing of our restlessness as unbelievers or as believers seeking that which can only be satisfied by God, through temporal things. In this beautiful song, Basia describes a deep longing to belong, which I think so clearly speaks to the condition of us all, before our hearts belong to Him who is our Forever Home.
I know it is one of my sincerest love songs to my Savior in it's raw honesty, beauty and truth.  
The song reminds me, how all that we pursue ultimately is a longing of the soul, a yearning, to rest in the everlasting arms of the only one, in whom our heart can ever completely be at home.

I have attached the video so you can hear this beautiful song, however although it is a Rated G video, you may not appreciate the video director's artistic expression. Hope you still can hear the beauty of this worshipful (to me) song, anyway! It always makes my soul sing along!



2 Corinthians 5:1-5
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.


"But I'm yearning no more
'cause I found my home in you
and now it's where I belong
I gave up the world to be with you"
Words by Basia Trzetrzelewska


Have a wonderfully worshipful weekend, dear friends!

For more worshipful music check out here:

9.16.2011

When The Beach Calls

The beach often calls, sometimes I listen.

Not every day can be the kind of day where you actually follow the whim of the moment.
However, some days are meant to be a day just like this...
You swing your feet out of bed and when they hit the floor, you're moving before your mind is comprehending the fact that you're awake. The coffee maker seems slow, your husband's running late (did you remember to make his lunch?) and you know that if your child makes the bus...something will be missing from that backpack and you will be heading off to the school. You look at the clock and realize there is no way you are getting a quiet time. You are starting to wonder if "quiet time" is actually the time you spend watching the birds while you do the dishes or the time you find yourself sitting alone... in the bathroom (where else do you get any alone time?) for a few moments, without interruption from man, beast nor child. By the time you return from the additional last minute errands, and walk back into your corner of the earth called home, you breathe and realize you are actually alone, with one lone hour to call your own. What will you do? You realize, there is laundry, dinner and probably a workout that should happen. It's a beautiful day. Sunny, blue sky and comfortably clear. You stand in the middle of your kitchen, as if on pause. Sweet silence surrounds you. Then you hear it. The call. The thought of the seaside comes into your mind. You listen and hear, "Come to me". So much to do...the bus will be home soon. You wonder if you can make it. Yes. The laundry will still be there, you are close enough to the beach to make it. Why would you hesitate. Grabbing a few things, you jump in the car and head to the shore, thankful for the closeness of this beautiful escape. You imagine catching up with your journal, or reading, or perhaps a walk (that counts for exercise, right?). You want to continue to squeeze everything you can from this day.

You arrive. The sand greets you. The warm, shiny, granules sparkle up at you as you step into the soft beauty of the present moment. The clear blue sky, you notice is such a picturesque shade, as if to be about the specific business of impressing those blessed to be visiting at this time. You walk with senses that suddenly seem to be heightened. Alert. You feel alive and peacefulness comes upon you as you gaze at the waves rolling in to meet you. You smile a serene smile. The morning fades away into memory as you throw your blanket down, grateful you were crazy enough to succumb to the whim of the the moment. You stand and assess your surroundings. You take a deep breath of the salt air. You come one step closer to immersion into the creation before your appreciative eyes. Your soul feels full. The waves, sand, sky and sounds draw you in as you choose to plop down on the blanket and save the walk for later...or another time. It feels good to be still. Stretched out for the first time, supine, the sun applauds you. At last you have given yourself over completely to rest. Light, fluffy, white Cirrus clouds stray ever so gently against the sky's backdrop, seemingly observing your stillness.
Summer has passed, a few rambling folks explore the shore but otherwise you welcome the solitude. A little boy chases the gulls, while his father takes photos. Mom seeks treasure along the waters' edge. The peace that embraces you is impenetrable. They all seem distant yet lovely to watch.
You wonder why such moments can't be bottled and sold. Such moments are priceless. Sitting up, you watch and listen, hungrily drinking in the scenery without feeling pressured by time, yet aware that this moment must end. You stand, reaching down into the gritty softness of the sand for a few rocks. Mementos of the serendipitous moment in time, today, when you heard the beach call - and you heeded.


Still learning to get around the Blogosphere
Click Below to enjoy hopping onto some great Blogs!



9.15.2011

Confessions of a Recovering People Pleaser



I have a confession to make. I am a "People Pleaser", and it can be rather bothersome at times. I really want to be liked and accepted. I want to be able to say with Sally Field, "You like me, you really like me". However, life is not an awards ceremony and ultimately people pleasing is a rather exhausting and frustrating activity. The good news is, I am in recovery. The bad news is, sometimes I relapse. The best news is God loves me anyway AND "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me"! 
Now don't get all preachy on me, I know I am supposed to want to please only God. But I have three things (last count) working against me and I sometimes don't recognize them, at least right away. They are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. They are common to all of us who believe. All sin will fall into one of those categories at its root. Fortunately, Jesus supplies us with all we need to do battle with all three. First of all, He laid down His life to gain our freedom and give us victory over sin and death. Then, He gives us our Spiritual Armour, His Holy Spirit, grace for the journey and friends in our faith. He lives to intercede for us and never abandons us. So how is it we, or I, still manage to find myself entangled in sin? "The devil made me do it", is not something that a believer really can say. The book of James tells us it's our own desires that lead us astray. Jesus has severed the puppet strings which Satan held on any believer who calls on His name in faith. So it goes back to the big three. All three are involved in the area of people pleasing. In it's most subtle way it can lead us off God's path for our lives as well as impact His will in the work He is doing in the lives of others. It can busy us with activities that are not in accordance with His Ephesians 2:10 "good works"  prepared in advance for us to do. It leads to discouragement with self, others and at times, those we want to please most! So how can we avoid the "PP" in our lives? Well, I will say we follow the One who came to lead the way. We pray, confess, and bring it into the light. Darkness and light are incompatible. Sharing our struggles with another brings light and keeps the enemy from making mincemeat out of we little sheep! That being said, remember that pleasing people is a by-product (sometimes) of pleasing God. He is able to make our enemies at peace with us, how much more will he allow us to be pleasing to those who love us anyway and grant us favor with others.

 In the end, knowing that regardless of who likes us or doesn't, 
we are completely accepted, embraced and loved, 
not just "liked" by the One who has given us all we need 
for every good work by the power working in us in Christ Jesus. 

You think about that. 
And be sure to let me know if you like my post. 
Oops, relapse. 
Intervention.
  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! 
Have a God pleasing day, friends!

9.12.2011

Lessons to Learn from Horrible Bosses

...submit yourself to your masters with all respect,
not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.
1 Peter 2:18-19

     It was ironic, right? There I stood at the movie theatre this Summer with my husband looking up at the Kiosk with a banner advertising a new movie called "Horrible Bosses". It put me into a sweet, semi-guilt free giggle. I had just been "let go" from a five year journey with my last boss. OK, I confess. I felt the rise of my flesh and took a picture of that darn kiosk. There were banners everywhere for this upcoming release. You might think it was the best movie coming as there were innumerable posters. I don't even remember what we actually went to see that day, so you can see the state of mind I was in. I was wounded.  I have never been "fired"  before but, I am sure most will agree, it is not a fun experience.

     Two Disclaimers: 1. I have not seen this movie, nor is this post written to encourage anyone to see this movie. The movie itself is irrelevant. It was the title of the movie that confronted my psyche that day and this is the focus of the post. 2. I have to say I have worked for some amazing bosses who were generous, patient and gracious as well as savvy business people.
*Fair warning: This post is not about these bosses.

    In honor of Horrible Bosses everywhere and especially in light of my recent experience getting the shaft, as well as for all those who have ever had experience with a Horrible Boss, I have some lessons to share which may benefit ALL parties involved. Here are some Red Flags, not to ignore when you see them, so you are not surprised when the excrement finally "hits the fan". It will. People are who they are all the time. Maybe that's the biggest lesson of all. There is no such thing as Personal and Professional realms. That is a secular load of garbage. Don't buy it. When you look in the mirror you see who you are ALL THE TIME. I have hit this in another post (probably multiple posts) since my own former boss reflected on our professional "incompatibility" and decided to cut me loose.

The Boss Who Hits On You: I experienced this early in my career. Actually this never can work out for long. It goes along with dating the boss or a client. It's a big NO. Even when you think you have a handle on it.  I noticed these incidents seemed to be more prevalent when I was younger and new in the field of fitness, before sexual harassment and the Anita Hill scandal. It has nothing to do with who you are but is reflective of the character of the one in the position of power. One of my former bosses is currently in prison for murdering his girlfriend. I can remember two things about working for him. He seemed to target young, inexperienced girls to work for him. He was extremely manipulative and an expert deceiver. If you have a boss or client who makes an inappropriate advance, best to put them in their place, fast. Or run.

The Boss Who is Impossible To Please: If you find yourself feeling inadequate and like you can never measure up to the expectation, or the expectations keep changing, be prepared for the fun (not) ride. Working for this boss is like riding a roller coaster. Be prepared for jolts, whiplash and sudden turns. One day you are their Creme De Le Creme, the next you are chopped liver. The ups and down of this relationship are like an amusement park ride gone awry. The quicker this ride ends the better. One of my former employers had their business shut down due to mismanagement.

The Boss Who Thinks That They Are God: They are a god in their own mind and ultimately they serve themselves. This is the worst kind to have because they are usually very successful and are excellent at dotting the i's and crossing the t's. They know how to cover their tracks as to keep up proper appearances and above all, appear professional. These bosses could be actors and actresses, they are so good at theatrics. With all false gods the theme becomes sacrifice and compromise-both at your cost. The danger with this relationship, is once you have served their purpose- they dispose of you. One of my former leaders decided one of the new staff needed to be fired and I would need to deliver the news. Not being of the same mind-set, I convinced them to allow me to work with the young trainer on the targeted areas of improvement for a season. This particular person became one of our biggest assets and a wonderful Personal Trainer.

     So, where is God in all this you ask? Oh, He has been with me all along. He has guided me on this journey and continues to. The reality is wherever we are, we bring the light of the Lord with us. Some may not like that. Some may accept it for a season and then reject it. One of my former Boss's claimed that they had their own Gospel. I know that in the end I am accountable to Him. I know that no matter how horrible a boss I have, it is God's will that at the time I am employed by another, I must do all as unto Him. However, when there is ethical compromise, lack of integrity or outright abuse, you can be sure that God will have me hightailed right out of that situation. He promises.

    In conclusion, it is always possible to glorify God in your work place. He cannot be unfaithful. If we seek to do His will He will guide us. In the end, we can trust him to deal with those who deal with us unjustly. We only need to trust Him.

The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and good.
Proverbs 15: 3 

 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Romans 12:18-20


As you reflect on the many (or any) bosses you may have had, can you think of any thing redeemable from your experience?
If so, please share in a comment about it and what you have learned!
Thanks!

9.11.2011

911: A Perspective In Time

It was a week after the tragedies of 911 before I could
attempt to express myself in a journal entry.
Like most Americans, I felt it was too big to put into words...


I journal pretty much every day. Occasionally I may be too busy or just need some time to digest life as it is fed to me, before I can safely articulate my thoughts and feelings. Such was the case, in the events of September 11, 2001. On this 10 year anniversary of the events of that day, I dredged out my journal to see how I actually expressed what I remember so well. Except, as I looked for the entry I realized that it took me a full week before I was feeling I could write. Writing is such a connecting point for me. It's like breathing. My breath had been taken away and it was beyond a measurable expression for me to comprehend, let alone, write. It touched me too deeply as it did us all. I remember it was also the week my daughter was to be Dedicated at our church. The date of that event as 9/16/2001, five days after 9/11. How vulnerable I felt. How vulnerable we all felt. I felt connected to my fellow Americans and unsure of the future as I stood before the congregation and with my precious child.

I decided to share my unedited journal entry in remembrance of the day that took my breath away.
Our breath away. If you are reading this please know this is my heart, unedited. Handle with care. I usually write for an audience of One, who knows me, my rambly mind, and all. So keep that in mind!

September 19, 2001

Thank you Lord for today. It has been hard for me to write lately...Lord you know my inmost parts, my inner-most being. I almost don't have words in light of the recent tragedies on our country. Where are we now...I haven't been able to write in my devotional book for Katherine because I kept wondering, how do I write about this? But I must...and then I realized that I can teach her about the depravity of man and the sovereignty of God. Yet these are not small concepts. There is so much going through my mind...I think I am sick processing what it all means to me. I just can't imagine the horror of what many have and are going through (in New York) and I confess it all seems unreal to me. Almost surreal. Our country, having been attacked by terrorists flying planes into buildings in New York and Washington by "Suicide Bombers". But I know God is in control. Yet I understand so little.




And I must focus on the details of life...and I have - yet everyone in the country is changed by these events...People are really freaked out - But my God, I do trust in You. What I have seen happen in this country is amazing, powerful. There is a revival in Patriotism. Flags are everywhere. I remember as a school child we recited "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America"... I can barely remember it now - and do schools even do that anymore? I pray and hope they do and will. God You are doing something amazing - I don't know what - but, Lord, thank you for America, my president, his wife. Thank you for freedom and liberty. Forgive me Lord because I have taken so much for granted. I have grumbled and complained when I should have been grateful and prayerful. Thank you for your mercy.






May God Bless America,  Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.
9/11/2011
In memory of those who gave their lives, lost their lives, and those
who continue to suffer due to the sacrificial giving and dedication they
shared in service and to each and every one of their loved ones.
I remember.



                                                         
                             

9.10.2011

Re-Discovering "Sweet Mercies"



I am linking up today (it's 12:03 AM) with Amy @ Signs, Miracles and Wonders for a brief post for her "Then Sings My Soul, Saturdays". The song that has been on my mind for the past few weeks is a song I heard years ago in the early days of my relationship with the Lord. It's called "Sweet Mercies" and originally I heard it sung by David Ruis and felt ministered to with both the words and music. However, I really enjoyed the video clip I found on YouTube and thought I would share this as I "discovered" it and was ministered to anew by the same song.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”


Have a blessed weekend and may His sweet mercies rain upon you!

9.08.2011

Sheltered

A bird's eye view of Hurricane Irene



Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

       Personally, I am not a fan of Meteorologists. They yield way too much power from my perspective. Case in point: Hurricane Irene. They warned us she was coming. They used words that struck fear in my heart. Words like "dangerous" and "deadly". Epically biblical by my estimate. Now, when I hear those words on the news, I usually am not seeing our tiny little state on the map being highlighted. Well that wasn't the case this time. After all when you live in the smallest state in the United States of America, you rarely find yourself on the news. Well except occasionally for the theatrical political climate . But this time, as I drove by one of my routine dog walking places, there stood one of the Weather Channel's reporters. I actually didn't think much about it because it hadn't sunk in yet. The potential for "death and destruction" that is. But as I walked into my living room, I did a double take as I saw my hubby had on the TV, and there it was looking back at me...the end of our road with Mr. Weather Channel reporting live.


Enter fear. Exit faith. Pause. Rewind. Stop.

Sea Wall-Narragansett, RI

  My God is a faithful teacher. So often I come to the end of my road and I find my faith is being overshadowed by fear. Subtle. This, though was not so subtle. This was the kind of fear that when the sweet, young Weather Woman said "get your batteries, water and candles- and don't forget to the fill the bathtub!" I actually ran out to the local Benny's and purchased every D battery I could get my sweaty, little palms on. I finally had to shut off the Weather Channel. Those Meteorologists were wielding doom and gloom and I was feeling fearful. Even as I stood in line, a woman approached holding masking tape, to "tape the windows". What was my response? I got me some tape! You bet I did! I was in frenzy mode by now. I hit the market, the drug store, the bakery and of course the three closest beaches to see for myself what was going on. All seemed amazingly calm contrasted to my inner , growing turmoil. Where was my faith? It was wrestling with fear and I felt like a crazy Mr. Boppy, clown. Remember the kind filled with air, that you punch and it pops back up so you can punch it again?

God spoke to me in a moment. As I watched the birds continue to feed, the gusts of wind began to grow strong. They would come and go, inconsistently, hinting at the strength to come. The birds seemed unfazed. I decided to watch the birds and weather changes from our sheltered cement patio. Suddenly the wind grew alarmingly strong and the rain came with intensity. The birds scattered for shelter in trees and shrubs. This all happened before I even opened the screened door. What I saw blessed me and spoke to my heart, clearly, about the One who keeps me sheltered from, in and through the storms of life. As I looked at the birds who had found their way into the circular, carved out havens, I felt a sense of peace settle over me. God says, He cares about these little guys. How much more does He care for me? How much more does He care for you?
I see this little bird as a messenger. You see this little bird reminded me that I have a safe place, a true Shelter from the storm. And his small, sweet presence was just the right picture I needed to hold onto to escape the verbal onslaught from Mr. and Ms. Meteorologist and to stand firm in the face of the storm (and my fear) with a peace and confidence in the God who speaks to the seas and the waves and holds all things together by the power of his Name. The name that is above every name.

 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
~Psalm 34:4

 

I long for the day when my faith is greater than all of my fears and when fear is but a distant recollection in mind.

Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. (NLT)


9.06.2011

Finding Time For Fitness - and other lazy tales

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things,
holding promise for both the present life
and the life to come.
~ 1 Timothy 4:8

       Today was a back to reality day. I knew this day had to come. It started with the doodling in the journal. Having designed exercise programs for close to 30 years, it's something I just do. Actually it's something I love to do. But after, my job loss in June, I have been feeling a bit soured toward the field of fitness and even towards exercise in general. I have been on a Summer Sabbatical. However, today I may have turned a corner back to my former reality. Tweaking and fine tuning programs for a variety of exercise enthusiasts, athletes and non-exercisers, is something that I have enjoyed as a career, by the hand and pleasure of my Maker. As a carpenter visualizes the building to come by taking down information and jotting down stats needed for construction, my pen began to script the routine, as my mind wrapped around the possibilities as well as the potential obstacles. Nothing elaborate. One must consider the client. Hmmm, yes, close to 50. Post injury. When was the last check up? Oh, no - not going there. If I took me on as a client, I would require a full work up. After all - over 45. Current level of fitness? Lazy. OK, that might be a bit harsh. Relaxed, after suffering serious physical injury. Attitude? Physical Therapist described me as "burnt out" of the exercise field. I don't fully agree, I am just awaiting further instructions from my King on where He wants me to direct my energies. Meantime, I have really allowed myself a full break. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. I have been immersed in this field for a good portion of my adult life. It has been quite a journey. It is where I met my Faith: from one bodybuilding competitor to another. It is where I enjoyed success, freedom, growth, expression, creativity. It is where I have lived out some stories which have yet to be told. Maybe that's where the story needs to end. Or not...people make so many assumptions about one another. Sometimes I resent this. I have been a Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and Coach for a good portion of my life but that doesn't mean I don't struggle now and again with motivation. And, even laziness. Well the fact is that working in the gym, or thinking about working out doesn't make one fit, anymore than going to church or reading about Christianity makes one a Christian. Fact is we all have to put in our time. I am not one who has ever fancied one dimensional living. The fact was and is now, I do not define myself by my career, or any of the roles I live out here on this side of eternity. I have embraced the new life and long to live out fully the ultimate role of serving my King, wherever I am, whatever I am doing. I have seen such idolatry in our culture with regard to fitness, exercise and health. I sometimes joke and tell people, "I don't bow down to that god, anymore". It's not a joke, really. Sometimes I have been so disgusted by the magnification (deification?) of what is essential, simple and good (healthy living- defined by moderate living and being active) to something that becomes unbalanced, unhealthy (I have observed to the psyche, especially) and idolatrous. As I blog about it my passion returns and I am fueled with a desire to be heard for the sake of balance, simplicity and PERSPECTIVE. Maybe I am fueled enough to get my behind down into the basement for the 2nd workout of the week. Maybe, I will return to taking on clients again in the future and birth the Fitness Blog "baby" I have been carrying within me, ...or maybe God has a new role for me to take on. Either way, I will meet Him beneath the surface and trust in Him for a fresh breath of faith for the next step.


'For in him we live and move and have our being.'
~Acts 28:17

9.04.2011

Choking My Inner Pharisee


For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees
and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:20

Welcome, friends. Because I call you friend, I need to give you a fair warning. The post you are about to read may offend you. So, if you are feeling self-righteous today your flesh is not going to like this post one bit. If you are easily offended, please do not read on as you probably will be offended. If you are one of those martyr types, go ahead and read on then whine about it after. I just feel like I need to write this as sure as a demon possessed person needs an exorcism. (Exit "Easily Offended" reader, here. Bye now)

I alluded to the fact that I had more to say about this topic ( Some Build Empires... ) and basically have chickened out until now. But since this is supposed to be an exercise in authenticity, grace and truth, I need to speak it as I see it and trust that the truth will be written with a generous measure of grace in the end (freely I have received, freely I give).

I have been around the church for awhile. The church meaning the universal Body of Christ called out in newness of life. I have to say, I find it has been challenging at times to keep my eyes on Jesus. I have seen some stuff that has taken stronger believers than me out of the fight. I have seen many settle for some delusional "Christian" existence that reads zero on a scale of 1-10 with regard to anything resembling an authentic Christianity (as far as my Pharisaical eyes can see). I have seen my brothers and sisters succumb to temptation, walk away from the church, and never return. I see those who call themselves followers of The Way who won't return a casual greeting or kindness in their own fellowship of believers. I have seen leadership that abuses it's position and a loving group that graciously lives the message of Christ. I have seen a congregation turn on it's own leader and conspire against him behind his back. I've watched a church of over a thousand members be divided... leaving confusion, disillusion and pain in the wake. Yeah, I've been around the church awhile, and I've seen a lot of stuff. And it ain't all been pretty. Sorry, I warned you.

But, I have said it before and I will say it again. I am not down on my brethren, for better or worse I will stand with the church where God leads me and serve there because of His great love, grace, mercy and sacrifice. It's about Him and not about me. But I will tell you this. He cares about what I think. He cares about what I say. He cares about what I do. Why is that, you ask? Because He is in me. Because of this fact I can't "hate" my fellow believers. I find it's harder to give grace though, at times. Why, you ask? I will tell you friend. Because it is a slap in the face to Jesus when His children are so busy doing the same thing as the world does IE. judging, criticising, fighting, gossiping, slandering, blaming, labeling, name-calling, back-biting and EXCLUDING others (or favoritism) all while wearing a big, fat, phony, Christian disguise and a long face thinking that it is God's work. News Flash: The world is not buying it. Those who desire fellowship with the One True Living God are not impressed with it. The fact is, it does not bring anyone closer to Him nor is it glorifying Him. You know, in a family people need to learn to accept one another and get along. But, I think Jesus expects more. He wants us to choke our Inner Pharisee  (kind of like the "child within" thing gone awry)  and love one another. That means the person who you are too busy to smile back at when they smile at you, might instead emit a response. That means, making an effort, to not only speak to the same person in your congregational clique that you have conversed with every week for the past 10 years, but to speak to that new person who seems "different" to you. Yeah, that's right. Stretch yourself, friend. Jesus did just that for you. He stretched himself upon a cross and DIED, so you could live. So you could have the power to lay down your little inconveniences and GIVE to another who just might need an affirming nod, hello or hey, here's a wild thought - a hug! Or maybe a listening ear. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot- You don't agree with everything "they" believe, so that might be hard. NEWSFLASH again: That's OK! Back to that "stretch yourself" concept. Here's some questions one might ask, a Litmus test, so to speak. How available am I to the Lord's leading? When was the last time I respectfully, graciously spoke with someone who had different views, opinions or beliefs than myself? When was the last time I made a new friend?

Well, I think this concludes my offensive post for now. I need to go "get off my soapbox" (my husband's description) now and choke my own Inner Pharisee. You see, I learned a long time ago that it didn't take long after I became a Christian for that Inner Pharisee to show up and start parading around in my own mind and life. And no, I don't have this Christian life all wrapped up. Far from it. I have made some big, fat mistakes and walk, stand or crawl by His grace alone.

Here are a couple of books I have read that I like, along the same lines of thinking.
There are many, I just happen to think these were decent. None of these is perfect but hey, who's judging- I found them encouraging in due season. Each has it's pros and cons. I trust you can practice discernment.You may or may not agree with all in the books (good practice for Pharisees), but here they are:

I'm Fine with God...It's Christians I Can't Stand - Getting Past the Religous Garbage in the Search for Spiritual Truth by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz

So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore - An Unexpected Journey by Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman

The Unlikely Disciple - A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose



The Final Word from Colossians Chapter 3: 12-14
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.


If you made it through to the end, be sure and share your thoughts. I am not easily offended, however I do occasionally whine... In between preachy soap box tirades about life.


9.02.2011

The Elephant and Me (That's Just Gross)

Q: How do you eat an elephant?  A: One bite at a time.
But really, that's just gross.

Some days I open up my mouth and surprise myself. Really. Sadly, it's not always because what came out was brilliant or anything. Usually, it is more revealing. Although I have stood on a stage in a very skimpy bikini and (shudder to think back on this now)and even a thong at  "Guest Posing" events, I really don't like being, or more specifically feeling exposed! But, God so often likes to let my mouth reveal much- about me, TO me and occasionally, others. It's that whole Humility Training He enjoys enlisting me in. It's usually when I am giving some of my best advice when I receive the "revelation". It was on just such an occasion recently, when I opened my mouth and out poured words that made me want to...well...gag. Yet, there was wisdom and truth in there somewhere. One of my dearest friends and I were discussing  our mutual dissatisfaction in managing the domestic side of our lives. Balancing our busy lives, kids, random odd jobs, helping husbands and trying to keep up "appearances". Appearances being the ultimate neat and tidy, company ready house we long for yet somehow is buried underneath our paper piles, dirty dishes, dusty baseboards (that's mine!) and furrowed brows. It's not that we cannot get there. It's just we don't seem to be able to LIVE there. Life is messy after all and busy. So, we long for that which seems to elude us and do the best we can to live, love and serve, longing (ever so inwardly) for Martha Stewart to stop by or Extreme Home Makeover to choose our home to be made into the organized, welcoming, Utopian home we know exists somewhere in our minds and also in the lives of our less domestically challenged friends. Phew. So, it was in this context when out from my mouth and to my horror these words came forth: "Well, you know the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!" It was the whole Personal Trainer mode again. My alter ego stepping up to the plate for a pep talk for both of us. Conviction usually, follows. You know,  I do know how to eat an elephant. I do know how to set goals. Big ones. I have succeeded at some. But you know, we all have things we struggle with doing, and we long for that which seems elusive. It's just there are times when our plates are fuller than others. I think one of the best things we can do for ourselves is too pray, plan and then JUST DO IT. Take the first bite. Don't keep looking at the elephant! He's to big to stare at. Just take one small bite. If it's tough to chew or swallow. Put it back in the oven. Maybe it's not time for that particular piece of meat to be eaten. Maybe God wants you to slice that elephant up and portion it out over time. Maybe your elephant is too, darn BIG! Break that bad boy down. Don't quit. Don't give up. Maybe it's just to chewy. Add some tenderizer. God's grace is like tenderizer. Give yourself some grace. Dice up that elephant. Scramble, slice and saute that elephant BUT don't you give up. Life is busy, but it's also brief. 

Don't let the elephant in your life intimidate you. Get yourself some tenderizer, give yourself some grace. Take a small bite and chew. Pretty soon you will be rubbing your belly. Satisfied. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Just take the next bite I know you can do it. I'll be chewing along with you, one bite at a time. I know, that's just gross. But, together we can do it. By His grace.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus  the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:1


Make today a Grace day, friends and enjoy the SONshine wherever you are!