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Friday, December 23, 2016

God Is My Guard Rail

As you may or may not know,  I still have a teenager at home, and let me tell you - he's not an easy one!  He was always my very well behaved, polite, sweet, loving, affectionate, mama's boy.  He was an extremely easy baby, easy toddler, easy child.  So when he turned 14 or 15 and started pushing his limits to the max and became rebellious, I was quite stunned!  Many times, things can get worse before they get better, and boy did they!  I've had many people binding together with me in prayer for my son.  It had gotten to the point that there really wasn't much else I could do.  I don't mean to say that in a way that minimizes prayer.  Honestly, prayer is the BEST thing we can do!   I also don't expect that all of my teenage battles are over.  I think we're in remission for now.  
Anyway,  one day last week, as I was talking to God about my son,  I felt like He spoke back to me.
 I was asking God why my son has to go through this stage, why he's being so rebellious, why he doesn't learn from the mistakes of his brother or friends, why he doesn't just listen to me.  After all, I love him and want what's best for him. I don't want him to have to learn things the hard way.   I could hear God, as clear as a bell asking me, "Why did you rebel against me for so long?  Don't you know that I love you? Don't you know that I want what's best for you too?  Why did you have to learn the hard way? " Even as I'm typing this, I have tears in my eyes.  My eyes tear up every time I think about it.  He's so right!!  I rebelled against God, my Father who loves me, just like my son is doing.  So, even I had to go astray and learn the hard way that my way doesn't work.  God's ways are higher than mine.  When I finally realized that,  and was ready to submit to HIS authority, I came home like the prodigal son (daughter in my case.)   Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy way acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Because of all the teenageritis I've been dealing with, I've been reading a few different books that friends have recommended.  One of them is, Boundaries with Teens by Dr. John Townsend.  Today, one paragraph stood out to me.  In regards to holding our ground as parents and holding healthy and strong boundaries, it said this :
"God made parents to be the guard rails on the twisting road of life. You need to be strong enough for kids to crash into over and over and over again. You must stay strong, so that your teens will learn to stay on track. Guard rails get dinged up. But if they work well, they preserve the young lives that run up against them."

Townsend, John (2009-05-18). Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No (p. 32). Zondervan. Kindle Edition. 

I couldn't help but think about how many times in my life that God has done exactly that with me.  He has been my guard rail more times than I can count!  How many times has God preserved my life?!  How many times have I crashed, and He has saved me?!  Thankfully, He's a big God.  He can handle the dings I give Him.  I honestly don't even know anymore what I'd do without Him guiding me.  What an awesome Father He is!!

I'm hoping I will learn a lot about how to raise my teen boy so that he will become a Godly and honorable man, but I have a feeling I'll also be learning a lot more about myself and how my Heavenly Father parents and loves me, and that's definitely not a bad thing. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

A New Creation

Last week, a friend of mine posted something on Facebook that got me thinking a little.  His status said this:  This may sound weird, but ever since I've decided to follow Christ I feel out of place amongst old friends...It's like I'm trying to find my place in this world all over again..... By no means, am I perfect, and I enjoy people and a beer, but man do I feel weird....
I responded that it's not weird at all because when you become a Christian, you become a new creation in Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new."  As Christians, we are supposed to be set apart from the world.  We shouldn't be comfortable with sin/our old ways.  I'm not saying that having a beer once in a while or still hanging with your friends is necessarily sin.  However, if these friends haven't given their lives to Christ,  then nothing about them has changed, unlike my friend!  There are many verses in the Bible about being set apart.  One that comes to mind is Romans 12:2, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  It makes sense to me that he would feel a little weird.  I would assume since his friends have not changed, they're probably still behaving the same way, doing the same things, talking the same way, living the same way they always have, while he thinks, acts, speaks, and lives differently now.  It's a good example of how light and darkness can't coexist.  If you turn on the light, the light overtakes the darkness.  If you shut off the light, darkness overtakes the light.  It can't be both light and dark. It just doesn't work!  It's like he has turned on the light, but they still want to live in the dark.  It wouldn't surprise me if his friends feel a little weird as well.  Light tends to expose things that are hiding in the dark. 2 Corinthians 6:14, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" I do wish my friend well as he finds his place in this dark world.  It's definitely not always easy, and the Lord never said it would be.  However difficult, though, the reward will be worth it in the end!

P.S. I apologize that this post looks kinda funky.  I have tried several times to fix it, with no luck.  Thanks for reading it anyway.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Chip and Joanna Gaines...Take 2!

This was written by a friend of mine, Jennifer Jones, and I wanted to post it here on my blog because it's so good!  Facebook has deleted it from every place that she posted it, as well as from anyone else's page who shared it.  That is unacceptable!  So, here is folks.  Read it, share it, post it on Facebook if you'd like!!  Now, I'm giving the floor to Jennifer:

My original post from 2013 began with a paragraph or two about Phil Robertson and his comments in GQ on marriage. I've deleted those as they're not relevant. However, I do mention him throughout as it relates to his paraphrasing of 1 Corinthians 6. The article in Buzzfeed and the author's intentions about the Gaines and their church's teaching on homosexuality is what reminded me of my original post (from 2013). This post (today's reposting of original) was deleted earlier, so I also cut out the paragraph about Chip and Joanna (darling family)...wasn't much, but I thought this time I'll just get right to it. Here it is... How come every time a line is drawn people (including some Christians) throw down the "Judgement" card? If I choose to have the Bible as the foundation of my faith, I can't omit scriptures that might be offensive. And just because I draw a line, can I not love, too? If my child does something wrong and I say, "You can't do that. That's wrong." Does that mean I don't love them? No. It does not. So I can quote scriptures like the one Phil did in Corinthians {1 Cor. 6:9-10} and love at the same time. I can draw a line against certain behaviors and love at the same time. Just because I, or any other Christian, quotes a Scripture that plainly states a particular activity is a sin, doesn't mean we're judging people and that we're full of hate. Now, about that scripture. Christians didn't lump murderers {again referencing Phil's comments} in with homosexuals; God did. Some would say that's so wrong and mean and how can you serve a God that does that? Well, I'll tell you how. Imagine you're sitting at a table across from God, and you're holding a bunch of cards with labels on them. Sitting in the middle of the table there's a bucket that says "BIG SINS." You begin to drop cards into the bucket: Anger, Murder, Homosexuality, Rape, Adultery, Pornography, and so on. You drop these cards in the bucket, very satisfied and turn to get up. But...God says," Where are you going? You're still holding some cards there." You reply, "Yes, but these are 'little sins,’ Lord. They are not very bad." He says, "Really? Let me see them." So you sit back down, and show Him your cards. He begins to drop them into the bucket. You Gasp. "What are You doing, Lord? Those aren't 'BIG SINS.’ Those are things I've done before." He says, “I know. Let's look at this one here: Gossip. What did I say in Proverbs about gossiping? I believe I said 'I hate it.' Let's look at another one: Fearful. Revelations says the fearful are the first ones cast into the lake of fire after judgment. What about unforgiveness? You know those people that have talked about you and said evil things about you? Do you love them?" If this were me having this conversation, I would have to say, "No, Lord, I do not love them." And He would say, "OK, then we have to drop Unforgiveness into the bucket." While looking at all the cards in the bucket you say, "Wow. So, You're lumping some of the things I've done in with murderers? You're comparing me to all those other really bad people and the really bad things they've done?" And He says, "Yes. I am. My Word says 'ALL have sinned' uncategorically." Thankfully the conversation doesn't end here, and this is what I would like for every homosexual to understand. They don't have to accept it or believe it, just understand it. So, to the homosexual I want to finish the conversation. God says, "What if we take this bucket that you're carrying around, this bucket full of sins, and move it away?" As soon as He does this, there's an offer on the table that we can now see because the bucket is gone. This offer is in the shape of a cross and it's drenched in blood. God stands up, extends His arms and says, "This offer is available to you, to everyone. Come here Murderer, Raper, Homosexual, Unforgiver, Fearful, Gossiper, Liar, Greedy, Self-Righteous, Violent, Prideful, Prostitute, Fornicator, etc. I don't care what sin is in your bucket, bring it to me." We pause because the offer is appealing. The idea of not carrying around cards with labels on them -- labels that we're guilty of, labels that can become our identity -- is appealing. The choice is totally and completely ours to make. He merely extends His mercy to us. If we accept the offer, we have to crawl through the blood drenched cross, and, then, we can sit down next to Him. At this point, He says, "My, Child, a new Scripture applies to you now. My Word says, 'And such WERE some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ...’" 1 Cor. 6:11. So you see homosexual person, I'm not condemning you; rather, I'm just like you. I'm a sinner, too. I believe homosexuality is a sin just like I believe lying is a sin. I believe these things because the Bible is the foundation for my faith and the Bible says these things are sins. The only difference between me and you is this: I accepted the offer...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What Are You Worth?

Tonight in youth group (Ka'os) , we talked about self-esteem, self-worth, body image, dressing appropriately, respecting ourselves, and some boy issues.  We had the boys and girls separated for this talk.  Allie (one of our youth pastors) read some great scriptures and quotes, the girls got to talk and ask questions, and all of the leaders got to chime in and speak to the girls from our hearts and from experience.  I'm sure that everything we said, they've heard before from their parents, but you know how teens are - if their parents say it, it's ridiculous, but if someone else says it, it's definitely true.  I hope that we were all able to speak truth into these girls' lives and that they heard us, took what we said to heart, and will apply it to their lives.  I know - it's easier said than done, especially at their age (jr. highers.) 
I thought it might be nice to print out something our girls can hang on their bathroom mirror (or some place they'll see it all the time) to serve as a reminder of what we talked about.  I'm going to suggest reading it out loud....often!  
Anyway,  I thought I'd post it here for y'all in case you have daughters who could use these reminders.  Who knows - maybe you need it too!
confidence in one's own worth or abilities; self-respect.
synonyms: self-respect, pride, dignity, self-regard, faith in oneself; morale, self-confidence, confidence, self-assurance
My self-esteem and self-worth (value) is found in Christ;
not boys, approval of others, Instagram likes or followers, popularity, or my physical appearance.  I AM VALUABLE BECAUSE OF WHO I AM IN CHRIST!
I will demand that boys respect me, my body, and my soul. 
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. “
Matthew 7:6 "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”
Psalms 139:13-14 “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.14I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”
Song of Solomon 4:7 “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”
1 Cor. 3:16-17 “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
1 Cor. 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
2 Cor. 10:12 “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.”  (DON’T COMPARE MYSELF TO OTHERS)
Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”(Be who God wants me to be; not who people want me to be.)
Romans 12:2 “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.”  (Don’t be like the world. When they see me, they should see Jesus!)
I won’t pick myself apart and criticize how I am or how I look - it’s insulting to the One who made me!   I will love and accept myself and my body the way God made me.  He is my creator, an amazing artist, and He designed me perfectly- the way He wanted me.  I am made in His image.  I am not flawed!
I am more precious than rubies!  I am a daughter of The King!  That makes me a princess!  I am royalty!  I will treat myself /respect myself as the princess God created me to be!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

For The Boobies

     In just a few weeks, I am speaking at an awesome event that I thought I'd let y'all know about in case you want to come see me!  I'm excited because it's actually in my own town! I don't have to travel this time!!
     This event is put on by a lady I recently met named Elizabeth, and she founded this non-profit organization called Impact One.  She has such a big heart and passion for people who have suffered or are still still suffering from breast cancer and its effects.  She really does a lot for these people.  I think she's an amazing woman!  I love when someone truly has a passion for something and goes after it with everything they've got!  She does for sure!!  
    This event will be Oct. 1, 2016, and it begins at 7pm.  The doors will open at 6pm.  I'd love to meet some of you, and the tickets are only $20, which is very reasonable.  There will be food, an expo, me talking, prizes, and some cool films.  Come support a good cause!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

It's An Inside Job

      Yeah, I know what you're thinking...that I haven't bothered to post a blog in 2 years, and then BOOM...2 days in a row!  Apparently, that's how I roll.  Anyway,  one of my bestest friends, Kelly, aka Kelz, asked me a simple question yesterday that later got me thinking, and I want to just share my thoughts about it.
      We were playing "catch up" because we haven't seen each other in way too long, as there have been issues with our phones, time, distance, life, etc.  If you know me, you know I typically wear my emotions on my sleeve.  So when she asked me how I'm doing emotionally,  it kind of took me by surprise.  I responded with, "I'm really doing good."  I'm sure it wasn't very convincing, but that was probably due to me being puzzled by her question.  Maybe the fact that I had just finished ranting about what a pain in the butt my 16 year old is being was also a factor.  If you have teenagers, know someone with teenagers, or have ever been a teenager, you know what I'm talking about.  I don't even need to go there!
      Last night, I was laying in bed still thinking about her question, which I'm sure wasn't intended to be some deep, probing, thought provoking question.  Nevertheless, here I was hours later, pondering WHY I am doing so well.  For the most part, I've always been a pretty happy, upbeat, and positive person.  It truly is a choice!  I try not to allow circumstances to dictate my emotions, but I am human.
      In the past when I was feeling exceptionally "happy," it usually had to do with something positive going on in my life, whether it be that I was dating someone new, I was getting ready for a competition and my body was rockin',  I was doing some fun photo shoots, speaking somewhere, buying a new house, or whatever.  My point is that it was first of all, a choice, but secondly, external events or circumstances that made me "happy!"   Not that I would crumble when those things weren't happening, but I was always looking for the next "thing" to keep me emotionally well and happy, so to speak.
      Right now, the circumstances in my life aren't bad, but there's still "stuff", ya know?  For instance, as I already mentioned - a teenager.  Need I say more?  My other son, is now officially out of his teens, in college, working, and living on his own. Yep, sounds good on paper, but trust me, it's not all rainbows and unicorns on that front either.  I don't think these boys realize how much prayer goes into me just letting them live.  HAHA.  Kidding, but I do have to do a lot of praying to get them and me both through these trying (to put it nicely) years! I've been doing a little speaking, but not as much as I would like.  I'm not competing anymore.  My body is no longer rockin'.  In fact it's more like rollin'!  I'm heavier than I've EVER been!  I don't particularly like being this heavy, but it doesn't bother me enough that I want to diet again (diet - another four letter word I'm trying not to use anymore.)  Oh yes, and there is not a man in my life aside from my boys and my dad,  one of my dogs, and my cat.  Hmm, maybe that's why I'm so much happier!!  I always wanted to find that perfect man and wanted the romantic relationship, but I have to say things are different now.   I am perfectly content NOT having a man.  In fact, I've never been more content or had so much peace in my life!
    So why?  What's different?  Well, for one thing, I'm not constantly dieting and getting ready for a competition.  Enjoying food is wonderful!!  I am still a regular gym rat though.  I'm not in any unhealthy relationships.  I've learned how to set healthy boundaries and enforce them.  I've weeded out most of the toxic people from my life and keep the rest at a safe distance.   I've taken up playing piano again, and I even finished writing that children's book!  Here's another shocker - I've totally become a bookworm, which I never in a million years would have imagined would happen to me. My youngest brother(he was 33) passed away the day after Christmas last year, which could have devastated me.   I'm happy to know that he's no longer suffering, and he's dancing down the streets of gold now.  
     I'm much more involved at church.  I love our women's ministry and our new women's pastor!!  She's different than most of our other pastors in that she's more relational.  Relational....with her flock.....Wow! There's a concept!  She's a real person who actually makes time to get to know us and even checks up on us!  She's awesome sauce!   (Hey Brianna!  XOXO)  I've been involved with our youth ministry as well - Jr. High!!  I know - crazy!!  I kind of got duped into doing it by a friend who flaked out shortly after I stepped up, but being a leader and role model, especially for these young girls, has been so rewarding!! I sure love all "my" girls!  Our Jr. High pastor is also one of the most amazing people I know.  That man has more stuff piled on his plate than anyone else would ever be able to handle, yet he handles is all so gracefully and never complains (that I've ever heard.)  So ya,  I'm giving a big shout-out to Matt as well, who just had(well, his wife Rachel had) another baby girl...number 3!  She's precious!
    While all of those things are great and would make anyone a better person,  I can't go without saying that the biggest difference in my life has been that I've spent the last 2-3 years rekindling my relationship with God.  That's why I entitled this blog,  It's an Inside Job.  There is a difference in me that I can't completely explain.  Some changes are subtle, and some are more drastic.  It's kind of like this peace and contentment ... true happiness ... snuck up on me, and BAM - Kelly innocently asked me how I'm doing emotionally, and it all hit me!    It's pretty amazing actually!  It's kind of like God asking me, "How do you like me now?!" My answer would have to be that I don't just like Him; I love Him!  As the song goes, He's a good, good Father!  Even a double good doesn't do Him justice.  In fact, good is kinda lame compared to how wonderful He really is!!  It's sad to me that I wasted so many years trying to avoid Him, and that it took a drug addicted son to reel me back in, but I'm so glad that I'm finally back where I belong.  He is an awesome and powerful God, and I'm so very blessed to be able to call Him my Father.  Yes, I'm a modern day prodigal daughter, and I've come home.
     If you too are a prodigal child, I urge you to go home too.  Run there as fast as you can.  You won't be sorry you did, only that you didn't do it sooner.

Monday, September 12, 2016

No Condemnation

    A year or so ago, as I was deep into my codependency treatment (receiving counseling, reading every book I could find on the subject, going to meetings, and working all the steps), the verse of the day was read on the radio.  I’ve heard and read this verse many times in my nearly 40 years of life, but this time was different.  I REALLY heard it this time!  I have to admit I can be a stubborn person…thick skulled, dense..whatever you want to call it, yet somehow this time when I heard this verse, it went straight through this thick skull of mine and sunk straight into my heart.  I kept thinking about it all day, and finally at the strangest time and place, I decided I had to get my thoughts on paper.  So, as I sat in the Dodge dealership, waiting for my oil change to be done,  I scribbled down these thoughts on blank paper that I had to go ask for, as I am not in the habit of carrying around paper just in case the rare moment occurs that I just have to write!
The verse that was read was Romans 8:1, which states, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Thankfully, I had a smart phone because I felt like I probably should look up the definition of the word condemnation before I began putting my chicken scratch on paper.  The definition I found says that condemnation is: the expression of very strong disapproval; censure (which I also had to look up.  It is SEVERE disapproval).  The synonyms for condemnation are: criticism, denunciation, censure, vilification.  
     We codependents (I say “we” because I definitely fit the description as well.  I learned from the best!  Thank God I’m recovering from that!)  tend to ‘condemn’ ourselves in many ways.    We condemn ourselvs by the lies we tell ourselves that we aren’t good enough, fit enough, deserving enough, or fill-in-the-blank enough. Because of these lies we’ve told ourselves and believe, we’ve condemned ourselves right into lives full of shame, fear, anxiety, unworthiness, and unhappiness, among other things.
     We condemn ourselves to the vicious cycle of doing so much for others that we neglect to do for ourselves, in many cases (mine included) to the detriment of our own physical health!  Then, we become resentful of the very same people we’ve done so much for and feel victimized! So now, we’ve condemned ourselves to being maryrs and victims.  We’ve done this to ourselves, either voluntarily or because we neglect to set healthty boundaries, much less stand firm and enforce those boundaries.
     We’ve taught ourselves that we don’t deserve the same care that we so readily give to others.  We’ve taught ourselves that nobody can or will love us the same way we love others.  Well, if you think about it, how can anyone love us that way when we don’t even love ourselves in that same way?  If we always make ourselves the victims, why would we ever want or allow anyone to love us that way?  If we don’t even accept love and care from ourselves, how can we expect to accept it from anyone else??  I know that I really struggled to accept compliments, gifts, or love from anyone.  Someone could give me a compliment like, “You look so pretty today,” and my reply would be something like, “ Ugh, my hair wouldn’t do anything today!”  I’ve had to seriously work hard to change that.  No matter how badly I want to reply with something contrary to the compliment, I’ve learned to simply say, “Thank you.”  It really isn’t as hard as it sounds! 
     My gymnastics coach was one of the people who helped me come to the realization that I wouldn’t accept praise or compliments.  He’s also one who helped me change it!  It was after I did a front flip off the balance beam that he said, “Wow! That was your best one! Good job!”  I didn’t beam (pun intended) with pride and reply with thanks. Instead, I replied. “It should have been higher.  I was kinda low.”  That’s when he stopped me and told me that I’m terrible at accepting compliments, and he made me tell him thank you.
     When it comes to gifts, I love to give, but sometimes I actually feel guilty when someone gives me a gift!  Why?  I have no idea.  I just know I love to give but am uncomfortable when it’s time for me to receive.  So how can I be upset that people don’t do for me what I do for them, and then not be a gracious receiver when they try simply because it makes me uncomfortable?  Does any of this sound familiar at all?  Does any of this sound crazy?  YES, it is crazy - and what’s worse is that I’ve done it to myself.  I’ve condemned myself to these feelings of guilt.  Nobody else did it to me.  This is all on me.
     Where am I going with all of this??  Oh yes, back to Romans 8:1.  To refresh, it says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, there is no disapproval; no criticism. All of these lies we’ve come to believe about ourselves,. the disapproval of ourselves, the neglect of our own needs and wants, the negative and critical things we think about ourselves, are NOT TRUTHS!  They’re NOT VALID!  If we are in Christ Jesus - walking with Him, talking to Him, listening to Him, and living our lives according to His will to glorify Him - THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION!  If there is no condemnation, then what’s left?  How about love?  How about empowerment?

     Instead of accepting a life of condemnation, let’s claim the truths of God’s word over our lives!  Let’s remember that God is for us, and that means no one can be against us - not even ourselves and our own “stinkin’ thinkin’”!  Let’s allow the love of Jesus to flow through us!  Let’s love ourselves as Jesus loves us!  After all, He made us in His image, which means we are awesome!  Let’s lift ourselves and others up and empower each other! We are children of the most high God!  There’s nothing better!  Believe it! Live it!