what the heck are we doing?

 

I should be more like ____, because she is obviously making a difference in people’s lives.

Ever thought that to yourself?
It’s hard NOT to when we have some impressive Christian women opening our eyes to MAJOR world issues and PS: it’s all over Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s what I know about myself:

  • The ministry role I am in at our church is EXACTLY where I’m supposed to be and I am crazy under-qualified (is that a word?) for this role.
  • I’m spending time with my family and making memories.
  • I’m stretching myself with theology books that are WAY over my head.
  • I have scheduled exercise days so that the week doesn’t fly by without some sweat (I mean on-purpose sweat … not Texas sweat) and often times I am out for a bike ride with my husband, talking while we sweat.
  • My son is DIGGING his role on the kids worship team at church.
  • I’m quilting when I can squeeze it in.

My list sucks compared to _______’s list.
Why do we feel like we need a “next big thing” when clearly God is at work with some pretty big things already.  Why do we compare ourselves to others who are called to DIFFERENT things than we are?  Have I gotten so used to rushing from one thing to the next that I have forgotten how to find joy in all the things I AM ACTUALLY DOING?

God has called me to:

  1. Be a wife … check, doing that and screwing it up sometimes with my mouth… and apparently I have a “face” that I make. Crap, I just made the face while I thought about the face.
  2. Be a mom … check, doing that and watching my kid grow out of one stage and dance his way into another (literally — if I could attach a video from Instagram here, I would)
  3. Be in ministry... check, doing that and I cannot believe He would choose me to serve in this way – WOAH Nelly.
  4. GROW in my faith … check, doing that through a summer class that continues to kick me around while I’m on the ground with my dictionary and a flashlight moaning “I have no idea what that word means!!!!”
  5. Be creative … check, doing that through quilting both alone and with my mom.
  6. Treat my body well … check, doing that except for when my coworkers tell me there is amazing CAKE in the fridge at church.  (You know who you are and I know where you live) 
  7. Laugh/Love… check, doing that so often that I’m aging my face with laugh lines.
  8. Pray… check, can’t STOP doing this!
  9. Worship… check, my favorite place to be.  I would listen to all three services if I had the time and if it wouldn’t make my family make “the face.”
  10. Experience hardship … check, not my favorite thing by far but I am constantly learning from the things in my not-so-distant-past that either I screwed up or were outside my control.

So what the heck am I doing?

  • I’m not on a plane to Africa.
  • I’m not opening my home to people who can’t get their feet under themselves.
  • I’m not handing out my lunch to the homeless each day.
  • I’m not doing all these “amazing” things you hear about on Facebook.

But don’t be mistaken, just because I’m not on a place to Africa it doesn’t mean He hasn’t called me to do things that are BIG, to do things I don’t understand, and ask me to walk in faith to follow Him.  And for the record, I also have a list of things I feel Him calling me to – and I’m trying to find the courage to JUMP into His will through faith in Him alone.  But that’s a whole other blog post.

(PS: I’m secretly terrified that He will call me to Uganda, because holy-hand-sanitizer I have first world OCD issues.)

I am doing the AMAZING and TERRIFYING things He has called me to do. I don’t have to be like _______.  I was never meant to be like her anyway.  I was given my own scavenger hunt, my own terrifying task list that require 100% faith and 100% obedience.

You weren’t meant to be like her either.  You were wonderfully and beautifully made in God’s image.  Noah and Abraham were called to two VERY different things.  Mary and Eve?  Different things.  You and me?  Different things.

Be happy for _______ for following God’s prompting in her life.
And get fired up about the things He has called YOU to do!

THAT…. THAT is what we are doing.
Startiiiiing….. now.

 

 

when worry steals adventure

I can’t do it.
I’m not strong enough.
She’s faster than I am.
They eat healthier than we do.
I have fibromyalgia.
My doctor said I shouldn’t.
It’s too hot.
It’s too windy.
It’s too muggy.
It will hurt.
I don’t have time.
I don’t have anything to wear for that.
I’ll have to wash my hair again if I do that.

All of the excuses above kept me from doing a LOT of things over the past several years.  You might resonnate with some of them, and with others you might just think I’m crazy.  That’s cool.  Sometimes I think you’re crazy. (said in my best 6 year old accusatory voice, because I’m mature like that sometimes)

My husband amazes me with his ability to “Just Do It” on many levels.  He can flip a switch in his head and say “this is what I’m doing” even if he has a list of excuses like mine.  His excuses don’t dictate what he will or will not do.  If I ever decide to grow up, this is a trait I would like to refine in myself.

Today I did something amazing.  I ran.  I also walked fast, but mostly I ran.  To most, this is not a big deal.  I have crazy friends who run marathons… in Texas heat.  #insanerunners  But for ME, this is a big deal.

A year ago today, I was recovering from a night out to see fireworks.  It wasn’t strenuous to watch fireworks, but the entire process of getting myself ready, out the door, to the field, and then sitting in the heat, staying up late, and so on —- that required a day of rest afterward.  My body couldn’t handle that much activity without a large period of rest the following day.

And today I ran.

I wish I could tell you that my “mind over matter” gear is finally un-stuck, and it is … partially, but that’s not what got me running.  I have fibromyalgia and I FINALLY found something that helps me feel good ALL the time, not just for an hour here or there. #workoutpoweredbyplexus  But here’s the interesting part — those excuses are still there when it comes to working out, but now they look like this:

I don’t have time.
Even if I shower after to get to work, I’ll still be sweating.
I’m too fat for my workout clothes (I know — you can laugh at me too)
She’s faster than I am.
They eat healthier than we do.
It’s too hot.
It’s too windy.
It’s too muggy.
I don’t have time.
I’ll have to wash my hair again if I do that.

Interesting isn’t it?  I feel SO great, yet I still have a list of excuses.  This morning I read this:

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? ~ Luke 12:25

My list of excuses are worries.  All of them.  Here’s what I have to say about that:

1075

What is your list of worries?  We all have them.  I have a list for exercise, one for ministry, one for friendships, one for parenting, one for driving…  Sure, the lists can keep me from doing some stupid things – it would not have been WISE for me to run when my pain was at its worst – but I certainly didn’t even try often to go for walks.

The worry stole my adventure.  Today I created adventure and left my list at home.

7.5.14RUN

Go create your adventure today… build something, draw something, make something, call someone, meet a neighbor, exercise, pray for someone out loud. Get your adventure out of worry-jail and …

justdoit

pain is lonely

Photo from: http://inspiyr.com/chronic-pain-and-anxiety/
Photo from: http://inspiyr.com/chronic-pain-and-anxiety/

Pain sucks.  It just does.  Today was one of those days — and it’s still going.  I tried medication.  I tried stretching.  I tried a neck massage and a back massage.  I tried a nap.  I tried a detox bath.  I tried sticky pain lotion.  I tried more medication.  I tried drinking a ton of water.  I tried moist heat.  And finally I just gave in and accepted the fact that my pain wasn’t going to budge.

Here are some things that make me roll my eyes when I’m in pain.  Some of them might be TMI, but just whatever…. I have nothing to hide:

  • I can’t even bend over to sit on the toilet without my head throbbing or my feet cramping up from holding my weight.
  • It’s hard to connect the eye-hooks on my bra without my fingers cramping up.
  • I clench my teeth in an effort to not frown, which has led to new problems in my jaw… awesome.
  • I’m nauseated but I have to eat to take medications that should help me.
  • My family is loud.  The clock is loud.  The air conditioner is loud.  The fan is loud.  It’s all TOO LOUD!
  • Facebook posts make me roll my eyes.  I’m happy for people and the fun they are having — just not at that particular moment.  (just keepin it real)

Can you relate?

It’s after 9pm and I am starting to feel some relief.  For all you non-chronic pain people, when I say “I feel some relief” it doesn’t mean I’m ready to take a lap around the block.  It means I can walk across the room and get my own glass of water instead of asking for assistance.  There is no miracle drug or therapy or food regimen for me (although being in the mountains seems to cure 95% of my ailments!).  But do you know what gave me joy and was more calming and helpful than any of the things I tried today?

My husband said, “I’m so sorry you’re hurting like this today, honey.”

When he said that, I melted.  In that instant, all of the following things went through my head — and again, if you’re a non-chronic pain person you might not understand where I’m coming from here, but hear me out:

  • Thank GOD, he doesn’t think I’m faking this or think that I’m just lazy!
  • He loves me and he cares about me.
  • He can’t fix this, but it’s ok because I don’t expect him to.

If someone close to you is hurting from a chronic ailment PLEASE do not ignore her pain.  I pray away Satan when I am in pain because he LOVES to whisper lies about me in hopes that I will believe him.  He whispers things like:

  • You’re so lazy, just get UP already and do something!  You’re wasting the entire day!
  • Why do you even bother trying to work?  You aren’t reliable.
  • You’re crabby all the time – you’re going to drive your husband away.

Satan isn’t creative, folks.  He just hits my weak spots and digs right in.  So stand in front of your loved one and don’t let Satan creep in.  Crowd him out.  Don’t attempt to fix everything, just tell her that you see her and you acknowledge that her pain is real.  She knows you can’t fix her pain.  She knows.

Pain is lonely. So don’t let her feel like she’s alone.
All you have to do is acknowledge her pain.
That’s it.

there’s doo-doo on my cape

photo

It’s not easy to keep healthy boundaries when you’re a healthy human being, statistically speaking.  It is 200 times harder (remember, I never exaggerate… ever) to have healthy boundaries when your physical abilities are already compromised.

If you’re a Christian and you study scripture often you already know that we aren’t supposed to judge others; it’s not our job to judge.  But, we do it anyway.  Often.  Need examples?  No problem…

  • we think that overweight lady is just lazy
  • we think the mother in the grocery store just isn’t a strong parent because her toddler is freaking out and cleaning the floor with his shirt and his tears
  • we think the guy who always cancels has messed up priorities
  • we think homeless people need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a job
  • we think that brand new teenage driver has no business being on the road

I can give you a million and two scenarios and legit reasons why all of these judgments are grossly inaccurate, but I won’t – because I bet you can come up with a list all on your own.

Our judgement of others is detrimental to our own self-worth.  Perhaps I have unrealistic boundaries and I try to do, do, do, do, do (and usually doo-doo on others in the process) because I have a nasty habit of judging others who DON’T “do.”

I would like to apologize in advance for letting you into my brain so you can see my thought process.  This always frightens my husband and he feels like he needs a helmet before we open the doors.

  1. I would love to be part of this cool new ministry at church, I’ll sign up for it especially since no one else is. I mean SOMEONE needs to help it get off the ground!
  2. The school needs parents to help sell ice cream on Thursdays?  YES – I am absolutely going to be there for my kiddo’s school, he will be so glad to see me every week!  Wait, where the heck are the other moms?
  3. I can’t believe no one else is signing up for this ministry!  I can’t do all this on my own, where is everyone? Being lazy and sleeping in? Playing tennis and golf???
  4. That mom I sell ice cream with is a total flake, she never shows up on time and she’s a complete mess when she does show up!
  5. I know honey, we need milk… and bread, and meat, and fruit… and toilet paper… but I’m SO busy serving others that I can’t actually serve my own family.
  6. Our neighbor is having surgery next week so I am going to take them a meal.
  7. I don’t have time to make a meal for my neighbor, I’ll get just them pizza.
  8. Man, I am exhausted – I don’t have time to go to the gym… I need to find a quick fix to get this weight off, then I’ll get back to the gym.
  9. “Yes, I read scripture every day!” <—- flat out lie, I don’t have time for that!
  10. Son, can you just NOT NEED ME for 10 minutes?  Do your homework on your own!  GEEZ, I already passed 4th grade, your turn!  Quit being so selfish.
  11. I just need to get away, I’m completely stressed out and I can’t handle all this anymore!  And you know what, dear husband?  YOU are perfectly capable of stopping at the grocery store too!  Seriously, can’t you see that if I don’t show up to sell ice cream that NO ONE WILL?  All the other moms are so selfish with their time.  If I don’t do it, ,NO ONE WILL!

WOAH Nelly.
Just…. woah.

I put my most important priorities last, and filled my schedule with things that were not absolutely necessary because I think I am superwoman and can save the day.  And in the end, I burnt myself out, I bad mouthed other people, and I dropped the ball on multiple responsibilities… and I did it ALL BECAUSE I let my judgement of others dictate how I was going to prioritize my own schedule.

I hate to break it to you, but you aren’t THAT important.  

If you don’t sell ice cream at the school, someone else will.  Or God forbid, they don’t have ice cream one Thursday.  I think our children will all survive.

Maybe I am afraid to say no because of the fear that people will call me lazy, or call me a flake, or un-involved, or selfish — or any of the other words I use to describe others.  It pretty much came back to bite me in the …. donkey.  I really don’t believe those things about my family – but stress jades my judgement and my capacity to love with my words and actions.

So yes, I can do anything…. but if I am doing them all for the wrong reasons then I’m going to burn myself out.

I can’t do everything … especially if I am a martyr donning a superwoman cape, expecting others to thank me for saving the day since everyone else was too lazy to step in to help.

In the process I completely doo-doo’d all over my own family — the people I love the most.  And I doo-doo’d all over my reputation as a Christian — you know, a Christian? Someone who is supposed to “Love God, and love others.”

Does that sting a little?
youbetcha

First up … change my attitude and see people the way Jesus see’s people.
Second … priority check. God first (that includes reading scripture), then family, and then everything else.
and Last … lose the cape…. it has doo-doo all over it anyway.

 

 

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess – a review

7

From Jen Hatmaker’s website:

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. In the spirit of a fast, they pursued a deeply reduced life in order to find a greatly increased God.

I don’t LOVE to read.  My husband can read a book in an entire day, and that’s soooo not me.  I can read a sentence and then think about what I need at the grocery store, check the fridge for milk, see the coupon on the fridge for that cake place downtown, look it up online to see when they close, notice I have 2 new emails, remember I need to make that change in the database at church….  I think you can see where I’m going here.  I hear there is medication for people like me but that’s a different blog post entirely.

When I read Jen Hatmaker’s book, I forgot that I even have a family, that food and water are required to survive, and that school gets out at 3pm.  I seriously could not put this book down.  But there’s a major warning I must give before you read this book… ok, two warnings.

  1. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
  2. If you’re Catholic, you will feel guilt— wait — even if you aren’t Catholic, you will feel guilt and then IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Jen and her family go through 7 major areas of their lives and figure out how to make changes that will last.  We live in the United States, the land of the free, home of the excessive purchasing plague.  You know what I’m talking about.  If you have ever stepped foot in Target, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Amazon?  They have everything you would ever need, and hey since you’ve already attained the free shipping you might as well get those other three things on your wishlist too.  Yeah – I think you know what I mean.

(Dear Catholic readers, it’s ok —- embrace the guilt.)

What areas do Jen and her family tackle:

  1. Food
  2. Clothes
  3. Posessions
  4. Media
  5. Waste
  6. Spending
  7. Stress

If you’ve read any of my blog posts before – you can already fWiEgEuKr4e out with which week I had the most trouble.  But instead of telling you how each of these chapters effected me, let me tell you that I didn’t test drive with the experiment the way Jen did.  I read this book and the accompanying Member Book  with a women’s group at my church.  We were all nervous and excited to read it, and we only did each experiment for a week instead of for an entire month like Jen did.

She doesn’t sugar-coat things in her book, y’all.  And you know what?  Good for her!  I think we have grown too accustomed to  everyone trying to play nicey-nice with each other that sometimes we don’t stick to biblical truths or God’s standards for our lives because we don’t want to seem weird or offend anyone.  (and this is where I felt the most guilt)

Jen tackles each section with honesty, HILARITY, and donchaknow, scriptural references.  Yup.  God’s rules and guidelines. Dude… just … dude.  This book rocked my world and helped me realize how petty and selfish I can be in regards to several of these 7 areas.  I didn’t have too hard of a time with the food section – tho I am a foodie and I love food (all the WRONG foods – just for the record), and the clothing section was eye opening for me but didn’t necessarily rock my world because I don’t typically buy a lot of clothes and shoes.  The possessions chapter beat me over the head as I looked around my house and through closets and gasped, shut doors and stood in front of them so no would else could see my excess.

But the media chapter — ouch.  You can read more about that here.

My conclusion is this… every family who has labeled itself as a Christian home can benefit from reading this book.  I guarantee there is a sweaty armpit chapter in there for everyone; there will be a chapter that makes you uncomfortable and nervous because she’s pretty much describing YOU in her chapter!  I love the biblical references and her call to action – that things must change in us, in our personal walks with Christ and what He calls each of us to do in our lives, and for the reputation of those who call themselves Christians.  To believe in Jesus is pretty cool, but to LIVE IT OUT is stinking inspiring and leads others to want to know what your secret sauce is!

I would love to read this book again but together as a family this time.  I am eager to know how my 10 year old son would interpret Jen’s words, and what kinds of life change would result from those interpretations.

Have you read 7?  What section left a bruise between your eyes?

re-entering the atmosphere, part 2

I know I am in the fires of life sometimes, but it’s when I let myself believe that I am actually burning-up that I get into trouble.

In the movies when a shuttle or space capsule reenters the atmosphere I am completely amazed and wide-eyed.  It’s burning, but not burning UP.  And then it’s just fine when it gets through to the other side.  I think sometimes I forget that there’s an “other side” to my life struggles.

Photo from http://www.orbiter-forum.com/

Photo from http://www.orbiter-forum.com/

 

Last week I tackled the first of three questions that I would be asking myself continuously if I didn’t have a strong faith foundation.  Here are the three questions:

Is God punishing me? (click link to read the answer)
Did God make all this happen in my body?
Why won’t He take it all away?

Did God make all this happen in my body?  Is He to blame for all this pain and dysfunction?  It would really be great if I had someone to point at and scream at and say, “THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!”  But — God is not to blame.

I am going to assume that mostly those with chronic illnesses are reading this post.  And I am also going to assume you have exhausted all testing and physicians to find out exactly why you are sick or hurting and what in the world you can do to fix it.  It’s amazing how desperate we can get for answers.  Been there.  Done that.

I want you to think about the body types of your friends — some are beanpole thin and they eat Taco Bell for lunch.  Some of your friends are apple shaped and have big middles but tiny legs.  Some have tiny waists but have some junk in the trunk.  WE. ARE. ALL. DIFFERENT.  God made us all different — so you can “blame” Him for that at least if you’re really jonesing to blame someone for something.

Why is this important?  It’s important to realize that what might work for patient A, might not work for you.  What caused the issues with patient D, might not be what caused your issues.  Some people can’t tolerate milk.  Some can’t tolerate gluten.  Some can’t tolerate their inlaws … oh wait, that’s another topic completely, and some eat Taco Bell every day and have no issues at all.  (I deleted my inappropriate commentary about these people)

I am not a conspiracy theorist (except for our cat’s impeccable throw up timing — ALWAYS when I am in a hurry) but I can’t help but wonder what in the world is going on in our environment, in our food, in our water, and in technology that is creating more and more medical issues that we just can’t define/see.  Sure there has always been illness, look how many people Jesus healed,  but SOMETHING is causing more and more cancer, and autism, and ADHD, chronic pain, and whatever else…. something.

God’s reign over us is not like an ant bully with a magnifying glass who squashes us with His thumb for fun. God’s reign is actually WITH us, around us, in us, through us … it’s like a big fluffy robe and hot tea … it’s comfy and something you long for (unless it’s 100 degrees in Texas, but you know what I mean.)  Why in the world would He cause harm to the ones whom He created and loves to the nth degree?  If our goal is to be like Jesus, why would He thwart those efforts by making us sick, especially our children!?!?  God does not  – does not – does not go down the list and say, “I think I’ll give Billy cancer today — hey Peter, watch this!”

God is for you.
God is with you.
God is on your side.
If you let Him in, He will THRIVE in you.
He will work through you
And you can feel His peaceful presence!

So why won’t He take it all the pain away?  Stay tuned.

give the gift of grace today

give the gift of grace today

In the Dallas area, it’s the first day of school for the majority of public schools.  So not only do we have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited kids who poured out of our homes and cars this morning — we also have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited parents who are doing their best to function “normally” today.

Even if you don’t have kids who went back to school,
give the gift of grace today.  

Here are real life examples of why you should give your coworkers (and strangers at the grocery store) some grace today:

  1. A family just moved from New Mexico 5 weeks ago and her kids know ZERO kids at school today, so mom is a bit nervous and anxious for her kids.
  2. A middle school girl was bullied to the point of wanting to take her life last year, and today she had to go back to school — needless to say, mom and dad are doing all they can to focus on their jobs today.
  3. A 5th grade boy with ADHD is going back to school, but this time with medication that will help him “not feel like a goof ball on the playground” (his words).  Mom and dad are anxious to hear how he fared socially today.
  4. Moms and dads took their “babies” to school for the very first time this morning and peeled their nervous children off their legs before they walked out of the school.
  5. A mom who gave a teacher the benefit of the doubt last year only to find out she truly had been singling out her kiddo is trying her best to give grace to the teacher this year and not hover over her son.
  6. A teacher fresh out of college welcomed kids into his classroom for the very first time this morning – I bet even HIS parents are nervous and anxious for him!

I have a feeling that many many moms and dads will be watching the clock today, waiting for that hour when they get to reunite with their kids to talk about what was awesome, and what needs improvement.  I bet many of these families could use our prayers.

While anxiety may be weighing down the hearts of many parents around you, cheer them up with an unexpected kind word.  Or when your coworker doesn’t follow through with the thing she said she would take care of, or the lady in Wal-Mart seems to be aimlessly walking down the middle of the aisle, do your very best to give them the gift of grace.