Wednesday, October 15, 2008

He chose the nails

Last month, I did something that I have never, ever, in all of my 38 years done (by choice.) I went to the track at the high school up the street to RUN! Yah, no kidding.

You see, for all of my life I have been adverse to exercise and athletics—just not my thing. Actually, I think I've always wanted to, but never quite knew how. Sounds ridiculous now that I write that. :-) Ah, hindsight.

Anyhow, God has been doing some amazing work in me lately. He's been putting desires in my heart that are new and incredibly exciting.

For those of you who read my "6 things" when I got tagged "it," I shared that I want to be a long-distance runner. Wow; that's totally new to me. Now that I've laid down so many of my emotional burdens, I'm ready to let go of all of the physical burdens I have been carrying for far too long. :-)

So, that's how I ended up at the track on Saturday morning. I realized that in order for my dreams to come true, I needed to begin to actively pursue them. Wouldn't you know, God used that hour to minister to my heart while I ran? The time went by so fast and His words and insights just kept flowing.

Over the summer, the high school put in a new football field in the center of the track. On the day I ran, the left-overs from the job were scattered all over the track lanes.

At first I ran or jumped over the various pieces of turf, tools and whatnot. As I did, however, I felt God speaking to my spirit about my life and how there are roadblocks in the way of places I want to "go." Rather than run around or jump over them, I felt led to actually pick them up and move them.

It was symbolic, of course, but as I did I could feel more burdens being lifted and removed. God was showing me that if I really desired to get healthy (mind, heart, body and soul), then I needed to stop avoiding the issues and face them head on. Wow.

While I ran, I was listening to my favorite Pocket Full of Rocks CD. "This is the Life" was one song that really spoke to me:

"If I could I'd sing a million songs to worship You
If I could I'd bow a million times to honor You
Given an eternity, I might But here and now,
I'll try with all my might
This is the life You give me
and it's the life I give back to You
Now and forever I live it just for You
My lips will declare Your glory,
and my dance will be of Your love
The work of my hands will ever honor You
If I could I'd sing a million songs to worship You
And if I could I'd bow a million times to honor You
Given all eternity, I might But here and now,
I'll try with all my might"

The entire CD is really powerful. Love the lyrics. The group's name, incidentally, is taken from the story of David and Goliath. The CD cover shows a little boy with a sling shot. How cool is that? :-)

While I was running, I noticed a 3-inch nail and picked it up. It reminded me of a Good Friday church service I had attended years ago. We were given similar nails to hold and ponder what Jesus might have gone through on the night He was crucified. As I ran, I pressed my thumb against the sharp tip and did just that. I imagined how much the nails must have hurt.

The title of Max Lucado's book, He Chose the Nails came to mind. He chose to suffer. He chose death. And He did it just for me (and YOU.) I am eternally grateful for what Christ did on my behalf, and yet, I still struggle to fully grasp what all of it means.

I thought about getting my body healthy and in shape and the struggle that it's been to do so. I thought about how easily I have given up in the past and all of the yuck that followed after. I felt spurred on by what my Savior did so many years ago. He chose the hard way and I was ready to do the same.

No, my choice would not nearly have the same ramifications as His did. Nor would my discomfort compare in the slightest to the pain and torture He endured. And yet, I felt inspired and compelled to follow His example and choose the nails. To finally put to death all of the shame, sadness, bitterness, wounding and denial I had been living in for so long. As I thought and prayed, I pressed my thumb firmly against the tip of the nail.

And then, as I rounded the track one more time, I saw it. Lying underneath another piece of discarded turf in lane one was a nine-inch spike. I started to cry as soon as I saw it.

It was probably closer to what nailed my Savior to the cross. God had been whispering to my spirit, spurring me on both physically and emotionally. I can't even begin to articulate all that the two of us "conversed" about, but it went deep into my soul.

It was as if He were checking my motives and raising the stakes. I could almost hear Him say, "Child, would you choose THIS nail?"

"YES." I answered emphatically. "Yes, Lord. I choose hard. I choose You. I choose Your way. I choose to go all the way. THIS time I am not giving up or turning back. THIS time I'm committed 100%. I can't do it without you, God, but I CAN do it with you. I'm ready."

So, I picked up the spike and RAN. I ran from my past. I ran from my mistakes. I ran from my sins. I ran from death.

I ran to my Creator.
I ran to my future.
I ran to freedom.
I ran to joy.
I ran to victory.
I ran to LIFE.

Instead of the nail and spike in my hands, I felt my King grab my hand and run with me.

And wouldn't you know, for the first time EVER, I have experienced amazing breakthrough???

I'm now waking up most days at 5 am to spend time with the Lord.
Six days a week I'm working out and absolutely LOVING it.
I'm choosing healthy foods to fuel my body rather than numb my pain.
My body is stronger and the aches and pains are disappearing.

I'm also 29 pounds lighter and that much closer to my goal—complete physical, emotional and spiritual health! It feels so incredibly good.

God is SO good. He's helping me to stop living by my emotions and what I "feel" like doing (or not doing.) He's teaching me that the harder way is by far the more enjoyable and exciting way.

For the first time in my life I feel connected to who I am. I'm no longer afraid to face the demons and fears that used to keep me in bondage.

I'm able to enjoy who I am today—knowing that God's not done with me yet. I'm able to live in the present, rather than be stuck in the mire of the past. God is helping me to accept His divine love for me, which then inspires me to take better care of myself and those I love.

What a spectacular adventure this is! I pray that whatever roadblocks are in your way today, that God will give you the courage to face them head on and move them with His power and grace.

The solution is always so simple—surrender—and yet our fears and worries make it seem like the worst possible choice. Trust Him. He knows you. He loves you. He died for you.

You have to make the choice and choose to move, but, He will meet you there and do it WITH you. What a glorious place to be.

May you fully embrace LIVING A BLESSED LIFE today!!!

With hope & joy,

the gifts of rain

As I was driving towards Portland last week, I saw the most beautiful thing. The rain stopped, the clouds parted and a tiny rainbow appeared. Aside from when I was in Hawaii, I have never seen a rainbow quite so unique.

If you look real close, you can see it in the center of the pictures. (Yes, I was driving down the highway when I took these pics. So glad they turned out. Right after I snapped the shots, the clouds moved and the rainbow disappeared.)

Just like the sunrise I wrote about a few weeks ago, I felt like this was a gift from God. A peak of something beautiful in the midst of a storm. A reminder that although things may be tough, God is always with me and has blessings to shower upon me even in the midst of the trials.

Praying God reveals Himself to you in a vivid and colorful way today which encourages you to press on and enjoy LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

run, don't walk!

Last week for my sanity night, I went and saw Fireproof. Wow. Aside from a tiny dose of cheesy acting at the beginning (seemed like they just need to get warmed up), the movie was amazing.

It's one of those movies that everyone really, really, REALLY should see. Regardless of whether you are single, married but unhappy, married and happy, or even a teenager...this movie is a must see for everyone.

I am extremely blessed to be in the "married and happy" category. However, we have walked through some very difficult seasons in our lives. It is through God's mercy, grace and love that Geoff and I are where we are at today. And, it's not without effort. Daily.

While the movie focuses on a married couple, really the crux of the movie is our desperate need to have Christ in our lives and hearts. We were made for and through Him. Our souls crave and seek out a love that only our Creator can give us. Without Him, everything else is a cheap substitution (that is never without consequences.) We will seek to fill the void and numb the pain with anything and everything.

As I have learned (and continue to learn), nothing, absolutely NOTHING can compare to the amazing grace and pure love that my God fills me up with each day.

Without Him, life is a drudgery, and truly, quite impossible. I end up frustrated, depressed, angry, and without purpose.

With Him, I am filled with an indescribable joy, absolute peace and a deep passion to know Him, serve Him and honor Him with my life.

Do I have it all figured out? No. Is every day a cake walk. Absolutely not. Do I make wrong choices? Every day.

But, despite of all of it, my God loves me, forgives me and allows me to start fresh every single time I turn back and surrender myself to Him. It can seem so difficult, and yet, the funny thing is that it's the simplest and most fundamental thing we can do as humans. It's how God created us to live.

If you haven't seen the movie yet, I highly encourage you to grab your spouse, grab a friend or even go by yourself (I did.) Just be sure to grab some tissue! Oh, and be ready to laugh, there are some really, really funny parts in the movie. :-)

Before you go, check out this five minute clip with Kirk Cameron where he talks about the movie as well as how he chose to honor his (real) wife, Chelsea Noble, during the filming. I love that he chose to raise the standards of integrity that much higher!

Praying that God shows you His sweet love today in an unexpected (but deep) way. Keep LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With joy,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

a perfect day...

The weather this weekend was absolutely gorgeous! Hard to believe it's mid-October...ok...well my little tootsies believe it every time I make them go outside clad only in my favorite pair of Nike flip-flops! But still, despite the coolness in the air, the weather was absolutely perfect; as was my day.

It started off with a cup of (non-bitter!) coffee and time with the Lord. Then I got in a 2 mile workout (love Leslie Sansone's DVDs!) After making my kiddos breakfast, I enjoyed a nice, long shower (I'm so thankful to live in a country where hot water is an every day luxury I can enjoy!)

Then it was off to church. All three of our kids love their classes and teachers. The blessing in that is that Geoff and I are able to enjoy two stress-free hours together. It's so nice to be able to relax in the fact that are being loved on by some awesome women in our church. (After spending years with one or more kids jumping all over us during the service, this is a BIG deal. Big.)

Today, we were met at the door by our honorary "Mom" and "Dad." My kids ADORE Linda and Alden and get so excited to see and hug them whenever possible. :-) So sweet. I was so happy to hear that Alden is recovering so well from his surgery to remove the cancer. God is so GOOD!

The worship today was especially powerful. Josh, from Issakar, is our worship leader. He always ministers to my soul through the songs he chooses. Today Josh encouraged us to allow God to purify our hearts while we sang "Consuming Fire" by Tim Hughes. Wow.

After church, Geoff surprised all of us with lunch at Red Robins. Sara was especially thrilled as she squealed "WED WOBINS! WED WOBINS! Yay, Daddy! Wed WOBINS!!!"

Next on our list was Old Navy where the five of us picked out coordinating outfits for our Christmas photos. After paying way too much money for pics that STUNK last year, Geoff decided he could do much better.

Because one store is never enough (ha ha), we made a quick trip to the "Blue Mall." (Actually it's called Washington Square. However, when Chelsea was 2 she called it the "Blue Mall" because the skylights make it look blue. :-) So, that's what we still call it.)

Liam had fun posing with the mannequins in Macy's:
We then spent a couple of hours up at the Hoyt Arboretum. The trees are starting to turn and it is so beautiful. Just the perfect day to throw down a blanket and take lots and lots and LOTS of pics. For the most part, our kiddos obliged. Can't wait to share some of the pics Geoff got, but for now I'll give you a teeny, tiny hint:

And here's a pic of our talented photographer and his little helper (who almost crashed his prized camera to the ground when she tipped over the tripod...gulp.)
Our final stop was the grocery store for some much needed items and then finally home. Geoff was kind enough to pull together a quick dinner and get the kids off to bed. (Yes, I'm really spoiled! He had mercy on me because I wasn't feeling too good. What an awesome man! Who could ask for anything more?)

What an absolutely amazing day...exactly what this family needed after a couple of challenging weeks.

So, how did you spend your Sunday? What "luxuries" are you most thankful for? More importantly, how can I pray for you this week?

Hope your weekend was full of fun, family times and that your week starts off especially well. Praying God's sweet and abundant blessings upon you; may you be LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!!!