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Feb 24, 2011

Life ~ Not What I Thought

Life is just not turning out like what I thought. And I’m not even referring to the big plans I had as a college graduate so many years ago, nor the dreams I had as a young bride ignorant to the realities of marriage to a real life man.

No, I’m talking about plans that I thought were just on the brink of unfolding eighteen months ago.
It’s not that life was smooth sailing in the spring of 2009 but I thought the rough patch our family was going through would eventually smooth out and the road would be level again.
As I, along with a close friend, prepared to begin a women’s ministry, I spent lots of “on my face before God” time in the privacy of my bedroom.

I remember the days of, one by one, giving God every part of me: my dreams, my home, my husband, and each of my children. That last part ~ each of my children, took me several days of “giving over to God” until I knew I really meant it. You see I wanted God more than anything and anyone. But I found that not even that is a protection against bad things happening. In fact, I suspect that when you truly get to that point, it makes you a target.

 If you know our story, then you know what happened in 2009. Our 12 year old son, Andrew, was struck with brain cancer and we buried him less than four months after the diagnosis.

 But I buried more than a son on December 19, 2009.

 Into the ground went my hopes, my dreams and my confidence. And if I'm being totally honest here, some of my confidence in God also went six feet deep. 
Fresh soil was shoveled on top and packed down. It took me many months to revisit the mound of treasure in that grave.

What about you? Do you feel off kilter in your own life?
Do you have major areas that are far from picture perfect?
Do you wonder if God really knows what's happening in your life?
Do you ever wonder if He truly cares?
Do you, in the privacy of your most unguarded moments, ever question whether He will intervene in your desperate circumstances?

(to be continued...)

Feb 23, 2011

Wednesday Walking

Today is Wednesday which means I meet my friend Jen and we walk and run. But what we really do is talk our heads off. 
In fact, as far as I'm concerned, the plan to meet and walk/run each week is really an excuse to talk for an hour and a half. Because when I got back from walking/running with her for 7 miles today, I ran another mile and a half just to make sure I met my running goal for the day!
Jen in the red "Team Andrew" shirt

Our conversations include (not in this order): food, Jesus, potential jobs (Today I suggested we start a personal shopping business,which is kind of crazy because I don't really like to shop and neither does she.), books we are reading, husbands (how we appreciate their unique strengths ~ seriously), our kids, how we should take better care of our skin in the sun (although I was not wearing any sunscreen and I'd bet she wasn't either), the extra accumulation of pine straw on the sandy trail which threw me off and I thought we'd gotten lost in the park, my big savings at Publix this week (I spent $58.15 and saved $72.27 (7227 ~ weird), how sore we are after we do the Shred, and something she did on my behalf that surprised me so much I had no words to respond after she convinced me she was not joking! 

I think maybe that sums  up today's hour and a half convo.

My husband and I are working on having a huge garage sale this weekend. You know the kind that Dave Ramsey describes as one so big, the dog hides?! That kind. 

Well, friends, our family is facing another challenge. I am thankful it is not health related. 
I can tell you this...regardless of what comes our way, our faith endures and we do not quit.

I tried to upload a video I recorded in my favorite park this week (the one I thought we were lost in today) but I cannot get blogger to upload it, so I'm including a link here to my FB page, where you can see it.
And there is an "oops" on the video. I left out a line from the scripture in Hebrews. This is it: "and let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us..."

It's warming up here in Florida and I'm enjoying it. Our windows are open and I can hear my neighbors sweet children playing. 

Where ever you are and whatever you are doing today, remember you are loved. In fact you are loved lavishly by the God of the universe...our Abba Father.
One of the ways God is loving me is through my friends. I am blessed. 

Feb 15, 2011

Black Bean Soup for Soup-a-Palooza

Come join Soup-a-Palooza with TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury and Westminster Crackers."
Chicken and Black Bean Soup

Chicken & Black bean soup

1 small onion
1/2 green bell pepper
1 tsp hot oil
1 (16 oz ) jar spicy black bean dip {I like the Paul Newman brand.)
2 (16 oz ) cans black beans
2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken (Sometimes I leave out the chicken.)
4 cups chicken broth
Optional toppings:
sour cream
shredded Cheddar cheese
baked tortilla strips or chips
diced tomatoes
diced onion
avocado slices
Dice onion and bell pepper; saute in 1 tsp hot oil in a Dutch oven over med./high heat for about 3 minutes. Whisk in 4 cups chicken broth and 1 jar spicy black bean dip until smooth. Bring to a boil and stir in 2 cans black beans (may rinse and drain), and 2 cups chopped chicken. Cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Top individual bowls of soup with your choice of toppings.
* recipe from Southern Living, April 2005 

I also cook a small pot of brown rice and put the rice in the bowls then top with the soup. And my latest addition to cooking anything Latin inspired is Goya brand Sofrito. It's a tomato base with green bell peppers, onion, cilantro and garlic in olive oil. I add 1 T. to this recipe.

Feb 14, 2011

Last segment of "For Those in Need of Courage & Hope"

 To read from the beginning, go here.

Each day I focus, not on my light and momentary affliction, but I focus and fix my gaze on Jesus. Because of Jesus, I CAN. 
I can do what I never imagined I could. 

Daily I remind myself that Jesus already paid the price for my eternal wholeness. So when life gets hard and my heart is heavy, I have already determined that despite whatever comes my way, I will make it. 
I will make it because Jesus has gone ahead of me and made my way. With each step He took on this earth, I was on His mind. As His arms were outstretched on the Cross, He carried me on His shoulders. He knew the devastation that the sin of Adam would bring and He was willing and able to right the wrongs
Love broke His heart and His love mends mine. 

Most of you have faced disappointment of some kind. Some of you have had your hearts broken in a way that feels beyond repair.
And because of these trials, your relationship with Christ has either shriveled or grown deeper. 

Today I am praying for you. I pray that you will forgive. 
Forgive yesterday. Forgive today. 
Receive Grace. Extend Grace. 
Determine that you will make it! Determine to know Jesus more and better. 
In this you will find purpose.
And just as Jesus passionately embraced His purpose in the midst of pain by fixing His eyes on what He knew lay just across the far edge of His endurance, you are strengthened to do the same.
Through the eternal bond of love, I partner with Andrew in his message:
“Life is hard. Look to Jesus.”

Now, friends, take courage and hold onto hope!

Feb 11, 2011

What I Did for Love

Julie, of Come Have a Peace, asked me to share a story with the theme What I Did for Love

“I gave him his first bath and I will give him his last.”
I responded to the nurse as she explained the options, my boy’s twelve year old body lying on a hospital bed between us.

You can read the rest here.

Feb 9, 2011

February Fit & Healthy Focus

Sunday was the 21st day of "21" Meditations & Motivations to Get You Moving! I didn't miss a day of working out in 21 days! Now I'll go back to my regular plan of working out 6 days/week and a rest day on Sunday.
Doing the "21" plan on the "21" Group Page on facebook worked out well.
I'm planning another Fitness Challenge for the spring. Let me know if you want to join in on that one. Hopefully, by then, those of you in "snow country" will be able to get out and hop, skip, jump...walk or run!

Some of us are still posting our daily workouts on the FB Group Page. And others posted on my running blog ~ www.seemymomrun.com 
(Yay! Sonja and Mindy and Tracy!)

For the month of February I am going to post a weekly Fit & Healthy Focus. 

For this first week the focus is to increase your fiber intake to 25 grams a day. (Women ~ 25 grams and Men 35 grams. I'm working on my husband! He's agreed to up his fiber intake.)
I got 29 grams in today and what I have noticed since increasing my fiber this week is that I naturally eat less. When you choose to eat an apple with peel (I buy organic apples.), you get a little over 4 grams of fiber and then you really don't reach for a cookie or two or five.
Here is a good site that includes a list of high fiber foods.

If you want to join in on the February Fit & Healthy Focus, leave a comment. And if you are on FB, "friend me" and join our Group Page. You'll recognize a few fellow bloggers there!

Feb 3, 2011

Another "part" to ~ For Those In Need of Courage & Hope

 Dear Friends,

Some of you are going through marital distress, financial ruin, illness or are picking up the pieces of a loved one's poor choices. I know what it's like to have courage slip from your grasp, to free-fall into fear and feel the swirling flood waters of anxiety rise within.  I know what it's like to force yourself to do what you do not want to do. I know what it's like to feel a lump in the throat and for eyes to swell with tears when asked, "How are you doing?"

I "know" the HARD DAYS.

But I know something else. I know this world is not my home. I know one day my tears will dry forever. I know one day my faithfulness will be rewarded. And I know that one day my heart will swell with joy and never again with pain.

But until that day, how do we face adversity, sorrow and disappointment? 

How do we go on when we don't even want to get up?

Jesus faced this same kind of sorrow and pain.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed for submission of His will to that of God’s.
In agony, He prayed more earnestly until His sweat became like drops of blood. 

Jesus knew the HARD DAYS, too. 
But He knew something else, as well.

(Part 2)
Jesus knew His purpose.
To seek us. To save us. To give us Eternal Life.  
(John 10:10, John 17:1-5, Luke 19:10)

And yet He also knew there would be great pain—physical, emotional and spiritual—as He pursued His purpose.
(Matthew 23:37, Luke 19:41, John 11:35, Luke 22:41-44, Luke 22:63-65, John 19:1-30)

So just how did Jesus hold fast to His purpose even as He faced down His own pain?

Jesus passionately embraced His purpose in the midst of pain by fixing His eyes on what He knew lay just across the far edge of His endurance.
“…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

But what about you? 

And what about me?

(Part 3)
After all, Jesus was fully man while also fully God. Yet even as I type these words, I have an inner witness that speaks, “And you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit.” 

So what about me?
When my twelve year old son, Andrew, was undergoing his third of four brain surgeries, I whispered in the ear of a friend, “If things don’t turn out like we are hoping and praying I want to go, too.”                                                                                                         
Words I was afraid to voice aloud for fear of frightening my family.  
Words I was to write in a journal a few months later, “Maybe I will die soon. Then I will see Andrew.”                                                                                                                  
Silent words I heard spoken to my heart as I ran 3 miles one night by the occasional lights of passing cars.                                                                                                            “This is not your last mile,” when I considered that veering into the center of the road might allow me a “near death” experience and give me a glimpse of Andrew in Heaven. 

No longer afraid to die, I needed courage to continue to live.
So what about you?
Are you in need of courage to really live? Do you need a renewal of hope as each new morning reminds you of a hopeless situation?

I do not write this as a narrator, a casual observer of someone else’s story. Just this week I have received “punch in the gut” news. Once again, our family will have to decide to live like we believe what we say we do. 

So back to the question:  How do we face adversity, sorrow and disappointment? How do we go on when we don't even want to get up?
We fix our eyes on Jesus. We follow His lead.
He endured the agony of the cross by focusing on the joy ahead of Him.
His joy was found in finishing the task for which He had been sent. He made the way for us to be reconciled to the Father. And in so doing He glorified God. 
His joy is in us and our joy is in Him. 

Sounds great, right? You already knew that, didn’t you? 

So how does that instill courage and hope for each new day? 

Because of His courage and endurance I take courage and I endure. Because of His hope in a soon to be realized joy, I hold onto hope.
Jesus knew His purpose and He fulfilled it. Because of this, my life has purpose and I can fulfill the call of God on my life and endure whatever comes my way. 

Hebrews 12 begins this way: Verse 1 - “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so a great a cloud of witnesses, let us aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”
To endure is to hold one’s ground in conflict, bear up against adversity, hold out under stress, stand firm, persevere under pressure, and to wait calmly and courageously. 

I can get weighed down with grief and the feelings of unfairness in losing a child to cancer. Often I have to lay that weight aside so that I can keep running. If I am to run with endurance, I must lay aside those weights that burden me. I must also guard myself from the sin that would trip me up. 

You see, my goal is to not only "hold my ground,"  but to gain ground! I want to encourage others in their race, as well. I want to run further and faster and without fear. 
I want to finish well.
(to be continued...)