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Monday, October 1, 2012
“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 12:2
“Maybe I’ll just go for three today,” I thought as I tied my shoe laces.
As quickly as the thought was in my head, another joined it. “Wow, who would have ever thought I’d say those words – I’ll JUST go for three today.”
I had to laugh out loud.
Two years ago, I began a new journey. A journey that was never something I thought I’d be able to do. A journey that has transformed my patterns and has opened my mind up to possibilities I never would have dreamed of doing.
· A 5K
At the ripe old age of 43, I decided to take up running. After years of doing all sorts of other activities for exercise, many I loved and still love to do, I felt the need to add running to the regimen. It was something I always wanted to do, but never had the courage to give it a try. But, this time was different. The want-to was there.
The funny thing is, I never intended to make it a part of my everyday thinking. I wanted to be able to run a 5K and move on. But once that was accomplished, I felt like taking on more. First it was a 10K that I really didn’t train all that much for. Because running 3-4 miles per outing had become a regular habit, adding a couple more that day wasn’t a big deal.
Now, I’m training for a half-marathon. Although I’m a little nervous about it – 13.1 miles is a really long way – I have a confidence and desire that I never had before.
After I laughed at my thoughts about running that day, I felt a nudge in my sprit and a whisper in my soul. “See, you HAVE been transformed. If you’ll let me do this, let me transform more of you.”
I can’t say how many times I’ve read that scripture. I can say that I’m looking at it with fresh eyes.
Because when I can SEE the transformation that only He can bring about, it beckons me to keep going forward towards Him, asking for more.
Lord, make me more like you. I pray for a heart like yours, and a spirit that is willing to be transformed. Only you can bring about the radical change that will make my life mesh with your heart. I want that transformation. Here I am.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
Just the title alone screamed at me to open it up and devour it.
Those words suit me to a tee. A tee I’d rather not look like, thank you very much. For years I thought, that’s just how I’m wired. I’m calm to a point and then once I slip beyond “that” place, look out.
My blood boils and my tongue lashes out at whomever it is who’s causing my anger.
Did you catch that?
I rationalized every instance of my own weakness by placing the blame on the person I chose to lash out at. Again, I figured, that’s just how I’m wired and they should know better.
It’s nearly comical. If the results weren’t so damaging. My relationships suffered, especially the ones of those I’m closest to – my husband, parents, kids, even friends on occasion.
God, I don’t want to be like this anymore.
- I want calm. I want to be equipped to handle those situations with a grace that can only come from You
- I desire peace. To face chaotic moments with the realization that no matter what the situation, You are in charge of it and it will work itself out
- I long for the ability to speak in love. To realize that the person or people who are in this crazy moment with me are not my enemy and that treating them with the love and respect they deserve is the only true response
So, I’m working through a book and online Bible study with about 15,000 of my newest friends. Together, we are studying Lysa TerKeurst’s lastest book, Unglued. We are all imperfect people searching for progress. Imperfect progress, sure. I’ll slip up, I’ll have a moment I’m not proud of. But, I will commit to moving forward and continuing to seek truth and wisdom that only Jesus can provide. And with that, I’ll make Imperfect Progress! And that, is just fine!
There’s a statement in the book that says “I’m not a freak-out woman.” That’s definitely a goal. I pray to get there. And when I do, I want to get a t-shirt that says just that – “I’m Not a Freak-Out Woman.” By the grace of God alone!
If you are interested, it’s not too late to join the study. We’re only in the first week – you can catch up, I promise. Just visit Melissa Taylor’s blog and get involved. www.melissataylor.org.
If I can do this, anyone can. Join me?
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Sitting in the audience, I struggled to fight back the tears that threatened to spill over and stream down my cheeks. As I listened to the message of healing, redemption and hope, all I could think of was how much distance I still have between Jesus and me.
Her illustration was a line drawn between her and God. It looked like a kite tail, long and thin, yet still a lifeline connecting her and her Creator. As she talked, she recounted lies that settled into her heart, creating a division – illustrated by a line crossing the lifeline, putting up a barrier.
Her words pierced my heart, bringing back memories that I hate to recall. Lies I believe about myself. Long ago choices that led to pain, hurt and more lies, that I somehow still believe in the depths of my heart. Barriers that I have created between Jesus and me that prevent me from fully receiving His redemption and grace.
I read the words to Psalm 68:19, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” As I meditated on them, I realized I don’t put that Scripture into practice. Jesus is there, waiting with open hands, ready to take the burdens and lies away. And still, there are times when I grab on to them so tightly that I’m terrified to let them go.
There is a vulnerability required to work through past hurts and beliefs. There is unresolved pain that needs to be dealt with. There are thought processes that need to be changed. It takes work and dedication and sometimes it’s just easier to stick with the old habits. Not because they are beneficial or right, but because they are comfortable and nonthreatening.
Questions arise like; “if I don’t have these thoughts, what thoughts will I have?” “This is what I’ve believed about myself for so long, what will replace it?” My list goes on.
The talk I listened to gave me hope. The speaker dealt with issues far greater than anything I have had to face. Her struggles were life threatening. And yet, she was able, with the help of Jesus, to overcome and break old bonds that were keeping her from the life she was meant to live. Today, she lives in freedom.
Ah, words that I truly want to learn the meaning of for my own life. And so, I commit to begin my own process of allowing the Lord to daily bear my burdens, instead of bearing them on my own.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
I am in a battle and I keep faltering.
Ever since my career was put on hiatus now nearly eighteen month ago, the enemy has used this circumstance in my life as a point of attack.
Which, I know. Which, when my focus is rightfully on Jesus, I can fend off.
Which, when I am at a weak point, the enemy swoops in and fills me with feelings that I’m not good enough. That I’m too old. That my skill set isn’t quite up to par.
All of these things, I know are untrue. But, he is crafty and he uses things like yet another “no” to wreak havoc on both my self confidence and my peace.
When I run, there is about a half-mile section of the route I take that is a gravel and dirt road. It’s not well-traveled, but the cars that do travel it have left tire grooves that have smoothed out the gravel. These grooves are much easier to run in than the rest of the road. To the left or tight just a little, and I’m in the ruts with loose gravel and bad footing. It slows me down and threatens my confidence because this section of the path is at both the beginning and end of my run – so when I’m gearing up and when I’m struggling to finish.
If I stay in the grooves, I’m set. But if I lose focus and shift to the left or right, I’m setting myself up to stumble.
God has been using this part of my run to speak into my heart. He’s reminded me over and over that the path I’m on is the one He had planned for me long ago. He’s provided many blessings during this time. And, He knows what I need, better than I do. I NEED to trust in Him. I need to give up this frustration over my unemployment, lay it at His feet and trust Him.
That’s so much easier said than done – believe me, this I know first-hand.
But His grace is readily available for all of us who ask. Just tonight, while reading through Scripture, I came across a passage I underlined in my Bible a long time ago:
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
Do not fear; I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
I don’t know what’s happening in your life right now, but I definitely needed this beautiful reminder. It’s time to take hold of His hand and cling tightly to it.
Monday, July 30, 2012
“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17
This morning, my cell phone locked up and wouldn’t do anything. I tried all the usual fixes, to no avail. After more than an hour, it was evident that the only solution was a trip to Verizon.
You wouldn’t think that would be a big inconvenience. I’m unemployed, the kids are out of school and we didn’t have any big plans for today. And yet, my response was one of irritation that led to having a short temper with my family.
All this after an early morning that included a run complete with prayer, great worship music and wonder over an incredible sunrise, and quiet time afterward.
I was able to catch myself and prayed to handle the situation better. We navigated the challenge without further incident from me.
But it left me unsettled most of the day. Why is this such a struggle? How can I be so focused on God’s presence one minute and snapping at my kids or husband the next?
This afternoon, I was working on Bible study homework and came upon Galatians 5:17. It stopped me in my tracks. As Paul notes, there is a battle going on inside me every minute of every day. It is the fight between my sinful nature and the Holy Spirit to guide me in ways better than I can choose on my own.
I knew in my heart that I cannot overcome this tendency without full submission to the Spirit’s leading. This is hard stuff. I pray for God to change me. I pray to yield my will to His. But, my flesh is tough. It wants what it wants and it doesn’t like to be led otherwise. And, I have to wonder sometimes, if I really mean it when I say I’m willing to submit.
One of the questions in our study asked us to consider if we are actually bargaining with God, instead of fully submitting to His will.
I have to admit, I have done this. I say I want His will, but when it doesn’t look like what I think it should look like, I squirm and fidget and get testy. Which leads to responses like today.
My prayer was that God would show me those places in my heart where I am holding back. It’s not going to be an easy journey, but if I truly want to walk this walk and live in His will, it’s the only way.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8
I am not a runner.
I do, however, run. Mostly for cardio exercise, but also because I have committed to running my first half-marathon next February and I have to train.
In recent weeks, I had upped my average run to almost four miles. It was a feat I hadn’t ever even come close to, but by running 3-4 times a week, it had become doable. I was feeling pretty good. Then, we went out of town for several days. Right after our return, I caught a cold. I went a week without a run. When I got back in my running shoes this week, I felt awful. Like I hadn’t trained much at all. In just a short amount of time, my stamina was nearly gone and I barely had three miles in me.
It was frustrating and disappointing. But, most of all, I was off track – not keeping aligned with what I had committed to.
As I was huffing and puffing my way through that run, I was praying and asking God for help. I felt as though He was showing me that while, yes, He was there and willing to hold my hand throughout this challenge, there was a better solution.
He is there for me to lean on all the time, rather than just when it feels tough. Staying in line with His will and purpose every day and every moment will help ensure I don’t slip off track and lose momentum for what I committed to. A lifetime here, and eternity with Him.
Life gets busy. Life gets hard. Life can get out of control if I let those first two take over and I set God aside for the everyday things of life. He HAS to be my first priority or everything else just falls apart. And, I want Him to be my first priority. Even so, there are those days when I lose focus.
However, when I choose to focus on Him first thing in the day, He aligns my heart and my stamina is increased. My ability to hear His voice, leading me through whatever that day might bring, is enhanced. When I get to the end of days like that, it just feels better.