Consider it Joy

I was reading with Cinderella one day when we heard a loud crash.  It sounded like glass shattering.  We have a cat, so once in a while we do have things come crashing down when she’s not quite as agile as she thinks she is.  We took a quick look around and didn’t see anything, so we assumed the noise came from the family room downstairs.

Later in the day, I went up to my bedroom for something.  I was immediately greeted by a mess.  In a fraction of a second the crashing noise we heard that morning came back to me and the connection was made.  This is what we heard.  I was staring at my medals in a heap on the floor.  Every one of them had come off the pants hanger I had them hung on.  The hanger had fallen, taking everything with it.  My medal from the Christmas Light run had come apart, but it was dutifully blinking.

And that’s how the last several months have been.  Every time I get a glimmer of hope, things come crashing down, and all hope is gone.  Then the cycle starts again.

Everywhere I look lately, I see “suffering.”  Not that I see people suffering, but that I see suffering as the topic of conversation. Our church is going through the book of John, and we are nearing Jesus’ crucifixion.  There is no doubt that Jesus’ suffered physically and spiritually.  Also, our ladies’ Bible study group has recently been focusing on suffering.

I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book Made to Crave a few years ago.  I’ve had the Made to Crave Devotional for quite some time.  I’ve decided to actually use it, and now she is focusing on suffering.

Living in the freest and wealthiest country in the world, I can’t help but wonder if anyone in the U.S. actually knows what true suffering is.  Are we just a bunch of pansies that need to buck up, or do we truly experience suffering?

James 1:2 tells us to “consider it all joy” when we encounter various trials.  That certainly is not usually our first thought.  Our first thought is to consider it misery and suffering.  Instead, we are to “consider it” or ponder, think, turn it over in our minds to joy.  What a task!

Why are we to do this?  Because it will lead to endurance.  You can never have too much endurance.  I have written on this before.  It builds character which then leads to hope.  James 1:12 tells us that “blessed is a man who perseveres under trial;”

If you are in the midst of a trial right now, I want to encourage you to hang on.  Ponder and think about it, try to consider it joy.  Believe me, I know how difficult that can be.  Look ahead to what it will bring:  endurance, perfection, and hope.  And don’t forget that there is a blessing waiting for you in the end.

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

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A Sentence a Day for March 2018.

I cannot take credit for this idea. This is something that I saw somewhere out on the blogosphere. I thought it looked like a fun idea. I thought it would be fun to also include a few pictures from throughout the month. For April, I will concentrate on making each entry a complete sentence and making each sentence more descriptive.

3rd, Saturday.  Ran the Liberty Hospital 5K and completely exhausted myself by walking home.

4th, Sunday.  Church, out to eat, and then a windy but warm trail walk.

5th, Monday.  Was hard to watch, but went to see Tortured for Christ.

6th, Tuesday.  A very windy, gray day to stay inside.

7th, Wednesday.  Ran 4 miles tonight–first time since last fall.

8th, Thursday.  Took a walk to the end of the street and back with my oldest whom I hadn’t seen for a few weeks.

9th, Friday.  The cat escaped from the house today, but we found her lying on the deck railing in the warm sunshine.

10th, Saturday.  Another cloudy, blah day.

11th, Sunday.  Went to see 15:17 to Paris.

12th, Monday.  Went with DH to his dentist appointment and then ate lunch at the Little General Store.

13th, Tuesday.  Cinderella is happy that she got her cleats and shingards for soccer.

14th, Wednesday.  Supporting  a friend through a difficult time.

15th, Thursday.  A perfect day weatherwise, so we took the princess to the park.

16th, Friday.  A day to stay home and do some house cleaning.

17th, Saturday.  Cinderella had her first soccer game, and they won!

18th, Sunday.  Sundays are often the busiest day of the week!

19th, Monday.  Today was a hard day, so I stayed home instead of running with my friends.

20th, Tuesday.  A cloudy, cold day to start Couch to 5K.

21st, Wednesday.  Cinderella was extremely disappointed that soccer practice was cancelled tonight.

22nd, Thursday.  It’s finally starting to feel like spring!

23rd, Friday.  It was an eventful day starting with a field trip, the library, and then the hospital!

24th, Saturday.  Liam Alistair enters the world at 2:14 am.

25th, Sunday.  Got to visit Liam this afternoon, but Nurse Ratched won’t even let me hold him.

26th, Monday.  I spent the afternoon and night at the hospital with Liam.

27th, Tuesday.  Liam came home this afternoon.

28th, Wednesday.  Ran in the rain tonight with Cinderella.

29th, Thursday.  It was a cold run tonight, but at least it was dry.

30th, Friday.  Finally, sunshine!

31st, Saturday.  Preparing for Easter Sunday.

Could You Outrun Goliath?

At “six cubits and a span,” Goliath stood over nine feet tall, using a conservative 18-inch cubit. Scripture demonstrates his strength by cataloging the weight of his armaments, including a 5,000-shekel (125-pound) coat of mail.1 No wonder he was the champion of Gath! He was big and strong, but was he fast?

Source: Could You Outrun Goliath? | The Institute for Creation Research

As a (slow) runner, I found this interesting.  There is no doubt in my mind that I could not outrun Goliath.  Every race I run, there’s the mom pushing the double stroller that passes me somewhere along the way.

As scripture demonstrates time and time again, it’s not always speed or even the biggest, strongest army that wins the battle.  In the end, God wins.  This is what gives me hope and keeps me going day after day.

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;  1 Peter 3:15

2018: Faith, Food, and Freedom

As we often do this time of year, I have spent some time reflecting on last year in order to look ahead for 2018.  Last year, I created a list of things to work on, and went at it.  I made it a point to look at my list each month to see how I was doing.  I thought I was doing pretty well until the last quarter of the year.

When I cross off the things I was able to accomplish, one thing stands out:  I have the exercise part down.  When I look deeper, there’s one more thing that comes to the surface:  I can maintain my weight.  I ended this year at about the same weight as last year.  I spent this past year losing the same 10 pounds over and over.

So, what am I aggravated the most about?  Not getting to my goal weight.  What am I going to do about it?  I’m going to concentrate on getting my food under control.  This year’s overall theme is “freedom.”

I actually started working on this the middle of last year.  I spent the summer going through closets and drawers getting rid of things.  It has been so freeing to get rid of things.  I still have a room that has been used as a family room, office, and school room that needs a deep cleaning and decluttering.  I started using paper plates when we have people over for dinner, and I put everything I can in the dishwasher so I’m not spending time washing dishes by hand.

I’m not going to try to read everything nutrition and exercise and put myself in information overload.  Instead, I’m working on unsubscribing from groups and emails that I’m really not that interested in.  I’ll still run and exercise, but that is not going to be my main focus.

I know you’re thinking that I have to have a plan.  Yes, I do.  I know the focus this time of year is exercise, exercise, exercise.  But mine is not. I’ve found a journal that focuses on food and faith (instead of food and exercise) that I should receive in the next day or two.  My plan is to implement that using a sensible food plan.  I’ve been doing Bright Line Eating this week and that has gone well.  Jason Vale also has a Super Blend Me! program that I am looking into.  Both of these plans are simple and freeing.

So, this year I don’t have a long list of things I want to accomplish.  Instead, it’s going to be the year of not doing and getting rid of.  It’s going to be the year of freedom and freeing myself up.

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:36

Thankful

With Thanksgiving approaching we often take time to pause and think about what we are thankful for.  It’s easy to think of material things such as our home, food, clothing, etc.  We also are thankful for our family, friends, and relationships, but there is so much more to be thankful for.

I am thankful for the free gift of salvation by grace through faith.  I am thankful that salvation is not something that is earned.  I don’t have to worry about whether I’m working hard enough to obtain it and/or keep it.  It is a free gift from God that all I have to do is accept.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  Ephesians 2:8

Jesus will go to great lengths to retrieve His lost sheep.  He knows His sheep and they know His voice.  He will do what it takes to find His lost sheep and carry it home.  He rejoices when He finds the lost sheep and organizes a party once He’s home.

“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? “When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ Luke 15: 4-6.

He hears my cries.  We know that we will have trials.  It is comforting to know that we have someone to cry out to and that our cries will be heard and acted upon.

In my distress I called upon the LORD, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears.  Psalm 18:6

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears And delivers them out of all their troubles.  Psalm 34:17

As for me, I said in my alarm, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”; Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications When I cried to You.  Psalm 31:22

A Song of Ascents. In my trouble I cried to the LORD, And He answered me.  Psalm 120:1

He is my rock and my fortress.  I don’t have to be strong, I don’t have to be anything at all.  All I need is Him.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  Psalm 18:2

But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, For You have been my stronghold And a refuge in the day of my distress.  Psalm 59:16

He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.  Psalm 62:2

What are you thankful for?

 

Time, Energy, Hate, and Anger

As I get older, my time becomes more and more valuable.  I know my days, and therefore my time, on this earth are numbered.  I know that the time I have left on this earth is limited, limiting the time I have for accomplishments and spending time with my family.  I also know that at this point I am on the downhill slope, meaning that most likely more than half my time on this earth is behind me.

I also know that the amount of energy I have is limited.  I have been able to boost my energy level by changing my diet and exercising, but it’s still finite.  Most days my energy bank is full, and I can make it through without any problems.  Some days my energy bank is running on empty, and I have to make adjustments to make it through the day.

My energy has also become a valuable commodity and something that I have decided to spend carefully.  Continuing to eat a healthy diet and to exercise almost daily is something I continue because it’s like earning interest on your investment.  I might be spending some energy to do it, but it’s going to pay me back with more energy.

Just like the money I have in my pocket, I decided a long time ago that there are things I refuse to spend my energy on.  I refuse to spend my energy on hate and anger directed at other people.  Sometimes it’s a difficult thing to do, but I remind myself that it’s not worth it and what other people do is out of my control.  It’s natural to want to defend ourselves when we’re being attacked.  Often, the better course of action is to remove ourself from the situation than to spend our time and energy yelling back at someone that’s not even listening to us anyway.

Hate.  It’s just an ugly word all the way around.  Spending time and energy hating people is not a wise expenditure.  I’d much rather spend my time on actions that are going to make a difference than on inaction that is just going to wear me out.  The one thing we don’t hate enough is sin.  We would be different people and live in a completely different world if we hated sin enough to steer clear of it.

With the idea of reaping what we sow; hate, and you most likely will receive hate in return.  Love, and you most likely will receive love in return.

“BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”  Rom 12:20 NASB

305 lbs. The End of a Relationship

April was jam packed with activities, so it went by very quickly.  It wasn’t long before May was here and it was time to start working again.  I looked forward to seeing and being in contact with the people I worked with.  In some ways I knew what to expect, but I didn’t know what might’ve changed while I was absent.

My first day of work went by quickly.  I was offered a cell-phone to use for work.  I decided that I wanted to keep business life and personal life separate, so I accepted.  I was told it had been Mr. G.’s phone, but that didn’t matter to me.  Charles got the phone reactivated, made a call on it to verify that it was working, and then handed it over to me.

I spent the day doing safety courses on the computer.  It was a long, tiring day; but I was glad to be done with them and know that I wouldn’t have any to do for another year.  Things were slow that night, so I was able to go home about an hour early.

I went home and decided to examine the phone I had been given.  I used my personal phone to call it to see what the ringtone was and how to answer calls.  The phone itself would never ring, but on my personal phone I would hear a ringing sound and then a message saying that the voicemail hadn’t been set up.

I was perplexed.  What was wrong with this phone?  Over the course of an hour I made several calls between the two phones with the same response.  I had come to the conclusion that I would have to take it into work the next day and let Charles know that it wasn’t working.  I decided to try one more time.  This time a woman answered, “Hello?”  Surprised and confused, I said, “I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number.”

I thought I had heard that voice before.   I checked the settings on the phone and sure enough, Mr. G. had the phone forwarded to his personal cell phone number.  I was horrified to realize that all of the calls I had been making had been going to him.  I decided at that point that I would send him an email and apologize as soon as I was in front of my computer.

However, Mr. G. beat me to the punch.  I had a phone call from him within 30 minutes, and he was hopping mad that I had called him repeatedly.  He was coaching his son’s baseball game and finally threw his phone across the field.

I apologized and explained that it was an accident.  Once he heard that I was working for the company that he walked away from, the volcano of hate and anger erupted.  Once I explained that taking this job was what I wanted to talk to him about a few weeks prior, I went into listening mode.   Just like the people of Pompeii, there was nothing I could say or do to keep this volcano from erupting and destroying everything in its path.

In the end, I was told to never contact Mr. G. again in any way, whether it be by telephone, text, or email.  I told Mr. G. that I was not upset with him and that he knew where to find me if he ever needed anything.  It was clear that this was the end of our relationship.

Shortly thereafter, I received a long text from Mr. G. explaining why I was now the enemy and how he never wanted to hear from any of “us” again.  I was hurt, but did not want to fight fire with fire so to speak.  Instead, I sent a short text back letting him know that I would always be grateful for the support he had given me the past year.

I was deeply hurt.  Not so much by the fact that our relationship had ended, but by the way it had ended.  Later, I became fearful.  I had come a long way in the past year, but I still had considerable ground to cover.  I was not convinced that I could get to my destination without Mr. G.’s support.  I was so thankful that God had brought the right people into my life at the right time.  He had done it before, so I continued to pray that He would do it again.

305 lbs. A Word on Depression

About 10 years ago I was talking with a friend who works with people with addictions She was telling me about the woes of someone she knew.  She finally came around to saying that this friend suffered from depression.  It didn’t sound like depression to me, it just sounded like life.  My remark was, “That’s just life.  Life stinks.”  She got down in my face and told me that she thought I suffered from depression too.

That really was a surprise to me.  I never even entertained the idea of depression.  I just really thought life stunk.  There were many times that I thought it would be a lot easier not to be here, but I had children that relied on me for their daily existence.  I could not let them down.  I used to think that it took a lot of guts to end your own life, but I now believe the opposite.  It takes a lot more guts to stay here on earth.

I had tried talking about it to a friend or two over the years, but it was clear that they didn’t get it.  They dismissed it right away with disgust.  I didn’t expect to ever meet anyone that understood.

I received an urgent phone call from Mr. G. one day asking me if I could take over for him right away.  He was clearly upset and told me that he would be in touch the next day.  I was able to do so, so I did.  Later, he told me that he suffered from depression.  When I told him that I understood, he seemed very relieved.

For the first time in both of our lives, we had a friend we could talk to who understood.  We were our own little support group holding each other up at times.  Depression isn’t something anyone wants or asks for.  It’s just there.  It’s a part of you just like your hands, feet, and nose are a part of you.

I have found, for me anyway, that depression was an iron deficiency.  I’m not talking about the kind you put in your mouth, but the kind you pump.  When I started the Couch to 5K program, I was going to seven workouts a week–sometimes twice a day.  I can remember as the program was nearing its end telling Mr. G. that I never felt better my whole life.  I think this was a part of his decision to join a gym.

It was true.  I was far from being Miss Universe, but I was fitter than I had been for decades.  I had lost a substantial amount of weight and had drastically changed my eating habits.  But the one thing that keeps those dark days away, is exercise.

If you ever have someone try to broach this subject with you, remember that they’re just looking for someone to talk to.  The best thing you can do for them is to listen.  Please don’t dismiss it quickly or make them feel ashamed.  They did not choose this and have nothing to be ashamed of.  Who knows, you might make a new friend.

305 lbs. Raising Someone Up

January 2016 and the new year was here.  I was signed up and ready to go with the Commit to Get Fit program again.  I made sure I got Cole as my trainer, and I now had a new work out partner–my oldest daughter.  By the time Commit to Get Fit started, her daughter was just old enough to go to the childcare, so that made it possible for her to come too.

I had gotten spoiled the year before for having Cole all to myself most of the time.  This year, we had several people in our group–all of varying ages and abilities.  My daughter was definitely the youngest.  There was another young mom, and a few ladies that were older than me.  The program was also shortened to 8 weeks this go around instead of 12, so that was definitely a disappointment.  We were also supposed to weigh in every week, so I felt like we wasted time weighing and using the machine to get our BMI that could’ve been used working out.  Still, we had full access to the community center, so my daughter and I came almost every day to work out.

At the end of January, I attended a meeting for work.  I and all of the drivers were required to be at this meeting about the future of the company we worked for.  I knew something was coming down the pike, but I didn’t know just what yet.  In September, Mr. G. had told me that another company was going to “partner” with us.  Just what that meant or looked like I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to pry.  Also, Mr. G. had made a few trips out of town, so I worked some extra days.  I knew these were business trips and that changes were coming.

What we learned was that there was no future.  The company had filed for bankruptcy the year before, which we all knew, and now had been sold to a larger company.  There were two representatives from the new company at this meeting, Charles and Jeff.  Charles was a down to earth country boy from Oklahoma.  Jeff was a business snob from the midwest.  I soon learned that all these business trips Mr. G. had taken were with Jeff.

We were all told about the new company and that we had 48 hours to fill out a job application online if we were interested in going to work for them.  They fed us lunch, and it was a very pleasant meeting.  Jeff knew an awful lot about each and every one of us which I found a bit creepy.  It was obvious that Mr. G. had spent a substantial about of time with Jeff and telling him about each of us.

As the meeting was winding down, I shook everyone’s hand and thanked them for their time.  Jeff said something to me to the effect that Mr. G. had told him how I had “saved the day” more than once.  I was grateful that he had heard good things about me and was hopeful that this would help in the hiring process.  The next thing he said to  me was, “Put your application in and we’ll see where it goes.”  I knew right then and there that Jeff had no intention of hiring me.

Even though my friend says that my gut is never wrong, when it tells me these things, I hope against hope that I’m wrong.  I went ahead and put in my application and within 24 hours I had a phone call from Jeff saying that they weren’t hiring any part-time people right now but that they might change their mind in 60-90 days–whatever that meant.

I sent a text to Mr. G. that said, “I guess my application didn’t go very far.”  I immediately got a phone call from Mr. G. apologizing profusely.  I told him that it was ok.  I wasn’t looking for a job when I got this one.  It was business, and I understood that.  These were good words for him to hear, as he had been spewed with anger and hate all week from many people in the office that had lost their jobs as well.

At the first of December I felt like God was telling me that he was going to remove Mr. G. from my life.   As I often do when God tells me something I don’t want to hear, I hoped against hope that I had a “hearing” problem–that somehow I got the message wrong.  I spent the month of December begging God to not take Mr. G. out of my life.  He had been a great support to me the last several months, and I in all my selfishness felt like I still needed that support.

Finally, in January I changed my prayer.  I asked God if He was going to remove Mr. G. from my life, for Him to bring someone bigger and better.  It was hard for me to imagine that there was anyone better out there, but I knew God could raise someone up.

 

Suffering Produces Endurance

Thank you Christian for nominating me for a 3-Day Quote Challenge.  Here are three quotes I’d like to share with my readers.

“Donald Trump will be our next president.”  This statement came from my competitive friend, Mr. G.,  in September 2015.  At that point, I wasn’t convinced that Donald Trump still wouldn’t drop out of the presidential race.  I can hear Mr. G. now, “I win, you lose.”  (I guess that makes two quotes?)

“Boring is good,”  Mr. D.  As far as life goes, yes.  The less drama the better.  Ya’ll know what I mean.

“Hurting people hurt people.”  A very wise friend, Mrs. W., said these words to me at a time that I was advising two ladies that had had a conflict.  These words have stuck with me.  I don’t always stop and think about them when I should–when I’m about to or have already lashed out at someone.  Instead of lashing out, I need to stop and think why I’m hurting and solve that problem instead of creating another.

These words come to mind more often when someone else hurts me.  It immediately draws my attention away from myself and the injury I have sustained and back towards the person that inflicted the injury.  They must be hurting.  How?  Why?  I immediately feel sorrowful for that person instead of myself and for the pain they must be experiencing.

Romans 5:3-4 tells us that suffering produces endurance:  “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,”  Let’s not forget that “faithful are the wounds of a friend,” Proverbs 27:6.

When I think of endurance, Hebrews 12:1 always comes to mind, “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  After taking up running in 2015, I completely understand that running is all about endurance.  It doesn’t matter what you look like or how much weight you can lift, if you are lacking endurance you won’t get very far.  Of course, this verse is referring to our spiritual endurance.  We need endurance to get through life physically and spiritually.

The next time you are wounded by a friend, try to remember that hurting people hurt people and focus back on your friend and their wounds instead of yours.  But, when you do think of your wounds, remember that suffering produces endurance, which is something we need for survival.  Endurance produces character, and character produces hope which I believe is as important as the air we breathe.