Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I think it’s time

I’ve been debating whether to do this for a while now, and I’ve held out against it for as long as I could, but I think it’s finally time.  For a while now, I’ve been maintaining two blogs that are identical in content except for the fact that one contains my photography work and the other (this one) does not.  There are several reasons for that, but the most important is that I didn’t want this blog, which has always been very personal in nature, to become commercial.  But it’s been increasingly difficult to keep up with two blogs and I think that when it comes down to it, my work as a photographer is a big part of who I am, and to invite people in on that isn’t commercialism.  So, I’d like to direct you over to my new site, www.RinaMarie.wordpress.com.  There you’ll find the same content as you’ve always found here, along with pictures of my beautiful friends, family, and clients (many of who have become friends!)  I’m sorry to let this blog go, but I think it’s time to open up a new chapter and move on.  Thank you to all who have been faithful readers, and I look forward to seeing you at the new spot!

(Once again, it’s not Thursday.)

Found this while reading the archives at Conversion Diary

Affability is the virtue of maturity and not of youth. It requires the discipline and strength of character to be even-keeled in one’s demeanor, regardless of how one is feeling. It is that rare species of charity, the heroic strength that does not inflict one’s fluctuating moods upon others.

Despite not knowing what the word “affability” meant, this little quote struck a chord with me, because, unfortunately, I’m all about inflicting my fluctuating moods upon others.  (Just ask my husband.)  For anyone else who doesn’t know what it means:

“the state or quality of having a pleasant or agreeable manner in socializing.”

.

Category: Thursday’s Thought

With the thoughts rolling around in my head lately, regarding finances and provision, this statement by Mrs. Parunak was a beautiful thing to read:

There’s a strange thing about contentment. You can lose it in a heartbeat the instant you start looking hard at what isn’t yours. Contentment can’t live with lust. You let lust into your heart, and contentment quietly leaves. Lust is more than the oft discussed, “man wants woman who isn’t his wife.” It’s lust just the same when a woman wants a house the Lord hasn’t given her. Lust is just a strong desire for anything, a hunger. And, as we all know, you can’t be full and hungry at the same time.

Read the full article here: But I was Content, Yesterday

For a long time, my husband and I have lived in such a way that we don’t have a savings account or a lot of money for “extras.”  Several years ago, we adopted a statement by George Muller’s biographer as our own personal philosophy regarding money:

“If few men have ever been permitted so to trace in the smallest matters God’s care over His children, it is partly because few have so completely abandoned themselves to that care” 

But lately, this financial dependance on God has been chaffing at me.  There is this part of me that wants a huge house and horses and a swimming pool and nice clothes and… and… and…  There is a part of me that, to be honest, is tired of having to rely on God for everything.  Which is sad, because we’ve quite literally seen miracles in our lives regarding financial needs, and yet I find in myself a part of me that doesn’t want to HAVE to see financial miracles.  Wouldn’t it be nice not to have to rely on God?  This part of my heart answers yes, yes it would.

Last night, I was sitting and thinking about these things when I felt God speak to my heart and ask me a question.  He asked: “What is it that bothers you about your financial situation?  What would you gain, if you had so much money that you never again struggled?”

I decided to answer by making a list, and as I wrote each “benefit” down, God was quick to reply:

.

– My needs would be met immediately, (instead of going weeks without, while waiting on God.)

Your needs are met in God’s timing.

– I wouldn’t have to struggle with having the faith to pray for my needs to be met.

Faith and struggle are a part of God’s refining fire

– I wouldn’t be a financial burden to others, who have helped us during our times of need

You won’t be a burden if no one knows your need… If God chooses to meet a need through the hand of a brother or sister in Christ, who is unaware of my need, then I can have peace in the knowledge that it is not my need that moved them to help, but God Himself.

– I would be able to give people anything they need.

You can pray that God give them everything they need.

– I wouldn’t be ashamed to invite people over

Be a good steward of what you have, and have so much love pouring all over your home that it becomes beautiful to all who visit.

– I could have horses

Be a good friend to someone who has horses (that sounds very utilitarian, but it’s not meant that way.  The point that God was speaking to me is that the more love I have for others, the more opportunities will be available for God to show His love for me.)

– I wouldn’t have to worry about food or clothes

(Besides the obvious scripture answer here [Matthew 6:25-34]), Start ASKING for the things you need (James 4:2-3.)

.

I think, ultimately, what it comes down to is faith.  I want more faith, but am not always willing to go through the trials God wants to take me through to grow it inside of me.  The hard truth is that it’s easier to live in such a way that I really don’t need God.  It’s easier to be secure in my own ability and provision than it is to throw caution to the wind and step into a place where I could get hurt -badly.  Often, I feel like the one of the Israelites… though God parted the red sea for them, provided manna from heaven, provided water when there was none, the Israelites continued to struggle.  “What if He doesn’t, this time?”

I don’t know what God is going to do in the years ahead.  Perhaps He will have a new lesson for us – perhaps He will someday walk us through prosperity, and teach us how to be prosperous in faith.  I certainly don’t think that there is anything wrong with being wealthy (Deut 8:18, Psalm 35:27, Ecc 5:19, Job 41:13-15, 2 Chron 2:11-12)  But for now, I see that there are still lessons for me here, and I’m thankful.

.

.

Category: Stewardship

Related Articles:

Daily Bread

Let Him Give – Not Grudgingly or of Necessity

Testimony of Providence

A Request to my Friends

I have had the privilege of being gently rebuked by several of my friends lately, for various reasons, and I am thankful for their loving honesty.  For different reasons, there has been a lot of hurt that has either been caused by me, or by misunderstandings surrounding us, and I am thankful that my friends have been willing to share how these things have hurt them, and have been willing to work through them with me.  The “wounds of a friend” are wounds that I treasure.  Today, I was reminded of something Corrie Ten Boom wrote in her book, Tramp For the Lord:

One afternoon Connie and I were sitting in the garden… when we were interrupted by [William] walking toward our hill… After we exchanged greetings [with him], he said, “When I saw you sitting here together a question came to my mind, ‘Do they walk in the light together?'”

We answered almost simultaneously, “Oh, yes, we do walk in the light together.  We are a team.”

Just at that moment a boy from the house called that there was a telephone message for me.  I excused myself while Conny and William remained behind to talk.

“I have something to confess to you,” Connie said to William.

“And what is that?” he answered gently.

“Your question gripped my heart.  I must tell you that I do not really walk in the light with Tante Corrie.”

Williams face broke into a wide grin and his eyes began to sparkle.  “So, that is why God had me ask that strange question.”

Conny was serious.  “Tante Corrie is so much more mature than I,” she continued.  “She has walked with Jesus for so many years.  She has suffered much for Him in many ways.  Thus when I see things in her life that are not right, I hesitate to speak them out to her.”

“Oh,” William said, startled.  “That is not right.  The Lord wants you to be very honest with Tante Corrie.  That is one reason He has put you with her.  Since she is walking in the light when you also walk in the light, you will help shed light for her path as well as yours.”

That night, after we had gone to our room together, Conny sat on the side of the bed and said, “Tante Corrie, this is very difficult for me to say, but I now realize I must walk in the light.”

I turned and looked at her.  Her face was drawn and solemn.  One by one she began listing the things in my life which bothered her – the things I did which she did not believe glorified God.  It was not easy for me to hear the things which I had done wrong – things which had caused a shadow to come in Conny’s heart.  But how wonderful it was that Conny was being completely honest with me.  I apologized for the things she had listed and then thanked her for bringing them into the light.  “Let us always walk in the light together,” I said seriously.

But it was still hard for Conny.  She was much younger than I and felt she was still learning.  Even though I wanted her to continue to correct me, she found it very difficult.  The final breakthrough came after we left Africa and flew to Brazil.

We had been in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most beautiful cities of the world, for a few weeks.  As we prepared to leave – to fly south to Buenos Aires – we discovered our suitcases were overweight.  The kind people in Rio had given us so many presents we were more than twenty kilograms overweight.  It was going to cost us a great deal of extra money to go on to Argentina.

I unpacked my luggage and made three piles: one to send to Holland by sea, one to give away to the poor in Rio, and the smallest one to go back in my suitcase to carry on to our next destination.  Finishing my repacking I hurried next door into Conny’s room and unpacked her suitcase also.  I went through the same procedure, sorting her belongings into three heaps and then repacking only her necessary items.  I was in too much of a hurry to notice that Conny said nothing.

A week later, after a beautiful time in Buenos Aires, we were walking along a lonely stretch of beach near our cabin,  I was enjoying the beautiful view over a quiet bay when Conny began to talk.  Her voice was strained, “I promised God I would walk in the light,” she said, “and that means that I must get something settled with you.  When you repacked my suitcase and decided what things to send to Holland and what to leave with me, I was not happy about it,”

How stupid and tactless I had been to rush in and interfere with Conny’s life!  I reached out and took her hand. “How thoughtless I have been,” I said.  “Forgive me for not leaving it up to you.”

“I do forgive you,” Conny said.  Like myself, she had learned not to play lightly with sin, but to hear another’s apology and then, instead of passing it off, to forgive it.  We walked on for a long time in silence and then Conny spoke again.

“Are you unhappy, Tante Corri?  You are so quiet.”

Now it was my time to walk in the light. “There is something hindering me,” I said.  “Why did you not tell me immediately that you were disturbed?  That way it could have been settled on the spot and you would not have had to carry this darkness for all these days.  From now on let us both ‘speak the truth in love’ and lever let the sun go down on our misunderstandings.”

It was a good lesson.  From then until Conny married in 1967 and went to live with her husband, we walked all over the world – always trying to walk in the light.

These words speak to my heart today, not only because I write them as a request to my friends to “walk in the light” with me, but also because I see there are things that I, also, need to speak to some people about.  Please, friends, whether we are close or mostly acquaintances, whether you are past clients or current blog readers or future family members (now would be a good time to mention that my brother has [FINALLY] asked his love to marry him!), please “walk in the light” with me, and never hesitate to tell me if you feel I am in error.  Will it hurt?  Yea, it will.  It may be painful for both of us, but God will shine His light and His love on us, and it will be more than worth it.  I will do the same, and in so doing we will have fellowship with one another and grow together in love.

“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” – John 1:17

Killing Me Softly

I’ve never thought about this song in a spiritual context, but I imagine this must have been what it felt like to meet Jesus…

I heard He sang a good song
I heard He had a style
And so I came to see Him
And listen for a while
And there He was, this young boy
A stranger to my eyes

Strumming my pain with His fingers
Singing my life with His words
Killing me softly with His song
Killing me softly with His song
Telling my whole life with His words
Killing me softly with His song

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarrassed by the crowd
I felt He found my letters
And read each one out loud
I prayed that He would finish
But He just kept right on

Strumming my pain with His fingers
Singing my life with His words
Killing me softly with His song
Killing me softly with His song
Telling my whole life with His words
Killing me softly with His song.

This may be a completely goofy concept to everyone else, but I’ve always felt kinda bad when I would turn to one friend rather than another for a certain type of support.  If one kind of thing happened, I’d find myself reaching for the phone to call my friend Michelle, but if another thing happened, I’d be more likely to dial Manuela’s number.  If I needed prayer about this, I’d ask Amy but if I needed prayer about that, I’d sooner talk to Angela.  Of all my friends, there are some with whom I share practically everything, and some who almost seem reserved for the really special things.  There are some I speak with every day, while with others weeks may lapse between our conversations.

I’ve often felt disloyal to some of my friends because I may not talk with them about everything, or because I’ll choose to mention this to that friend, but that to this friend.

Tonight*, I was pondering the nature of these different types of friendships when it occurred to me that God has placed different people in my life for different reasons.  Why do I ask one friend to pray with me about something, but not another?  It’s not that some of my friends are more trustworthy, or others less so, it’s that God has knitted my heart together with each of them in a different way.  When I find myself in need of prayer or support or companionship, or just someone to share a funny story with, my heart seeks out the one whom God has appointed for that situation, for that need.

I think that for a long time, I’ve been looking at my marriage in a very wrong and unhealthy way.  I have expected my husband to meet all of my emotional needs, to be to me all that Michelle and Manuela and Amy and Angela are, all wrapped up in one big “Jon” package.  My poor husband!  Who could ever meet that kind of expectation?  How could he ever be all the things I thought he should be to me?

I am beginning to understand more of what it means to be a “body in Christ.”  I’m coming to understand that there is no ONE person out there (including and especially my husband) who will meet all of my needs.  God didn’t set me on an island with only my husband for support and companionship, He gave me a network of wonderful people to share my life with.

I’m looking forward to experiencing a deeper kind of friendship with my husband.  Rather than expecting him to be what others are for me, I’m looking forward to finding out who HE is to me – loving him for who he is, rather than who I wish him to be, or think he should be.  I’m looking forward letting others fill the positions God has given them in my life, rather than expecting my husband to be the hand and the foot and the eye (and the big toe, and the pinky finger, and the third tooth on the bottom left.)

I am SO INCREDIBLY blessed to have the friendships that I have, and so blessed to have not one, but several amazing people in my life to share and laugh and cry with.  I’m so blessed to be “knitted together” with such a diverse group of people – so thankful that I have so many people in my life to love, and love me in return.  I’m so thankful that God has placed each of them on my heart in a different way.

I have lots of “best” friends.

.

.

*I wrote this on 7/20

.

Category: Marriage

Related Articles: I Didn’t Marry my Soul Mate… (Was I Supposed To?)

Ashes Into Beauty

Last night, I was listening to a teaching which, among other things, mentioned that God often tests us to determine whether we are able to go on in a ministry for Him.  As I was listening, I became somewhat disturbed by the idea that if we “failed” a test, we were doomed to never become all that God wants us to become, or do all God wants us to do.  Although in retrospect, I don’t believe that is what he was saying, that is what it seemed like at the time.  But then, this morning, God took me on a trip down the memory lane of my own past and I saw clearly some of the mistakes I’d made – some of the “tests” I’d failed, and God’s patience and lovingkindness in teaching me and working me through those things.  And for the first time, I had compassion for some of the men and women of faith who have left ruined lives and ministries in the wake of their mistakes.

Specifically, I thought of Todd Bentley who at one time had a powerful healing ministry but then left his wife for his assistant and experienced an understandable and overwhelming backlash from the Christian community.

For a long time, I didn’t want to hear anything Todd Bentley had to say and to be honest, I was angry at the attempts of some of the Godly men I look up to and respect who were working toward restoring his ministry. I had (and still have) no doubt in my mind that Todd and his new wife Jessa were not meant to be married.  But does that mean that they are condemned to live without hope for restoration in the future?

If God can’t or won’t restore Todd Bentley, what does that mean for the rest of us?  If God won’t “turn mourning into dancing,” make the “wilderness like Eden” and the “desert like a garden” for Todd, why would he do it for us?  Are our sins any more heinous to God?  Is our disobedience and lack of understanding any less intolerable?   I don’t think so.

For the first time, I have a tremendous compassion for Todd and his new wife.  I can understand how they made the mistakes they made, and I empathize with the hurt they must feel.  And for the first time, I understand the attempts being made by Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner and others who are working desperately to “restore what the locusts have eaten.”

Because if God can’t restore Todd Bentley to his former position, what hope does that for leave the rest of us?

Holy. Chosen. Loved.

Today I checked up on an old friend and was reading through her blog when I came to a post that mentioned some words that have been on her heart lately: Chosen, Holy, Loved.  These words are from Colossians 3:12 and describe how God feels about us.  “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Tonight I got a phone call that… well, hurt my feelings.  I won’t go into details but I’ll just say I wasn’t feeling very “chosen” or very “loved.”  As I was pouring out my heart to God, He gently reminded me of the friendships He has given me – the love that He has put on my heart for them and vice versa.  And then He led me to these words.

Holy. Chosen. Loved.

I may be slighted and ignored and forgotten about by many, but when it comes to God, I am chosen.  I am loved.

My Pendulum is Swinging

Several months ago, I wrote a very personal article regarding my own lack of relationship – of belief, really – with and in Jesus. Since that time, God has been doing some incredible things and my relationship with Him is changing. I am changing. And I’m both comforted and confused by it.

For all of my life as a believer, I’ve focused on doing the “right” thing. It’s not just something I did, it’s who I was. For most of my Christian life, I’ve had a very clear idea of what my life was supposed to “look like” as a life lived for God, and I’ve striven to do and be everything I thought God might want me to do and be. It’s what has defined my life as a believer – it’s who I’ve been “in Christ.” My identity as a person has been wrapped up in that, and it’s difficult to let it go. The more God pours His love on me, though, the less I’ve been concerned – or the less I feel I’m supposed to be concerned – with “walking the line.” And that is a very, very odd feeling for me.

There have been times lately when I look inward to do a little self check-up and find myself asking the question: “are you becoming secular?” I have a friend who hates that word, and I don’t blame him, but it’s the only word I know to describe how I’m feeling. I’m doing things, saying things, feeling things – even praying things – that I’ve never allowed myself to do and say and feel and pray before. On the inside, I feel like a snow globe that has been all shaken up and I’m still waiting for the dust to settle.

I heard an analogy a long time ago that I thought was silly at the time, but I’ve come to appreciate. The pastor was speaking on John 5, where Jesus heals a man by the pool of Bethesda. After the man is healed, he gets up and carries his mat away. The Jews saw him carrying his mat on the Sabbath, chastised him and later persecuted Jesus for healing on the Sabbath. The pastor made the analogy that the Jews chastising this man was similar to someone chastising a paraplegic who, immediately upon being healed, went out to mow his grass on the Sabbath, out of pure joy in the ability to do so. That’s a little bit how I’m feeling right now. I feel as if Jesus is saying to me: “Permit it at this time” (Mat 3:15.)

My pendulum is swinging.

I have no idea how far it will swing, or where it will stop. What I do know, what I have come to believe, is that God is going with me on this journey, not only encouraging it but instigating it. I have a feeling that soon, some groups of Christians will be judging me for being too “secular” just as others have always judged me for being too “legalistic.” And I’m okay with that. I’m going to allow myself to swing… even if it means swinging in the “wrong” direction for a little while, before coming back to center.

I’m planning to (or perhaps I should more truthfully say I’m hoping to!) enjoy the ride.

.

Category: My Testimony

.

Related Articles:

That I may Gain Christ

A few weeks ago, I was reading through a friends blog, CandleLight Cottage, and came upon a lovely article in which she speaks of her two youngest sons, who sought her out to ask if they could have the change in the bottom of her purse. She writes:

It sounds sweet, and simple enough. So simple, in fact, it’s easy to miss the significance of what I began to see. My children don’t have any money, or “income” of their own that they receive on a regular basis. Everything they need is supplied for them, and if they want something above and beyond their basic needs, they have to come and ask for it…. They are totally dependant upon their father (or parents) for everything they have or don’t have, for everything they need or don’t need, and for everything they want-or don’t want. Getting the picture here? I could have “all the money in the world” or ‘ … but it is within my “power” (not theirs) on whether I give it to them, whether they receive what they so desire. What a very simple thing to say “Yes” to my boys, and fill them with glee! What a very small effort it takes to bless my sons—because I love them and want to give to them. Out of my abundance or out of my lack, my heart is always reaching out to them… and I saw the heart of my Father, in the same way, reaching out to His children in love. And He has no lack!

This article spoke to my heart in a powerful way. Lately, it seems that God has been teaching me about His blessings, specifically about His desire to bless me in ways I haven’t been very open to considering before (financial blessings, in particular.) I read my friend’s blog post, and it suddenly occurred to me, the kind of relationship I’ve had with God all these years. In the comments section of her blog post, I wrote:

It seems that God has been returning me to the theme of “ask and you shall receive” and, more specifically, dealing with me regarding the feelings of guilt I often have when I find myself wanting certain things. Imagine if your boys neglected to approach you about things as “trivial” as the change in the bottom of your purse – imagine if they only felt comfortable asking you for the necessities in life, like food and clothing… how would that change your relationship with them? It would become so incredibly utilitarian… a relationship like that with my own children would break my heart. And yet, this is exactly how I find myself approaching God. I hesitate to go to Him with the “desires of my heart,” feeling guilty for wanting things that aren’t necessary or “spiritual.” And yet there He is, with His hands open in front of me, begging me to come to Him with my desires, telling me over and over again that His desire is to bless me “fully and abundantly,” making it clear that He WANTS to give me the “desires of my heart,” if I’ll but ask. My hesitancy to ask must break His heart.

I think that it does. Can you imagine, for a moment, if your children never felt comfortable asking for anything but their needs? Can you imagine if the only things they ever asked you for were food and clothing and a roof over their heads? That would be heartbreaking to me! And I think it must be heartbreaking to God, too.

Personally, I think Jillian Michaels hit the nail on the head when she wrote (in a quote I posted a few weeks back):

“Many of us are taught to settle & made to feel guilty if we are single-minded about going after something we want. We go on to believe that our desires are selfish, our self-love is arrogant & pompous. Society tells us it is okay to want things, but only within reason & at a price. We’re allowed to want comfort, but in …due time & within limits.”

I believe CS Lewis was absolutely correct when he wrote (in a similar vein): “If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this…is no part of the Christian faith.”

“Delight yourself in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

It is my belief that God not only desires to bless us with “trivial” things, He’s waiting for us to ask for them! In fact, I’m coming to believe that not only is there is no shame in asking God for trivial things, but that many of the desires I have, that I’ve labeled as “selfish” and fought to rid myself of, are actually from God Himself! What does it mean to have a loving Father? What does it mean when the Bible tells us He wants to bless us?

“What man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”

As a parent, I would be saddened if my children didn’t feel free to ask me for toys or books or the change out of the bottom of my purse. It is my delight and privilege to grant their small requests and see them smile over a new toy car or baby doll. It is the delight of many parents to be able to give their children big things, like new cars or fancy dresses. And of those parents unable to give extravagant gifts, how many have wanted to? Is the heart of the Father toward us any different? The only difference that I can see is that God “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” and is not limited in resources.

Is it possible that many of the “desires of our heart” that we’ve labeled as “selfish” are actually the very things that God wants to bless us with?

I’m beginning to think so.

 

In the past few days, I’ve learned some interesting things about home made bread.

1. When a recipe calls for salt, it’s not optional.

2.  When a recipe calls for olive oil, it’s also not optional.

3. When a recipe calls for sugar, you can use honey instead.

4.  When a recipe calls for more honey than you have available, you can use less.

5. Eggs make a lousy oil substitute.  For that matter, they’re probably not a good salt substitute, either.

I went on a date with my husband last week. A friend kept the children and we had about 6 hours to ourselves, to do anything we wanted to do. I had high hopes for our first date in over two years, but as the day progressed I found myself a little disappointed. I’d thought this would be a time for us to “reconnect,” that we would end our day feeling “closer” than we had before. That somehow we would love each other more after our date, we’d hold hands and cuddle and kiss and come home feeling like newlyweds. That didn’t happen. Instead, we had a nice cozy afternoon together, went out to lunch and then went to play golf.

I’ve been thinking a lot about it since then, wondering exactly what it was I was expecting, and why I was expecting it. What does it mean to “reconnect” or feel “closer,” anyway? What does it mean to feel “connected” and “close” in the first place? I’m not sure it gets much more connected than raising six children together, or closer than having lived with this man for longer than I lived with either my parents. I think when it comes down to it, I was expecting to have that “first date” experience all over again. You know, the stuff that movies are made of. I was expecting for him to be “lost in my eyes,” and for me to hold his hand and feel sparks.

After our date I spoke with my friend about the way I felt, and we were throwing around some ideas of things we could do next time to “connect,” when she said something that really made me think. She told me that she also has a difficult time getting into “date mode,” and switching from the normal relationship she has with her husband. Switching to what, exactly? That conversation really got me thinking. What is it that *I* was trying to switch to? Why was I chasing the “first date” experience? What is it inside of me that has made the comfortableness of marriage somehow less desirable than the excitement of a new relationship? The “spark” we felt the first time we kissed has become replaced by the familiarity and comfort of an intimacy developed over ten years time, yet sometimes I find myself desiring the glitter rather than the gold.

Is it wrong if my husband and I “ don’t have anything to talk about?” Or is that simply the wonderful byproduct of having lived with a man for over a decade? Is it wrong if I don’t get chills every time he kisses me, or is that the beautiful side of having developed a mature intimacy over ten years time?

I heard it said once that when a couple goes to a marriage retreat to “reconnect,” they’re almost always divorced six months later. Why? Maybe it has something to do with chasing a relationship that doesn’t – and shouldn’t – exist between a husband and a wife. Maybe we’re selling ourselves far short when we look to “rekindle” a romance, instead of celebrating a connection born through fire, a union birthed in trial, adversity, laughter, joy and everything in between.

The truth is, I connect with my husband in deep and meaningful ways at the strangest of times. And I get chills when he touches me when I least expect it. Our marriage is full of amazing, wonderful, beautiful moments… and lots of comfortable, ordinary, boring moments, too. And that, I think, is the way it should be.

So the next time my husband and I go out on a date, I’m going to celebrate the comfortable mundaneness of it all. We’ll do the most boring thing we can think of, and enjoy the unremarkableness of our time together. I think we’ll go play golf. 🙂

.

Related Articles

On Romance and Love and Not Marrying my Soul Mate and an Attack on Poor Mr. Darcy

I Didn’t Marry my Soul Mate

I didn’t Marry my Soul Mate (was I supposed to?)

More Than You’ll Ever Know (a tribute to my husband)

I recently received an email from a friend who is feeling that her children are slipping away from her, becoming more and more involved in things that she and her husband feel are “worldly” and not in line with the Christian lifestyle they want their children to live.  This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, as my girls are getting older.  They are facing more and more situations and influences that are very different from those they have experienced and been taught about from their father and I.  Lately, I’ve seen mom’s of children just slightly older than mine struggling over their daughter’s new found desire to wear or (in the case of head coverings, not wear) certain types of clothing that are don’t mesh with things they  have been taught.  And I ask myself: how can I prevent my children from going down a path very different than the one we as parents would chose for them.  And even if I could, should I?

It’s a tough question with no easy answer.  I think what it boils down to for me is this: are they doing what they’re doing for the glory of God?

I expect, and even encourage, my children to find their own path.  They will not, and should not, continue on with all of my convictions throughout their lives.  *I* haven’t even maintained the same values and convictions throughout my Christian life!  But what I pray is that any beliefs they hold, any differences in lifestyle they have that are different from mine and my husbands, are differences that come about through prayer and a relationship with God.  I pray that our differences are not bound up in their desire to be like their friends, but in their desire to be like Jesus.

So how do we keep our children from embracing all the world has to offer?  How do we keep them seeking after God, and not the latest teen craze?  I remember the words of Michael Pearl in an article entitled Jumping Ship, where he advises that parents who don’t want to lose their children focus on finding activities that can be done as a family – projects to be completed and obstacles to overcome together.  If children are searching for an identity, they need to find one – right in the midst of their family.

It is my opinion (based on prayer but not experience) that children who are searching for an identity need to be directed toward a worthy identity they are capable of obtaining.  The girl who wants to be like Brittany Spears should not only read about Amy Carmichael, but be given the opportunity to visit and care for orphans or become a big sister to a child in need.  The boy who wants to impress his friends with a new leather jacket or a great pair of shoes*, should be given the opportunity to visit the poor or the lonely.  There are so many worthy projects that children can be involved in with their families that will help them to shape their identity and self-worth.  While their peers are pouring over articles discussing the latest teen pop star, my children can be dreaming up ways they can bring a smile to the face of an elder at the local nursing home.

It wouldn’t surprise me if, once they had tasted a life of ministry and love for their fellow men, my children were no longer interested in pursuing the latest hairstyle or fashion craze.*  It wouldn’t surprise me if, once they had discovered the joy of serving others and the feelings of pride and self-respect that go along with making a real change in someone else’s life, they were no longer content to “keep up with the Jonse’s” of their generation.

At some point, my children are going to stop being my charges and start becoming my peers, and it will happen much sooner than I think I’m prepared for.  I pray that when that time comes, I will slip willfully and lovingly into the role of supporter and friend.  I pray that I will gracefully allow them to make their own decisions – even the wrong ones – and I pray that they will trust me to be a safe place for them to share their hopes and dreams, victories and failures.  I pray that I will have earned that trust.

Here are two excellent articles that deal with these types of issues, both written by Michael Pearl. Although we don’t agree with everything he has to say regarding child rearing, we do feel he brings up some excellent points and has a lot of good advice for parents striving to raise their children in a Godly manner.

Insulate your Children from Within “Parents somehow think that if they can just keep their children isolated until they get to be older teenagers then the danger will have passed. If we protect our children until they are old enough to leave home, but fail to prepare them within to triumph over the world’s alluring environment, we have not protected them at all; we have actually made them vulnerable. An unused character can grow as weak as an unused limb. Worldliness is not a condition of the world; it is a condition of the soul.”

Jumping Ship “You cannot take it for granted that your children are going to adopt your perspective on life. It takes serious commitment and wisdom to duplicate your heart and soul in your children…  You must sell your children on your worldview. It must be an active and aggressive sell… Teenagers are forming their values based on what they see as valuable. No one can give another person his values. Generally, everyone values what promises to fulfill his deepest desires. If the thing you offer your children does not appeal to them, they will reject it, as they should.”

.

Related Articles:

The Greenhouse Effect (why we “shelter” our children)
Out in the Garden (why we plan to stop sheltering our children
Helping Hands and Tying Heartstrings
Helping Hands and Willing Hearts

.
*This is not to say that keeping up with clothing or hairstyles, shoes or jewelry is wrong or sinful.  Personally, I happen to love clothes and shoes and I have a 6 year old little girl who is quite the fashionista herself.  🙂 It’s not the desire to express ourselves through clothing or hairstyles or jewelry that I find fault with, but the desire to use these forms of expression to define ourselves based on what the world thinks of us.  I want my children to love hot pink boas and animal print jackets because they think they’re pretty, not because “everyone is wearing them” or because they want to identify themselves with the guys and girls who do.  I wish I could pour my heart out on paper to adequately explain what I mean, but unfortunately the words just aren’t there.  I want to have my children’s hearts.  I want my opinion to matter to them, long before their friend’s opinions do.  I want them to seek my council about the clothes they wear and the music they listen to.  I want them to pray and ask God what kinds of books they should read or movies they should watch.  I want them to seek God above all else, and not be “conformed to the world.”  The only way I know how to do this is to win their hearts through love and support and to keep them through meaningful relationships and ministry toward others.  Do I limit their access to the world?  Absolutely.  But my relationship with them needs to be more than keeping them away from things the world has to offer.  It needs to be about providing them with opportunities to discover what God  has to offer them. My children are searching for their identity.  I believe that it’s my job to help them find it.

New Milestones

Today has been an incredible day, for a lot of reasons.  First, when I weighed this morning the scale registered 190.  That means I’ve lost 70lbs since my last baby was born (a year ago) and I only have 40 more to go (assuming my goal is 150, I’m still on the fence about that.)

I also ran my first 5k today, something I’ve been working toward for a little while now, but never expected to be able to do it so soon.  Not only did I run a 5k, but I ran it after I’d already done a 20 minute workout with Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred, and had walked 3 miles with Leslie Sansone.  That is HUGE for me… A month ago I could hardly BREATHE after finishing one of Jillian’s workouts, and now here I am, running (ahem, jogging) over three miles after having already worked out for an hour.  That’s incredible for me.

But the very biggest thing that has happened today is this:

I am wearing my wedding ring.  When I was about 9 months pregnant with my first child, almost 10 years ago, I had to take my wedding ring off and I’ve never been able to wear it, since.  I told myself I wouldn’t re size it, that I WOULD fit into it some day, but there have been many, many days since then when I thought it would never happen.  But it HAS happened, and I am feeling overwhelmed by the love of God who, when the time was right, promised that He would help me lose the weight.  To say that I am thankful doesn’t begin to express how I feel right now.  God is amazing.

.

More Articles on my Weight Loss Journey:

http://intostillwaters.com/category/weight-loss/

Who, Me?

So,  I have some fun news to share tonight.  Before I share it, though, I want to take a stroll down memory lane with you, looking back on some of my cooking adventures from the past…

For starters, lets visit the Pancake Soup.  Oh, and lets not forget the other Pancake Soup.

Then we’ll remind ourselves of the Chocolate Chip Peach Banana Pineapple Walnut Almond Flax Virtually-Sugar-Free Muffins

And last, we’ll take a look at my personal favorite: the Oven Roasted Cheesecake

.

So why am I asking you to re-visit some of my most fabulous cooking disasters?

Because I know it will make you smile (or maybe cringe) when I tell you that yours truly has been asked to host the cooking segment on our local news station next month!  And – believe it or not – I actually said YES!

I’m going to do my VERY BEST to cook something fool proof that even *I* can’t destroy.  For starters, I’m going to make a veggie burger that I’ve made a few times with moderate success (if you don’t count slightly burned edges and the fact that they were a little sticky because… wait for it… I’ve never had the right ingredients on hand.  Anyone else noticing a pattern here?) And Sweet Potato fries which, as long as they have a timer on the show, I can’t possibly ruin.  I hope.  🙂

Come to think of it, the whole situation is kind of funny and if I do ruin my meal on the show, it might just enhance the program.  The whole reason I’ve been chosen for this segment is that the theme of this weeks program is “supermoms.”    They want to know “how I do it.”  Well, there it is!!!  My kids eat Pancake Soup for lunch and Oven Roasted Cheesecakes for dessert!  They’ve developed a taste for overcooked oatmeal and burned bread.  They’ve learned to survive on unrecognizable meals and thrive on combinations that would ruin the palate of a more delicate child.

So I’m going to relax and have fun with the whole thing and if any of you tune in, I hope you’ll get a good chuckle or two out of the segment.  Here is what I’ll be making on WBKO’s “Meals in Minutes,” airing May 4:

Veggie Burgers:

(For our family, we triple the recipe)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 cups diced fresh mushrooms
1 15 ounce can pinto beans, black beans, or chic peas (if you’re using soaked beans, use 1 1/2 cups)
Flour, Oats or Bread Crumbs as needed
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for frying
Instructions: Saute onions, red pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the cumin and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, until mushrooms are cooked. Set aside.
Process beans in a food processor until blended, add mushroom mixture, salt and pepper and stir until well combined.  Add just enough oats/flour/bread crumbs to thicken the mixture, if needed.
Shape into patties and cook in oil until the burgers are done (about 3-4 minutes on each side.)

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potatoes, thinly sliced
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder
Salt

Preaheat oven to 450 degrees.  Coat fries with olive oil (you can put them in a zip lock bag, I just use my hands) and spread them out evenly on a cooking sheet.  Sprinkle liberally with garlic powder and salt, then put them in the oven.  Cook for 15 minutes, then turn them over with a spatula and cook for another 15 minutes on the other side until done.

Pray for me, ‘yall!  I have a feeling I’ll need it!

Ok, confession: I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I LOVE watching The Biggest Loser.  It is so inspiring to me, I always want to get on the treadmill and run five miles after watching Jillian Michaels yell and fuss at her team members, pushing them to the point of nausea and sometimes tears.  And I always end each nights episode vowing that tomorrow I’ll get through ALL of the 30 day shred or the Banish Fat Boost Metabolism workout without stopping – NOT EVEN ONCE!  I love how determined I am to accomplish this goal until 5 minutes into the next day’s workout.  🙂  Anyway, I recently discovered that Jillian Michaels is on facebook and I’ve shamelessly “liked” her page and spent lots of time trolling through her posts.  The other day I found this wonderful quote, that I thought I’d share.  It reminds me a lot of a quote I shared last week, by CS Lewis:

“Many of us are taught to settle & made to feel guilty if we are single-minded about going after something we want. We go on to believe that our desires are selfish, our self-love is arrogant & pompous. Society tells us it is okay to want things, but only within reason & at a price. We’re allowed to want comfort, but in …due time & within limits. Ask yourself this: how much deprivation, how much self-effacement must you suffer through before you act on your desire for meaning & fulfillment? Before it’s your turn to thrive in your life, instead of barely surviving it? Some people live their dreams. WHY NOT YOU?

Ok, granted, we could take this and run with it in the wrong direction, but I think she has a point.  We often ARE “made to feel guilty if we are single-minded about going after something we want.”  We often DO “go on to believe that our desires are selfish, our self-love is arrogant & pompous.” Is it God who discourages us from living our dreams?  Is it God who sees our desires as selfish or self arrogant and pompous?

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

It’s a bold statement.

“Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.”

I was sharing this quote with my husband a little while ago, and in the course of the conversation, I realized that I’m coming to a place where I refuse to feel guilty for wanting certain things.  My Father is a King… and that means that I’m entitled (I use that term very specifically and very carefully) to certain things.  I need to stop feeling guilty for desiring the very things that Jesus died to give me.

.

Related Articles:

More “Thursday’s Thoughts”

I got this quote from a post by another blogger, who writes a beautiful analogy that is really worth reading.  Click here for the full article.

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

(CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory, 26)

Never, Ever Again

This is NOT what I expected to see this when I weighed this morning.  In fact, if it weren’t for the little weightloss group on facebook I’m involved in, I wouldn’t have weighed at all (we weigh in as a group every Wednesday.)  For one thing, it’s “that time of the month” (is that too much information to share, publicly?)  For another, I haven’t exactly been counting calories, and lastly I’d already eaten by the time I remembered to weigh and I always try to weigh on an empty stomach.  So I was bracing myself to see a GAIN, not a LOSS.  When this number came up, instead, I picked the scale up and moved to another room just to make sure it was accurate!!!

I know that this day marks a turning point in my life.  From this moment on, there will always be the “before” and “after.”  Never, EVER, again will I see the number “2” as the first number in my weight again.  NEVER, EVER AGAIN.

 

Still Going

I’m always amazed at how I can feel so convinced that I’ve learned something important, something life-changing (!) one minute, and then the next minute feel like I don’t have a clue about anything. Sometimes I really dislike keeping a blog! How often have I written about a victory only to find myself wallowing in failure just a few weeks or even days later? How often have I thought I’ve learned something, written about it like I really know what I’m talking about, only to discover that I’m just as ignorant as I ever was? This is one of those posts. Last time I wrote, I was practically euphoric about how great it is to be releived from the need to be “good enough,” and how that has had an extreme impact on my weight loss. Today I’m writing a post detailing a virtual panic attack I had a few weeks ago because I was so worried about not meeting expectations (mine or those of other people) and how miserably I’ve been doing with my eating habits.

But such is life, I suppose. And the lessons I’m learning are real, even if I’m having to learn them more than once. 🙂 It’s been a rough few weeks here with the weight loss goals, and I want to try to explain what has been going on as best I possibly can both for my own sake, as I feel I’ve been learning more valuable lessons that I don’t want to forget, and for the sake of anyone who might be reading. Perhaps it will help someone, somewhere.

It started a few weeks ago, when I got sick with some flu-like illness. At that point, I had lost a total of 50lbs since the birth of my daughter, 40 of that being lost over the previous two months. Before I got sick, I was 11lbs away from being the lightest I’d been in almost 10 years.

After about 5 days of my illness, I’d lost another 10lbs, bringing my total loss to 60lbs since the birth of my daughter. At that point, I was only one pound away from being the lightest I’d been in 10 years, one pound away from the weight I’d reached before gaining it all back again and then some two years ago. That night, lying in my bed, I panicked.

A few weeks prior to that moment, I had been reading a book called Shrink Yourself, a book about weight loss. In it, the author talks about how dieters sometimes sabotage their own weight loss because subconsciously they are hiding behind the weight. At one point, he writes:

“we’ve discussed the fact that others don’t demand as much of you when your fat, but there’s also the reality that you might not demand as much of yourself… again, it makes no logical sense to allow your weight to make you suffer just so that you can avoid the suffering that you might experience if you were to tackle life’s challenges. And yet, somewhere in the hidden caverns of your consciousness you’ve convinced yourself that the pain of being fat pales next to the pain of discovering your limitations.”

When I first read this, I mostly skimmed through it quickly because I didn’t think it applied to me. But on that night, I realized then that part of my struggle with losing weight, and possibly one reason why I’ve always gained it back, is that there is a part of me that doesn’t WANT to lose the weight. There is a part of me that DOES hide behind it, never expecting much from myself and hoping that others don’t expect much from me either. I’ve written before about my perfectionist tendencies and how I’d often rather not try at all than try and fail. I had no idea that my weight was tied into this, as well, In that moment, I was really terrified and didn’t have any idea how to handle what I was feeling. Part of me was glad I wasn’t feeling well, because my illness prevented me from raiding the refrigerator in that moment.

Once I got over the illness, I started dealing with a lot of physical and emotional issues related to both the weight loss and the simple aftermath of being sick (being too weak to exercise, for instance.) It felt like Satan turned to all his demon buddies and said “hey, yall, watch this!” and proceeded to dump a ton of stuff on me that I just couldn’t get out from under. Within a very short time, I gained back 10lbs and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to stop overeating. Was I engaging in some self-sabotage behavior? I think that has been part of it. But I think that it goes even deeper than that.

A few days ago, I started reading a book called The Addictive Personality by Craig Naken in order to help my husband with research on a book that he’s writing. I’ve always known that I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food, and I’ve even called it an “addiction” on occasion, but I never expected to find myself in this book. The author writes:

“Nearly all human beings have a deep desire to feel happy and to find peace of mind and soul. At times in our lives, most of us find this wholeness of peace and beauty, but then it slips away, only to return at another time. When it leaves us, we feel sadness and even a slight sense of mourning. This is one of the natural cycles of life, and it’s not a cycle we can control… We can either accept these cycles and learn from them or fight them, searching instead for elusive happiness.

Addiction can be viewed as an attempt to control these uncontrollable cycles. When addicts use a particular object, such as a substance or an event to produce a desired mood change, they believe they can control these cycles, and at first they can. Addiction, on its most basic level, is an attempt to control and fulfill this desire for happiness…

We must understand what all addictions and addictive processes have in common: the out-of-control and aimless searching for wholeness, happiness, and peace through a relationship with an object or event. No matter what the addiction is, every addict engages in a relationship with an object or event in order to produce a desired mood change, state of intoxication, or trance state.”

What I never realized before, or perhaps what I had refused to admit, is that my problem with food is just like an addiction to alcohol or drugs. I have been using food as a mood-altering substance, in the same way the drug addict uses a drug, for years. I’ve done a bit of research on this, and am looking forward to doing more, but evidence seems to point to the fact that for some people certain types of food can chemically alter pathways in the brain and produce a type of “high.” For these people, food becomes (to borrow a term from AA) their “drug of choice.” And I’ve been one of these people.

The weeks since my illness have been horrible. I haven’t been able to control the impulsive eating at all and I haven’t been able to get back to where I was before I got sick regarding exercise or diet or even motivation. I’ve felt so incredibly defeated, I just didn’t know what to do. I felt that God had taught me all of these wonderful lessons, and now I was right back where I started with no idea how to get back. But last night, I was speaking with a friend and he said something that was incredibly encouraging. He said: “What I’m hearing you say is that you’ve failed. What I’m afraid you’re beginning to think is that you should quit. There is a difference between failure and quitting. Failure isn’t a setback. QUITTING is what will destroy you. Fail all you want. But don’t quit!” As he was talking, I was wondering what “fail but don’t quit” would look like, wondering if I had already quit, or if I was just trapped in a cycle of failure. Then I considered the fact that there HAVE been times when I’ve made good food choices, although I didn’t want to. And there have been times when I’ve exercised even though I’ve eaten horribly the whole day. I think it’s safe to say that is, in part, what “don’t quit” looks like.

So today, I’ve been making an effort to do things that can be defined as “don’t quit.” I’m not ready to make any kinds of predictions about how things are going to go, or to say that things have turned around, but for the first time in a few weeks I have a lot of hope. And I’m thankful for that.

So take a new grip with your tired hands, stand firm on your shaky legs and mark out a straight, smooth path for your feet. (Hebrews 12:12-13)

.

.

Related Articles:

A Post I’ve Been Putting Off

Why Now?