Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A smile from the inside out!

I've got a big old smile plastered on my face.
It's not because life has been easy, because, it hasn't.
It not because we've recently came across a huge pile of me, quite the opposite is true on that statement.
It's not even because we have things figured out.  Nope.  Still as confused as I always am.

It's simply because I can feel God changing my heart.
I know he's chipping away at me, trying to get to my core.

It's scary.  It's unknown.  I really don't like much of it.  Yet, I love it.

I was writing in my prayer journal this morning and was just praising God that He is taking time to teach me.  He isn't tired of trying to instruct me on a better way to live.  Even if I haven't gotten it yet, and I seem to have to learn the same lessons over and over.  He's teaching me patiently, with a rich, deep love backing up all His lessons.

And, there's something about knowing the God of the universe is taking time, using His people, investing His Spirit, even sacrificing His live to change me that just makes me smile from the inside out. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Object lesson

It's Saturday morning.
It's snowy.
I know logistically that spring can not get here without our annual St. Patrick's Day storm, but truthfully, today I'm struggling to find the optimism in another 6 inches of snow.  It's been a snowy winter.  I miss sunshine.  And swimming.  And walks on the Holly Trail.
But, I know those things are on their way....I just need to let go of my timeline of WHEN they should be here!

Today David is at the church at an evangelism class that I so desperately wanted to attend as well.  However, child care has been quite an issue lately, and I'm going to be hanging out at home today, enjoying time with Little Miss Red Head and Mr. Doodle.  They are happily chattering and playing pretend in the living room.  (Occasionally interrupted with Little Miss Red yelling commands at her brother about what should happen next.  After rereading the first paragraph, I think I know where she gets it!)

Yesterday, I did not have the greatest day with my food choice.  I wasn't feeling well, was dealing with some grief, and I ate totally to comfort myself.  *Note to self* God comforts way better than food, and I would like my scale a lot better today if I had just run to Him!

Today will be better.  I want to make better choices.

Today also will be devoted to getting Lydia's room FINALLY back into livable order.  When our last two foster children left, we just left Lydia's room empty for a while.  I think it was how I had to deal with the heartache of them leaving, not to mention, Micah and Lydia actually sleep through the night if they are in the same room.  Since Micah's room has bunk beds, it's been ideal...especially since I had a closet that needed cleaning!  I began pulling all the stuff out of my closet to store into Lydia's room until I could figure out time to sort through it all.  I've been diligent, working in 8 minute clusters and I feel like Lydia's room and my closet are both very close to completion.  I plan on finishing today an celebrating that victory.

It's a small victory.  And I've accomplished it in small, baby steps.  It's taken me a while, when I ideally would have liked to accomplish it all in one day.  I had to keep chipping at it every chance I got. I have had to be persistent, and I have had to deal with set backs (such as lack of time, or Little Miss Red getting in there and pulling everything I had just put away out!), and sometimes I had to force myself to deal with that mess, even when I didn't feel like it.

Sound like another journey I am on?

I thought so to.

Object lesson learned today.  Sarah out.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Lisa vs. Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has a new song out.  "22" is what it's called.  It's a catchy little tune. It's cute.  But, it bothered me.  It gave me what I call a "soul itch."
I have to admit, I'm a Taylor Junkie!  I love how she expresses what's in her heart through music, just like I do here on my blog.  I know Taylor goes through boys faster than I go through a bag of skittles...and I know Taylor can be "flighty" but she's genuine.  And people either love her or hate her because of that authenticity, and I happen to be a lover! Normally.  However, this song it just glorifies temporal, self-seeking, and shallow attitudes that fill our world.
If you are on my Facebook page, you know today is the 8 year anniversary of my sister's death.  And, the gray sky just seems to fit my mood.  Each year I handle this day differently, but this year is darker than I have ever felt before.  I think a lot of my darkness centers around the losses we've endured this year.  But, even more so is the thought that Lisa is missing so much.
Lisa was only 20 when she died.  I was only 21 when it happened.  I know she's in Heaven and experiences Glory at its fullest, but man alive, is it hard experiencing every change without her.  Lydia's fourth birthday came just two days ago and it was a reminder that even though it feels like Lydia's always been here, Lisa was never here at the same time as Lydia.  Lisa was gone before Micah was around too.  Sadly enough, she wasn't even here to be my bridesmaid and to watch me become Mrs. Humes.  Even more heartbreaking is the fact that she never got to experience these things in her own life.
So, then there's Ms. Swift.  She's be-bopping her cute little ditty about being 22 and "living it up" and "just doing what feels good." Lisa never did that either.
Unlike the "hipsters" (T's words, not mine!) in Taylor's song, Lisa didn't long to fall in love with strangers or party all night.  Her life was not all about self-centered living.  Rather, she sacrificed much of her younger years to pouring bushels of love into our cousin Josh's life.  She gave up spending time with friends to be with him.  She spent money buying Josh Christmas presents that could have been spent on herself.  She shared her faith and her love with him and invested her life in him.  The thought of her still makes me so proud.  She also was committed to caring for the residents at Crawford County Care Center.  She even won employee of the month one time.  The loss of Lisa was so great to the Care Center they even planted a garden there shortly after she died.
Anyways, to wrap up my thoughts about that makes me sad.  Not for Lisa.  Not even for me. But, for all the people out there who are still living like they are 22.  Whether they are 18 or 87, if they are still seeking the world's sense of love without truly understanding what Lisa did...that real life is about sacrificial living.  She was only 20 when she died, but she loved more than most do in an entire long lifetime while she was here.
I commit every year on this day to remember the things she taught me. One great life lesson is that taking care of myself, no matter how hard I have to fight or how long it takes is completely worth it.  It's worth not missing those little moments in my husbands my childrens' parents' lives friends' lives.  I don't want to miss one moment that I should be here for. Another thing I apply in my thought life almost daily is that sacrificial living and love matter, even years after you are gone. She truly helps me love deeper and experience live richer even though she's been gone for eight years now. Lisa will always be remembered for her beautiful contributions to this world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

This Little Piggy Went Over a Cliff

In the Bible, there is a part in the gospels that tells about a particular day where Jesus was begged to cast out demons.  Jesus, being who He is, sent those demons into pigs, and sent those pigs over a cliff!  In Imagine you Renewed, we are talking about that day, and the people's response.  They whole heatedly desired those demons to be destroyed, but of course they didn't exactly agree with Jesus's method of destroying them.  Nope...they wanted to keep those darn pigs!

Our challenge this week is to really dig deep into our soul about what demons we are trying to rid ourselves of, yet what pigs we are still clinging oh so tightly to.
What areas have I not yet handed over to God?

The answers have been heart-wrenching.  I truly am filthy, muddy and disgusting from the swine I refuse to let go of.  I am ashamed of myself and the pigs I so dearly cling to right now.

What have I not yet handed over to God?  My love of food.  This weekend in church, Pastor Rod preached a message that went straight to my heart.  I desperately needed prayer.  I was exhausted from working 3rd shift the night before, I was overwhelmed with the thoughts of 2 birthday parties to come that day, I was overworked, and just needed to pray with a sister in Christ.  I sought out Mary Beth, just sobbing.  All I remember thinking was how can I pray the truth...and it just started pouring out of my heart.

"Lord, I'm sorry.  I love food so much more than I love You."  Isn't that sickening?  To love food more than God?  YES!  It's disgusting.  But, I need to remember, I'm not the only one in the world who struggles with loving food more than God.  You may not love food more than God, but maybe you love money more than God.  Or sleep.  Or the newest gadget.  People have lots of love besides, and above and beyond God.  But, doesn't God warn us of that?  THE 10 COMMANDMENTS?  We are not to have idols.  God wants to be first.

So, even though I've written it and thought it, it was only after I heard myself say in that prayer and to Mary Beth afterwards, was I able to process the fact that I do in fact love food more than God.  OUCH.  Processing that sinful realization is a task that has shook me to my core.

Despite all my spiritual strides I've made over the last few years, this one realization brought me back to that wretched, unholiest of the unholy feelings.

But, those who are around me often know that I will tell myself, "Yes, I feel that way.  It doesn't make it the truth."  The truth is, even though this awful sin is in my heart, I'm still redeemed by a Lord who died on a cross for me.  Even though I feel like I am never going to conquer this, I know that God's word says that I can be an overcomer, even if it is day to day.  And even if I feel like I will love food more than God forever, I know that can change.

Which brings me to my next step.  In my marriage, there are days where I wake up completely smitten with David.  Every word that comes out of his mouth is sparkling with romance...every look is warm and loving...everything he does is perceived in just the right way.  It's pure bliss.  But...really, that happens like once a year.

In reality, I wake up, thankful for my husband.  Glad he's there, yes.... completely smitten?  Nah, not really. Do I want to be?  Yes! Absolutely.  So, then I look specifically for ways that we can show our love to one another.  It doesn't necessarily happen super easily after 8 years of's work.  And as we sacrifice and act on love that we probably don't feel first thing in the morning, I tell you that most nights I go to bed feeling pretty enamored with my husband.  Just because I behaved accordingly.  My emotions many times follow suit and reflect my actions.

So, this is my plan to deal with how I can get rid of this demon and the pig of loving food.  I am going to behave as if I love God more than I love food.  I will seek God before I eat breakfast in the morning.  I will think before I eat if the food I'm eating is helping me be around longer to serve him or is it leading me little by little to premature death.  I will choose obedience whenever possible...because I do love God.  I am glad He's there.  I just want to be completely, 100% smitten with Him...and nothing (i.e. food) in the way!

This is not going to be easy.  I will be giving up a lot of myself.  A lot of those "rights" we cling to.  Along with love of food, I'm sending my demons of doubt and denial away.  I deny that "one cupcake can make a difference."  I doubt that God will fulfill me. I realizing those thoughts are done in the wrong method of thinking. I'm letting the pigs go over the cliff.  I'm abandoning myself into the arms of Christ.  And I'm doing it one decision, one moment, one bite, one prayer, and one little act of obedience at a time until I can finally say that I indeed love God more than I love food...much, much more.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Wilderness Mentality

I’m roaming around a vast desert.  It’s scary here.  Death seems to be waiting behind every rock.  I’m tired here.  There is no rest.  Everything is harder than it needs to be.  My breathing is more labored.  My joints hurt.  My belly makes churning sounds all the time.  I struggle to be free from colds and sickness.  My headaches are prevalent.
Even though the promised land is just a short journey away, I cannot even imagine being there, because, simply put, I’ve never been there.  I know it’s been promised me, and I know God has equipped me to get there, but I obstinately close my eyes and plug my ears at God’s commands.  Why?
                Because I’m tired today.  Because that bowl of ice cream is tasty.  Because self-deprivation is not natural for me.  Because my favorite foods are pizza, chocolate, and fried cheese…and even though they make me feel sick and sluggish, they provide a temporary euphoria that I think is worth losing a bounty of milk and honey and colorful vegetation.
                I don’t feel safe here.  But, I don’t feel safe moving forward either.  I think it’s because here, I am guaranteed at least a few feel good moments here and there.  But, in the promised land, I struggle trusting God to see me through.  I’m afraid that I’ll never know pleasure again.  Isn’t that silly?
                He’s never given me any reason to doubt.  I just do.  Because, once again, even though I’m scared, it’s what I know.  I logically know that the first 3 bites of fried cheese could never compare to the riches of obedience to God, but I consistently trade them off.  Lord, I’m sorry.  I repent of that.  Help me to be an overcomer.  Help me think true thoughts. Help me realize how beautiful your goodness is, and how wonderful your commands are.  Help me love your law and appreciate the safe guidelines and the instructions you have provided for me to journey into the promised land.
                Help me love YOU more than I love food.  Help me loose the selfish, worldly issue of constantly seeking pleasure.  Help me see that submitting to your law and saying no to my desires at times will help me feel energized.  I will see my joints hurt less.  My body digesting better.  My overall health improving.  Because, the promised land is so much more than milk and honey.  It’s about being where you want me to be.  Please, Lord, help my heart change.