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Wednesday’s Wisdom From the Word: Going deeper

Have you ever dug a hole at the beach and tried to fill it up with water?  Recently at our trip to the beach, my boys were doing just that.  My youngest was disappointed to see the water disappear as the sand “drank” it all up.  So despite my desire to stay sand free on my beach chair, I got down on my hands and knees and taught them about digging water holes in the sand.

I told them that if we dug deep enough we’d hit water.  So we dug, and dug, and dug.  My middle one would have his upper part of his body down in the hole to reach the bottom and dig.  The sand got wetter and wetter, and then it happened… the bottom of the hole started filling up on its own with water.  I love those moments of seeing my boys with a fresh excitement over a new discovery.

Later I started thinking about God’s Word.  Anytime we open it up and read it our soul drinks it up.  And the deeper we dig into the Word, like the sand, the more we will be filled with Living Water and less likely to dry up.  I definitely see that as I’ve been digging deeper into the Bible, especially Philippians.

Here’s the living water that poured into my soul today, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind… to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.” (3:14-16)

I’ve read Philippians all the way through everyday for 2 weeks now, and today was the first day the phrase “to the degree that we have already attained” stuck out.  It made me think of my morning run today.  I was passed by a much more seasoned in better shape runner.  Then that runner started getting further and further ahead since my speed was no match for his.  I had a moment of frustration and my self talk started going like this: “I’m in such bad shape, I’m a lousy runner, I might as well be walking, I could go faster if I was walking, I”ll never be as good of a runner as that, I might as well give up…”

Then the verse “I press toward the goal for the prize…” (3:14) popped in my head and I pressed on.  Now as I think about the verses following I realize what I also need to remember is “to the degree that we have already attained…”

As we press on, let’s not compare ourselves to others.  There will always be someone in better shape, someone more spiritual, someone who has already beaten whatever we are currently battling, someone who is a better wife, mother, worker, singer, teacher…  That shouldn’t serve to frustrate us and cause us to give up.  God isn’t comparing us to them,  He’s asking us to press on toward the goal for the prize of Christ Jesus to the degree that we have already attained.

If you haven’t yet today, I encourage you to go dig deeper in God’s word and see what living water God has for your soul…

Training Tuesday: Catching the running bug

I may have caught the running bug.  Earlier this year I challenged myself to run a 5k.  Using the “Couch to 5k” training program, I surprised myself and achieved my goal.  I found running to be convenient and a good workout, but I would never have said that I enjoyed running… well, not until the other day.

While at the beach, I went to the exercise room to workout.  It’s a tiny room with weight and cardio machines.  I hopped on the elliptical and after a couple of minutes, I looked around the small room at the ugly walls and at the tortured expressions on the other people working out.  I couldn’t take it.  I hopped off, and I headed outside to the beach.

I decided I’d try my first ever beach run.  I went down by the ocean to the hard sand and just started running.  I had no headphones for music, instead I listened to the sounds of the ocean.  I had no timer to keep track of time and I had no idea how far I was running.  I kept in mind that I was going to have to turn around and get back, but I was running with a sense of reckless abandon (is that the right term?).  I was pushing myself and sweating but it wasn’t torture – it felt good, even great.

Later that night as we were driving, I made Jeff see how far I had run.  (When I turned around, I remembered what hotel I was at.)  Turns out it was 1.5 miles so I ran 3 miles.  (Best 5k I’ve ever run!) So now I just need to find a place around home that makes running that enjoyable.

Have you found some type of exercise that you enjoy like that?

… oh, I forgot to mention that we were driving back from having Tony Luke’s cheesesteaks for dinner – so good, and gelato for dessert – yum.  Earned or sabotage… hmmm?


Mothering Monday: The elevator

“Where’s C?” I asked last night as we were walking out the building.  Looking around we didn’t see him, but as we walked back in the building we definitely heard him.  “DAAAADDDDYYYYYYY!”

The realization quickly set in… our almost 5 year-old C didn’t get off the elevator with the rest of us.  I started yelling in the hopes that C would hear me, “Press L!”

We pressed the button for the elevator.  It came but when it opened up, C wasn’t in it.  We could still hear him yelling, “DAAADDDYYYY!”  Jeff yelled back, “Stay there, I’m coming!”

Jeff hopped in the elevator and went in search of him.  I gave my oldest son a stern look as he started laughing.  My middle child’s eyes were huge as he’s comprehending what’s going on.  I wasn’t panicking because I knew Jeff would find him, but hearing the scared screams of your son is hard on a mom’s heart.

The next time the door opened Jeff was there with a very timid little boy.   In all honesty, I can’t remember my reaction when I saw him – what I said or what I did.  All I remember is a few moment’s later Jeff explained why C didn’t get out, “He was playing his DS and didn’t notice us all get out.”

AAAARRRRGGGGHHH!  Those DS’s – as a mom of 3 boys, I have a love hate relationship with them.  They can be a savior on a long car ride and offer some much needed quiet in our home.  But they also can cause many tears – whether due to a child losing at a game or being told to turn it off.  They also can cause our boys to tune out the world around them while focusing on the game at hand.  Which seemed to be what happened to C in the elevator.

Often you will hear me in a parking lot or through a store saying, “No playing the DS while walking.”  But really it has been one of those statements that I never followed through with any discipline or enforcement.  I think I probably learned my lesson about things I’m soft on more than C learned his lesson about when to play his DS.

So what did C learn?  He learned that when he yells for Daddy to save him, Daddy will come.  (Its interesting that C yelled for Daddy and not me, because he really is a momma’s boy.)  As I pondered that in light of pressing on I realized that is exactly what I need to do when I find myself lost, in the wrong place, or doing the wrong thing.  I need to call out to my heavenly Daddy to save me.

Has anyone else lost a child in an elevator?  I like to think I’m not the only one…

Friends and Family Friday: The imperfect spouse

I’m married to an imperfect man.  I could list some of these imperfections, but I would hate it if he pointed out all of mine for everyone to see so I won’t do that to him.   But he is imperfect.  He had messed up on little things and he has messed up on big things.  His imperfection gives me a lot of power.  I have the power to choose how I respond to him.

I could point out every flaw, keep a scorecard, belittle him to his face and behind his back and so on.  In the moment it might even make me feel better.  But in the long run, all that serves is to tear down our marriage.  And then how could I ask him to overlook and forgive my many, many, many imperfections?

This week on the third or fourth time that I read all the way through Philippians I started reading it as if I, like Paul, was talking to someone else instead of reading it as God talking to me.  That really convicted me on how I look at others, especially my husband.  Here’s some of the verses that stuck out to me.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (1:6) God’s not finished with Jeff yet so I shouldn’t expect perfection.

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” (1:9) Am I praying for Jeff like this?  What if I silently prayed this first when he messes up… perhaps it would help ease any anger or frustration.

There’s so many more that I won’t go into… but I’ll leave you with one that when I read Philippians as God talking to me definitely applies when you’re married to an imperfect spouse.  (which I’m suspecting anyone married is…)

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (4:8) Let’s not spend our time dwelling on our spouse’s, or children’s, or co-worker’s, or friend’s imperfections.  Let’s trust God to “continue his work” on those things while we think on their great qualities.

Jeff is kind, thoughtful, funny, fun to be around, picks out great gifts, a great listener, loving, romantic, an involved dad, forgiving, blind (he must be because he tells me I’m beautiful…), athletic and a great encourager.

What are the great qualities in those around you?


Thursday’s Thoughts on Home: Laundry without complaining?

“Do everything without complaining and arguing.”  (Philippians 2:14)  Surely everything can’t include laundry and the dishes and cleaning toilets can it?

This morning as I was doing laundry, which I call my nemesis, I was also reading the Bible.  I’m still reading Philippians (I’m reading the whole book of Philippians… all 5 pages everyday).  Anyway as I was folding laundry and putting wet clothes in the dryer, my self talk went something like this, “I hate laundry, why do we have so many clothes, this job never ends, we should be nudists, I can’t stand picking dirty clothes up off the floor, I hate my washer, ugh – I forgot to check the pockets first, what exactly is laundering money…”  and on and on.  Did you notice all that complaining?

Then when the clothes from the dryer were folded, the wet ones from the washer put into the dryer and a new load put into the washer, I sat down with my coffee cup and Bible and began reading Philippians again.  “…Do everything without complaining and arguing…”  Uh oh!  It was 9:00 in the morning and I already had way too much complaining.  I tried to justify it… but I truly hate laundry… at least I’m doing it… “Do EVERYTHING without complaining”

Alright God, I get it… but you are truly going to have to give me the desire and the power to do what pleases you here (Philippians 2:13 – see yesterday’s post on deodorant to learn more about that.) because I get really grumpy and tend to yell at my kids when I do housework.   So as it was time to do more folding and loading, I pressed on to do so without complaining.

That quiet voice whispered in my head and heart, “Be thankful.”  Ok, I’ll try.  So this time as I was folding the laundry my self talk went something like this, “Thank you God that we have so many great clothes to wear, thank you for Jeff’s co-worker who gave us these great hand-me-downs for Jarrod, thank you for Jeff’s mom who gave Bryan this shirt, thank you for my mom’s co-worker who gave me all her clothes that are too big for her now, thank you that this shirt is too big for me now, thank you for my boys who look so cute in these clothes…”

And then when I was starting and stopping the washer (right now our pipes are slow and the washer drains too fast for them, so I have to stop it and let the pipes clear and then start it again several times in each rinse cycle.  We need to get a plumber in to take care of it, but we are waiting until we have the money for it) instead of grumbling my self talk included, “Thank you that I don’t have to walk down to a river to wash clothes, but that I have a washer right in my house.”  And you know what?  I actually felt more joyful while doing the laundry!

So that’s my tip of the day… if you want to do everything (including all your housework) without complaining, try thanking God instead.  I think next time I clean the toilet I’ll try to remember to thank God for the indoor plumbing!

Wednesday’s Wisdom from the Word: Deodorant

Last night while at Walgreens, I finally remembered to buy new deodorant. I’ve been out for several days and kept forgetting to get it.  Are you like me, do you go into a store with a mental list of 3 things, come out with 15 things but forgot 2 of the original list items?  That’s me lately.  So I was glad I remembered the deodorant… and I’m thinking those that come in contact with me are probably glad as well.

Over the past several deodorantless days I would be out somewhere and realize that I stunk – literally that stick your fingers in your armpits, take them out and smell them and nearly pass out stink.  (Remember that SNL Mary Katherine Gallegar “Superstar” character?) Anyway, are you wondering why the heck I’m sharing my stinky tale when I entitled this post “Wednesday’s Wisdom from the Word”?

Most women (in America at least) wouldn’t dream of leaving their home in the morning without first putting on deodorant.  The thought of someone smelling our stink leads us to each morning rub, spray or roll on Ban, Sure or some other brand that promises to keep you smelling shower fresh all day.  Yet most of us walk out the door without any thought to our spiritual stink.

What do we do each morning to ensure that we will make good choices that day, that we will be kind and patient with the testy sales clerk or unreasonable boss, that we will have self control to not speak badly about someone, that we will not boast in ourselves, that we would encourage those around us instead of tear them down (especially our spouse and kids)?

As I’ve been reading through Philippians several times this past week, another verse has really stuck out to me: “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13) I have found that when I spend time reading the Bible and praying in the morning, I’m allowing God to work in me and He really does give me the desire and the power to do what pleases him through the day.

So what pleases God?  I think the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians sums it up: to be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  These aren’t things that come naturally to us, that’s why they are the fruit (or result) of the Spirit working in us.  That’s why God says He will give us the desire and the power to live that way.

So I’m trying to make sure to start each day with both some deodorant and some time with God.  That way I’m not so stinky (both figuratively and literally) to those around me.

Training Tuesday: Trying new things

My sister-in-law made a bold proclamation over Facebook: she is starting P90X.  My husband has the dvd’s and I’ve watched him do them.  He was in pretty good shape to begin with and he would be dripping in sweat when he finished (and leave his disgustingly wet clothes on the top of the hamper).  I definitely was impressed but never considered joining him.  Too intimidating! 

But when my sister-in-law made that proclamation, I began to wonder if I’m selling myself short.  Could I actually do it too?  So with her as inspiration, and my husband as a workout partner, I decided to give it a try.  So last night we did the first workout. 

It was not pretty!  I’ve decided that those types of videos should also show an out of shape person doing it for the first time, so the rest of us out of shape newbies wouldn’t feel like such a loser and want to give up!  But I pressed on.  I had to take lots of breaks between banana rolls, boat and bow poses and planks.  I was dripping with sweat, but I finished it.  And today when I woke up sore, I was glad I did it.

The one thing I’ve found with any type of exercise is that I might make excuses not to, I might procrastinate like crazy, I might come up with something else to do instead, but after I actually do it, I never regret it.

I’m planning on attempting the second workout tonight, but I’ll be honest, I’m not sure beyond that.  My hair’s not the type that needs to be washed everyday, and is a pain to dry/straighten it.  If I stuck to the P90X training plan, I’d definitely have to wash it every day after every sweat dripping workout!  I know that sounds like a lame excuse – but it is what it is… and I’ll boldly make this proclamation, that if I don’t do P90X, I will replace it with something else!

Is there something you are too intimidated to try?  Maybe you’re just selling yourself short and should go for it.

Mothering Monday: Birthday celebrations

I’m a mom of 3 boys and pokemon is big in our house right now.  So when I asked my middle child what type of birthday cake and birthday party he wanted, I was not surprised that he answered Pokemon.  More specifically he wanted a torterra pokemon birthday cake for his birthday dinner and pokeball cupcakes for his friend party.  So I got to work.

We sent out invitations.  We went to Party City for favors.  I searched the internet for ideas and baked and made fondant and colored icing.  (Did you know if you start with strawberry icing and pour in an entire bottle of red food coloring you still only end up with a deep pink icing and not red?)  We bought some masks and made some others.  I created a pokemon obstacle course starting with a giant inflatable ball that they got inside.


I like to go all out for birthdays.  (Not financially but effort.)  Why?  Because birthdays are a chance to celebrate our children.  I’m not celebrating any accomplishments – its not about what they’ve done.  I celebrate because of who they are – my child.  I try not to use the “you better be good or you’re not getting anything for your birthday” or “you better be good or I’m canceling your party” lines.  The gifts and the party are not earned.  Gifts shouldn’t be earned or they are wages or bribes not gifts.  (Since this blog is about being honest through my imperfection, I will admit that despite my intentions, in my frustrations I have threatened to cancel parties or return gifts.  But I’m working on not doing it!) All my boys have to do to have the party and the gifts is show up, open them up and accept them.

I hope you like parties, because God’s got a big one planned for when we go to Heaven.  And its not because of anything we’ve done – its because of who we are.  His child.  All we have to do is accept his invitation (Jesus as our savior) and show up.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Friends and Family Friday – dying flowers…

Last week a friend unexpectedly gave me a beautiful potted flower.  I don’t know what kind of flower it is because beyond roses and sunflowers I don’t know much about flowers.  But, the blooms were vibrant and it brightened my day.  Such a simple gesture, yet it meant so much to me.   I set it by my front door and then left it to fend for itself.  It did great for a few days.  Then it slowly shriveled away.

On Wednesday she was over my house and after she left I noticed the shriveled plant and hoped she hadn’t noticed it too!  If she did she probably thought that I didn’t appreciate her gift.  I did, but I didn’t take care of it.  (Stephanie, if you’re reading this, thank you and I’m sorry!)

That got me to thinking about my relationships with friends and family.  I have so many people in my life that give me so much (not just material things).  Do I take care of these gifts?  Do I take care of the relationships?  Do I make sure they get the attention they need to allow those relationships to vibrantly bloom or do I neglect them and let them shrivel away.  Many names quickly come to mind of relationships that I’ve neglected… now to start watering them.

By the way… after I started picking away the dead flowers and leaves on that flower, I noticed some buds offering hope that it will bloom again.

Thursday’s Thoughts on the Home – microwave gook

I am not a very good housekeeper.  If I had hired myself, I’d have to fire me.  But every once in awhile I find a good trick that I like to pass on.  This week I found one.

I was reading a “Biblezine” that had a calendar inside it.  For June one of the dates said to clean out your microwave today and offered a trick to clean it.  My microwave was disgusting – too much reheating of food and too little wiping it down afterwards.  I know that if I would regularly clean it I wouldn’t need a trick to get it clean.  But I don’t so I did.  And it worked perfectly!

Here’s what you do (for those microwave slobs like me):

  1. Take a small bowl of water.  Squirt some fresh lemon juice in it.  (I didn’t have fresh so I used a squirt of bottled lemon juice)
  2. Cook it in the microwave for 3 minutes.
  3. Leave it in the microwave for 5 minutes – DO NOT OPEN MICROWAVE until after the 5 minutes.
  4. Open microwave take a paper towel or rag and easily wipe off all that grime that was caked on.

My microwave hasn’t been so clean since I bought it.  Except for the pealing of the paint inside of it from when I tried to clean it with a cleaner that stripped the paint.  If only I knew the lemon water trick back then!

When I sat down to write, this was all I was planning on including.  But while typing, I thought about yesterday’s whistle post and how the water in the microwave is another analogy of Christ.  Whenever I’ve tried to clean out that microwave, I couldn’t get all the grime off.  But when I let the steam from the water do the work, it easily came clean.  I couldn’t do it on my own.  That bowl of water is like Christ.  We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us – but we have to let Him do the work.  Don’t open the microwave too soon!