Friday, April 29, 2016

Time of Your Life: Small Deposits

I've been listening to Andy Stanley preach on the topic "Time of Your Life." It is a wonderful series. In the 3rd lesson, he said something that hit me a little deeper--he said that if you need better discipline, the Bible calls that SELF CONTROL.
Some big questions to consider:
What is the biggest obstacle to your self control?
What are you willing to do about it?
**Small deposits of time over time is how you redeem your time.
Encouraging Verses:
Be very careful then, how you live--not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish but understand what the Lord's will is. Eph. 5:15-17 TNIV

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Stop the Madness, Make a New Plan

In my quiet time today, I have been reading 2 Samuel 20. It is the time when David's son Absolom had revolted against the king and was killed. When David returned to Jerusalem, a wicked Israelite leader named Sheba denounced King David and led the Israelite army away from "bringing David back to Jerusalem". David sent Joab and his army to hunt Sheba down and squash the dissension. When Joab and David's army reach the city of Abel Beth Maacah, they begin to siege it. It is the next part of the story I finding interesting.

While the army is attacking Abel, a wise old woman takes charge.  She calls out of the city to talk to Joab. After telling him that Abel is a peaceful and reliable city, she asks Joab why he would destroy God's legacy there. Joab responds that he only wants Sheba. The wise old woman gets the leaders of the city to kill Sheba and throw his head over the city wall to prove it. The army goes home. The city is saved. Done. And we didn't even get to learn the wise woman's name. It is a shame.
Here is what is interesting. I teach middle schoolers every day. Repeatedly I see kids accidentally knocking into one another, jumping to conclusions, getting in each others spaces, coming to the defense of their friends, trying to save face in the midst of the violence, and on and on. Hormones spike, yelling explodes, and tears fall. If we are lucky, a physical altercation gets avoided . . . but not always.
Fast forward 35 years. Adults jump to conclusions, misunderstandings cause pain, emotions get hot, tears fall, sleepless nights stewing over all sides of the sticky occasion don't help, either.
Sometimes it is a good idea to take a lesson from a page in history. Stop the madness. Be like the wise old woman. She didn't cry out for mercy.  She made a plan. She made the attacker think about his consequences when she asked him if he was willing to destroy God's legacy in that city as the price of attaining his goal. She weighed the options--continue to be attacked/destroyed or sacrifice a little (provide refuge for someone who had sought her help) and make a deal for the big plan of peace.
How often do I get caught up in nitty-gritty misunderstandings, false accusations, crazy conclusions drawn from insecure thoughts? A Lot. How much pain and destruction does it cause? A Lot. Why can't I learn from the wise old woman of Abel: stop the madness and make a new plan?
Lord, help me to recognize when I am driven by my insecurity and jumping to false conclusions. Help me to take a step back and realize that everything people do around me isn't ABOUT me. Help me to think of others and try to see things from their perspectives. Help me to not take everything so personally. Help me to devise a plan to communicate my needs, accomplish my goals, and help others reach theirs, too.
Image: The Jerusalem Post Copyright © Tel Abel Beth Maacah Excavations 2013

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Perspective Determines My Operation

This morning in my quiet time, I read 1 Samuel 25. It is the story of David, on the run from Saul, when he camps out in the wilderness and asks for help from Nabal. Nabal, the fool, insults  David and refuses to offer hospitality to him, even though David protected Nabal's men and thousands of sheep/goats while in the fields. David reacted with violence, he gathered 400 men to attack Nabal's home. 
Enter the picture: Abigail. Wow, what a woman! So many lessons to be learned by hearing about her! What her husband Nabal considered a threat, she considered an opportunity. When he cursed, she blessed. When he sat on his butt and threw a feast for himself, instead of enjoying the party, she got busy and supplied a variety of foods for David and his 600 men. 
It is amazing to me that 2 people can have such differing perspectives and interpretations of circumstances. 2 perspectives--2 outcomes.
Growing up with the mindset involving lack of discipline is a totally different attitude than being intentional with my time, my diet, my fitness, and my goals (at work and at home). I am so attracted to friends who push themselves (and me) to get the hard work done before having a seat. I WANT to be more like that, but in the moment, I often revert back to my lazy, lethargic, comfortable ways. I most often make the weaker choice--the Nabal choice. 
Reading the story of Abigail's wisdom and actions is a great reminder to me that my perspective determines my operation, my industry, my outcome, my success. I want to be a blessing. But first I need to get a vision for what that looks like in all areas of my life. I need to get organized and set goals. I need to practice making healthy choices--until it becomes my new forever norm. I suppose it will take months and years to do this.  It has taken nearly 50 years to become the happy-go-lucky, come-what-may, enjoy the moment kind of woman that I am. It will take effort, sweat, and perhaps a few tears to become the better me.
I'm in. Let's do this thing. I'm ready.
Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (NASB)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ruth Made Her Choice

This morning in my quiet time, I read the story of Ruth. Before today, I never pondered her perspective when making the choice to leave Moab. Her family, traditions, culture, religious beliefs--everything she grew up knowing--was in Moab. I understand that when she married a foreigner, she was committing to him for life---but his life was gone, now. 
Ruth chose to go with Naomi--her mother-in-law, a foreigner, without a man to protect and provide, they would be homeless, away from her family, an outcast. But she chose to do the hard thing. She chose a strenuous path over the comfortable path. She chose to take care of Naomi instead of just looking out for her own interests. 
The Bible says in Ruth 2: 11-12 Boaz answered her, "I've heard all about you--heard about the way you treated your mother-in-law after the death of her husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to live among a bunch of total strangers. God reward you well for what you've done--and with a generous bonus besides from God, to whom you've come seeking protection under his wings." (The Msg)
I never noticed the last line--"God, to whom you've come seeking protection under His wings."
Ruth wasn't just taking care of Naomi, she was seeking God's protection.
How can I apply this example to my life? All throughout the story of Ruth, she chose the harder paths over the comfortable--leaving comforts of home and family, taking care of elderly M-I-L, working in barley fields during harvest. 
And I'm just a fat American, sitting on my butt in my big easy chair with a computer in my lap. I don't even have the consistent discipline to exercise and eat healthily. 
Lord, help me to be more like Ruth--to be able to make hard, disciplined choices in all areas of my life, and to seek protection under Your wings. On the outside, I understand the concept of being faithful in the little things before being given opportunity/responsibility of bigger things. 
Today, may I be faithful and disciplined in the little things. May I chose the hard path. Lord, transform me, use me, and shelter me when it is stormy.
Encouraging Verse:
Eph. 5:8 "for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light" (NASB)


Saturday, April 2, 2016

LuoPads: Step-By-Step How To Guide

LuoPads are the washable/reusable sanitary pads being shipped overseas to women in less fortunate circumstances than we privileged Americans. I first learned about them when my husband traveled with a team from our church to South Sudan last year. Partnering with Global Aid Network (GAiN), our team delivered a box of LuoPads to a group of pastor's wives in Juba, S. Sudan--and the women went crazy with joy!  Ululations, Clapping, Cheers!  Excitement grew with the possibilities of using these when reaching out to the women in the bush.
I set out to learn how, make some, and get some friends to join in!
I used GAiN's website to get all the information I could:
The vision Behind LuoPads video will bring you to tears:

  The Vision Behind LuoPads from Global Aid Network (GAIN) USA on Vimeo

And there is a video explaining how to sew them, too!
How to Make LuoPads from Global Aid Network (GAIN) USA on Vimeo.

Because sewing LuoPads is a little bit complicated, I've made a step-by-step pictorial instruction guide to SUPPLEMENT the GAiN website instructions and videos. The website gives specific tips and instructions for raw materials needed and templates for cutting out the materials. I just had so many questions and had to SEE it for myself, each step of the way.

One problem I ran into is that the template itself, when printed as a pdf doesn't exactly match the measurements listed (9.75 in. long for flannel).

Depending on who is printing out the material for your pattern, you need to make sure that the size towels you are using fit the size flannel you are using! Which is better? There is no right answer.  Women need different "size" pads at different times in their cycles. When I ship a completed bag of pads (6 pads, 2 pair underpants, washcloth, safety pins, etc.), I mix up the different sizes on purpose so the recipients will get a variety.
For thick towels, I use 2 towels of thickness, for thin towels/washcloths, I use 3 towels. (I try to use as much towels as I can fit under my needle.) Then I like to baste my towel layers together so they don't slide around when sewing to the flannel. I "assembly line" my towels and stitch them end-to-end to get the job done quickly.  This is also a great job to give to a beginner who doesn't sew much, but can do a straight line!

Next step is to sew the towels to the Wrong side of one piece of flannel. Sew down the middle and around the edges of the towel.
It should look like this from the back. 

Now place Right Sides Together of the flannel. Pinning them together is a good idea.

When you sew the right sides together, you have to leave a 2-inch opening to be able to pull the whole thing through inside-out. I prefer to leave my opening on one side.  Many women prefer to leave one end open.  Either way will work fine.

Once you have sewn a quarter inch around the outside, it is a good idea to check your stitches--just in case the two pieces of flannel weren't exactly the same size. You may want to notch the inside corners and trim excess fabric--especially where the snaps will be later on.  Take the time to TRIM the wings so that they aren't too bulky when trying to add snaps later on.
Next, it is time to turn the pad inside-out. Many women use chopsticks or a skewer to help push out all the inside edges.


The next step is to top-stitch it all the way around. You will need to pin your opening closed.  It is fine to just machine-stitch over the opening--you don't have to hand-stitch the window closed.  For the top stitch, just go all the way around the border of the pad--staying close to the edge.  Then, with the needle still in the top of the pad, you can sew right down the middle of the pad and make one last trip around the edges of the towel inside to secure everything together.

It should look something like this.


But now you should take a good look ALL over your stitching to make sure you don't have any gaps. You might have to zigzag over a missed or frayed edge! This usually happens in an inside corner! (I had to "fix" about 30% of the pads sewn at our first ladies sewing party. You know what they say, "A stitch in time, saves nine.")

At this point, you are done with the actual pad! If you ship your pads to the warehouse in Pennsylvania--details on the GAin website--they will add the snaps for you and ship them to women in a variety of countries!
Here is a bag full--ready to be snapped!! There are some awesome ladies out there!!

For those of you who have the KamSnaps and tools (size 20mm), here are the instructions. Warning: it takes a firm grip to squeeze the KamSnap tool. (Once again, after our first sewing gig, I had to remove/repair about 30% of the snaps that had been done. The snaps just fell off after the first unsnapping! In addition, snaps that were done incorrectly had been torn apart--ripping the material. More tips on repair, later!)

First you must poke a hole at the edge of the "wings".

There is a "male" part and "female" part that have to snap together, so you'll need to think about which side you are putting the snaps in on. My tip is that there should only be one finished back of the snap showing when the pad is laying on the table. (One snap faces one way, the other faces the other direction.)


Place the back of the snap into the disc. The male and female snap parts go where the rubber presser is. You really must have a firm grip when you squeeze that KamSnap tool!  I squeeze it about 4 times!

Once you get the snaps on, it is time to CHECK YOUR SNAPS! (I sound like a math teacher, here!) I snap and unsnap 3 or 4 times to make sure they are on good and tight. (Did I mention that I had to re-do about 30 of them??)  It just happens. 
Here is the trick for removing a snap that is broken or put on the wrong direction: I use an OLD hot glue gun. I heat that bad boy up, set it on the snap, and wait for it to melt. I promise you, this will save you from ripping those pads apart with pliers trying to get the bad snaps off!!! 

Here is the finished product:

The snaps hold it discreetly together when not in use. When they ARE being used, the snaps go underneath the underpants--holding the pad in place!  It is amazing!

Pretty soon,  you'll have a box of LuoPads ready to send overseas! 

We are sending ours to women from South Sudan . . . even those who are in refugee camps in Uganda waiting out the war.

For our next sewing dates at Shandon Baptist in Columbia, South Carolina: 

2016 April 1 Gideon, Jephthah, Samson: Judging the Judges

The scary thing about reading the Old Testament is how many times the people of God turned their backs on Him--even though they were supposed to be the model/representation of His power.
I'm currently reading Judges in my quiet time (I use Bible Reading Plan of reading both Old and New Testaments in a year). Every time I read about these people who sought God's help, received it, and then turned their faces' away from Him, it makes me feel frustrated. It seems so obvious as an outsider, an onlooker to a history far back in time. They blew it. Lots of them blew it. Most of them blew it. What is up with that? 

Is it a reminder to me that I am weak? I can turn my back on God's best for my life? Is it a warning? 

Probably so. I may not be in charge of much, but being faithful in little things is of utmost importance. If I cannot faithfully reign in my physical body -- including what I eat, how much I exercise, how quickly I finish important responsibilities/tasks -- how is it not a true reflection of my spiritual health, as well? For that is who I am. Really. 

It is easy to judge someone in history by looking at a few key highlights of his life. What will be in my highlight reel? A yo-yo body--size 10, size 18, size 8, size 16, size 12 . . . ???  
Or will I train my body and mind?
Hebrews 12: 11 "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." 

2016 March 16 Are You Down?

Are you down?? Been there. Done that. Got the badge, especially when I was the one who dug the hole I fell into in the first place!! So here is your word of encouragement for today: This morning, I'm in the business of . . . 
praying for my friend. 

I'm praying for the Lord's peace as well as grace--which covers a multitude of misunderstandings and mistakes. 

One of my favorite verses is Deut. 33: 12 
12 Of Benjamin he said: 
"The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him, 
Who shelters him all the day long; 
And he shall dwell between His shoulders." 

I certainly like to identify with being able to dwell in safety, being sheltered, and dwelling against that big chest of God---aka between His shoulders. And while I'm dwelling there, to remember the forward promise of Phil. 1:6 
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; 
May the Lord bless you and keep you!! 
Bible: NKJV 

2016 March 12 Day 85 & Still Overweight

Day 85. I've lost 15 pounds. I'm fitting into some clothes I hadn't seen in a long time. I feel cuter. My hair even looks better. My goal is to lose 1 pound a week, and I'm doing it. 
But I got this full report in the mail yesterday from our health insurance. It included a full blood work-up. Verdict: Overweight. High Cholesterol. 
Boom. I had been doing well on my Sparking journey to a better me, but then bulls-eye: BAM! Overweight. High Cholesterol. 
It is a blessing and a curse. A curse because I didn't want to hear it. A blessing because it is just what I needed to re-charge my motivation to tighten-up my resolve to be a better me. 
I have been slipping lately: more snacks than necessary & not nearly enough exercise. . . . not to mention ZERO strength training. The only thing I'm doing for exercise is walking. 
It is time to up my game. I MUST begin doing something exercise-wise other than just walking to improve my life. I MUST stop snacking on little stuff --- that is what has been a downfall in the past. Alarm Bells are now ringing. Time to plan for more nutritious and protein-filled breakfasts to curb the snack-cravings at work. 

This morning in my quiet time, I read Deuteronomy 20:1-4 When you go to war against your enemy and see horses and chariots and soldiers far outnumbering you, do not recoil in fear of them; God, your God, who brought you up out of Egypt is with you. When the battle is about to begin, let the priest come forward and speak to the troops. He'll say, "Attention, Israel. In a few minutes you're going to do battle with your enemies. Don't waver in resolve. Don't fear. Don't hesitate. Don't panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win." (The MSG) 
The chances of me ever going out to war against an enemy are less than 1%. But I do battle MY FLESH. Lack of discipline is my enemy. When I look at my goal and where I want to be in 6 months, it seems I am outnumbered. So I'm going to steal these verses and apply them to my future: Don't waver in resolve. Don't fear. Don't hesitate. Don't panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win! 
Lord, be with me. Go before me. Help me to fight my flesh and gain victory! 

And isn't this just like our spiritual journey? I've been a Christian since 1979. And yet, my spiritual life has so much more to grow in faith, discipline, understanding, depth, and knowledge!

2016 Feb. 9 Unappreciated. Taken Advantage of. Anger

Ok, so today's blog is definitely NOT a devotional from my quiet time. It is a rant. Prepare to NOT BE INSPIRED or ENCOURAGED. 
Here is to hoping that no one I work with is actually on SparkPeople or reading my blog. 
Teaching 6th grade in a public school is exhausting. I am an enthusiastic, creative, and organized teacher, and I must say I do a thorough job of it. But it is NEVER enough! We are bombarded with more and more and more responsibilities and expectations that are not what I would consider the Prime Objective: teaching and learning. 
Twice last week we couldn't get enough substitutes to cover the missing teachers, so I voluntarily took two classes all day, combined into one. All right. I volunteered for that. I'm good with offering my services and accepting that. But when "special" schedules appear due to testing, pep rallies, "honor roll parades", etc. and my team of 6th grade teachers is expected to forfeit their planning time AND keep their homerooms an extra few hours, thereby enabling enrichment teachers to have several hours of "planning", it is getting old rather quickly! We have complained. We have explained. All to no avail. And somehow we are made to feel that we are being rebellious for requesting equitable treatment. Feeling disrespected. 
So yesterday, when the new schedule came out for Friday's assy.---and totally eliminated our planning period again, I'd had enough! I sent out a snarky email to all the administration. And I knew I shouldn't have done it, but I did it anyway, I was so mad. I'm so tired of being taking advantage of! 
And because I did THAT, I have been upset with myself. Totally. My whole body is irritated! I feel like I could explode. 
And that is not all. May I continue my rant? 
This is my 27th year of teaching. I can retire at the end of NEXT school year. My son is a junior in high school, so he would be finishing high school at the same time as I would be finishing up my 28th year. Tempting, isn't it? 
Well, my husband says I need to keep working while boy is in college. 
I am T-I-R-E-D of the exhausting toll teaching is taking on me! 
Ok, so here is the thing: my very bright boy currently is rocking a 56% in AP Physics and 54% in AP US History! He thinks he is going to go to Clemson and get an engineering degree. NOT with THOSE grades! He is L-A-Z-Y, isn't turning the work in, isn't studying. He isn't brushing his teeth, for that matter. Had to buy a new retainer, because he wouldn't wear the one he got when $5000 braces came off. $200 later, and new retainer, do you think he is wearing this one to bed? Nope. 
Back to my school rant. 
Why should I keep working for 4 or 5 more years to so that a spoiled boy can have his own phone and truck in college?????? He isn't doing his part, why should I work so hard to make him comfortable?? 
Let's just say that there was quite a bit of stomping around in the kitchen last night when I was making dinner. Yes, I'm angry. I got so mad, I ate raw cookie dough from the freezer and drank a can of soda, too. A few cabinet doors may have been slammed. 
I thought I would be calm and better by this morning, but I am still upset about it all. 

Thanks for letting me rant. Perhaps getting this off my chest will do me some good. 


PS Good News. My admin., no lie, said Thank You for the snarky email. It was well received. Unbelievable. Thank God I didn't offend, but made my needs clear.
Will sleep better tonight.
PSS I really debated posting this blog on my public Kritty On Mission site. I hate that I spoke poorly of my fabulous son and even my administration.  I decided to go ahead and post it because although it is true those are negatives about others--I will say that I have an amazing kid and I teach in literally the best school in the Midlands. Also, since this post, the schedule for our testing HAS been changed to accommodate for us and for our kids to have more enrichment time. We are all doing the best that we can. I know that. I respect my people.  But I figured most can relate to my experiences and identify with frustrating life while trying to maintain a godly view. 

2016 Jan. 27 Manna, Doing the Job Alone, Organizing, and Letting Go of Control!

My goodness, there are too many lessons to mention in my Old Testament reading this morning--Exodus 16-18! How I would love to park my butt on these chapters--one at a time to meditate and contemplate! 
Ex. 16: Manna. Living in the wilderness, no homes, no jobs, no crops--the situation seemed utterly hopeless. Then God provided manna. He provided just enough, and nothing more, except on the day set aside for rest. Manna was their sustenance. It was what they needed, when they needed it. In the New Testament, Jesus claims to be the Bread of Life. (Jn 6:32-58) He came down from heaven to provide life--he who eats of the bread of life, will never hunger. 
Ex. 17: Doing the Job Alone. In the wilderness, the people were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses held up his staff--while the staff was up, the Israelites were winning. When the staff was lowered, they were losing. So 2 men came and held up Moses' arms so the staff could continue to be high for victory. I like SparkPeople because the friends I've made help me hold my hands up, leading to victory. In other aspects of my life, I need to remember to let my friends help me and to be a support to them, too. Life is hard. We need one another. Victory is possible. 
Ex. 18: When Moses' father-in-law saw how Moses was managing the day-to-day camp in the wilderness, he told Moses he needed to organize and release responsibilities of smaller details to others so he wouldn't get burned out. Moses was working so very hard to do it all. The good news is that Moses was able to take the advice and lesson his work load, allowing others to take on the work, too. Lesson: Am I working too hard? Do I need to step back, take a look at my needs and the goals I've taken on, and reorganize for my own mental health and stability? Probably so. It isn't a bad idea. 
Encouraging Verses

John 6: 32-33 Jesus responded, "The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world." (MSG) 
Image: from Mr. Biblehead 

2016 Jan. 26 Except by Prayer and Fasting

In Matthew 17:14-21, a story is told of a man bringing his son to the disciples/Jesus for healing from a horrible curse: seizures would throw the boy into the fire or water. Disciples frustrated and unsuccessful, the dad went to Jesus begging for help. Jesus healed the boy and then responded to the confused disciples. Jesus told them a couple of things. First, they needed belief--even the faith of a mustard seed would be powerful. Second, this kind required prayer and fasting. 
I know it could be perceived to be insensitive or arrogant to compare someone with seizures or demon possession to myself--who doesn't have those disabilities. But I do have my own problems. I struggle with self-discipline to manage my health and fitness. I struggle with insecurities and even depression. 
But I do think it is fair to compare my own problems to those of others in so much that whatever my eyes are focused on, to me my problem is as big as a mountain. My problems throw me down flat to where I feel like I am getting burnt or drowning emotionally (not physically). Can the formula presented by Jesus help me, too? I hope so. Faith that He can heal, prayer and fasting to focus on Him and my need for him . . . to increase my faith---these are some tools I can incorporate into my life. 
Disclaimer: I don't mean to imply that faith alone in God's healing power is all that is needed for health and success. Even in the story, Jesus stated that this circumstance was unusual and special. I do feel God has given us wisdom and opportunities to grow and improve our status. I am amazed at the resources SparkPeople has as tools for structuring our successful journey to health. Friendship, education, medication, family, goal setting, accountability---they all are important to our well-being. But a gentle reminder that faith, prayer, and personal sacrifice have a place in our overall health as well. 
Encouraging Verse: 

Philippians 2: 12-13 "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and do for His good pleasure." (NKJV) 
Image: from 

2016 Jan. 25 Beware the Yeast

In my quiet time today, yeast was mentioned in my Old Testament reading (Exodus 12) and New (Matthew 16). In the Old--it was all about eating bread w/o yeast for 7 days at Passover. In the New, Jesus was telling his disciples to beware of the yeast. He further explained in vs. 11-12 "How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the yeast of the Pharisees & Sadducees. Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 
What can I learn from this? Perhaps God wants me to remember that I am easily influenced by the world around me, my setting, my habits, the philosophies of people I look up to. 
How can I be more aware and protect myself? Pray, Confess, be Humble, Fill my Thoughts with Scripture, Spiritual Songs, Challenging Teachings. 
Encouraging Verse: Ephesians 6: 11-13 "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (NKJV) 

2016 Jan. 21 They Ate and Were Satisfied

Matt 14:20 Jesus fed the 5000 and they were satisfied. 
What can I learn from this passage? 
Jesus had compassion on the families who desired to know Him better, to learn from Him, and to be healed. He satisfied their needs. As a child of the King, he loves me, too, and will satisfy all my needs...warped relationship with food, and all. Just as Dixiana waits by her bowl to be fed, I can trust that He will take care of me. 

2016 Jan. 19 Slaves to Food? No. In Whatsoever State I Am: Contentment

In Genesis 47, Joseph literally puts the entire kingdom of Egypt in a state of slavery to Pharaoh because of their need for food during the famine. 
Gen. 47:18-19 "When that year was over, the next year rolled around and they were back, saying, 'Master, it's no secret to you that we're broke: our money's gone and we've traded you all our livestock. We've nothing left to barter with but our bodies and our farms. What use are our bodies and our land if we stand here and starve to death right in front of you? Trade us food for our bodies and our land. We'll be slaves to Pharaoh and give up our land--all we ask is seed for survival, just enough to live on and keep the farms alive.'" (MSG)
Food is such a powerful thing. It is life to those who are starving. It is a need, a necessity. 
But growing up in America with grocery stores at every few intersections and kitchen pantries filled with goodies 'til the expiration date passes, it has become so out of proportion and twisted. Transportation is as easy as hopping in a car. There is no need to walk. 
People around the globe can identify Americans on the spot because of our girth and double chins. 
So where is the balance? How can we be wise in our perspective that food is a necessity and not to be a god in our lives, even while living in the lap of luxury? 
Feast or famine--both are extremes and have their time and place. Moderation is the goal. With Christ as the potter, He can work to mold us and shape us into His image and His servants. 
Encouraging Verse: 
Philippians 4:11-13 "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (NKJV) 
Image: The Jesus Bus 

2016 Jan. 18 The Last State of Man Becomes Worse Than the First

All this effort to change my life to become more healthy--it is a lot of work. Sad to say, but I've done it before . . . twice I've lost 30 pounds . . . and gained all the weight back and more within 2-3 years. Scary thought. 
When I read this passage in my quiet time this morning, it reminded me of my past failures with what I was putting INTO my body (physically--not spiritually): 
Matthew 12:43-45 "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation." (NASB) 
I know the passage is really about spiritual health, but I can so relate physically.
Dear Lord, forgive me of my sins. Cleanse my heart. Guide my steps. Help me on this journey of being healthy as I sweep up and put my life in order, that I fill every space with You. Help me to grow spiritually as well as physically, so that I can be pleasing to you and a blessing to others. 
Encouraging Verse: Phil. 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 
Bible References: 

2016 Jan. 17 Pharaoh Gets It--I'm Just Starting to Get It

This morning I read about Pharaoh in Genesis 41. He had two dreams foretelling of future years of plenty followed by famine. After Joseph interpreted the dreams, he advised Pharaoh to put someone in charge of managing and organizing during the years of plenty and drought, v. 33-36. Immediately Pharaoh decided to put Joseph in charge. 
Food. Just because there is plenty and abundance, doesn't mean I should indulge myself. Even Pharaoh knew that food should be managed and organized with a firm hand. He gets it. 
On my journey to be healthy, I've chosen SparkPeople to help me organize and manage my nutrition, exercise, goals, education, and interactions with an amazing group of like-minded people aspiring to better themselves. I am one of the most frugal people I know, and I don't think I'd step out and pay for the experience before getting hooked--as I am now--on the need for the accountability and structure SparkPeople provides. I can't imagine how complex the food/recipe/exercise calculators are. The articles and inspirational pieces are endless. I'm just starting to realize how valuable this is to help me become my better me. 
A good leader sees the need for management and organization for a system to be productive and successful. Pharaoh got it. I'm just beginning to realize how important all this extra effort is in my journey to manage the life I've been given. 
Encouraging verse: Phil. 1:6 Being confident of this, that He who hath begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ (NIV) 
Bible reference: 
image: Tamar Messer Studio and Gallery 

2016 Jan. 16 Potiphar's Only Concern

Last time I posted a blog entry, it was about Eating With Sinners--and how thankful I am that God chooses the weak to dine with, rescue, and heal. But TODAY, I'm making an about face. Well, sort-of. God knows that all of us--rich or poor, ugly or beautiful, ALL NEED a Master Physician, Savior, and Friend. 
I was reading Genesis 39-40 about when Joseph was a slave working for Potiphar in Egypt. I happened upon this verse in Gen. 39:6a "So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph's care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate." (NIV). 
Potiphar was one of those beautiful people. He had it all--he was WAY up in the government, had lots of responsibilities, had slaves. Then it says the only thing he had to concern himself with in his home was the FOOD HE ATE. 
I know I've got my food radar up--and there are lots of mentions of food in the story of Joseph (sheaves in field bowing down to him, wine-taster and baker in prison, etc.), but this mention is just slipped in like a side-note. It doesn't even seem relevant to the story. But there it is: hidden in a bigger picture. 
What can I learn from it? I think there is a truth that it doesn't matter who we are in this world--well-off or struggling, we are ALL faced with a similar concern: the FOOD WE EAT. Even if we have everything else in our lives under control and well-managed, we still have to concern ourselves with making healthy choices. Being beautiful and successful doesn't exclude us from the struggle and temptation of gluttony. God made us with appetites. We are created with both hunger and passion. But we are also given the RESPONSIBILITY to manage our bodies and appetites. 
Here is an encouraging verse: 
Philippians 3:20-21 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (NIV) 
Image: Art at OMSC by Sawai Chinnawong "Joseph and Potiphar's Wife"
Bible References: 

2016 Jan. 13 Eating With Sinners

In my quiet time today, I'm reading Matthew 9--and in the real world, I'm trying to track my nutrition, exercise, and water intake. So I've got food on my mind in all that I do. 
I happen to notice the food references so much more when I'm reading now! 
For example: In Matthew 9, Jesus calls Matthew, the tax collector, to "Come and follow Me." In the next verse, Jesus is EATING at Matthew's house with a bunch of disreputable characters. The beautiful/powerful/self-righte
ous people question Him as to why he is eating with sinners. Jesus's reply is that it isn't the healthy who need a physician, but the sick. 
When I think about it, a lot of beautiful and powerful people are pretty darn good at self-discipline and making safe choices. But me, I'm one of those sinners in need of a Savior who will sit down and eat with me, the REAL me. He knows my needs and is willing to reach down at my level and accept me where I am. No judgment, but stretching out with a physicians touch to heal my brokenness and insecurities. He knows I have problems with self-discipline, but chooses me to "Come and Follow" anyway. 
Lord, thank You for choosing me, loving me, and dining with me. Heal my brokenness and hold my hand as we walk through this thing called life. Amen.