Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Growing Beyond Myself

I think one of the reasons I am in a dry patch of writing is I am getting tired of so much introspection. Wandering through the maze of my heart and mind grows old when some of the same issues and dilemmas keep popping up.

Do I eat this?

Should I do that?

Is this going to bless my progress or slow it down?

I don't like having a bedtime, why is sleep so darn important? (Don't get me wrong, I happen to LOVE my bed, and I do wish I could spend more time in it, I just like the quiet of my house when no one needs me too!)

I look forward to the day when these aren't a part of my daily thoughts... but I can't imagine when that would be.

I did see the endocrinologist yesterday and he says that he sees no secondary cause for my being overweight, but genetics make it harder to take off. I need to keep up the hard work. I lost 5lbs since I saw him last. That was good news too.

In the midst of all the introspection God keeps calling me to come out of it to walk freely in the ministry He has placed me in - a free-style, listen carefully and obey immediately type ministry. Call someone when He says call, pray for someone else when He says pray, speak what He puts in my mouth and trust He has prepared the heart listening to hear it, and other things along those lines. I keep my eyes out and heart open for those divine appointments. I ask for them. I expect them. I don't need these moments to somehow fuel my value, like I used to. Now, I feel driven to speak Life to those God has put in my path. To declare purpose and peace. To draw others toward Him (certainly not to me- yikes!) knowing they will find all they seek in Him. 

This is how He keeps my focus beyond myself and directly onto Him. He is WAY cooler anyway! :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A prayer about my writer's block

It has been ages since I have written, or so it seems. For a daily blog I am certainly way behind!

But, here's what's up:

I am not entirely sure. I have opened up a "new post" several times only to draw a blank or write something that upon reading it over, doesn't seem worth posting. I was sharing this with a friend and she suggested I write a prayer about my inability to write.

Here it is:

I try to write but words evade me.
Lost in the tunnel of the day.
I see Your Light, I am not despairing,
I just can't seem to say

That my heart is processing,
 imagining a me I do not yet know.

I feel a bit lost
Wondering what to say
When it comes time to
articulate the day.

I do not cry
or feel in a muddle,
But deep deep down,
I feel a bubble.

Like expectation and labor pains
it seems, rising from the
low places.

Nitty gritty day to day
Food choices and sleep held at bay
I feel like a success and failure
Both leaping with excitement
and sluggish doldrums contrast.

I keep plugging along with
Hope in my heart,
Good sense in my head,
Knowing that right now
I need to go to bed!!!

I love You Lord and I know at least You get a chuckle from my musings as well as feel compassion for my challenges. Thank You for loving me and coating me with grace to keep me warm in this season of exposure. Amen.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Other Choice

 When I posted the short stories I wrote yesterday on my blog: The Journey Begins Today - SHORT Stories I kept pondering this one:

Title: The Other Choice (Based on Luke 9:61-62) © JJ Bogdanowicz
 He left without saying goodbye.  Stunned, she took a deep breath. Eternal purpose had been chosen, trusting the Master’s provision. Destiny called them both.

Here is the scripture that gave me that concept:

Luke 9:61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”
 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

I have been pondering those words much like those from Luke 14:25-27  I wrote about in my Blog called Hating Others?
I wrote that blog over two weeks ago and the scriptures are resonating in my spirit like I am supposed to do something with them, only I am not exactly sure what. 

That brings me back to the short story. Looking at the verse through the eyes of a wife with children to take care of, I put myself in the shoes of the wife (assuming he had one) of the man who asked Jesus that question. What if he decided to follow Jesus? It doesn't say that he did, but since we are all forced to make similar decisions based on our willingness to obey Christ, the question is worth asking I think. 

I can't imagine my husband going into town to see this man everyone is talking about and then never coming home. Why would God do that? 

We value family to a certain degree in this culture. Some populations more than others, for sure, but I have seen many Christian families "circle their wagons" and put their "family" as their primary focus and calling. I am NOT saying that our families are not important priorities. They are! But as I have struggled with prioritizing my family life with the things God is asking me to do with my time, and sometimes I have been challenged to consider what is more important. 

The answer is not always clear, but for the most part, I have leaned on the Bible (wherever I seem to be studying at the moment is usually relevant to the issue), my discernment, and the wisdom of my husband. He always seems to have a consistent understanding of what God is doing in my world and how to help me prioritize, even when it makes him or me uncomfortable. I also consult other people that are involved in my life who will tell me the hard truth if I get off balance. 

So, again, back to the story. If he chose to walk away from his family to follow Christ, what about his wife? Their children? Their income? 

What I know about the character of God is that He can provide for needs we didn't even know we had. He faithfully releases encouragement, support, finances, employment, wisdom, gifts, to name a few, for our benefit and blessing. You can't convince me that his wife was off of God's radar. If he had made "The Other Choice", she would have been taken care of. Because that is who God is. I am not saying her life would be easy. I can only imagine the heartbreak, the loss, the confusion, the embarrassment of judgment from others who did not understand, but God would have been there. 

I want to remember that always. Whatever He asks me, or my Love, or my children to do, He will be there. For all of us.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Well, Here I Am!!

There I am! Highlights and all! It's not the very best picture ever but it works to show you what my final "gift" looks like.

I love it. I REALLY do. I look in the mirror now and I see the brightness of my youth and the little touch of gray at the top of the part on my hair to indicate there might be a bit of wisdom contained in my newly colored hair. I actually like that the gal who does my hair, KJ  Russel (let me know if you want her number), left the gray in. She knows I prefer a more "natural" look after doing my hair for over 6 years. 

This week I started my strength training routine again as well as consistent cardio (run, bike, swim) to keep me in shape for the triathlons I plan to do next year. Yes, I plan on doing more than one! 
My Monday workout was 10 min on the bike, working hard to get a good "warm-up" before my strength training exercises (about 30 min) and then another 15 minutes on the treadmill, working on increasing my speed on my running. I did intervals, fast walking, running my regular speed and then picking up speed for a few minutes. It was a great workout! I told the Lord that if He would help me keep the kids healthy, I would keep up the hard work. 

Also, for my goals for the week, in case you are curious, I will be IN BED by 10pm, drink my water, and continue to eat as "clean" as possible. I thank you for your prayers if you feel led. Blessings!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Receiving A Gift

I am going to fillet myself open here, so hang on and hang in for this one!

Just a few days ago my husband offered me the gift of getting my hair done. Not just the usual haircut by my favorite stylist and the removal of all things caterpillar from my eyebrows, but have my hair colored too!

I was thrilled for about 10 seconds.

Then my head started spinning - all the things I see as needs MUCH greater than having my hair colored started piling up and entangling my ability to receive this gift my husband wanted to give me.

Guilt washed over me like a tidal wave as I considered the luxury of the experience. I thought about all the people who know our regular budget is super tight and I wondered what they would think of me if they see me somewhere with the extravagance of having my hair colored.

I began to cry and I asked him if I could just have the money that he would spend on the coloring part of getting my hair done so I could spend it on meeting at least SOME of the needs racing though my mind.

My Love told me to not worry about how the needs are going to be met, but to receive his gift as a reward for all the hard work I do; working out, eating right, etc. I couldn't stop crying and so I just told him I would pray about it and get back with him.

I did pray. I talked to some other sisters-in-Christ about it. I prayed some more. I read my Bible and listened to His voice.

The wisdom of the Word, the women who know and love me, and His heart whispers to me all said the same thing, "receive the gift".

As if to confirm all that was happening in my world; this weeks study in "Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur on the names of God, the name is Jehovah Jireh- The Lord Who Provides.

Also, since my body is finally changing into a smaller size I have needed some new clothes. Last week I received a $10 gift card for one store, a $25 gift card for another and yet another for $15. I was able to purchase two sweaters and a vest for $28 with the sale prices and gift cards. The balance of the money I used for grocery needs.

WHY do I question His provision EVER????

He promises it, He delivers it, AND He also meets "wants" too.

Another thing about getting my hair colored - I don't hardly ever talk about it. I sit in the chair at the salon and wonder what it would look like if I could. The woman who does my hair is an artist. She sees my hair as a canvas and she always wants to do it, but we don't have it in our budget so I say no. It is a whispered desire from my heart to the Lord. That's all.

Apparently He whispered into the ear of my Love about giving me this gift. So, as soon as we can coordinate our schedules,  I will have an appointment to remove the fuzzy eyebrows, trim the shaggy edges, and paint the canvas of my hair into something differently beautiful than what I normally wear.

I will receive this gift with a happy heart knowing other needs are provided for trusting my God and my Love to work it out together. I look forward to posting a picture when I am done!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How He Loves Us

We don't get to pick how we are loved. We just don't. God didn't design life that way.

We can choose our spouse, we can choose our friends but really, in the end, we can't choose how they love us back. We make the best choices we can, and as long as there is commitment on both sides to stay in the relationship despite pain or hardship, we can continue to choose to love them, but we still never get to choose how they love us in return.

There are zillions of movies written about love affairs, I am fresh from watching The Notebook and I have been pondering the really great love stories I've seen. I love the movies Moulin Rouge, Never Been Kissed, 50 First Dates, Princess Bride, Fools Rush In and countless others. Why?

We were created to "love and be loved in return" to quote Moulin Rouge. God designed us for relationship with Himself first and then others.
1 John 4:15-17
15 All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. 16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
   God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

This song has been a favorite of mine from the first second I heard it. We don't get to choose how God loves us. But, oh how HE loves!

Here are the lyrics to How He Loves by John Mark McMillan below is the youtube video of the song, but I really wanted you to see the lyrics first. Read them, soak up the words, then let the music pour over you, sing along if you can. There is something powerful about singing out loud that He loves you. Your head hears it, your heart hears it, your ears hear it, it is a very powerful thing. God bless you. May you be enveloped by His presence as you read and listen with your spirit, heart, and mind.

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane
I am a tree
Bending beneath
The weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these
Afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize how beautiful You are
And how great Your afflictions for me

Oh how He loves us so
Oh how He loves us
How He loves us so

Yea He loves us
Oh how

We are His portion
And He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we're all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart beats violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way
He loves us

Oh how He loves us so
Oh how He loves us
How He loves us so

Monday, November 8, 2010

Who I am compared to who HE is

I fail,
But You fail not.

I sin,
But Your kindness leads me to repent.

I forget You
But You never forget me.

I run from You,
But You pace my stride.

I get angry with You,
But Your compassion never fails.

I feel lost,
But You know where I am.

I feel unimportant,
But You value me.

I am rocked by my life,
But You remain unshaken.

I look for You
But You always see me.

I reach for You,
And You are right there.

O LORD, Your existence cannot be changed by me.
You remain unchanged for eternity.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Trying on Clothes

This morning I headed off to Kohls at 7:15am. A crazy time to be shopping, sort of. They were having a huge sale. They have lots of sales, but I had a $10 off coupon, a 15% off (in addition to sale prices) coupon, and my money from the consignment sale to spend. About $30. I knew it would still take a miracle to find upgrades to my wardrobe for that much but I knew from past experience God would show me exactly the best items to get.

I looked though the racks, praying as I put my hands on items I liked, I dismissed many, put a few in the basket to try on, and worked my way through the "womens" department. I LONG to shop in the "regular" section.


But for now, I will tell you about what it was like to try on clothes.

I knew that I wasn't going to buy a single 3x item. It was the first time in ages.

When I was flipping through the racks of jeans on sale, I felt like I was supposed to get a size 20. I dismissed it thinking that would be depressing, and picked up the 22s and went to try them and the rest of my stuff on. The jeans fit fine. Nothing exciting. I tried on some shirts, eliminating the ones that were between marginal and awful. But I couldn't shake the feeling I should try the smaller size in the jeans.

Now a note about how I shop. I am not a fan. I like to go in, make a pile of things I am going to try on and then pay for the ones that were great and leave. To get dressed and undressed twice in a store is VERY unusual. But, I couldn't shake the feeling I should try on the smaller size, so I did. They FIT!!

It was great!

The last few weeks I have been working hard at not beating myself to a pulp for not eating right ALL the time. I have written about my struggles with it. I know my body needs quality fuel to do what I am asking it to do - shed the pounds it has been holding onto for the last 18 years and become the athlete I was meant to be. I need much less sugar and I am working the gluten out of my eating habits as well. But it is such a process!

I often feel like I am going two or three steps back for every one step forward I take. Turns out I am making more steps forward than I thought. Amazing!

I want to be perfectly clear here, this is a work God is doing in me. He has told me it is His priority for me to focus on this and He would help me do it. And HE is. As I wrote in my last blog, I am trying to hear "yes", "no", "stop" etc. and for the most part, I have obeyed.

Obeying always blesses us. Always. Today He told me to try on smaller jeans. It took a while but I decided to obey, and the blessing - WOW! They aren't even tight! 

I feel energized and ready to obey better this next week. And then, maybe, I will get on the scale! It has been a while for that too. About 3 weeks since I experienced the discouragement I found there.

It appears my kids are healthy (I asked God to make sure they were if He wanted me to keep up this hard work He's asked me to do!), I am getting there, and so this week  begins another phase of my workouts. Back to strength training!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


It has been a week since I have been to the gym.

I have however, practiced eating like crap, being careful about what I put in my mouth, and then, retreating to my old ways, eating like crap again.

I hate that! I continue to ask the Lord, "WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME?" as if there is something hideously wrong with me that prevents me from putting healthy life affirming food in my mouth instead of processed sugar and flour products.

He hears me, He understands me, and His grace is sufficient for me. He sent me an angel yesterday. Her name is Jennifer.

Now before you close this, believing your worst fears are true, that I have made up an imaginary friend to survive this trip to health and wellness, I assure you she is very real.

I shared in my Tuesday morning Bible study that I felt like the Lord was asking me to make Him Lord (Adonai - Lord and Master) over every bite I put in my mouth. He is not Lord in this area of my life. I know this because almost every single time He asks me to stop eating, or not to eat "that", I disobey. Nice huh?
The woman who "obeyed" herself into completing a triathlon still hasn't managed to "obey" herself into eating right.

As I shared my struggle with eating right I locked eyes with another woman in the room. I smiled and finished what I had to say. Later, as I was walking out of class, she stopped me. She said she felt like the Lord wanted her to tell me what she was doing in that area of weight loss. Her name is Jennifer.

I looked at the thin, lovely, kind woman in front of me and thought, "I wonder what she's selling, which healthy weight loss product is going to 'help' me according to her." I tried to focus on what she was saying instead of anticipating the sales pitch I have heard a zillion times from a zillion people. Except she didn't.

She told me how she had submitted her eating to the Lord. She told me of a heart condition she has that ANY extra weight she carries can be VERY harmful. She told me that when she is eating something she doesn't really want to eat but is good for her, or she passes on something that she wants to eat but shouldn't, she offers it to the Lord. She says, "I don't want to do this, but this is for YOU God." She chooses to see it as a sacrificial offering to her God.

I could see by the clarity in her eyes and the peace in her countenance that she truly has walked this road for God's glory. She wasn't trying to gain anything from me, but rather give, freely and openly, what God had given her. My eyes welled up with tears and I said "Thank you" at least a dozen times.

There are so many great people out there selling wonderful products whose hearts are in the right place to love and serve others into wellness. But I knew that none of them or the fabulous products they offer me would provide what I REALLY need.

I REALLY need to submit my food consumption to God. Forever.

He has called me to this. He has asked me to give up ownership of myself and call Him Lord in one of the last areas of my life (that I know of thus far) I have not turned over to Him.

As surely as someone may choose to write a deed for their "stuff" to God acknowledging Him as owner, asking Him what to do when His washer or dryer or ? breaks down, I need to see Him as owner of me.

Lord, my ability to choose GOOD healthy life giving food is severely compromised. YOU are God over all of me. In this moment, right now, I submit every bite to You. Because I am Yours, I must listen and obey when You tell me "stop" and "no". Please give me strength to walk this out every day, every bite. Thank You for making provision for support again with someone intimately familiar with my struggle.

This is progress. I have been in the house with a huge bowl of Halloween candy for a day and a half now and not had one bite. I actually have not had sugar since Monday night's candy binge.

I gotta start somewhere! :) Hopefully I can get to the gym on Friday. I really miss that place!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Traveling Companion

When we did Financial Peace University we learned a lot about ourselves, how we handle our money and what we need to do differently. The second year, our group decided to make folders of all of our pertinent financial information, insurance plans, etc. This was the cover I made for that notebook.

The pictures remind me of why we work so hard to stay on our budget. But the quote that I want to highlight today is the one in the top left.

I have a great traveling companion. The road is a long one for me. Tonight he didn't say anything when I sucked down several pieces of Halloween candy like a starving vacuum cleaner. He quietly provides prayer and support, encouraging me in every way he can without making me feel as flawed as I am.

The even better traveling companion, who is less comfortable to live with, depending on the issue is the Holy Spirit. He comes with me always, sees what no one else sees and brings conviction in perfect timing, along with grace as I grow into the woman I am called to become. He wants more for me than I want for myself. He longs for me to arrive at my destination in this season with my eyes on Jesus walking, skipping and even running in the abundance He has provided for me.

The last weeks have been consistently challenging to my resolve to continue this journey to health and wellness. I continue to work on it, daily.

I know it is a process. I want to enjoy the process. I can't say I am, YET. But I am glad I am in process... I think. :)