It is a world gone mad.
About the time I think I can no longer be surprised by the depravity of mankind in this day, I am surprised.
Has it always been this way and we are more aware of it because of the incessant attention given to depravity by the media? Or maybe the media attention gives rise to increased depravity as people become desensitized to the very real suffering being created and instead join in thinking it’s all a big party and then you die?
The Bible says the heart is deceitfully wicked and in this day I find it oh, so true. And the Bible has so accurately predicted that in these days mankind will turn away from God and go their own way—doing what seems right in their own eyes vs following the laws of God.
I read a story about how socialism in Venezuela has run its course and they are out of food. At the same time, an avowed Socialist and a Socialist in beliefs but who does not identify herself that way, are making a plea for those policies to be put in to place here—if they are elected to the highest office of our land.
The Middle East is getting ready to implode with military exercises planned this month by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and others as a possible cover to invade Syria. Political commentators say it could be the beginning of World War III.
A very good and important man died over the weekend and instead of mourning, those who disagreed with his opinions in our highest court, celebrated, sending their crass and disrespectful sound bites and tweets out to the world anticipating a more palatable choice for the next Justice of the Supreme Court.
A Super Bowl commercial is criticized by a Pro-Abortion group for humanizing a baby in the womb.
An award winning college student lures an underage girl from her home just to kill her.
Earthquakes and famines and wars and rumors of wars.
Sounds positively Biblical, doesn’t it?
2 Timothy 3: 1-4 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—”
Matthew 24: 6-7 “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.…”
If I didn’t know the end of the story, I’d be afraid. And even I’ll admit to a bit of trepidation at watching the words in the Word of God unfold before my very eyes. It is just so hard to watch when I know there is another way.
So what is the answer?
Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call to Him while He is near. Let the wicked one abandon his way and the sinful one his thoughts; let him return to the LORD so He may have compassion on him and to our God for He will freely forgive.”
And 2 Corinthians 6: 2 says, “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.” Emphasis added.
As the world goes mad, we can live in peace.
As the world turns upside down and everything around us shakes, He is a firm foundation.
As our world gets more and more scary, we can live without fear.
There is only one Hope for the world we are living in and His Name is Jesus.
“For God loved the world (that is you, Dear One) in this way: He gave His One and Only Son (Jesus) so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
At some point, this world will pass away. At some point, Jesus is coming back for those who have accepted His free gift of Salvation. Those who have believed in Him.
“For God did not send His Son into the world that he might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned but anyone who does not believe is already condemned because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.” John 3:17-18
“This then is the judgment: the light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” John 3: 19-21
It’s really that simple. Jesus has offered the free gift. He came and died so that we might live. He offers. We accept by believing. We accept by recognizing that we are sinners and lovers of darkness without His light. We accept by acknowledging who He is and what He has done for us, asking forgiveness and stepping into His light and into New Life.
Don’t wait. We aren’t promised tomorrow. Every day people wake up and have no idea this day might be their last. I heard a preacher say that if we choose distance from God in this life, He grants it to us in the next.
Don’t let that be your story.
Today is the day of salvation.
Don’t let it pass you by.
In His love,
I don’t know who this post is for, but I am awake at 2:33 AM writing it, compelled to pen these words. If it is you, will you let me know? If you are unsure where to go from here, please contact me. Blessings—God loves you and so do I.
A few posts back I shared a bit about my year of learning discipline, touching on a couple of changes I’d made to my life—running and getting physically healthy and also losing weight via the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle. I want to share a bit more of that story with you but I will warn you—this is probably the most vulnerable and personal post I’ve ever written.
Hello. My name is Kim and I was a food addict.
The thing about food as opposed to other addictions is that you just can’t decide to NOT eat! Alcohol—you can do without. Shopping—you can walk away from the Mall or cut the credit cards.
But food? Glorious, satisfying, necessary food? You just gotta have it. Which makes it hard.
I hadn’t always struggled with food addiction. In fact, I looked quite Twiggy-ish as a teen. My first driver’s license listed my height at 5 ft 6 and a weight of 105 lbs.
My mom cooked wonderful meals and we ate well. In Protection, KS, not a lot of choices for eating out although we had our share and I did love burgers and fries at The Hob Nob Inn and the Chicken Fried Steak at Don’s Place is the things dreams are made of. Most places, things were made from scratch. There were a few processed foods, but not many. Pop and chips were a treat, not a daily affair. I think I was pretty normal for a teen girl in the 1970’s.
Then came the Freshman 15—the pounds you gain when you move away from home and are eating starchy college cafeteria food. I went on my first diet—counting calories using an American Diabetic Association guide to lose the pounds at 19.
And for the next 40 years, I gained and lost and then regained the same 15, then 20, then 30 pounds over and over and over. I tried calorie counting, food combining, programs where I paid a lot of money for them to starve me or bought expensive diet foods and supplements, low carb and high carb, low fat and high fat, and I always lost weight.
And it always came back and with it, a few more pounds.
I had become a good cook and loved trying new foods. I subscribed to Food and Wine Magazine and broadened my culinary horizons. I collected cookbooks from all over the United States. Often travel was as much about trying new foods as it was going new places. Man of My Dreams and I dubbed our Honeymoon, The Culinary Tour of Colorado Springs.
At the same time, I often only had minutes to gulp a meal in the hospital cafeteria or stuff down a snack between cases. When someone relieved you for lunch, you took the break and ate not knowing if you’d get another chance. It really didn’t matter if you were hungry or not. And when on call and working long hours or all night on little sleep, Cheetos and Coke became my fuel. And my reward for how hard I worked.
Food also became my go-to for emotions. Celebrate? What should we eat? I ate when glad, sad, mad or feeling bad.
I never was grossly obese. I had a top weight that when I saw that number on the scale, I put the brakes on, only to begin the unhealthy lose/gain cycle again.
You might be saying, “Kim, that sounds kind of normal. Lots of us are in the same boat. Why do you say you had an addiction?”
Because it became an obsession. What I ate and how much became a constant companion in my thoughts. I knew calorie counts and carb counts of most foods. I’d lay my head on the pillow at night and think through what I ate that day, classifying it as “good” or “bad” and classifying myself as “good” or “bad” on how well I’d controlled my eating.
When my stomach was full, I’d vow to never over eat again.
But, you gotta eat. So I would and begin the cycle over again of eating bad and thinking of myself as “bad” because I couldn’t seem to control it.
I wasn’t a binge eater. I didn’t even eat in huge amounts. I didn’t necessarily eat horribly bad food. But the years of dieting and the cortisol from the stress of my profession and exhaustion, made weight gain easy and weight loss harder and harder.
At one point I said, “I wouldn’t even have to lose weight. If someone told me, ‘you can stay the same size you are now, but you pay me 10,000 dollars and you will never gain another pound or have to worry about your weight. You can eat anything you want and not gain.’ I would beg, borrow or steal the money.”
THAT is how I know I was an addict. It was an obsession with me in the same way the Bible says not that money is the root of all evil but the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. For me, the love and obsession with food was the root.
Now as addictions go, food addiction seems pretty mild. You aren’t holding up little old ladies to get Ding Dongs or something. But it is bondage and a miserable way to live.
I see sawed between just giving in and saying that being a chubby little old lady wouldn’t be such a bad thing and depression that I’d be a chubby little old lady. Being overweight as I got older became harder. I woke up feeling fat and tired and sick and tired.
I told a bit about this in my previous blog, but on August 9th, Man of My Dreams and I argued. I know. It’s hard to believe. The argument was really about nothing as most arguments are, but in the heat of the moment, he expressed how scared and hurt he felt that even though I’d promised him I’d get in shape, I hadn’t. When he was faced with life threatening heart disease and battling back from open heart surgery, he’d changed his life. Becoming more active. Better eating habits.
And that was the thing. I was eating better than I had before because I was cooking for us to help him. But I also stress ate right past my absolute top weight by about 10 lbs. Though I wasn’t there yet, I could see 200 pounds from where I stood. And I couldn’t stand the thought of that.
With his words that were more hurt than angry, something clicked and I knew I had to make a change.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
The next morning I got up, dug out some old running shorts and began the Couch to 5K. I could barely jog for one minute. It scared me to see how out of shape I had become.
My answer to the eating issue was an article I read in a woman’s magazine that if you just did a “shake day” one day a week, you lost as much as if you starved yourself daily. I could do that. So I did. And I lost about 5 pounds. Which was nice.
But, it was still food bondage. Controlled bondage but bondage none the less.
A few months before I’d seen a Facebook post about Trim Healthy Mama. Written and self published by two sisters who’d found food freedom (and fame), the book was available on Amazon as well as their website. Even though I’d sworn I wasn’t buying another diet book or program, I am susceptible to late night Amazon shopping and I ordered it just to check it out.
The book came. It was huge. Filled with recipes that seemed weird to me. I skimmed enough to think it was too complicated to try and it sat on my end table for months while I, first, ate more, then started running, then started the shake diet. But I’d also joined their Facebook page and every day my newsfeed filled with pictures of women having success with a new way of eating that involved very little restriction and a lot of grace and freedom.
I’ll be honest. I was done at that point. The thought of spending the rest of my life counting fats or carbs or not being able to eat and enjoy food was more than I could handle. That is why the shake thing was appealing. I could eat as I pleased except for 1 day. But I still hated that one day!
In September, I stuck my toe in the water of THM and a few days later, dove in and haven’t looked back since. I’ve lost 26 lbs and am wearing a size clothes I never thought I’d see again! And I FEEL great!
So, what is Trim Healthy Mama?
It’s about being healthy first and when health comes, the weight leaves. It is about fueling my body in a way that my metabolism that had gotten so sick from years of dieting and restrictions is returned to its purpose—to burn fuel efficiently instead of storing everything as fat. It is about getting rid of processed food. It is about saying no to “white foods” (white bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar and white rice) that spike my blood sugar and cause me to gain weight and lose health. It’s about combining foods into delicious recipes and meals that leave me satisfied and healthier than I was instead of bloated and depressed. It is the grace to say, “I made a bad food choice” and start over in 3 hours with a good choice instead of “I’m doomed! I’m bad! I’ll eat the whole chocolate cake now! And a box of cookies. And that bag of chips!”
I cannot give you all the details because it’s not my program. But the new book (smaller and more compact) and their cookbook is out and available from their website or on Amazon and also available at bookstores and some Walmart’s. Plus there are several Facebook groups dedicated to the THM life style that are very encouraging and helpful. There are some great recipe blogs out there, too, that specialize in THM food. (If you just Google Trim Healthy Mama or search Pinterest or Facebook for Trim Healthy Mama or THM, you’ll find them.)
As they say, the proof is in the pudding (which is on plan, by the way).
Jordan was over for supper last night where we feasted on salad, buttered green beans and Chicken Parmy. He was asking me for a couple of recipes I’d made lately and he said, “you’re really finding some good new recipes!”
Yep. ALL THM.
We are eating pizza, wings, lasagna, meatloaf, and it’s all good! We are having chocolate bars, eating banana cake and chocolate coconut peanut butter no bake cookies. It’s all yum and guilt free.
But here was the proof for me. In December we went on a vacation for Man of My Dreams to see his beloved Rams in St. Louis. Normally vacation time means coming home with extra pounds because 1) You’re on vacation! 2) You are eating out. See #1. 3) It’s an excuse to eat, drink and be merry more than usual because….see # 1.
But because THM is a true lifestyle change that is sustainable, I didn’t “diet” and I didn’t stress. We ate great food and at every restaurant, I tried to make the best choice I could because I knew I’d feel better when my body was properly fueled. If there wasn’t a great choice, I made a good choice and in 3 hours started over. I just didn’t have to think about it or stress about it or feel awful because I ran off the rails.
Peace. Grace. Freedom.
And a few more pounds were left behind in St. Louis.
I truly believe that THM IS a lifestyle change. Every diet says that ad nauseum. But for most of us, they aren’t sustainable because they are so restrictive. We get tired of eating cardboard food and Katy, bar the door, when we go back to our old ways! The weight comes back and then some.
All I know is, for the first time in 30 plus years, when I lay my head on the pillow, I no longer mentally catalogue my food and think of myself as being “good” or “bad” based on what I ate.
“It is for freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
It’s all good.
If you have questions for me, please post them here.
If you want more information about THM, go to http://www.trimhealthymama.com/
A party broke out in heaven, Saturday evening, January 9, 2016.
The beverage of choice was Pepsi in honor of the newly arrived Guest of Honor. Rumor has it she arrived in a lightning fast, white pearlescent Miata with chrome wheels, but that may be just a rumor. What is known is that she was greeted by a great cloud of witnesses who’d been preparing a place for her, awaiting her arrival for the party to begin.
And we know that the Host greeted her with the words, “Well, done, my good and faithful servant.”
I have a feeling she was surprised by all the hoopla concerning her arrival, but I’m sure her delighted laughter rang back through the Pearly Gates. I thought I heard an echo of it just after I got the call that my friend, Joyce Morgan’s life on this earth was finished.
The girl of faith inside me wanted to celebrate. She was at home. The medical side of me was so grateful she no longer suffered from the cancer that ravaged her. As her friend, the world felt emptier already and my tears flowed freely.
Don’t get me wrong.
I am grateful for the reality of heaven. I am ecstatic that it is a place where the Bible says there are no more tears. That pain is ended. That we live forever in supernatural bodies that do not fail us.
But I was not ready for Joyce to leave us. I wanted a miraculous, physical restoration of her life here with us. I wanted to sit again and laugh with her about getting stuck on the roller coaster at Joy land. I wanted her to take me through her home again to show me the pretty things she’d recently unpacked to display the many beautiful things that brought her joy.
I wanted her to tell me again how the Holy Spirit whispered to her to pay attention to the broken, mixed up girl selling watches and rings in the jewelry store where I worked in college because she would know her at another time. How 18 years later as far on the other side of the state as you can get and still be in Kansas, she recognized me when I walked into Courts of Praise church with my daughter. I wanted to laugh at her quirky sense of humor in the things she liked and re-posted on Facebook. I wanted to be able to talk with her about nonsensical things as well as the deep things of God. I wanted to hear her sing again in that clear sweet voice as she praised the Lord she loved and served. And I wanted to hear her laugh many more times.
And one day, I will.
(Well, maybe not the part about Facebook. I’m pretty much certain that even though God can use anything He wants to, there’ll be no Facebook in heaven!)
Since her death, I’ve been grieving. It does not seem possible that she is not here. Even though we didn’t see each other as often as we had in the past, she was always there, somewhere. And that was a good thing to me.
Even though death is a part of life, I don’t think we are ever ready to lose our loved ones. But neither are we willing to see them suffer so it becomes a holy tension between this world and the next. And there is holy tension between the will to live implanted in each of us and the degeneration of our bodies that brings death.
In each of us is life. Even before all the cells come together to form a whole body and the heart beats and the brain waves begin, those cells are full of the whole of that person in the form of their DNA and there is life. And in that life is the will to live. It is what allows men and women in difficult circumstances to overcome obstacles that are not really compatible with life. Great pain. Great struggle. Overcoming. To hold onto life.
But, still. To each of us, death comes.
I learned a wise lesson from Pastor Kent Morgan, Joyce’s husband and my Pastor for three years when I attended Courts of Praise before I married Man-of-My-Dreams. Pastor Kent said, “You believe life until death comes.” It so impacted me, it is written along with some other quotes from Kent in the front of my Bible.
It’s a statement of faith. Of believing in the merciful will of a God who loves us. That our desire might be to hang on to those we love. To hang on to our own lives. And so we do. In faith. Believing in miracles. Believing in life. Because God is a God of miracles and the same God that raised Jesus from the dead and healed the sick may do it again. For us.
And then again, as a person of faith, we understand that God sees the bigger picture. That our life on this earth is a blip on the radar screen of eternity. That sometimes, even when we don’t want it, when we are not ready for it, death comes.
But therein lies the Holy Mystery of the Christian faith. That the death that came to one man—Jesus, saved us. That in being raised to life, we are given that same life when we accept that it is through no “goodness” of our own, but only through His blood, that we are given life. That life, is our victory.
No more pain. No more sorrow. No more tears. No more death—not really. Not eternally.
Instead, plenty of laughter and joy for eternity. Death as a transition. Stepping from this life to the next.
So hard on this side of heaven because we only see through the glass darkly, as Paul said. We struggle to see with eternal eyes when they are crowded with the tears of mourning the passing of someone we love.
But as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Death, where is your sting?”
Not for Joyce.
Not truly for those of us left behind who loved her. Not for Kent. Or for Austin and Megan, her son and daughter in law. Not within Courts of Praise, her church family. Or the huge number of friends and family who mourn her passing. Who long for her laughter and words of wisdom. Because we know. Because of who Joyce was. And even more because of Whose she was, death has no power, no sting.
There is a longing left in each of us. To see her again.
But the grave was overcome at the Cross of Christ.
My friend Joyce lived large. Because she lived every moment of every day knowing that she was saved by Grace and she offered the same grace to everyone she met. She lived with joy because she’d met the Joy-Giver. She bubbled over with the Living Water of New Life. She poured out life and love because it had been poured into her. And she was a whole lot of fun, always up for a celebration.
I am sad. For those of us left behind, her passing came too soon. It still seems impossible that she is gone from this world. But I know she lives in the next. And for that I am grateful.
I’m also grateful that when the time comes for me, she’ll be waiting. In fact, I have a strong feeling she will be planning the parties for those of us that she loved extravagantly here on earth. And I just have one request—I’m a Coca Cola girl, Joyce. Other than that, game on.
My kids and Man-of-My-Dreams have a nickname for me. They call me “Safety Mom.” I don’t remember for sure how the nickname began. Probably something about me telling them they’d get their eye poked out or a broken limb (theirs–not a tree limb, although falling out of a tree does qualify!)
“Get down from there! That limb could break and you’ll get your eye poked out or break something!” But somewhere along the line, a very adventurous, happy-go-lucky young woman turned into “Safety Mom.”
I know part of it comes from my job.
Me: “How did you break your leg?”
Little sister: “He fell outta the back of the truck. We was going to the lake and I looked back an tol’ Daddy, ‘Daddy, Bubba ain’t in the back a the truck!'”
Daddy: “Yup. Found him on the road ’bout a mile back.”
Bubba shakes his head in agreement.
You can’t make this stuff up.
By the time I had kids, I’d spent countless hours in ER’s and OR’s trying to put bodies back together when bad things happen.
Safety became my mantra, much to my very adventurous children’s dislike. And Man-of-My-Dreams? He’s just an adventurous older kid.
And as if worrying about falling out of pick-up trucks or broken tree limbs wasn’t enough, the last few years, the world feels more and more scary. Beliefs and behaviors that a few short years ago were the norm have been cast aside for “anything goes” lifestyles. The world appears to be increasingly violent and less caring. And all those things make this “safety mom” want to run for cover and take all those I love with me!
But this year, something is different.
Each year I ask God to give me a “word” for the year and I have been delighted and surprised each year in the way He has answered. Last post, I told you about my year of discipline. (Well, actually, it was about 4 and a half months of discipline, but I digress!) And though I wrestled with becoming disciplined for a year, the short time I “got it” was life changing.
This year, my word is Fearless.
By Christmas eve, I thought my word was “fear not.” Reading the Christmas story and the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary, “Do not be afraid!” resonated in my spirit as did the angel appearing to the shepherds and telling them, “Fear not for I proclaim to you good news of great joy.”
2015 felt hard to me. So interesting because in 2013, I lost my dad after an accident the same day Kary left for a mission trip to Kenya. Lauren’s wedding was in a few weeks and I was working and running our coffee shop, caught between grief, exhaustion and celebration. It was hard.
Then in 2014, our lives turned upside down with Kary’s sudden open heart surgery, selling our coffee shop, and trying to learn a new normal with all three kids out of college and our daughter and son-in-law moving across the country.
I don’t know why 2015 felt like such a hard year, but it did. And without realizing it, I spent much of the year holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Maybe because I’m a news hound. I’ve always loved to read the news. And now the news is immediate and often awful. The feel good stories get buried in the avalanche of awfulness and somewhere, fear took hold. What if the economy collapsed? What if the “big one” wasn’t really in California but in the Pacific Northwest where my kids live? Will ISIS march on? What is going to happen in healthcare? What about ebola and flesh eating bacteria? What? What? What?
But as a part of the practice of discipline, I began a 40 day prayer devotional December 24. (I planned to wait and begin in the new year, but instead picked an end date of February 1, which made the start date on Christmas eve.) We attended the Christmas eve candlelight service and I was an emotional mess. God had tenderized my heart that morning in my time with Him. The full weight of Christ’s coming hit me. The songs. The candles. The Scripture.
Fear not! Nothing else matters. Christ came. If God sent His only Son to save us, how can I worry? Immanuel. God with us. He is here. In this mess of a world. We are here as His hands and feet. Whom shall I fear?
So I went home, sure that my word was Fear Not.
But God loves to surprise. Last Sunday I just got to church in time for the sermon due to an emergency. I seriously considered skipping and just going home for a much needed shower, but I didn’t. And there, in the middle of the sermon (that wasn’t about fear, but about missing the gift of Christmas) I heard “FEARLESS.”
I googled it and found this definition. Fearless: a disregard for common sense.
So a negative in the world’s definition.
But what does it mean in relation to God?
God tells us in one way or another to not be afraid 365 times in Scripture. So does just not being afraid mean being fearless?
I think what it means is that God is saying, “Step out in faith! Do the hard thing! Live with abandon loving Me and loving people. Follow the dreams I have given you. Don’t be a Safety Mom! Live fearlessly because I’ve got this! Whatever it is, I’m here.”
Today, before I made the Post-It note for the bathroom mirror, I asked God to confirm that this was it. Everywhere I’ve looked today, everything I’ve read is about living without fear.
So this year I’m choosing the grand adventure of living fearlessly. To me, living fearlessly is the difference between living a life with what I can do versus believing what God can do. It is the “Yes” and “Amen” to His call. It is living in the space between fear and faith knowing when I take the first step, He is already there ahead of me.
Fearless? A disregard for common sense?
1 Corinthians 1:27 says that God confounds the wisdom of the wise, meaning those who seem wise in this world aren’t so wise in God’s eyes. Instead of disregarding common sense, I’m choosing the confidence in what I hope for and the assurance of what I do not see. Hebrews 11:1
This year, I’m believing God is bigger than my greatest fear and bigger than my biggest dream.
I’ll soon find out if that is what God wants to teach me about being fearless. Each year He surprises me. Until then, no more “Safety Mom.”
A word from Kim:
If my writing resonates with you or encourages you, will you let me know? Comment here and please share the post with others. Part of my year of discipline is continuing to write. Part of being fearless is putting myself out there. I’m praying God will use what He is doing in me for others. I need your help to “spread the word.” And especially, if this post encourages you to be fearless or to have courage (Courage is being scared and doing it anyway!), please let me know! Thanks and Happy New Year!
The saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” but can I get an “Amen!” that time flies whether you’re having fun or not?
So if time has wings, just where did 2015 fly off to? It doesn’t seem possible that in a few short days we will usher in 2016.
Yet, here we are. And as in other years, before I look forward, I’ll also look back.
Do any of you pray for a “word” from God for your year? I have for the last several years and each year God surprises me. What I think He is going to teach me and what He teaches me are most often not the same.
For example, one year my word was Grace. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of God’s grace so in my mind, God would teach me to have grace toward others. And He did. But even more, in hundreds of big and small ways, day after day, God poured out His grace toward me and showed me His love. It was life changing.
Usually I start praying about my word for the year really early–like on New Years Eve or New Years Day! Some years I don’t have a real answer until a few days or even weeks into the New Year, but last year, God spoke very plainly through a guest speaker at church in November 2014.
My word for 2015 was “Discipline.” And oh! How appropriate that is! Because I love the fruit of self discipline, but I hate the having to be disciplined! It just doesn’t sound like much fun. It was so clear by what was said that God was speaking to me and came so early that the idea of spending a year learning what God wanted me to know about discipline was kind of exciting.
I always post my word on a brightly colored Post-It Note on the bathroom mirror so I am reminded of it each day. With great anticipation, I wrote; “2015–DISCIPLINE” and then I added “Nike=Victory” from information the speaker had given, plus the motto of Nike. “Just Do It.”
And then I waited for God to show up to teach me about discipline!
So January 1 came and went. And February 1. And March turned into April and May and I still hadn’t learned much about discipline because…I’m undisciplined!”
It was a conundrum. I had also written on the Post-It, Galatians 5:22, “For the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness and self control.”
As a fruit.
All fine and good except I still wasn’t making much progress with discipline. My eating was out of control. I wasn’t exercising. My prayer time and Bible study stunk. I wasn’t writing despite having more time than I’d had in 3 years. My life was crazy and messy. I knew I needed discipline, but something just wasn’t working.
In April, Kary and I took a weekend at a cabin to each seek the Lord. We spent alone time for prayer and study and then we’d come back together to share what God had put on our hearts. It was a wonderful respite from “real life” and during the weekend, as I prayed, I was reminded of the first Bible verses I ever remember reading from John 15.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.”
I’d always looked at that verse from the perspective of the branches. Getting pruned sounded painful. But this time, I read it in The Message and it said “I am the Real Vine and My Father is the Farmer,” and I got it. I come from a long line of farmers and farmers love and steward their land and their crops. The pruning is love poured out. It is God seeing what I need and caring for me by making me more fruitful. It is God protecting me by removing that in me that is dead or things in my life that bring death. Removing branches where life does not flow allows His life to flow through the healthy branches to produce more fruit.And the only way that happens is by remaining on the vine, remaining in Him.
So the fruit isn’t about “gutting it out,” straining and struggling as a branch to produce fruit. A fruit tree produces fruit because it’s a fruit tree. With proper soil and nutrients, with water, the tree will produce the fruit it is designed to produce.
So will we.
It was mind blowing!
I’d like to say I came home and immediately began a life of self control, but that would be a lie. In fact, it wasn’t until later that I saw the connection between the fruits of the Spirit I wanted and needed that I had posted on my mirror and the passages from John 15.
There was that little word, SELF, associated with the word the Lord had given me. Discipline can mean a punishment meted out by another, but that wasn’t what I knew the Lord was saying to me. The discipline I was seeking was self discipline. Self Control. And then I re-read my Post-It.
Greek for Victory.
Their motto? Just Do It.
How can I begin?
Just Do It.
Where is Victory?
Abide. Just Do It.
The answer was not either/or. It was both/and.
It was abiding. It was undergoing the pruning and thanking God for it. It was getting rid of the dead wood that stole life from the branches that flowed with life.
But it was also just doing it.
Then abiding and receiving strength for the task, the moment or the day before me.
It was making a choice or choices each day to abide. To do the right thing. To do the next thing.
And accepting grace when I failed.
I am a slow learner so it took 3/4 of the year to learn what not to do.
But August 10, 2015 I woke up and decided to start the Couch to 5K. I like to tell people that I am running, on purpose and with no one chasing me! In March I’m heading to Texas to run a 5K through a Vineyard!
September 8, 2015 I began the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan. I have finally found food freedom after a lifetime of measuring myself with the yard stick of what I ate or didn’t eat. I’ve lost 25 lbs.
In October I started strength training. You won’t see me on the cover of Weight Lifter’s Monthly any time soon (like, never!), but I’m getting stronger.
In November I took part in National Write A Novel in a Month. I didn’t write the 50,000 words for the month required to finish, but I wrote more than I had written in years. I’ve set a goal to write The End by April 19, 2016.
And now in the waning days of December, I have been seeking God for my word for 2016. And interestingly enough, we had the same guest speaker at church last Sunday and I heard my word for 2016. But as I look forward to learning new things in 2016, I won’t forget the lessons of Self Discipline from 2015.
Nike. Victory. Just Do It.
(What’s my word for 2016? Look for my New Year’s blog post to learn what it is!)
How about you? Do you pray for a “word” for your year? If so, would you share it here?
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