Thursday, August 28, 2014


"Go the SHORT way, Mama!!!"  

As soon as we get in the car, my 2.5 year old little girl reminds me to go the "short" way.  She thinks that if we take a certain road on our way home, it's a short cut.  I think I took that particular way ONE time because the light was red ahead and I knew I could just turn and go through our subdivision a different way.  Ever since that ONE time, my daughter INSISTS that we go the "short" way.  In reality, this way is actually LONGER distance wise.  However, I gladly take the "short" way almost every time - otherwise, I deal with an EXTREMELY upset little girl.  Crying.  Weeping.  Desperately wanting to know why I didn't take the "short" way!!

I have tried explaining to my daughter that the "short" way is not the short way but ultimately the LONG way.  My words have gone in one ear and out the other.  There is NO changing her mind.  Her heart is SET on going the "short" way.  

Like I said, as soon as we get into the car, she tells me to go the "short" way, even if we're on our way to the grocery store or park or zoo or wherever.  "Go the SHORT way!  Okay, Mama!"

Okay, my darling...

As we were driving home from some errands today and I laughed at my daughter's request yet again, I couldn't help but wonder how many of us get trapped into thinking the path we are on is the "short" way, but in reality we are going out of our way, following a longer route, taking up time, and wasting gas.

We think we have found a short-cut to success and happiness.
We believe we have uncovered an easier way to get what we want.
We insist that our new found path is so much better.

BUT, what if we took just a few minutes to THINK about what we are doing, to evaluate our decision, and to consider if our choice is truly the best?

I was reminded of the Bible verse Proverbs 14:12, "There is a path before each person that SEEMS RIGHT, but it ends in death."  We see the exact same advice again in Proverbs 16:25!  Must be pretty important to keep this in mind if Solomon took the time to write it out twice!

I am so thankful I don't have to wonder which path I am supposed to be on.  Rather, I take comfort in knowing, "The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in EVERY detail of their lives.  Though they stumble, they will NEVER fall, for the LORD HOLD THEM BY THE HAND." (Psalm 37:23-24)

Hear me out - I am not saying I never make mistakes or get distracted or find myself side-tracked.  What I am saying is that as I stay in tune with God, spend time in His Word, pray for clarity and direction, God shows me the path to take AND guides me on it!!!

Our verse when my husband and I got married almost 7 years ago was Psalm 48:14, "For that is what God is like.  He is our God forever and ever, and He will guide us until the end."

How reassuring to know that God hasn't changed in the past 7 years and won't be changing anytime in the near future or ever (see Hebrews 13:8).  

And so, when I am faced with a decision or come to an obstacle in the road, I do as Paul challenged in Philippians 3, "I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection.  But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

This race we run is not easy, nor is it short.  Much to my daughter's dismay, there is NO "short" way if you are doing the Christian life the way God intended.  The author of Hebrews encourages us though to look at those who have gone before us, to recognize that if they can live out their faith so can we.  He urges, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith (check out their stories in chapter 11), let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith."

As we "take the road less traveled," we must look straight ahead - at JESUS, who has gone before us and is WITH us, showing us every step to take.  As we follow His lead, we can be rest assured we are on the path He has prepared for us, that we are in the center of His will, that we are living out the plans and purposes He has for us, that we are doing the good works He created us to do.  

But want to know the best part of the whole journey?  GOD TRAVELS WITH US!!!
And if we do, for some reason, try to take a "short" way, He is there to redirect us and keep us on track.

With all this in mind, I invite you to read through a familiar Psalm, but with new eyes, new insight...

The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
He LEADS me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
bringing honor to His name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for You are CLOSE BESIDE ME.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast before me,
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will PURSUE me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Did you catch how God is our shepherd, leading and guiding us exactly where we need to go?  Did you see where we ultimately end up?  In the HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER!!!  

Now, if I know that is my final destination, I am more than willing to go the "long" way to get there!!!  

I am resting in this promise found in Psalm 32:8, "The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the BEST pathway for your life.  I will advise you and watch over you."

If you are feeling a bit uneasy about the next step you are supposed to take or you are worried you might have gotten lost along the way or you need some wisdom about where to go/what to do next, never fear!!!  God LONGS for us to come to Him for help!  James 1:5 is quite the comfort, "If you need wisdom, ask our GENEROUS God, and He will give it to you.  He will NOT rebuke you for asking."

Since God doesn't usually respond to our prayers with an audible answer, how are we to know the answer He gives us?  How are we supposed to know how He wants us to live, what path He wants us to take?  What are we to do when the way seems dark, the road unclear?

"Your WORD is a lamp to GUIDE my feet and a light for my path!"  Psalm 119:105

We dig into the Word.  Indeed, it is our MAP.  And leads us directly to the TREASURE - Jesus Himself!

I don't know where you are at in life right this moment.
Maybe you are on a well-paved, 4 lane highway, cruising along and feeling good.
Perhaps you are on a winding mountain road with steep cliffs, a bit nervous about careening over the edge.
You may feel as though you are in a dark tunnel with no end in sight.
Or you could be on a dirt road that appears to be leading to the middle of nowhere.

Like I said, I don't know exactly where you are today.
BUT, I do know this for sure - God is there with you.

Just this morning, I read in Genesis about the story of Joseph.  He was sold into slavery BY HIS BROTHERS and then wrongly accused and thrown into prison where he waited and waited and waited to be released.  Talk about a ROUGH ROAD!!!  But, finally, YEARS, later, he was not just freed, but put in charge of all Egypt to prepare for a coming famine.  Once the famine hit, Joseph's brothers came from their homeland to buy grain.  Rather than spitting in his brothers' face and telling them they didn't deserve to live after what they had done to him, Joseph WELCOMES them and provides for them.  His explanation for everything that happened in his HARD life -- "It was GOD who sent me here..."  Had God not sent Joseph on ahead, his entire family would have died.  The nation of Israel would have been no more.  Which means there would have been no Messiah (Jesus is a descendant from Joseph's brother Judah)!!!

I don't know about you, but I am VERY thankful God sent Joseph on ahead.  
Maybe He is doing the same thing in YOUR life, right now...

Just as God did with Joseph, He will work out all things for your good and His glory (check out Romans 8:28 if you don't believe me).  

Jeremiah 29:11 reveals God's heart, even as His people were in the middle of captivity, as He declares, "I know the plans I have for you, plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

Now, there may not be "short" way to that future and hope, but there is a way, ONE way...

JESUS is "THE way, THE truth, and THE life.  No one gets to the Father except through Him." (John 14:6)  And so Jesus is the way I am going.  Will you join me?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Life-Long Learner

Back when I was in college, my professors stressed the importance of being a life-long learner.  When I became a teacher myself and had a classroom full of my own students, I passed on this critical tip for a successful life.

While I am no longer a teacher (I get to be a full-time stay-at-home mom instead), I am still a learner!!!  Will be for LIFE. And I am certainly teaching my girls to be the same (so I guess I am still a teacher after all)!

I never cease to be amazed at all the things I continue to learn, especially about health and wellness, a huge passion of mine.  Since becoming a distributor with It Works, I have learned so much on top of what I already knew about eating right, exercise, and taking care of your body.  I love being part of a community where health is so important, and we are all committed to helping others get and stay healthy so they can truly live life to the fullest potential!!!

I always knew probiotics are good for you, but I didn't realize until this week that they help kill off yeast that can be growing in your body.  I have been part of a Yeast-Free Living Group for the past 26 days, and am loving how my body feels now that I am off sugar.  I watch what I eat and am gluten free, so I wasn't consuming a lot of sugar anyway, but the past 4 weeks have been a great way to help my body cleanse itself of the toxins that were still inside and start performing so much better.  If not for It Works, I never would have heard about Yeast-Free Living or understood the greater benefits of probiotics.

I also learned this week how PREbiotics can benefit your health.  I didn't even know there was a difference between PRObiotics and PREbiotics until January when our company came out with the Greens Chews!!!  I now know that PREbiotics help with immune health and can help prevent/stop things like urinary track infections!!!  PRObiotics are focused more on digestive help, but also boost your immune system.  Both are amazingly good for you!!!  I certainly know that since my family started using the Greens, no one has been sick.  And I definitely know my girls LOVE the Chews, as they ask for them first thing every morning.  I don't feel bad giving them one either, seeing as how each Chew has the antioxidant power of 10 cartons of blueberries!!!

In addition to nutrition, I am learning about exercise and muscle and metabolism and how our bodies work.  I always knew that muscle weighs more than fat, but I didn't really think about how muscle burns more calories and thus boosts your metabolism!  This is why strength training and/or cross training is so important!!  Aerobic exercise - like Zumba or running or biking or swimming or whatever you may like - is fantastic, but you also want to work on building muscle.  I have been doing the PIYO workouts in my living room during my girls' afternoon rest time.  I still run in the mornings before they get up, but as I am putting the 2 exercises together, I am seeing greater results faster!  Can't beat that!

And of course as I build muscle, I need to "feed" it properly.  That requires protein, but not just any ol' protein.  I want to put only the highest quality foods into my body.  Which is why I use the It Works ProFIT.  I can put vanilla in my smoothies (which are yeast free when I use almond milk and/or Fage Greek yogurt).  I can put chocolate in with almond butter and dip apple slices into this delicious treat.  I can add chocolate or vanilla to some Fage and add nuts and blueberries for a tasty snack.  Either way, I am getting protein without any added sugar (check your labels and you will notice that almost every protein powder or protein bar has quite a bit of added sugar to cover up the taste).  I am getting fiber and antioxidants as well, which are going to help me feel fuller longer AND keep my body in tip top shape!

So there you have it - just a few of the things I have learned in the past several months!!  I would love to share more with you about what I am learning in regards to NATURAL health and wellness!!!  I am all about helping others and passing on what I have learned so others can benefit too!!

Once a teacher, always a teacher...right?!

If you have questions about It Works and our NATURAL health and wellness products, I would love to help you learn more about them.  If you think our products could help YOU reach YOUR health goals, I would be honored to set up a PLAN just for you to meet YOUR needs!!!  We can learn and grow together!!!

Have a blessed day and remember to learn something new!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Drive Thru Talking

When Lawerence and I were engaged, we did some pre-marital counseling with our pastor and his wife.  Michael and Kelli have been married for quite some time and have 4 children, so they know a thing or two about marriage.  One thing they shared with us all those years ago still stands out, and we use the communication technique to make sure we are not only hearing WHAT each other says but the MEANING behind the words coming out of our mouths.  "Drive Thru Talking" has saved us from many an argument over the past 7 years...

We don't eat out that much, especially at fast food places, BUT when we do, I often get frustrated with the seeming lack of ability to HEAR and UNDERSTAND what I say when I place my order.

"It's a great day here at McDonalds.  What can we get for you today?" (I have no idea if that's what they say because I can't remember the last time I went to McDonalds)
"Yeah, I'll take a grilled chicken sandwich, no mayo.   A small strawberry smoothie.  And 2 waters."
"Okay, that's a crispy chicken sandwich, extra mayo.  Large mango smoothie.  And a water.  Your total is $8.93" (Again, I have no idea how much that would cost)
"Um, I need a GRILLED chicken sandwich with NO mayo.  A SMALL STRAWBERRY smoothie and TWO waters, please."
"Okay, sorry about that.  A grilled chicken sandwich, mayo on the side.  Small strawberry banana smoothie and 2 waters.  Got it.  Please pull forward to the second window."
And then the voice is gone and you're left wondering what you are going to get when you reach the window.

Here's how it works, in marriage...

Husband: You should go to the gym a couple nights a week.
Wife: Why?!  Are you saying I'm fat and need to lose weight?  Are you telling me you don't find me attractive anymore?
Husband: Oh my goodness, NO!!  I just enjoy my time at the gym and find it to be a great way to relieve stress.  You had mentioned wanting some time to yourself, and I just thought you might like to get away and go to the gym or something.
Wife: Yeah, I would love some time by myself!  I can't even go to the bathroom alone, so getting out of the house without the kids would be a real treat!  Maybe I can decide what I do though...

You see how it's important to not only take into account what someone says, but the HEART behind those words.  I think we jump to conclusions far too quickly because we make the mistake of NOT listening with our hearts.  Our ears fail us far too often.  And thus we end up misunderstanding someone, feeling hurt, being angry, or far worse.

As I listened to a team call last night, I heard a fellow mom share her story.  She is a mother of 5 young children, and after her 5th precious baby was born, she was feeling quite depressed.  She didn't like the way her body looked, and she was losing hope of ever wearing her pre-baby clothes again.  As many people do, she eats when stressed.  She openly admitted this was not helping her cause any, but only making her feel worse about herself.  She was in a downward spiral.  On top of this, she was busy tending to the needs of her family AND running an in-home daycare for 12 hours a day.  She was tired, overwhelmed, discouraged, stretched to the max, and probably feeling a little under appreciated or maybe just LOST.

I am pretty darn sure many moms out there can relate.  I know I can!!  And I only have 3 kids!!!

Her story hit close to home for more than 1 reason.
*I know how hard it is to get your pre-baby body back after having children, even if you just have 1 baby
*I tend to feel down on myself if I don't like how I look
*When I feel like that, I don't want to go out or do anything because I don't want people to see me and "judge" me (granted, they may not think a single thing about me as they are far too busy trying to keep track of their own kids or run their errands before their lunch break is over or whatever)
*I lose hope and feel like nothing I do will help or make a difference
*The spark and joy of life is gone
*I just go through the motions
*I don't have a sense of purpose or passion

Now, that is NOT how we are made to live.  Not even close!!!!!
I firmly believe we are created to ENJOY life.  Jesus Himself declared He came to give us ABUNDANT life (John 10:10).  That starts with a personal relationship with Him and grows and flourishes as we spend time with Him and get to know His heart and allow Him to work freely in our lives.

What I described above is NOT what Jesus had in mind.  YET, it is how far too many of us are living.  Granted, you may not be in the exact same situation, but I can almost guarantee you struggle from time to time in one way or another.

YOU are why I am an It Works distributor.  
As I listened to this fellow mama share her heart, I felt like maybe I needed to do some "Drive Thru Talking" with you all to make sure you are not just seeing the words I post on Facebook but truly "hearing" the HEART behind them.

When I post about the wraps and share amazing before and after pictures, I am NOT saying you need to look a certain way to be beautiful or pretty. I am NOT saying you need to be a certain jean size or dress size to be accepted.  That is NOT my heart at all!!!  Instead, I am celebrating with women (and men) who feel good about the way they look and thus have a renewed sense of joy and hope; they see a light at the end of the tunnel; they see progress and know their work at the gym and their struggle to eat right is paying off after all; they get a glimpse of what can be and they are ready to press on and truly LIVE again.

Everything I post in regards to It Works revolves around this - helping as many people as I can recognize their worth and value as an individual created in God's image, inspiring and encouraging them to live out the dreams and passions God has placed in their hearts, and equipping them with the tools and resources that will enable them to fulfill their calling and live the ABUNDANT life He has prepared for them.

When you are healthy, you have more energy.  Your body performs better, like it's supposed to.  You feel better on the inside and are able to DO more, GO more, GIVE more, BE more.  You can play with your kids.  You can enjoy family time.  You can make memories.  You aren't so focused on yourself and your problems and struggles, but rather are able to help others.  You are excited.  You have a spark in your eyes and a lift in your step.  You have purpose.  You have passion.

Now, THAT sounds MUCH better than the story the mama of 5 was sharing.  And you know what changed her story?  It Works!!!  She had been going to the gym for 5 months and had lost 20 pounds BUT still wasn't seeing results or able to fit into her clothes like she wanted. She still didn't feel good about who she was.  She was still depressed and discouraged, and about to give up.  THEN, she tried a wrap!  That wrap truly changed her life...

She is now a top earner in the company and helping countless others use our natural health and wellness products to feel better about themselves too, from the inside out!  She is also teaching and training her team mates, leading them to the same financial freedom her family is enjoying.

So, yeah, I post A LOT about It Works.  I share about wraps and greens and supplements and skin care products seemingly all.the.time.  And that's because they have changed MY life and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt they can do the same for so many others, for YOU!

I have personally struggled with eating disorders.  I know what it feels like to lose your identity as you begin to think all you do as a mom is change diapers, clean up messes, make meals, yell at kids to pick up toys, wash clothes, clean toilets, drive your kids to all their activities, help with homework, and fall in bed exhausted only to get up and do it all over again the next day.  I understand the anxiety that comes with not knowing how you are going to pay your bills.  I have experienced the stress of working multiple jobs and my husband doing the same just so we could make ends meet and put food on the table for our children.  I can relate to discouragement and frustration...

BUT, I can also share about how all that changed for me, for my family.  To keep that to myself would be SELFISH and down right WRONG.

I hope you hear my heart when you see my posts or watch a video I make or listen to me talk in person.  I hope you LOOK PAST the words on the screen and FEEL the emotions behind them.  I hope you understand why I am so passionate about this.  I hope you are willing to see if our health and wellness products could HELP YOU in some way.  I hope you are ready to take a look at the business side and see if this company could BLESS YOU in some way.

If so, I would love to chat with you more!
If you're local, we can grab some coffee or tea or whatever you like.
If distance prevents us from that, we can certainly talk on the phone or even set up a Google Hangout chat or Skype so we can see each other.

Whatever the case may be, I hope we got any misunderstandings cleared up.  I would hate for you to pull up to the window and not get what you ordered...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Who Are You Meant to Be?

God continues to affirm in my heart that too few of us are living up to our potential, that too few of us are becoming who we are meant to be.

This morning, our pastor shared from 1 John 3:4-10.  He spoke how our lives should give evidence to the reality that we are children of God.  While he did hit on the hard truth that habitual sin should have no place in our hearts or minds, or any aspect of our lives for that matter, a personal story he told stuck out to me the most.  I almost felt as if God was speaking directly to me through Bil and his experience as a high schooler back in the day.

Apparently, Bil and his friends thought it would be fun to destroy some work zone barrels on the road to the mall.  Bil's role was to hang out the side of the car window and bash the barrels with a baseball bat while his friend drove past.  They were having a grand time until they came to the bottom of the hill and saw the cop car parked behind some trees.  Bil quickly jumped inside and threw the bat to the floor of the car.  The boys hoped and prayed the cop hadn't seen their mischief.   No such luck.  He pulled out, turned on the lights, and the boys parked on the side of the road.  Acting innocent and non-chalant, they calmly asked the cop what they had done.  Long story short, Bil and his friends didn't fool the cop and landed themselves in jail.  After his dad and brother came to get him, Bil sat in the backseat of his dad's car trying to answer a long list of questions that could all basically be summed up with, "What in the world were you thinking?  Were you thinking?!"  Bil doesn't remember everything that was said in the car that night, though he did recall he was grounded from quite a few things.  One thing his dad told him on that long car ride has stuck with him all these years:

Being a part of this family means something.  
There is a certain standard to live up to.  
And you aren't doing it.  
You are not being who you are meant to be.

Of course, I immediately thought of the Casting Crown's song THRIVE.  How many of us are settling for ordinary lives?  How many of us are just surviving?  How many of us aren't thriving?  How many of us don't believe we are MADE FOR MORE?  How many of us aren't living up to our potential?  How many of us are falling short of what it means to be part of God's family?  How many of us aren't being who we are meant to be?

This isn't meant to make you feel awful or terrible.  I don't want you slouching or burying your head in shame.  I'm not trying to single anyone out.  I'm right there with you!!!  I myself am learning and growing in this area.  I have known Jesus almost my entire life, but it's taken me nearly 30 years to even start to figure out how DEEP God's love is for me, how He DELIGHTS in blessing me, how He LONGS to do good things in my life so He can showcase His character and bring massive amounts of glory to His name, how He YEARNS to spend time with me, and how He DESIRES to use me to bring countless others into this same understanding and thus experience a relationship with Him like none of us could ever begin to imagine.

Rather than pointing my finger, I hope you see me with arms wide open and waving feverishly.  I'm jumping up and down, shouting at the top of my lungs, BEGGING you to join me on this crazy adventure God has for us.  Even if you're not a reader, I highly recommend you make the time to at least browse through Your God Is Too Safe by Mark Buchann.  Once we realize how BIG God is and let Him out of our box, we can put aside all our pre-convinced ideas of who He is and how He works.  Only then can we experience His power and presence in us and moving through us.  Only then will we believe Ephesians 3:20 and pray for God to do infinitely more than we could ever dare to ask in a normal situation.  Only then will we see ourselves as God's masterpiece and be open to do the good works He has prepared for us and created us to carry out, all for HIS glory (Ephesians 2:10).  Only then will we ACT IN FAITH as God prompts us to do these good things, things that are far outside our comfort zone, things that seem far-fetched and ridiculous and silly and weird and even impossible, but things we KNOW beyond a shadow of doubt our God can do (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12).  Only then will we be FILLED with peace and joy and hope that surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:6-7).  Only then can we do more than just survive.  Only then can we THRIVE.  And only then can we be who we are meant to be!

But how do we get to that point?  
One step at a time.

But where do we begin?
At the beginning, of course.

We must recognize we are made in God's image (Genesis 1:27)
We must appreciate that God took His time designing and shaping and forming us (Psalm 139:13-16). 
We must accept that He does NOT make mistakes and has a purpose and reason in everything, and that He uses ALL things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
We must realize that God has given each one of us specific gifts and abilities to use to help others, to strengthen the body of believers, to showcase His glory (1 Corinthians 12:12-31; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
We must then ACTIVELY USE those gifts.  
We must LIVE OUT OUR FAITH every day.

We have to take what we KNOW in our head and put it into PRACTICE.  Every day.  (James 1:22; 2:14-26).  As we do this, we step out of the realm of ordinary.  We stop surviving.  We begin to THRIVE!!!  We BECOME WHO WE ARE MEANT TO BE!!!

And who are we?
Children of God.
Children of the King.
Called.  CHOSEN.  Dearly loved.

We are part of God's family.  And that holds a certain standard.  One NONE of us can attain on our own.  One we will certainly fall short of, every single day.  And that's okay.  It's GOOD.  Why?  Because it forces us to rely not on ourselves but on our Savior, Messiah, and Friend Jesus Christ.  We have no choice but to rest in Him, to hold fast to Him, to hide under the shelter of His wings, to stand firm in Him.  He is our Rock, our Fortress.  And He will never let us go.

So, instead of beating ourselves up, we remember God is our champion and fighting for us, with us, through us.  Rather than giving up, we LOOK UP and fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-13).  We keep on keeping on.  We fight the good fight and FINISH THE RACE (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7).  We push everything aside and press on with the goal of KNOWING God as fully as possible and making Him known all along the way (Philippians 3:7-14).  

As we run this race, we become who God intended us to be.  And that is a glorious thing!!!
Will it be easy?  NO.  Not even close.
But, will it be worth it?  Yes!!!  ABSOLUTELY!!!

Once more, then, I invite you to run with me.  Let's do this TOGETHER.  
Let's stop selling ourselves short. 
Let's recognize who we are.  Who GOD is.

Let's stop making excuses.
Let's acknowledge the God we serve, and give Him free reign in our lives.
Let's watch His power and presence flow though us, flooding us with joy and hope and peace and faith.
Let's allow Him to transform us.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Blessed Beyond Measure

and we don't even know it!  Or at least realize it.  Or appreciate it.  Not most of the time.  Not in my house.

BUT, I am becoming more and more aware of 2 extremely important truths:
*I am blessed beyond measure, in SO many ways.

*The blessings I am experiencing right now are just the tip of the iceberg.  God has SO much more waiting for me, but I can only receive it as I open myself up to Him, surrendering myself to Him and giving Him complete control and TRUSTING that His way is best.

That last part might sound like I am LOSING out on life.  That I am GIVING UP rights and privileges.  That I am SACRIFICING my hopes and goals and dreams.  That I am SETTING ASIDE my ambitions and desires.  That I am SETTLING for a ho-hum, ordinary, boring life.  All that couldn't be further from the truth!!!  In fact, I am starting to realize it's a LIE from the pit of hell.  Satan has very cleverly disguised it to appear as truth, but as the Father of Lies, he can't tell the truth to save his life.  He doesn't know how to tell the truth.  But he sure doesn't want us to figure that out.  He certainly doesn't want his dark side to be exposed.  I am pretty sure he's deathly allergic to the light.

Back to the reality that only in EMPTYING myself before God can He fill me up with His blessings.  And not just with a drip drop from a leaky faucet, but more like a rushing waterfall flooding over me.  As that happens, I'm not the only one who gets wet.  Everyone around me is going to get drenched too.  That's the best part about God's blessings - He gives them to us so we can in turn bless others.

The sad part is that we are so busy with life that we often don't realize how truly blessed we are.  Today, I read a story about a family adopting precious kiddos from Ethiopia.  Want to know what jumpstarted their involvement in eliminating orphans and putting orphanages out of business?  A loaf of moldy bread.  You see, they hadn't eaten their bread in time and had to throw it out.  They hadn't NEEDED the bread right away and before they did NEED it, the bread was bad and unedible.  The fact that they had "wasted" good food hit them hard when they realized many people all over the world would have gobbled that loaf of bread up in no time flat.  The idea of letting it go moldy would NEVER have crossed their minds.  If they hadn't eaten it, someone else would have come along and snatched it up, happy to have food in their belly that day.

How often do we throw out food because it sits in the back of the fridge before we get a chance to enjoy it?  How often do we leave food on our plates because we're too full to eat another bite?  How often do we have a CHOICE in what we eat, having something different for supper every night of the week (if we so desire)?  How often can we run to the grocery store and pick up more food - like I did today so I could get a good deal on some blueberries?

We live in excess and yet we clamor for more.  We get caught in the keeping up with the Jones and don't truly enjoy what we already have.  Or we become so focused on GETTING that we forgetting about the GIVING part that should come as we receive God's blessings (for every good gift is from Him, whether we realize or acknowledge it).

We also forget that God's blessings aren't always in the form of a house or car or clothes or any THING. We tend to equate prosperity and success with STUFF, but we have to remember God has a different value system. His currency isn't in coins or bills, but rather in PEOPLE and MEMORIES and MOMENTS.  You may not be able to touch or hold these blessings, but they are priceless.  I saw 2 friends post within minutes of each other about the blessing of being able to watch their children play.  One was at a park, a baby sleeping on her lap as her little boy splashed in the water.  She was struck hard with the reality that all around the world children are being killed, that mothers and fathers are being torn from their families, that babies are dying every minute.  But for most of us all that is so far away that we don't think about it.  Out of sight, out of mind.  We go on with our busy lives, taking for granted our freedom and privileges.  We don't even realize how blessed we are.

But, oh my!!!  We are blessed BEYOND measure!

This morning, though, I was hit hard with the truth that I am not receiving the full extent of God's blessings in my life.  And it's no one's fault but mine.  All because I don't stop to PRAY.  Not truly pray my heart out.  Not give myself fully to the conversation.  Yes, I am busy, but I can and SHOULD MAKE the time to spend time with my Heavenly Father.  He has a lavish banquet prepared for me.  He has invited me to the feast.  He is waiting for me to come.  And I do, but I am in such a hurry and so wrongly convinced that I am bothering him with my request, that I keep my head down, scared to look up and see anger or frustration or annoyment in His eyes.  I quickly and nervously ask for a slice of bread, hoping He doesn't get upset and throw me out of the room.  After all, I asked for the same thing yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, and the day before that...  What if I would take 2 seconds to look up.  I would see LOVE in His eyes.  I would see His arms extended, longing to embrace me and pull me up on his lap.  I would see joy radiating from His face.  I would see a big smile.   I would feel welcomed and cherished.  I would sit down and breathe and ENJOY being there with Him.  I would be FILLED.  I would realize I can always come back for more, that God's pantry will never be empty - not even close.

Oh how much we forfeit because of our busyness!!!  How much do we lose out on because we forget how GOOD and GRACIOUS and merciful and kind and compassionate and generous our God is.  As Beth Moore reminded me this morning, "Since He did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won't He also give us everything else?" (Romans 8:32)  She went on to share Luke 12:32, "Don't be afraid, little flock, for your Father DELIGHTS to give you the kingdom."  Another translation put it, "It gives your Father great happiness to give you the kingdom."  Far from the picture we paint of an old miser begrudgingly handing out moldy bread and a cup of brownish water.

I am slowly learning the TRUE meaning of what I have heard and known since infancy, "Jesus loves you."  This summer, my daughter Kellah (age 2.5) was playing on the bed and fell off.  Blood everywhere.  We took her to the ER and discovered she would need staples - 4 of them - to repair the wound.  As the doctor gave her a shot to numb the area, my husband held her down on the bed (because the straight jacket thing they put her in first wasn't strong enough for her flailing arms and legs).  I sat at the other side of the room, holding another daughter (my baby who is 8 months old).  I was helpless.  There was nothing I could do as I listened to my child scream in terror.  How badly I wanted to take her place!!!  I hate needles, but at that moment I would have gladly gotten the shot and been the one who needed the staples.  As I wished I could take her pain away, I was hit with the reality that God knew exactly how I was feeling.  You see, He DID take my place.  He had His Son DIE on the cross for MY sin.  Jesus was beaten and bruised and KILLED so that I could LIVE.  He paid MY debt.  And as Jesus cried out in anguish to His Father, God looked away, letting Him hang on the cross and die.  So I could live.  Talk about LOVE.  John 3:16 took on a lot more meaning and depth right there in the hospital room.

It is that love that God wants to pour out on me EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  And yet, I so often am not able to receive that love.  Not fully.

Oh if I would truly believe, "For me to die is gain and to live is Christ!"
If I would take Jesus at His word and "take up my cross daily and follow Him," then and only then would I experience the full extent of His love and peace and joy and hope and power at work in my life.

So, today, I marvel and reflect on these 2 truths:
*I am indeed blessed beyond measure already.

*As I open myself up to God, surrendering myself to Him and letting Him have free and total reign in my life, I will realize just how EXTRAVAGANT God's blessings are, and how ABUNDANTLY He wants to work in and through me, using me as a sieve to pour out His love and grace on anyone and everyone I know.

Won't you join me?  Take just a moment to THANK GOD for all He has given you, for the ways He is working in your life.  Then, look up into His eyes and keep your gaze there.  Let His love penetrate to your heart of hearts.  Breathe in deeply.  And rest.  Feel His arms wrap around you.  Let the fears and worries and stresses fade away.  Let peace flood over you.  Feel the joy rising?  You can't help but smile.  Stay just one more minute, though.  Don't rush off yet.  Make sure before you go, you are ready to live out what you now know.

God LOVES you.
God loves YOU.

No ordinary life for you.
No more just surviving.
God made you to THRIVE.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Few of My Favorite

This past month was packed full of Kodak Moments and precious memories as we spent 2 weeks at Ponca Bible Camp and then enjoyed a family vacation in Chicago.  Describing all those laughs and giggles and bright eyes and awes of wonder and shouts of joy and probably more tears of frustration than I care to admit would be almost impossible.  Good thing a picture is worth a thousand words.  Of course I wasn't able to capture everything on camera, but I did the best I could.  Some days I wish I could make time stand still and relish what is going on or I could push the rewind button and enjoy the moment over and over and over again.  Since that too is impossible, I get to look back through pictures and try to hold onto all the feelings and press them firmly into my heart and mind so they never go away or fade.

Here are a few of my favorites.  I hope they give you a better glimpse into our adventures this summer, though the pictures are NOT in order.

My heart is full and overflowing.  I am blessed beyond measure.  I am so very thankful God has given us the freedom of time so we can make memories like these.  I am grateful He brought It Works into our lives to make times like these possible.  I am crying tears of joy right now as I look back on all these precious photos.  I know there will be many more to come, and that does my heart so very good.

I hope you enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.  I bet you can tell why these were a few of my favorites.  I pray you and your family are making memories together as well.  I pray you find something positive in every day and make each day count.  We are not promised tomorrow, so we must make the most of TODAY.

If you would ever like to pray together, I am always up for it!!!  I love to support and encourage others as they walk out this journey called life.  As we come together, we can LIVE BETTER.  We can BE MORE.  We can THRIVE, together!!!