Driven to Distraction

You know, I don’t pay attention to many car commercials, mostly because I can’t afford a new car. But I was watching television over the weekend and one caught my eye like none has in quite a while.

Perhaps you’ve seen it: they ask eight or so people to sit in a room and watch a video on a screen.  You hear a verbal command something to the effect, “Please do not remove your eyes from the screen.  Watch the screen at all times.”

Then the producers send in cute puppies, Vegas-style show girls, loud singers, and a host of other distractions.  And of course, not one participant keeps his/her eyes on the screen.

It’s a car commercial with a target audience for those that feel the need to text while driving.  The car they’re advertising has a text screen located high on the dashboard so that you can text and keep your eyes on the road. Sorry. This makes me nervous. PLEASE DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE — EVEN IF YOU OWN THIS CAR.

The fact that I can’t remember many of the details of this commercial says something. I have to say I wasn’t enthralled by the commercial enough to even remember the make or model of the car. From the moment the commercial started, I heard the still, small voice of God whispering in my ear, “That’s you, Sandy.  You’ve been distracted from Me.”  After that, all I could think of was the spiritual implications of how I’ve been distracted from God.

We must never stop looking to Jesus. He is the leader of our faith. and He is the One who makes our faith complete.He suffered death on the cross. But He accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing because of the joy He could see waiting for Him and now He is sitting at the right hand of God’s Throne.  Hebrews 2:12 ERV

I am a writer, so distractions can be the death of an afternoon of hard work or even an idea. But you don’t have to be a writer for distractions to wreak havoc on your life.

Imagine cleaning your house and happening upon some really interesting television show (Discovery ID can do this for me). You sit to watch a few minutes and the next thing you know it’s time to make supper and do homework with the kids — and that inch of dust is still layered on top of the mantel.

Just about the time you sit down for your quiet time in the Bible and a moment to commune with God, a friend with whom you’ve not spoken in ages calls…and it just seems rude to hang up. Before you know it, it’s been two hours and you now have to rush to get to your doctor’s appointment.

Or, let’s imagine that you are at the grocery store with your list — your concise, nothing-else-needed list; the list that you diligently went through the kitchen cabinets, refrigerator, and the freezer to make; the list you intend to stick to because you’ve promised God to live on a tighter budget and contribute a little extra to the “Imagine No Malaria” campaign at church.   As you turn the first aisle, you notice Nutter Butters are on sale (Or Oreos!) and you counsel with yourself saying, “Just one little bag won’t throw my budget off too much.”  And by the end of the grocery shopping, you’ve “one-little-bagged it” on every aisle and your budget is blown.

“We must never stop looking to Jesus,” is the first line in Hebrews 12:2.

And I fail to do it every day. If you think I’m writing to tell you how well I avoid distractions, my dear Child of God, you are reading the wrong devotion in the wrong blog. It takes great practice to ignore the pleadings of the world and while I’d like to say I spend a good portion of every day practicing avoiding distractions, I don’t spend nearly enough. I get caught up in the drama of the world and let the rush of “being in with the in-crowd” wash all over me.

The point I want to share with you is that God uses worldly things to remind me just how distracted I’ve let myself become. In my gluttony, He shows me a young couple who is barely making it on their own. In my gossip-carrying mouth, He allows me to see or hear a bit of unkindness about myself so that I can lay my hate-carrying tongue on His altar for cleansing. In my impatience, He allows me to experience waiting in a way that will only point me to Him. If I’m carrying a grudge or hate in my heart toward someone, He somehow shows me that I have the same quality I dislike about that person.  I must humble myself and forgive that person or there will be no forthcoming forgiveness from God to me.

In my distracted mind, God shows me a car commercial in which the message isn’t that I can text and watch the road at the same time, but that I can’t remain close to God and let a distraction take my attention away. I must remain focused on my Lord as if the distractions of this world are nothing or I will miss the joy that is waiting for me.

Do you have a something you’d like to share in the comments?  Do you need prayer?  If so, you can leave a detailed request or simply write “unspoken.”

Don’t miss the joy of the Lord, my friends! And whatever our distractions are, rest assured that God is never distracted from us.

If you don’t know about the wonderful missions project (Imagine No Malaria) by the United Methodist Church, please click on the link above, and if you feel so inclined, a donation would be greatly appreciated.

shr

The Situation

Thank you for those that have been faithful and kept reading the blog’s archives while I was away.  I stepped away from the blog for a year because I needed a spiritual renewal. I felt that I couldn’t share anything worthwhile with you until I got my own spiritual heart beating in sync with God again.

During the past year, I’ve also concentrated on the writing course I’ve been taking online for the last two years.  I prayed for God to open the doors and promised that I wouldn’t hesitate to walk through them.  That was an epic fail. I vigorously argued with God in that arena. And lost. Decided I was wasting precious efforts in the arguing and have walked  through those open doors (mostly — hey, I’m human, which means I’m flawed).

The next open door is an invitation to write my first YA novel, one that’s been in my heart and mind since I was 12 years old.  I’m in the active planning stage (meaning, I’m writing stuff on sticky notes, putting up on a storyboard, and doing lots of research) instead of the “just thinking about it stage,” which is, itself, a job that all writers have.  But if I never write it down, revising and negotiating with my characters and their storylines, then it’s just daydreaming and not constructively moving me toward my goal. I have a wonderful Christian writer/editor, Mary Ryan, who is my teacher in the course,  and who encouraged me to go into the Christian fiction genre (one of those open doors I found easy to walk through).

On my personal seeking journey, I wrote the following devotional.  I wrote it for me, but I hope there are others like me out there who need a gentle prompting to be aware of God’s presence in every life situation.

You will find me sharing Scripture from Isaiah frequently. It falls among my favorite books of the Bible, including Jeremiah, Psalms, Proverbs, and Ephesians. I have been devouring the book of Isaiah for the past two months.

Seek the Lord while you may find Him. Call upon Him now while He is near. Isaiah 55:6 (NLT)

I became a Christian at the tender age of nine. I knew and believed the story of my salvation, but I was a “baby” Christian (seeing God’s Word in simplistic, juvenile ways) for a long while — even into my early 30s. I was fed a great deal of “milk” during that time because I couldn’t grasp the real, deep meaning of some of what God had written in His Instruction Book. And to be honest, I wasn’t looking too hard.

Having children changed that. Kids tend to ask a great many “why” questions — surprisingly-deep spiritual questions. At their young age, I could feed them “milk” answers, but in my heart I knew I was going to have to change if I wanted them to be more than “milk feeders”. I decided that I wanted to have a “meat and potatoes” kind of relationship with God — a hardy relationship that forced me into His Word and into His will.  It was hard, but I had the guidance of many God-fearing, scripture-quoting, patient teachers who helped me change my spiritual diet.

If you look at this verse from Isaiah, two questions may bounce around in your head:
Why do I have to find God; doesn’t He know where I am?
Isn’t God always near?

First, God knows where we are at all times, but the reason we often have to seek for (or find) God is because we’re on a journey manufactured by our own devices. We choose our wisdom over that of the omnipotent, almighty Father. We might be in the same BOOK, but not on the same PAGE as God. (Sometimes I was in the wrong LIBRARY in the wrong CITY in the wrong COUNTRY. I know what’s it like to that wrong!)

Secondly, when we are far apart from God, GUESS WHO MOVED? Yep. We did. Detours take us off the path of righteousness and lead us into the depths of despair, depression, and loneliness. BEING APART FROM GOD IS A PUNISHMENT THAT WE INFLICT UPON OURSELVES! God never moves! Thank goodness, He’s never-changing!

The great redemptive glory is the moment we drop on our knees and repent, asking for God to take over and to gather us into His warm, loving embrace — a hug, of sorts, for comfort and healing — He pulls up His “moving van” and moves us to his “home base” immediately.  If you’ll let him, he’ll leave all the extraneous, misguided misinformation behind and set you on a path of righteousness.

My life was completely changed when I gave God control and let Him lead me. I don’t always get it right, but I know enough to recognize the signs when I’m wrong — even when it goes against the popular choice of others. Not allowing God to lead you is like letting “the carrot lead the stick,” as my friend Pastor Eddie Brookshire would say.

I don’t know when He’s coming back, but Jesus IS coming back. It’s imperative that you seek Him while you still have time to find Him. That’s a call for URGENCY!

Calling on Him while He is near is a DIRECTIONAL REMINDER to only go through doors that are opened by God. It insures you will remain in His will and the promptings of the Holy Spirit will be easier to feel; the “still small voice of God” will be heard more clearly.

HAVE YOU EVER HAD A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAD TO LET GOD MOVE YOU BACK INTO HIS WILL? If so, please share your journey in the comments.

I’m praying for you! If you’d like me and my church to pray for you, please leave your request, with details if you’d like, or just leave the word “unspoken” in the comment space.

Have a blessed day. And remember, if God’s not changing your situation, He’s using your situation to change you!

shr

Can I Pray for You?

Pain. It’s my constant companion. Sometimes, it’s containable. Sometimes it runs roughshod and I get beaten up in the process. I am thankful for doctors who have guided me along the way with therapy and medications that allow me to function as normally as I possibly can. God sends blessings to me from every direction.

In this pain, I found that I must go on with what lies in front of me because I cannot curl up in a ball and wait for it to go away. I used to look at this chronic pain as a curse. I was angry with God for many years. Then He opened my eyes and showed me all the things that I’ve been blessed with because of this condition. It took me a while, but I began to see how God has moved in my life because of this pain — how it’s made me a more compassionate person who feels the pain of others deeply. Being able to show my empathy is a great blessing. I’ve been called to reach out to others, as we all have, but God has taken this pain of mine and made it a source of LOVE instead of LOATHING.

Image Source:  www.fbresearch.org

There are other kinds of pain that have come along with my physical pain. I have also recognized that this is a blessing because it has made me more aware of the hearts of those who are hurting in ways that cannot be seen. I have learned to be kind to everyone I meet because there are those who are bearing their own burdens. If a word or smile or touch from me can make a difference, then I ask God to put me in the path of those who need it most.

Image Source:  www.juxtapost.com

Throughout the past twenty-two years in this journey tinged with pain, Jesus has been my anchor EVERY SINGLE DAY — even on those days when I couldn’t speak the words out loud. Jesus knew my heart and He could hear the prayers of my heart.

My dear friends, He knows your heart as well. He sees your hurt and fears. He longs to comfort you. Your name is on His lips.

Image Source:  www.endtimeprophecy1012-2013.blogspot,com

Each Friday, some wonderful prayer warrior friends and I hold a prayer service.  (FRIDAY AT THE ALTAR (11am EST/8am PST).)  Can we pray for you?

If you just want to be added to the prayer list just leave your name here or go to “Loved by the King” (my companion Facebook page) and click LIKE. If you have a specific prayer request, leave a comment with a the request. If it’s an intensely personal request, you can email me or message me on Facebook. Most of all, I ask that you join with me in corporate prayer for everyone who’s asked for prayer.  The list is long and I never remove a name unless an answer has been sent or unless I’m asked to remove it.  And you don'[t have to know who is on the prayer list because God does and He knows their needs. 

Will you join us?

shr

I Will Rise” (Chris Tomlin)

Recipes without Regret: Thanksgiving Leftover with a Twist (Low Carb/Low Sugar)

I know.  I know.  We haven’t even served the Thanksgiving feast and here I am offering you advice on using your leftovers.  But this is something that’s so yummy and so good for you.  It has a great carbohydrate to protein ratio, so it’s just right for a low carb day.  Not only is it carb-friendly, it’s diabetic friendly as well.  No added sugars — the only sugar is in the tomatoes and onions in the Pico de Gallo.*

I highly recommend this soup, served with a salad of mixed greens, vegetables, and light dressing.  Plus, it’s different from your regular Thanksgiving fare, and certainly different from a leftover turkey sandwich.

Image Source: http://www.eatlowsodium.com

Southwest Turkey Broth with the Trimmings

Ingredients:

8 cups of reduced sodium turkey or chicken broth

12 ounces cooked, diced turkey

8 Tablespoons fresh avocado, mashed (about two small)

1 cup Pico de Gallo* (you can make your own or pick it up in your grocer’s deli pre-made)

2 Tablespoons Light Sour Cream

2 medium scallions (greens only), finely chopped

1 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Juice of 1 lime

Pepper/Chili Powder to taste

Image Source: http://www.budgetpaleo.blogspot.com

Directions:

1.  In medium saucepan, add broth and diced turkey.  Bring this to a boil and season with pepper and chili powder to taste.  (If you feel you need extra salt, add it sparingly.)

2.  Mash avocados and add the juice of 1 lime (this helps keep its bright green color)

3.  Prepare 4 bowls for presentation.

4.  Divide the broth/turkey mixture evenly between the 4 bowls.

5.  In the middle of each bowl:

a.  Add 2 Tablespoons of mashed avocado.

b.  Top with 1/4 cup Pico de Gallo.

c.  Add a small dollop of light sour cream on top of the Pico de Gallo.

6.  Sprinkle each bowl with 1/4 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

7.  Add scallion greens on top of the cheese.

Image Source: http://www.saintnicholasparish.org

Nutritional Information:  301 calories, 15.6 g fat, 64 mg cholesterol, 2404 mg sodium, 11.4 g carbohydrates, 2.7 g dietary fiber, 5.8 g sugar, 26.7 g protein

You could very well add more complex carbohydrates such as whole kernel corn or black beans for a high carb day. Complex carbs keep you full longer and keep your body fueled for longer periods of time so that you don’t have cravings.  (I have also used cooked, diced chicken in place of the turkey — still wonderful!)

I apologize that this did not make it on the blog last Friday, as promised.  I had internet issues all through the weekend.  I hope you will try this terrific soup and leave a comment!  You opinion matters.  If you have a suggestion that would make it better, leave a comment about that as well.

shr

How I Survived Thanksgiving 2012 (And STILL Lost Weight)

Come into His city with songs of thanksgiving and into His courtyards with songs of praise.  Thank Him and praise His name.  (Psalm 100:4, NCV)

Tomorrow will be two weeks until Thanksgiving Day.  Last year at this time, I’d already made a commitment to God and myself that I was going to get healthy by losing some weight and becoming more active.  I’d lost 7 pounds and I didn’t want to lose my momentum.  I worried about the big noon Thanksgiving meal at my mother’s house and the dinner feast at the Rosser family reunion later that night.  I love Thanksgiving.  It’s my favorite holiday with all my favorite foods.  But last year, I had to come up with a different mindset.  I could not go into either meal unprepared and go at it willy-nilly until I could barely move.

So, I am going to share some of the strategies I applied during the entire holiday season last year.  I hope this gets you into a grateful (not a “plate full”) attitude.  You have two weeks to gear up for it!

Image Source:  www.2013calendarbox.org

1.  Eat something healthy before your big Thanksgiving meal.  I made sure I ate breakfast that morning AND I ate some raw vegetables with light ranch dip before my noon meal.

2.  If your meal is a pot luck meal, make a scrumptious low-fat/low-calorie/low carbohydrate version of a Thanksgiving food you really love.  You can do a recipe search and find all sorts of alternative recipes to replace the high fat/high calorie/high carbohydrate versions of your favorites.  You have two weeks — there’s time to plan it all out, so start now!

Image Source: http://www.runstreet.com

3.  Drink a full glass of water before your meal.  Remember that sometimes we think we’re hungry, but we really need hydration.  It will allow you to eat slowly and recognize that you’re full before you go for seconds (or thirds).

4.  Eat from a small plate.  Okay, for those of you who just rolled your eyes, conquering our cravings involves what we SEE as well as what we EAT.  Make sure you have a rainbow of colors on your plate.  If all your see is white or brown, you are setting yourself up for disaster.  Not only use a smaller plate, eat slowly, sipping water between bites.  Cleanse your palate often so that you can TASTE all that great food.

5.  Sample a couple of bites of all your favorites.  That means if Aunt Suzie Q’s Cranberry Salad isn’t your favorite, don’t put it on your plate.  The sense of deprivation will derail you faster than you may realize.  Say no to anything that you just don’t absolutely love and say yes to a little of the things you that truly make Thanksgiving special to you.

Image Source: http://www.tabledecorationideas.org

6.  If you’re eating from a pot luck or buffet table, peruse every food that’s being offered before making your choices.  If you start at the beginning of the buffet and just take a little of everything, that can set you up for failure.  Some smart choices are raw vegetables with a small portion of dip and lean proteins.  Avoid anything with a crust or puffed pastry.

7.  Don’t skip dessert.  Yes, I just said have dessert.  But choose one dessert and have a small portion of it.  You can employ the “palate cleansing technique” of having several sips of water between bites.  When you’ve had 3-4 bites, drink another full glass of water. (THIS REALLY WORKS!  It’s how I survive pot luck meals at church.)

Image Source: http://www.liveituphealth.com

8.  Avoid stress.  Stress can lead to stress eating — another source of eating plan derailment.  Plan NOW what you’ll be cooking and if there are any dishes that can be made ahead and frozen, do a little each day.  Thaw them in the refrigerator the day before Thanksgiving and cook them on Thanksgiving morning.  You will avoid a mound of unwashed dishes and the stress of cooking ON THE DAY of your Thanksgiving celebration.  You can do a recipe search of great dishes that freeze well.

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com

9.  Avoid/limit alcohol intake.  This is easy for me, as neither of the people who host my Thanksgiving meals serve alcohol.  But I had already made a choice that I’d rather not drink my calories.  When I started my new eating plan on October 23, 2012, I looked at the things I ate and drank that I could give up without suffering too much.  One of those things was the occasional cocktail.  In fact, I’ve only had one cocktail in the last year (when we visited Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville on vacation this summer — you know I couldn’t pass up just one little margarita). Do I miss it?  Not at all.  But I know that some of you will attend parties and feasts where alcohol IS served.  So make a choice ahead of time to only have one cocktail or to have none.  It will save you liquid calories that do not fill up you up.

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps (recipe coming Friday, November 15, 2013)

10.  Be bold and introduce some new, healthy foods that just may end up being holiday favorites.  Turkey and dressing is traditional, but it’s not exciting.  Researching foods that are delicious but nutritious is the way to be a “food-inista.”  Be on the cutting edge as a food connoisseur by bringing a dish that’s great, but untried at your Thanksgiving gathering.  You could be the hit of the feast!

Image Source:  www.encouragement100.com

With these techniques, not only did I NOT gain weight during Thanksgiving 2012, I lost an additional 3 pounds by the end of November last year.  On Friday, I plan to bring you some recipes that just may be worth introducing to your family and friends in this holiday season.  Until then, start planning ahead — and be thankful!

shr

Reblog: How I Balance Faith and Medicine and Exams

Originally posted on At least we made it this far...:

Check out this fantastic post by  Nathan called Lessons from Psychiatry Part 1: How I Balance Faith and Medicine and Exams.

Seriously.  Read it now.

I read this and I thought… Wow… Here is a lesson I have learned over and over again.  And a lesson I forget more often than I should given the number of times that I should have learned it.

Over the last few weeks with my exams and presentations and relationships all seeming to want to demand my attention, my relationship with God has been a struggle for me.  It came up at small group, it came up in my own (very rare) Bible reading.   It came up everywhere.

And really, my relationship with God should not be a struggle.  It should be something I work at.  Something that I want to have.  But, really, I think it shouldn’t be a struggle.

And…

View original 458 more words

Fighting Fear with Faith and Hope

Bone.  Marrow.  Biopsy.

Three words I hoped I’d never hear again.  But that’s where we were on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at the UNC Cancer Hospital when Kelly’s blood work numbers came back askew.   Not all the numbers were bad.  In fact, all the numbers were in the normal range — except for the one number that really counts, his absolute neutrophils.  Neutrophils are white blood cells that fight off infection.  Kelly’s neutrophil number was 1, meaning he had about 1,000 of those cells to fight off infection in his body.  That’s a problem because normal absolute neutrophils will range from 1.8 to 7.7.  In July, his absolute neutrophil number was 4.2 — the best it’s been since he went into remission.  When he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, his neutrophil number was 0.

Neutrophils.jpgNeutrophils (The most abundant white blood cells in most mammals.)

Image Source:  www.wikipedia.com

When we were discussing options, Dr. Foster looked at Kelly and said, “Another bone marrow biopsy is an option.  I know a biopsy is uncomfortable.”

Uncomfortable,” Kelly replied wryly.  “Is when your underwear rides up.  Bone marrow biopsies are excruciating.  But it’s the only way we’ll know for sure what’s going on, so let’s do it.”

So, this past Monday, two years, ten months, and 27 days from the first time he had a bone marrow biopsy, he lay on a gurney at the UNC Cancer Hospital having his sixth one.  He was face down, waiting patiently while Dr. Van (his other cancer doctor) was preparing the site where the needle would be inserted.  I was holding his hand and it just didn’t seem like it was enough, so I got on my knees by the gurney and laid my head next to his so that we could be face to face.

Image Source:  www.riversideonline.com

We prayed.  We cried.  He gasped in pain as they numbed his hip.  Silent tears rolled down his cheeks as Dr. Van used three separate vials to aspirate marrow samples.

Image Source:  www.bing.com

It’s hard to watch the man who is your earthy rock go through so much pain.  It makes you feel so small.  And I remembered several scriptures and began to pray them:

 All you who put your hope in the Lord be strong and brave.  (Psalm 31:24, NCV)

Always respect the Lord.  Then you will have hope for the future, and your wishes will come true. (Proverbs 23:17b-18, NCV)

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)

Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times.  (Roman 12:12, NCV)

When I had no more words, I sang.

I sang “How Great is Our God*” by Chris Tomlin.

I sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness*.”

I sang “He is with Us*,” by Love and the Outcome.

I sang “Amazing Grace*,” which led into “Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone*,” by Chris Tomlin.

We were holding each other’s hands so tightly that our fingers were white.  So I poured out my tears, a language that only God truly understands.  And in near silence, Dr. Van continued to work.

Image Source:  www.bing.com

And Kelly broke the silence, not with a gasp of pain, but with these prayerful words, sung so softly that I might have missed it if I hadn’t been so close to him:

In seasons of despair and grief, my soul has often found relief… I’ll cast on Him my every care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.*”

Almost immediately, Dr. Van said, “There is power in the Blood.  And I know that you both know that God has this — either way.”

I usually write something about weight loss on Wednesday — physical weight loss.  Today’s post is about losing the weight of a spiritual burden.  I took a great deal of fear with me into that procedure room, but I came out feeling light and full of hope.

What will the biopsy show?  We don’t know.  But we know God’s got this — either way.

*To listen to each song, just click on the title.  “Sweet Hour of Prayer” is sung by George Beverly Shea, who for years was the voice of the music at all the Billy Graham Crusades.  Kelly loves Billy Graham and loved to hear GBS sing.

shr

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