Living in a Material World (When You’re Not a Material Girl): Part 2

So, the world is obsessed with our weight. (It’s also obsessed with our age, our youthful appearance or the lack thereof, our incomes, and our political affiliations.) It has its own opinion of us, but we have to embrace that, while other people may hold their opinions of us, those opinions are not facts.

I wish the world was more concerned with the condition of our hearts, but that’s not the job of the world. That’s God’s job. In part one of this post, I shared what the world says about us in regard to our weight. Now, I want to share some descriptions that God, who made us, has used about us. These are not just my imaginings…they’re from His holy scripture. If you click on the words (underlined and highlighted in blue), you can read the scripture that addresses each of these descriptions. These are God’s opinions of us, and His opinion is the only opinion that is a FACT.

God does not make worthless thing

If Jesus is our Savior, each of us is God’s child. We are friends and confidantes of Jesus. We have been justified and redeemed by grace so that we are blameless. Because we are set free from the laws of sin and death, we are fellow heirs to God’s throne. God has called us saints (God’s holy people) who have wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.  God loves us so much that He has sent His Spirit to live in us. We can live in victory and triumph over all things because we belong to Him — there is no such thing as defeat when you are a child of God! We are part of God’s plan and He has made us promise keepers! We are chosen, holy, and loved.

If you grew up in Sunday School, I’ll guess that you were taught the story of creation many times in your life. There are reasons we read, re-read, and re-study God’s word — there are lessons to be learned every time. There are nuances that we may miss or that God chooses to reveal to us at different times in our spiritual lives. I want to share something that I believe God revealed to me in a study of Genesis while I was teaching a class for three-year-olds about two years ago. This was not an accident. This was an on-purpose, God-delivered, simple revelation that He sent to me right before my own health crisis was revealed during a medical appointment in June 2015. It changed my whole perspective about how God sees us, His creation…His handiwork.

I love that, after God made each part of His creation, He surveyed His work and declared it good. Of course it was good! God made it.

On that sixth day of creation, God made humans. He wasn’t arbitrary about our composition. He didn’t wing it and hope He came up with something that was pleasing. He made us in His own image! And when He had made us and surveyed his work, He didn’t just declare that we were good, He said that we were very good.

Why is that important?

It’s important because who we look like in our physical selves is a defining factor about who we are individually. If you observe parents with their children, especially after a baby is born, someone is always trying to see who the baby looks like. Sharing physical looks with parents or other family members helps us know who we are and to whom we belong.

Despite all the physical factors that come together to give us our facial features, body type, and body components, we ultimately ALL look like God because we were created in His image. To be fully and completely His, is to accept how God’s made us physically and become like Him spiritually by becoming more like Christ.

Thomas-Merton-Quote-To-say-that-I-am-made-in-the-image-of-God-is

The world will never get that. It’s why we cannot be agents of this world, conformed to its ways and slaves to its obsessions. It’s why I will never be a material girl, even though I live in this material world. I am God’s masterpiece, His very good handiwork. So are you, friends.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, else matters.

shr

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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)

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

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

Music Monday: He is With Us

In life, there seems to always be a flow of people and things coming into our lives and going out of our lives.  In the past six months, I have experienced a loss in the closeness of two friendships.  It’s painful, especially when I don’t fully understand why the friendships changed.  The absolute worst part is that neither of the friends is completely out of my life.  They are on the fringes and sometimes we all act as if nothing has really changed.

But it doesn’t mean that the change hasn’t taken place.  I’ve cried over this so many times.  I’ve prayed for God to restore the friendships.  I do not know what the future has in store for us, but I read this in an online devotional:

Image Source:  www.kootation.com

Right now, I just have to let go.  There is nothing more that I can do.  For right now, it seems the Lord has put a “period” at the end of these friendships.  So, I’ve removed the question mark and I am living in His peace about the situation.

How fortunate that in the same span of time, God has brought me closer to two other friends:  an old friend of mine and a brand-new friend.  These friendships have just blossomed and I am thankful for God’s love and care.  These two women have brought a new depth of love and devotion in my life.  We work closely together for the Lord and we find joy in serving others.

Image Source:  www.idlehearts.com

The one constant in my life is my Lord.  I love the book of Joshua.  In the very first chapter, God is assuring Joshua of His love, support, and constant presence.

No one will be able to defeat you all your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forget you. ( Joshua 1:5 NCV — emphasis mine)

So on this Monday, I share a song that is relatively new and has quickly become one of my favorites.  I find myself singing its chorus throughout the day.  Let it remind you, that no matter what is happening in your life, God is there.  He is our salvation and strength.  But He is also our Friend.

Sandy

He is With Us (Love & the Outcome)

Music Monday: Hurricane

Life has recently felt a bit disjointed, a little crazy, a little out of control, and a lot nonstop for me.  When I arose this morning, I felt run-down and a bit like an over-done steak.  Ever been there?  Are you there right now?

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

Once, I ran out of gas driving my little blue Subaru in the days when I was first teaching school.  That was way before cell phones.  It wasn’t dark, but it was close.  I was on my way home from school and just about half a mile from my exit on Interstate 95 when the car sputtered, puttered, and I guided it off the road as it rolled to a stop.  Yep, the needle was below “E” if that’s possible.

Image Source:  www.automopedia.org

I sat for a few minutes, wondering what to do.  I decided to get out and walk to the exit ramp, go to the Exxon station and call my daddy.  Before I took more than ten steps, a pick-up truck slowed down and pulled up in front of my car.  It was the grandfather of one of my students (and the janitor at Eastover-Central Elementary School).  Once I told him what the problem was, he advised me to get back in the car, lock it, and he’d be right back.  In about twenty minutes, he was back with a full gas can and poured it all into my gas tank. The car started right up.  He wouldn’t even let me pay him!  Leon Patterson was an angel that day.  (As I later found out, he couldn’t really afford to be as generous as he’d been that October afternoon.  So, I made sure he always got extra goodies from me at Christmas and any other holidays that came throughout the year.)

I could have run out of gas on another road or at a different place along the highway that Mr. Patterson might never have passed.  Or I could have been driving my parents’ car that day, which Mr. Patterson would never have recognized.  But it was just the right spot and in the car Mr. Patterson knew belonged to me.  He found me along a highway in a situation that could have been dangerous.  In my heart, I know God sent me Leon Patterson that day.

Image Source:  www.touch-the-flame.deviantart.com

God sees us running around under our own steam.  He sees that our tanks are getting to that dangerous “below empty” level.  He’s just waiting for us to run out of gas and turn to Him for strength and solace and comfort — to give up the burden and take His lightness to our souls.

So, today — even though there was a storm raging in my heart — I just took a little time for Him.  I let Kelly run a couple of errands for me on his way home from work instead of dragging myself out of the house to do it.  I sang as I swept the kitchen (and grimaced at the amount of dirt that can accumulate in just a couple of days) and in between songs,  I spent a lot of time praying.  I sat down and played hymns on the piano.  I listened to my favorite Christian radio stations.

Image Source:  www.amerigas.

And Natalie Grant was singing my song.  So, I thought I’d share it with you, even though it’s late.  Who knows?  Even though the calm has finally come to my house, the storm may be raging at yours.  Just remember God made those winds, and He can control them.  Just let Him.

shr

Hurricane” (Natalie Grant)