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

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Even If

I keep a prayer journal.  When friends ask me to pray for them or for someone else, I write a name and the need, if I know it.  Sometimes I only know that someone needs me to intercede on their behalf.  God knows the need and it’s not necessary for me to know it in order to offer my support through prayer.

I did something last week that the Lord has been urging me to do for quite a while:  choose and day, go to church, and kneel at the altar to pray for people, our nation, and our world.  I asked my friends, family, and followers on Facebook to send me their prayer requests. (I have a companion page for this blog there:  “Loved by the King”  I started this page because I try to post here on WordPress two to three times a week.  I wanted a place that I could share a short daily devotional, so I started a community page on Facebook just for that.  Please visit me there and give me a “Like.”)  I chose Friday, October 4, 2013, to be my very first “Friday at the Altar.”

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I began writing these names and requests on paper.  I prayed for each one as the requests came in.  Then on Friday, I went to my church and laid all the pages of requests on our altar at 11:00 a.m.  Before I began to pray, I read aloud a portion of scripture that the Lord gave to me from the book of Daniel, chapter three.  (You can read the entire chapter here.)

These were my focal verses:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to explain these things to you. If you throw us into the hot furnace, the God we serve can save us. And if he wants to, he can save us from your power. But even if God does not save us, we want you to know, King, that we refuse to serve your gods. We will not worship the gold idol you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:16-18, Easy-to-Read Version — emphasis mine)

I chose to read the verses from a Bible I keep in my office at the Culbreth Memorial UMC.  It’s a Today’s English Version Bible donated by the family of a woman who was a faithful member of our congregation for many years before her death.  As I read from her Bible, I could feel a distinct energy in the sanctuary — an air of expectancy.  When I knelt at the altar and read the names on my pieces of paper aloud, the energy increased.  (The hairs on my neck and arms actually stood up!  I call them “God-bumps.”)

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After I prayed aloud, I did something that I don’t do enough — I sat in silence and listened.  God spoke to me in that still, small voice of His that I sometimes miss in the hustle and bustle of my life and all the things I think are important, but really aren’t.  In those moments, God dealt with me about some situations in my own life.  I was determined to stay on my knees until God released me from the moment.  When I felt that release, I stood and sang a short little song that I hadn’t thought of in years.  I’ll bet some of you know it.

Hear our prayer, o Lord.  Hear our prayer, o Lord.

Incline thine ear to us and grant us Thy peace.  Amen.

I gathered my papers and went back to work in the office.  If you don’t believe in signs from God, then the rest of this post will probably not mean much to you.  I believe that God gives us signs that affirm His approval or disapproval of the things we do.  I believe that He gives us little nudges to encourage us.  A friend of mine says there is no such thing as “coincidences” — they’re all “God-incidences.”  I agree.

I don’t even remember why I looked, but in the front of the TEV Bible I had used was a hand-written message:

“Take care of the things that are important to God and God will take care of the things that are important to you.”

More “God-bumps.”

I have a stash of sources I use for my daily devotionals.  On Thursdays and Fridays when I’m working at the church, I use “The Upper Room,” a publication of the United Methodist Church.  I turned to the devotional for Friday, October 4. The pages were stuck together with static electricity and before I could get to Friday’s devotion, I noticed that the scripture for Wednesday’s devotional (October 2) was the same scripture that I just read in the sanctuary.

“God-bumps” on top of “God-bumps.”

I cannot tell you what a privilege it was to pray for my family and friends.  What was even more intense for me was the fact that friends-I-haven’t-met-yet (people that follow me here, receive my blog by email, or follow me on Facebook) entrusted their requests to me.

Image Source:  www.msd.org.au/prayer

My prayer request for all of them was this:  whether or not their prayer requests were met with their desired answers, I asked that God give them His presence and assurance that He knows best.  To be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – to say “even if,” I will still worship and trust You.

Image Source:  www.robparkersblog.com

If you would like me to add your name to my “Friday at the Altar” list, leave me a comment.  You can tell me your specific request or you can say that you have an unspoken request.  If you just need prayer in general, simply leave your name.

I don’t do this for acclaim.  I don’t do this so that people will look at me and say, “That Sandy Rosser, she’s doing the Lord’s work.”  I don’t do this for any other reason that to be a servant.  I love God and He said for me to love others; to serve them daily because that’s how I show His love.

Image Source:  www.usf,edu/clipart

My request to you:  wherever you are on Fridays at 11:00 a.m., take a moment and offer up a prayer.  You might not be with me in person, but you can be with me in the Holy Spirit.

And if you happen to live in Fayetteville, North Carolina or the surrounding area, I would consider it an honor if you’d join me in person on Fridays.  I believe in the power of prayer.  My God is in control and He can do anything.

I chose “Let Them See You” as my Monday Music song.  It says exactly what I want my life to express — on Fridays, and all the days in between.

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Other than those noted, all image sources are mine.

Let Them See You” (Colton Dixon)

Music Monday: Awakening

Worship.  Most people think this means going to church when there’s a service being held.  I used to think this.  I believed I was worshiping my God by being present in His house.  My pastor and friend, Charlie Herring, delivered such a great sermon yesterday about worship that I had to share the highlights.

His text was Psalm 96.  Here are these thirteen verses in the Easy-to-Read Version:

Sing a new song to the Lord!
Let the whole world sing to the Lord!
2 Sing to the Lord and praise his name!
Tell the good news every day about how he saves us!
Tell all the nations how wonderful he is!
Tell people everywhere about the amazing things he does.
4 The Lord is great and worthy of praise.
He is more awesome than any of the “gods.”
5 All the “gods” in other nations are nothing but statues,
but the Lord made the heavens.
6 He lives in the presence of glory and honor.
His Temple is a place of power and beauty.
Praise the Lord, all people of every nation;
praise the Lord’s glory and power.
8 Give the Lord praise worthy of his glory!
Come, bring your offerings into his courtyard.
9     Worship the Lord in all his holy beauty.
Everyone on earth should tremble before him.
10     Tell the nations that the Lord is King!
The world stands firm and cannot be moved.
He will judge all people fairly.
11 Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be happy!
Let the sea and everything in it shout for joy!
12 Let the fields and everything in them be happy!
Let the trees in the forest sing for joy
13 when they see the Lord coming!
He is coming to rule the world.
He will rule all the nations of the world
with justice and fairness.

The four “Es” of worship:

  • EXALT His Name (verses 1-2a)
  • EXTEND His Kingdom (verses 2b-3)
  • EXPRESS His Greatness (verses 4-9)
  • EXPECT His Coming (verse 10-13)

Here are some of his quotes:

  • “We are called to wait and worship”
  • “Why do we have trouble with waiting?  Because in our society the need for instant gratification causes a ‘fail’ in our sense of waiting.”
  • “Are we afraid to wait?  Are we afraid of what God will say to us?  Does the silence scare us?”
  • “Who are we to worship?  The Lord God.  What are we to do when we worship?  Fall down on our faces and bow down.  How are we to worship?  Through music, proclamation, glory, offering, coming into His courts, and living holy lives.  Why do we worship?  Because we are saved.  Where do we worship?  In His sanctuary — and that means in His whole creation.”
  • “When our lives are full of His presence, we can’t help but declare His glory.”
  • “We should be proclaiming salvation every day to everyone.”
  • Bored Believer should be an oxymoron.  If you are bored in worship, you are not worshiping.  You are simply passing time.”

As bowed at the altar during our closing hymn, “Awakening” by Chris Tomlin was my prayer.  Here are the lyrics that became my prayer:

In Your presence, in Your power
Awakening
For this moment, for this hour
Awakening

For You and You alone
Awake my soul
Awake my soul and sing
For the world You love
Your will be done
Let Your will be done in me

For You and You alone
Awake my soul
Awake my soul and sing
For the world You love
Your will be done
Let Your will be done in me

Like the rising sun that shines
From the darkness, comes a light
I hear Your voice
And this is my awakening

I have two pictures to share with you today.  They were taken at a baptismal service.  The man on the far right is my friend, Jimmy Crayton, the youth pastor at Greater Heights United Methodist Church.  If this had been posted by someone I did not know personally, I would have cried, “Photo-shopped!”  But I know Jimmy.  He would never let anything other than the truth be posted.  If it would hinder God’s Kingdom, he wouldn’t be a part of it.  So these pictures depict something real happening at this baptism.

Photo Source:  Jimmy Crayton

Do you believe?  Will you worship the one, true God?  Will this be your awakening?

shr

Awakening” (Chris Tomlin)

 

How Can I Keep from Singing: Lamb of God and Who Am I

I admire a poet.  I stumble around and try my hand at a verse here and there, but I admire a God-gifted poet.  I love to read poems and songs (which are just poems set to music) that are inspired by the glory and the nature of my God.  I’ve never written a song,  but I imagine that the Holy Spirit descends upon the poet and out come these words that may just change the life of someone when they’re read.  And I’d love to bend the ear of the musician who sets the words to melody.

Twila Paris

Rusty Goodman

I have chosen two songs whose writers are doubly gifted.  Twila Paris wrote the lyrics and music for “Lamb of God.”  Rusty Goodman wrote the lyrics and music for “Who Am I?”  I would like to think that such gifted Christian artists receive two jewels in their awaiting crowns when they perform such a feat.  Both of these songs center around a common theme and I’ve found the perfect Scripture to sum this theme up:

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.   So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.  Romans 5:6-11 (NLT)

Willing to die for me, as terrible as I am!  That’s what Jesus did.  He gave His life for me and made me a “Friend of God” (which is another wonderful song for another day).  If you do not live with Jesus in your heart, be restored to Him today.  He has saved us.  Hallelujah, He has saved us.

“Lamb of God”  (Twila Paris) http://youtu.be/RPClih1HLPg

“Who Am I?”  (The Goodmans) http://youtu.be/FEHyZ7RworM

Photo Credits:  www.breathecast.christianpost.com & www.sgma.org

Image Credits:  www.iamgracie2009.wordpress.com & www.wallpaper4god.com

How Can I Keep from Singing: Beautiful

If you read LBTK regularly, you may have noticed that this post is a little late, with good reason.  Sunday afternoon, I completely lost my voice and the sore throat I already had, became more uncomfortable and painful.  By yesterday morning, I had also added a low-grade fever and a general “yucky” feeling all over.  So I went to the doctor…and tested positive for strep throat!  I can’t remember the last time I had strep throat!

As I got ready for my appointment, I looked into my bathroom mirror and took a quick assessment of what I saw.  The very first thought that ran through my mind was “I am fat and ugly.”  Then I listed everything I saw that supported my assessment:  dark circles under the eyes, puffy checks, double chin, thinning hair (wild from tossing back and forth as I slept), crooked nose.  The only saving graces I saw were that I love my blue eyes and I have very few wrinkles.  These two characteristics made me smile — until I realized that it’s possibly the fat in my face that is filling out the wrinkles!  Blue eyes, schmoo eyes — they were bloodshot and matted with eye boogars!  Again, I was thoroughly disgusted.

So, off I went to the doctor and frankly, I sulked the entire way.  I was pulling into the parking lot of the doctor’s office when “Beautiful” by MercyMe started playing on one of my favorite radio stations, WCLN 107.3.  I sat and listened to the entire song before going in.  I was thinking about Claire. “Beautiful” is my prayer-song for Claire.  She is so impressionable at this point in her life.  I often pray the lyrics of the chorus for her:

You’re beautiful.  You’re beautiful.

You are made for so much more than all of this.

You’re beautiful.  You’re beautiful.

You are treasured.  You are sacred.  You are His.

You’re beautiful.

I entered the reception area with this song on my mind.  When the nurse called me back, the song stopped playing and I started to focus on the part of the doctor’s exam I consider a form of torture — the weigh-in.  I have often thought I’d rather take a bullet than have to weigh-in at the doctor’s office.

I shared in February that I have decided to make a lifestyle change — adopting health-eating habits and adding more physical exercise to my routine — so that I can avoid some health problems to which I may be genetically predisposed:  high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.  And to be perfectly honest, to lose weight so that I’ll look better in a dress when that whole renewing-of-the-vow thing rolls around in October.

My mom, dad, Kelly, and I are weighing-in every Monday morning and reporting to each other about our progress.  Having to “check in” with other people has really motivated me to stick with my plan and have the courage of my convictions.  I have been losing weight slowly and steadily.  But yesterday morning when I was feeling so rotten, I forgot to weigh at home.  Looking at the doctor’s scale, I started to panic just a little.  Okay, maybe I panicked a lot considering that my heart rate was up and my blood pressure registered higher than normal.

When I stepped on the scale, I closed my eyes and held my breath.  (Hey, who knows how much an intake of new breath weighs?  I take no chances!)  While the nurse fiddled with the knobs, “Beautiful” started playing in my mind again, only this time, the prompting of the Holy Spirit encouraged me to claim its message for myself.  I suddenly felt every muscle in my body relax.  I was concentrating so much on how beautiful I am to God, the nurse had to ask me to step off the scale twice.  And I had to ask her what I weighed.

Now, I am going to do something that is brave or stupid — you can be the judge.  I’m going to share my starting weight and my current weight with you.  If I can be accountable to God and three other people on a weekly basis, I can be accountable to all of you once a month.  This is an exercise in faith — faith in God that He will help me meet my goal weight of 155 pounds and faith in you, that you will support me with your prayers Ready?

On February 27, 2012, my starting weight was 204 pounds.  My current weight, as of March 26, 2012, is 196.6 pounds.  That’s a loss of 7.4 pounds in a month.  I’m giving all the glory and praise to my Father in heaven because He is the one I turn to at ten o’clock at night when I want to plow through my fridge or cupboard and devour a thousand calories because I’m having a craving.  It’s His messages from the Bible that comes to mind when I don’t want to exercise.  It’s His strength that is the greatest when I am at my weakest.  For I can do everything through Christ, Who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

Since I am asking for your prayers, I want to tell you that you can send me your prayer requests as well.  You can leave your request as a comment or send it to me privately at lbtk1@aol.com  I already have a prayer notebook designated just for you!

I want to know what losing 49 pounds looks like, so I had Kelly take a “before” picture of me. Although I am a little scared,  I feel led to share this picture with you for two reasons:  so that those of you who don’t know me outside the blogging world will know that I am who I say I am and so that if you’re like me and need to know that you’re not alone in this, you will have a touchstone.  Here I am:

 

I chose this video of “Beautiful” because it shares the words on the screen to accompany the music.  When you listen, pray the words of this song for yourself.  Above all, remember that Jesus is totally in love with you, just as you are.  You are treasured.  You are sacred.  You are His.  You’re beautiful.

shr

P.S.  I want to thank my fellow WordPress blogger, Fiona, for nominating this blog for the “Beautiful Blogger Award,” as seen below.  You can read her amazing blog at http://oilofjoyandgarmentsofpraise.wordpress.com/  I humbly accept the nomination.  (And if anyone has an idea of how I can put this award in a sidebar on my page, please get in touch with me, as I am completely lost on how to proceed with this!)  Since it’s my job to nominate other bloggers for this award, I will list them below the picture of the award and give you links so that you can check out all the wonderful things these people are posting.

If you read anything in LBTK that has any meaning, please know it’s God working through me.  I am nothing on my own. “Humanly speaking, it is impossible; But with God, everything is possible.  Matthew 19:26 (NLT)  Again, I give Him all the praise and glory.  I am His servant.

Jodie Bailey:  Faith and Fiction with a Touch of Southern Grace www.jodiebailey.com

Thoughts from the Porch http://aprilhawk.wordpress.com/

Momentum of Joy http://momentumofjoy.wordpress.com

Lori Schulz http://lorischulz.wordpress.com/

Anna’s One Life http://annasonelife.wordpress.com/

At Least We Made it This Far… http://trishadm.wordpress.com/

Brave Fish http://identitylovefaith.wordpress.com/

Dear “Beautiful Blogger” Award Winners:  You inspire me.  Your words are beautiful, thus the reason you’re receiving this award.  It is now your job to pass this award on to seven (or less) other bloggers along with links to their blogs.  Post the award and provide a link back to the person who nominated you. Thank you for making a difference in my life.  Keep writing! 

“Beautiful” (MercyMe) “http://www.youtube.com/embed/8WnAq0o2Xl8?rel=0

Image Credits:  www.equicknews.com, www.studiobotanica.com, www.uglypets.blogspot.com, www.spinachandskittles.com, & www.flickr.com

Related Articles:  “How Can I Keep from Singing:  His Strength is Perfect”  http://wp.me/p22liv-7b

“I Love Myself…And That’s a Bad Thing”  http://pewtopractice.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/i-love-myself-and-thats-a-bad-thing/

“A Quick Thought for the Day — I AM NOT HAVING AN IDENTITY CRISIS!”  http://nightshade130.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/a-quick-thought-for-the-day-i-am-not-having-an-identity-crisis/

“The Cactus” http://momentumofjoy.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/the-cactus/

“Silvi’s ‘Jesus Book'” http://christianinamerica.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/jesus-book/

“Day 84:  Do You Know What You Eat?”  http://busymomof03.org/2012/03/26/day-84-know-what-you-eat/

How Can I Keep From Singing: His Strength is Perfect

I stepped on the scales the morning for the first time in a long time and let me just say this:  it wasn’t pretty.  I was tempted to go to the cupboard and pull out a box of Little Debbie Caramel Bars (my current cookie obsession) and eat my way through the entire thing.  The only thing that kept me from doing this was the fact that I had an obligated myself to take my mother to the doctor.  Ever so briefly, I considered taking the box along with me and munching in the waiting room, but I would’ve been too embarrassed.

So, I picked up my copy of Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore and headed out on this dreary, rainy day.  The waiting room was packed with sick people waiting to be seen.  In fact, it was so crowded that my mother and I couldn’t find two seats together.  So, I found one in the corner and opened my book at the bookmark and saw chapter seven’s topic, “Overcoming Addiction.”  Great, I thought.  I sat for almost ten minutes as I volleyed back and forth between “read the book” and “sit and sulk.”  If sitting and sulking hadn’t been such an unattractive alternative, I’d have chosen it.  (I already needed to lose weight and get a haircut and color, so I decided to spare everyone and read.)  As I read, I felt God‘s Spirit inside me saying, “I had her write this chapter just for you.”

For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

I finished the chapter and came to this conclusion:  I am addicted to food.   It’s not like I haven’t known that I’m over-weight.  I’ve just never used the term “addiction” to describe my relationship with food before.  Food and I go back a loooooong way.  I use it for comfort when I’m sad.  I use it as an activity when I’m bored.  I use it to reward myself for success.  I use food for every reason under the sun when I should be using it simply as nourishment.  I know about good nutrition, portion control, and weight loss.  It’s not as if I’ve never done it before.  (Just call me “Yo-Yo.”)  Something about being in the doctor’s office and reading that particular chapter in a book I’ve so enjoyed reading set off a cacophony of bells and whistles.  And this was the verse that immediately popped into my mind:

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.  1 Corinthians 6:19 (NLT)

My temple needs a makeover — a lifestyle makeover.  I want to live a long life.  I want to keep my cholesterol in check.  I don’t want diabetes.  I don’t want heart disease.  And let’s face it —  I want to look good when I walk down the aisle for our vow renewal in October.  So, I’m putting myself out there.  I’m going to be accountable to God for my weight-loss and going public with this decision will help keep me motivated.  I want to be truthful with everyone, including myself, because I’ve spent the last ten years covering up with bulky tops, yoga pants, and excuses.

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.  Proverbs 28:13 (NLT)

There are no shortcuts, so I’ve mapped out a five-step plan that I feel I can stick to:

  1. Eat breakfast daily.  I know from past experiences that this keeps me from over-indulging later in the day.
  2. Set short, simple goals.  I need to lose about fifty pounds in all, but that’s just too much to think about at one time.  So, my first goal is to lose 10 pounds by Easter.  (That’s about 1.5 pounds a week, which is healthy and do-able.)  I’ll be doing some research to find where I can substitute lower calorie items for their high-calorie counterparts.  An article I read in the doctor’s office this afternoon suggested low-calorie substitutions such as a slice of avocado instead of mayo or leaving cheese off a sandwich, switching to turkey bacon instead of regular bacon, or having a square of dark chocolate instead of a whole candy bar.
  3. Exercise with a friend.  We have this great walking track near my house.  I already have friends and family that go there to walk.  If I make a point to exercise with someone else, then I’ll be less likely to blow off exercising.  (I’ve found I have no problem blowing off exercise when the only person I answer to is me.)
  4. Stop eating junk.  A good way to eliminate junk from my diet would be just not to have it in my house.  And that doesn’t mean to eat it all tonight to get rid of it!  I love fruit, cheese, yogurt, and cereal.  In moderation, those are all good snacks.  I’ve also decide that there will be no snacking after 8:00pm at night.  Nothing good can come from it.
  5. Pray.  A lot.  Not just prayer for self-control but seeking God about everything.  I want this journey to lead me closer to the cross and finding what God is purposing in my life.  More time spent talking to God and searching for ways to know Him better will satisfy me in ways a half-gallon of Breyer’s Pralines ‘n’ Caramel ice cream never can.

I’ve always loved the song I’ve chosen to share with you today and it perfectly complements this post.  God’s strength is the only way I can accomplish anything — even losing weight.

“His Strength is Perfect” (Steven Curtis Chapman) “http://www.youtube.com/embed/QGC9KT918Kk?rel=0

Image Credit: www.trialx.com

Video Credit:  Amanda Boutchia

How Can I Keep From Singing: Faithful Friend

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"My Faithful Friend"

I have known my husband, Kelly, since we were both six years old.  We have a long history together and although this post is partially a tribute to him, it is more of a post about the faithfulness of my Heavenly Father and my long journey to submission to His Will.

Kelly and I have been friends since second grade.  We were sporadically in the same academic classes in elementary school but shared nearly every class at Stedman Junior High School (yes, that dates me because our school system moved to the middle school concept almost thirty years ago).  In eighth and ninth grade, we had crushes on each other, also sporadically.   It was in the ninth grade that we tossed around words like “boyfriend” and “girlfriend.”  He accompanied me to an athletic banquet and to our “Sweetheart Banquet” held on Valentine’s Day that year.  When the school year ended, our chorus class had a party in the Bethany Community Building.  (Those attended junior and senior high school with, know that it’s located in a little community near Stedman, NC.)  The night was really emotional for me.  I realized that in the fall we would all be in high school and that merging with the other junior high in our district was going to mean that seeing familiar faces and the closeness of our friendships were going to change, whether we wanted it to happen or not .  Our chorus teacher, Gregory MacPherson, was not only leaving our junior high school,  he was going to be the chorus teacher at 71st High School — a cross-town rival of our beloved Cape Fear High School, where we would attend in the fall.

It was hot and stuffy in that little community building, so I walked outside.  Tears just streamed down my face.  (I’m really a tender-hearted person and I wear my heart on my sleeve in matters of family and friends.)  Kelly came to check on me.  He made me laugh and reminded me that we would have our drivers’ licences soon.  I was fifteen and had never been kissed, so when it happened, that kiss was burned into my memory forever.  It was magical.  His mom gave me a ride home that night and I don’t know how far up I “floated” as I made my way into the house, but I was walking on air.

Then, the rest of the summer happened.  High school started.  Kelly and I didn’t have any classes together.  I got involved with someone I shouldn’t have and proceeded to make life difficult for my parents throughout most of my high school days.  I married this boy and eighteen months later, I found myself at the end of a divorce that colored my outlook on life and men for quite some time.

Kelly and I dated, again sporadically, after my divorce and I must admit that I made him pay for things that he had nothing to do with.  Once, I was very cruel to him.  I still cringe to this day when I think about my behavior.  If it’s any consolation at all to Kelly, I treated all men the same way.  From the time I was twenty until I was twenty-four, I blamed all guys (and God) for the dissatisfaction in my love life.

But God didn’t let my disobedience to him (and my anger) stop Him from working His Will in my miserable life.  On Christmas Eve 1986, I fell on my knees and begged God’s forgiveness for everything I had done since I was sixteen years old.  (I didn’t know that you can pray as long as I prayed that night.)  I made two promises: first, I’d make a change in my prayer life and add daily Bible reading to my routine, and second, I would not date anyone unless I felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit.  I didn’t know exactly how I was going to recognize “the stirring” but I trusted God to be bold about it.   I looked up scripture about relationships — not just romantic relationships, but how to treat everyone in my life.  I wrote them on 3 x 5 notecards and posted them on the wall next to my bed.  When the new year started in 1987, I didn’t make a list of resolutions, I made a list of the qualities that my future mate should have based on Biblical teachings.  This is the scripture I prayed over first:

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?” 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 NLT 

I thought about the “nonnegotiables:”

  • My future husband must be a Christian.
  • We must attend church together.
  • My future husband must love children and he had to be “father material.”

Those were the three traits on which I just couldn’t compromise.  I decided that I’d rather be alone than compromise.  I listed other traits that I’d like a future mate to possess but everything except those three was up for discussion and compromise.  I finally submitted myself to God and let Him handle things because I had certainly made a disgusting mess of it on my own.  And all the while I was changing my attitude and making my list, God was already working on His plan.

I didn’t know it, but Kelly was working as a paramedic in Charlotte, NC and was just as miserable as I was.  He was a Christian sharing the same crisis of faith as I was.   He was determined to make a change of attitude toward God and had a long talk with his mother, Betty, about it.  She had been praying for Kelly for a long time about this very thing.  What none of us knew at the time was that God was just about to answer all our prayers.  When God moves, He sometimes moves fast, so do not pray about anything unless you’re ready to receive it!

On a rainy Tuesday, January 13, 1987, my mother and I were going into the Winn Dixie (a local grocery store).  I saw Kelly’s mother just ahead of us and rushed to speak with her.  She gave me a big hug and held my hand while we were talking.  She asked me what I was doing with my life (teaching fourth grade at Eastover-Central Elementary School and being the music director at Judson Baptist Church) and what seemed like a hundred other questions.  (Never once did she ask me if I was dating or married.)  I suggested that we walk inside, but Betty said she’d left her grocery list at home and was going back to get it.  My last words to her that night were “Tell Kelly to call me next time he’s home.”  She gave me another big hug and we parted.

The next night, I got a call out of the blue from Kelly!  (Told you God sometimes works fast!)  We talked for nearly two hours, which was a big deal in 1987 because there was no such thing as “unlimited long distance” at the time.  Just before we got off the phone, I casually said “Let’s get together the next time you’re in Fayetteville.”  (I promise this suggestion was offered in friendship because I was serious about letting God lead me in my dating life.)  In fact, Kelly was coming home for a three-day weekend that Friday.  He suggested we go out for dinner on Saturday night, and I accepted.  He also told me that he sported a purple mohawk now, which I didn’t believe — or did I?  It had been a long time since I’d seen him.  Maybe he’s lost his mind!

I was coming home from a graduate class that Friday night (January 16, 1987) and passed his parents’ home.  I recognized his car in the driveway and pulled in, unannounced.  He says it’s because I wanted to check out the purple mohawk thing, and I can’t fully deny that. (He did not have a purple mohawk, thank the Lord!)  All I really know for sure was that Kelly, his parents, and I had so much fun catching up that evening.  It really made me glad we were going to spend more time together the next night.  Let me make it clear that I was still in total friendship mode at this point.  (Remember too, that I had been a “mean girl” to Kelly the last time we’d spent time together.  That he even wanted a friendly dinner with me was more than I deserved.)

Tomorrow, January 17, 2012, is the anniversary of that fateful date.   “Be nice to him,” my mother whispered to me as I left for the evening.  At dinner, we laughed and talked so long, we didn’t realize that the restaurant was closing.  I looked at Kelly with different eyes that night — with God’s eyes.  I saw this incredibly wonderful man who made me laugh; who forgave me for my previous outrageous behavior; who treated me as if I were a precious gift.  For the first time in a long time, I felt cherished.  So at the end of the evening, we kissed.  It was emotional and magical.  I felt like I was fifteen again and standing outside the Bethany Community Building.

Kelly asked me to marry him on February 26, 1987.  His parents, especially his mother, were ecstatic and my parents, though a little shocked at how quickly this all developed, were also happy.  One night soon after our engagement was announced, Betty pulled me aside and shared some details with me, details that show how God was working while I was waiting on Him.  The night we met in the grocery store parking lot, all that hand-holding Betty was doing served a purpose:  she was checking out my left hand ring finger — seeing that I wasn’t wearing an engagement ring, she then proceeded to feel my ring finger to see if there was any evidence that a ring was usually on that finger.  (You know the little groove you acquire when you wear a ring on a regular basis?  If you’ve never noticed, check out the fingers on which you wear your rings.  It’s there!)  If all the evidence I’ve presented to you so far isn’t enough to make you believe that the Holy Spirit was at work, this should.  Betty told me that she’d never, ever done anything like that before (and felt really weird about doing it that night) but the urging was so great, she just couldn’t help herself.  She left the grocery store to go home and call Kelly.  She told him all about our encounter and somehow, he remembered my phone number.  (And if you know Kelly, you will know that was the Holy Spirit stirring as well because sometimes his memory is horrible.)  God truly does work in mysterious ways, folks!

Kelly’s mother died two weeks after we were engaged.  It wasn’t supposed to happen, but there were complications involved when she’d had her spleen removed after falling and breaking her arm.  We don’t always understand things that happen.  At times, in our married life, I’ve felt cheated that she didn’t get to share all the wonderful, marvelous, and sometimes crazy things that have happened to us.  The night before she died, we visited her in the hospital and she asked if she could try on my engagement ring.  Of course, I allowed her this privilege!  She had been a willing instrument of the Holy Spirit.  She willing let God use her and I was not going to deny this wonderful woman the chance to wear my engagement ring! When she placed the diamond back on my hand, she looked at me and said, “I am so glad that you make Kelly happy.  In fact, I feel like I hand-picked you to be my daughter-in-law,” With God’s help, Betty Rosser did pick me.  Oh how she did!

For those of you still looking for your “Prince Charming,” I completely know where you’re coming from.  I don’t know if my story will give you hope, but I know that “all things work together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28 NKJV)

In 1996, Twila Paris and Stephen Curtis Chapman (two wildly successful contemporary Christian artists on their own) wrote and recorded “Faithful Friend,” a song that is a tribute to their long, steadfast, Christian friendship.  It’s words cut to the heart of why having a Christian friend/partner is so important.  I love Kelly Rosser more than words can express — he was my friend first and then my true love.  Although “Faithful Friend” is not necessarily a love song in the traditional sense, it is our love song.  One of the perks of being to married to Kelly is that he has this amazing voice and we love to sing together.  We first sang “Faithful Friend”  in a worship service on October 13, 1996 (the Sunday after our ninth anniversary.)   If God is willing and we are blessed to have the opportunity to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this October, we have decided we’re going to sing it as we renew our vows.  I’m telling you now, so you can put it on your calendar.  Save the date:  Sunday, October 14, 2012.  Come and celebrate with us!

shr

“Faithful Friend” (Twila Paris & Steven Curtis Chapman)  http://www.youtube.com/embed/7G4oOsfyFCM?rel=0