The God of All Things

I love a good bargain, especially children’s items because children grow fast and outgrow things just as quickly. I am not opposed to purchasing gently-used items for my granddaughter, Joshlyn. I am a member of several online groups where other members offer used items for sale in a variety of conditions. I don’t buy just anything. If one item is purchased by someone else, another item that is similar will come along in a day or two. I have learned to watch and wait for a bargain. Patience is truly a virtue when it comes to bargain-hunting.

The night before we left on vacation, I saw a nearly-new bicycle on my Fayetteville Online Yard Sale group that would be perfect for Joshlyn, but it was midnight and I was leaving at 5:30 a.m. the next day, so there was no time to make the purchase before we left. Sales online go swiftly and I would never ask a seller to hold something for me for two reasons: one, most do not know me personally and don’t realize that when I say I’ll come get the item, I mean it; and two, if something were to happen that would prevent me from picking up the item, I would cause the seller to miss a chance to make a sale, and that’s just not fair.

I commented that I liked the bicycle and if it were still available when I got back from vacation, I’d contact her and make arrangements to pick it up. She said she understood completely. On our second day of vacation, the seller posted that the bicycle was no longer available. I was disappointed but, as I said before, bargains come and bargains go.

Let me share with you one of the scriptures that accompanied my daily devotion on that Tuesday morning:

Take delight in the Lordand He will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4 (NLT)

Now, let me insert a little information about my dear friend and neighbor, Jerry Ann. She has two precious fur babies that I walk three times a day while her husband, Richard, works and she visits her daughters and grandbabies in Georgia. Since I keep my granddaughter while my son and daughter-in-love work, Joshlyn always goes with me to walk the dogs and has become quite the helper in this endeavor. We have just decided that Sasha and Pixie are part of our extended family because they’re the sweetest little dogs in the world.

Wednesday morning, I got a message from Jerry Ann, “When will you be home from vacation?”

“We’ll be back on Friday,” I texted.

“Well, I purchased that bicycle for your granddaughter,” she replied.

WHAT?

“The bicycle I was following on Facebook?” I asked incredulously. “Thank you! I will pay you for it when we get back.”

“I saw your note, called Richard, and had him pick it up.” she offered. “You owe me nothing. You and Joshlyn love our girls and we just wanted to do something nice for the two of you.”

Just like that, God took care of the desire of my heart. I didn’t know that He was going to do it and I certainly didn’t expect Him to do it in this way. In fact, I was willing to accept that this bicycle was just not in God’s plan for us.

Some of you reading this will say, “But it was a BICYCLE…do you really think God cares whether your granddaughter has a bicycle when there’s so much going on in the world.”

To that, I answer, “Yes! I do think He cares.”

I have a little poem that explains how God cares for us:

God is the God of big things and small things;

God is the God of all things.

God has answered so many prayers in my life that I cannot count them all. Some have been huge answers – such as the adoption of our three children or bringing my husband, Kelly, through leukemia into remission (and keeping him there for five plus years). Some have been very small answers – like finding a parking space upfront when I’m having a terrible back pain day or when someone buys a bicycle for my granddaughter completely out of the blue, just to be nice.

God spoke this to Jeremiah:

Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come. Jeremiah 33:3 (NLT)

If you are in the midst of waiting on unanswered prayer, God may bring that answer to you through something or someone unexpected. And never, ever assume that because it’s something little or seemingly insignificant, that it’s not God’s concern. If it’s happening to one of His children, it’s His concern. To believe anything else, is to put God in a box and take away His great power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friends Are Like Bras

How are friends like bras?  They’re close to your heart and there for support.  The devil, on the other hand, would prefer that you forget that you have support of any kind.

 

Image Credit:  http://beautydart.wordpress.com

Lie #4:  You have to do this alone.

When I feel isolated and overwhelmed, this lie can cause me to abandon any project that God means for me to complete.  To be honest, when I made the decision to start losing some weight and eat healthier, this thought crossed my mind.

Image Credit:  http://alone-alone-alone.blogspot.com

Claire didn’t need to lose any weight and I cannot exercise the way she does — she runs between three and five miles at a time.  Kelly needs to lose some weight, but he’s not come to a place where he’s ready to give up big portions and unhealthy snacks.  I think the reason he feels this way is because he had been on the Atkins diet before his diagnosis with leukemia.  He knows his feelings are unfounded, but he’s got to get over the association of weight loss and cancer.  I could not wait for him to get in a “good place” about losing weight to begin my own journey.  As well as deciding to share with all of you, I sort of made God my weight loss partner.

But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.  He keeps every promise forever.  Psalm 145:5-6 (NLT)

Image Creditwww.deliveringhappiness.com

I take joy in knowing that God sees me giving my best efforts in making His temple in me healthier. 

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.  Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

Image Credit:  www.indiastand.com

I am thankful that my mother continues to weigh in with me each week, although her goal now is maintenance.  She gives me wonderful support on our weigh-in days and gladly takes time for me if I call to talk about something diet-related.  But it’s God who is there watching me on my other weigh-in days.  I go to Him first when I have a concern (Why is the scale hanging on at 193 for the third week in a row?) or a joy (I’m now fitting into clothes I haven’t been able to wear in five years!) in my weight loss journey.

Image Credit:  www.dreamstime.com

I have a small group of intimate friends as it is.  They are all pulling for me and encouraging me.  I am so appreciative of them.  Beside Mama, Kelly, Marla, Renee, Jodie, Amber, Robin,  and Aunt Melba have been my sources of earthly strength.  But I have found that the longer I’m successful at this business of losing weight, the less some people want to know about it.  I’m sure there are even some who wish I’d go to Dairy Queen and eat my current weight in ice cream every day for a month.  So I don’t share unless I’m asked and even then, my answer depends on who asks.

Image Credit:  www.bridgat.com

The one thing I’m sure of is that God is happy with my success.  And since it’s His approval that I’m ultimately seeking, I remember this verse:

You light a lamp for me.  The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.  Psalm 18:28 (NLT)

I think David was trying to remind us that while others around us can lift us in wonderful, supportive ways, God gives us our ultimate support and I never, ever have to do anything alone.

Image Credit:  www.fineartamerica.com

Thank you, dear Blog Buddies, for keeping me in your prayers thus far.

shr

He’s a Liar and the Truth Ain’t in Him

I think this describes the devil pretty well.  This is the second week of our Bible study exposing the lies that Satan uses to keep us from being the person God wants us to be.  I want to acknowledge both my Southern grandmothers, Eula Mae Carter and Alice Westbrook, for introducing me to the catchy little phrase I’ve used for today’s title and for being wonderful servants of God — they considered Satan the king of all liars.

Lie #2:  I’m just going to fail anyway.

Other forms of this lie are:

    • No one really cares anyway.
    • I don’t have any will power.
    • I’m afraid.
    • This is just hopeless.
    • This is probably a bad idea.

You cannot imagine how often the devil said these statements to me over and over when I decided to get healthy.  Previously, it’s the lie that has kept me from attending exercise classes at my church, sharing my health concerns with friends, and it derailed every effort toward losing weight I’ve attempted in the last ten years.

To share a mini-update about my progress:  I am still at 193 pounds but I have continued to lose inches in my chest, waist, and hips.  Can you believe that I’ve almost considered this a FAILURE?  Am I crazy or what?  And once, when someone noticed the obvious change in my physique, I heard me say, “I feel like I should have lost more weight by now.”  Sabotage at its best!

When I decided to post a “before” picture in my first post about getting healthy (see related articles below), it was with great fear and trepidation.  The whole time I kept hearing, Who is going to care that you are losing weight? No one wants to hear about this!

But I did it anyway and I want to share some statements and Scriptures that I use frequently to shut the devil up.  I love to stop him in his tracks and the Word of God does just that.

1.  God is always on my side.  I am never alone.

He gives strength to those who grow tired and increases the strength of those who are weak. Even young people grow tired and become weary, and young men will stumble and fall.  Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the Lord will be renewed.  They will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and won’t become weary.  They will walk and won’t grow tired.  Isaiah 40:29-31 (GOD’S WORD translation)

And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.  John 16:32b (21st Century KJV)

2.  I have the power to do anything because of God’s power.

 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Ephesians 6:10 (NLT)

 I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13 (New Century Version)

3.  God’s grace allows me to have the strength to attempt anything.

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1 (21st Century KJV)

4.  As long as I have breath, I have hope.

Be strong and take heart,  all you who hope in the LORD.  Psalm 31:24 (NIV)

5.  When I’m weak, Christ is strong.  (I learned this from “Jesus Loves Me,” did you?)

I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.  2 Corinthian 12:10 (The Message)

6.  I cannot fail if I put my faith in Jesus.

The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails.  Zephaniah 3:5 (NKJV)

Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”  Matthew 9:2 (NLT)

“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.   Matthew 16:28 (NLT)

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.  Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.   2 Timothy 2:7 (NLT)

 

Failure should never be your first thought when you attempt something.  I’m learning to take my healthy eating and increased activity (I’m not sure it’s really exercise yet, except for Zumba on Tuesday and Thursday nights) one step at a time.  I am human and sometimes I deviate from what is healthy — or as I have referred to it in the past, cheated on my diet.  However, I’m not dieting.  I’m making a lifestyle change toward health, just as I have made a decision for my lifestyle to be one of praise and worship for my Savior.

How do you handle failure?  What are some of your tricks or tips for getting back on track when you’ve deviated? 

And let me know if you’d be interested in sharing some really yummy, healthy recipes!  I’ll share if some and I’d love to read your “yummy-best recipes” in the comment section!

shr

Image/Photo Credits:  www.leadingsmart.com, http://lucyinnovation.wordpress.com, www.picturedepot.com, www.losingweightdiets.com, www.fno.org, www.hellosaver.com, & www.poemsbycc.com

Related Articles:

“Liar, Liar Pants on Fire”  http://wp.me/p22liv-gw

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

“How Can I Keep from Singing:  Beautiful”  http://wp.me/p22liv-aI

“Jesus Loves Me, This I Know – Satan Hates Me, This I Know, Too”  http://birdmartin.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/jesus-loves-me-this-i-know-satan-hates-me-this-i-know-too/

Let God But In”  http://edithpont.com/2012/05/15/let-god-but-in/

“STOP! 2 POUNDS –> -2”  http://futureflyingsaucers.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/stop-2-pounds-2/

How Can I Keep from Singing: Never Once

Fear.  That’s what I lived with last week.  A fear that that shook me to the core.  And Satan had a field day.

Image Credit: www.mariaerving.com

It started on Tuesday with Kelly’s visit to the orthopedic surgeon.  Since going through chemotherapy for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) last year and being in remission for almost a year, he has suffered unexplained pain in his ankles, knees, and left shoulder.  The news from the doctor wasn’t bad in and of itself — a partial tear in the muscle in his shoulder, a tear in the labrum, and signs of arthritis which are a little advanced for a man of fifty.  Dr. Newman feels like physical therapy will be of great help in managing the pain and he didn’t recommend surgery.  Our question was, could Kelly return to work in law enforcement and be able to pass the Police Officer‘s Physical Assessment Test (POPAT) that is required by NCSU Campus Police policy?  Dr. Newman said not immediately, but in time perhaps Kelly could go back.  He wants to check on the problems that Kelly is having with other joints.  It’s a wait-and-see kind of thing.

But, we had no time to wait and see.  Kelly’s job had been open at the NCSU Campus Police Department for over eighteen months.  Since this is not an on-the-job injury, the university needed an answer about his future employability.  Kelly had a  decision to make:  return to work by today, April 23rd,  (and be able to pass the POPAT in two weeks’ time) or the university must begin to separate him from employment.  (Which is a fancy way to say “We’re relieving you of your duties.  You no longer have a job.”)

Although Kelly is on extended short-term disability at the present time, it’s a not a guarantee for him after August of this year.  He’s five years away from retiring in law enforcement and after twenty-five years of service to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and NCSU Campus Police, I saw the pain of this realization in his eyes.  And it made me so angry.

Photo Credit:  www.pbase.com

My anger was like a bull fresh out of the gate at the rodeo.  I bounced around the ring, exploding on everybody that came in contact with me.  I had a huge argument with Kelly.  I ignored Claire.  I railed against NCSU and how cruel they were being to a faithful employee who didn’t ask to get sick.  I couldn’t even bring myself to call my parents and explain what was happening because I wasn’t sure that they wouldn’t be caught on the savage horns of this anger that just kept swelling and writhing inside me.  When I sat down to write my posts on Wednesday and Friday, I had nothing.  No good word was sent my way.  It was as if I had never written a single thing in my life.  I was blind with rage and in no condition to share anything with anybody.  God knew this.  In retrospect, it was a good thing that He withheld His words from me.

So, last Friday night, I let God have it with both barrels:

“So, you brought Kelly through the cancer only to send us to financial ruin.  Is that how it is, God?”  I yelled this aloud to an empty living room because no one in my family could stand to be around me.

And God whispered, “For I know the plans I have for you.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT)

“Do you even care what we’re going through?  Do you not see how much we are hurting?  What is going to happen to us?” I whimpered as the tears began to stain my cheeks.

And God whispered, “I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.”  (Hebrews 13:5b, NLT)

I fell on my knees and raised my hands to the sky, crying, “What am I supposed to do, God?  We’re stretched financially just about as far as we can stretch.  What do you expect me to do?”

And God whispered, “I expect you to do nothing.  I will handle it all.  I’ve told you before:  Trust in [Me] with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek [My] will in all you do, and [I] will show you which path to take.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT)*

By this time, I was so weary from the weight of my fear, all I could do was cry.  I cried because there were no words for the pain.

And God whispered, “Come to me, [Sandy] you [are] weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)*

I promise you, I felt the warmth of the Holy Spirit surround me.  It felt like a hug.  The tears subsided and I suddenly felt the shame of losing my faith — of not believing God.  I begged Him for forgiveness and the heavy weight of the fear lifted.  In its place, God gave me this feeling of calm.  Suddenly, I knew that everything was going to be all right.  I can’t tell you how I know this, but as Joyce Meyers loves to say, “I know that I know that I know that I know.”

Joyce Meyer

Photo Credit:  www.pastorsschool.com

I keep a journal for each family member and for my church, community, nation, and world.  It is my habit to find Scripture and write them into a prayer in the notebook of the person for whom I’m praying.  I picked them up and thumbed through them.  Did you know that each Scripture God used to answer me during my little meltdown was Scripture that I had prayed for someone else during the past month?  Now, that’s a “God-incident” if I ever saw one!

Image Credit: http://kristelpaula.tumblr.com

The writer’s block that the fear had created dissipated over the weekend.  God reminded me of Matt Redman‘s “Never Once.”  (I’m pretty sure God wants this to be my theme song for the time being.)  Matt once said that this song came to him spontaneously at a time of great transition for him and his family.  He had just sold his house in Atlanta, Georgia and the entire family was moving to England.  His future was uncertain and yet, the words to this marvelous praise song came to him and he sang them in the middle of a living room devoid of furniture and walls that echoed back the chorus, “You are faithful, God, You are faithful.”  It speak volumes about trusting God in the unknown because He’s been with us through every valley, every stuggle and proven Himself to be faithful in every circumstance.  It describes this season of my life perfectly.

Image Credit: www.musicaw.com

Over the weekend, I realized that NCSU is only doing what they have to do to run a business (and it is a business that sometimes must function by rules that might seem unfair).  Please don’t start a letter-writing campaign to NCSU — we believe we are fully in God’s will now.   I find a great deal of comfort in the fact that the folks in Human Resources are fully prepared to go to bat for Kelly where his disability is concerned.  In further conversations with the Chief today, Kelly found that if he’s cleared for duty, he can re-apply to work at the university again.

But that may not be God’s plan.  Other people have approached Kelly about possible job openings that are right here in Fayetteville so that he wouldn’t have to make the hour drive to and from Raleigh several days a week.  One of these jobs is law enforcement-related.  Kelly is qualified to do this job and there are people in position to help him get hired, if it’s God’s will.

Image Credit:  http://timbee.tumblr.com

I don’t have any more answers than I did when I went temporarily insane last week.  I just don’t know what’s going to happen.  And that’s okay because my God is faithful and He’s given me His peace over whatever this season in our lives may bring.  I can truly say, “You have brought us thus far, Lord.”

shr

“Never Once” (Matt Redman)  http://youtu.be/e02UNZRsdSQ

*All substitutions in these verses of Scripture are mine.

Related Articles:  “Face Your Fear”  http://morninggloryinspirations.wordpress.com/2012/04/23/face-your-fear/

“Prayer of the Broken Vessel”  http://breadforthebride.wordpress.com/2012/04/22/prayer-of-the-broken-vessel/

“Faithfulness”  http://adamlott2012.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/faithfulness/

“Faithful”  http://legacydevotional.net/2012/04/20/faithful/

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/

Isn’t She Lovely?

Claire, Spring 2012

That’s my girl!  I cannot tell you how much I love my daughter and how proud I am that she belongs to me.

After we adopted Martin and Steven, we had to wait seven long years to adopt Claire.  When I first saw her, her absolute beauty took my breath away.  Her big brown eyes melted my heart.  From the beginning, she has been the daughter I’ve always wanted.  In fact, I didn’t realize how much need I had for a daughter until the very first time I ever held her.

She’s a freshman in high school who is coming into her own.  For the first part of her childhood, she was very timid and almost refused to make a decision by herself — even if it was what she was ordering at a restaurant.  Her group of friends was a small, but loyal.

Let me introduce you to her!  Claire is a talented artist and has a killer wit.   Her crystal-clear voice is sweet and will make you cry with joy when she sings. She is an honor roll student who is working on having a straight-A semester for the second half of this year.  She’s setting her sites on the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  Best of all, she loves Jesus and is involved in our church, singing in the choir and being one of my assistants with the children’s choir.

I’ve watched her grow into this gorgeous young woman who does not see just how beautiful she is.  It is comforting to know that her beauty radiates from the inside.   However beautiful she is on the outside, she is one thousand times more beautiful in her heart.

This is one of the verses that I pray over her:

Teach me your ways, O LORD,  that I may live according to your truth!  Grant me purity of heart,  so that I may honor you.  Psalm 86:11 (NLT)

Is our relationship all rainbows and roses?  Nope.  It can’t be — she’s a teenager and it’s her job to push the boundaries.  Her favorite question to ask me is, “Are you my friend today?”  I always tell her that I love it when we can do “friendly” activities together, but that I am her mother first and her friend second.  My decisions for her don’t always make her happy.  Sometimes she’s a little snappy with her comments when she’s angry.  When she gets out of line, I always make her look at me and tell her, “I don’t like the way you just talked to me.  I won’t tolerate it and you owe me an apology.”  Sometimes, she immediately sees the error of her ways.  Sometimes, it takes an hour or two in her room.  But I always get an apology and we always end our discussions with a hug and “I love you.”

She is reaping the benefits of the growing pains I experienced with her older brothers.  I can’t tell you how many times I ended up in a screaming match with one or both of my boys.  The beginning of their teenage years just so happened at a point in my life when I didn’t love myself very much and I was angry with God about my chronic pain. Kelly very lovingly said to me one day, “If you don’t find a way to make peace with God, this is going to cost you a relationship with the boys — especially [my youngest son] Steven.”   It was at this point that I had to re-evaluate my relationships with everybody — first and foremost, my Savior.

I am approaching Claire’s teenage years with a much more level head and a heart that completely belongs to God.  I put my relationship with God first and everything else just seems to fall into place.  (see Matthew 6:33)

Claire has come into her own in high school.  She is confident and assertive.  She is very decisive and knows exactly what she wants — well, as much as a fourteen year old can.  She has many friends, including my “other adopted daughter,” Kaitlyn, whom she calls her “sister.”  They’ve been best friends for the past six years.  It’s really wonderful when you have a best friend (Kaitlyn’s mother, Marla) who has a daughter who becomes best friends with your daughter.

Claire ran Cross Country Track in the fall and is now running Spring Track.  She is a leader and has earned the respect of her teammates and coaches.  At the fall sports banquet, she received the “Coach’s Award” for being such a strong and inspirational team member. (When a grown man stands up to address the rest of the team and parents and gets so choked up that he cries, you know your kid is something special.)  Claire was so humble that she didn’t even realize Coach Hanes was talking about her until he called her name.

As a parent, you’d like to believe that you have something to do with the successes your children enjoy and the kind of persons they turn out to be.  There are times when I know I’m following God’s directions and then, there are times when Satan whispers doubts in my ear so that I wonder if my children have heard anything I’ve said, watched anything I’ve done, or if I’ve made any difference in their lives at all.

About two weeks ago, Claire was excited after visiting the home of one of her teammates and brand-new best friend, Aubray.  We sat in our living room while she told me all about it.

“Oh, Mom,” she enthusiastically said.  “You and Aubray’s mom are going to get along great!  She’s almost as big a Jesus-freak as you are.”

I asked her if me being a “Jesus-freak” embarrassed her.  She emphatically said, “No!  I think it’s great.  It’s what you believe.  Why should that embarrass me?   Besides, I believe in Jesus, too.  I’m proud of the kind of woman you are.”

Sometimes, you ask God if you’re making a difference.  Sometimes, He shows you the answer so clear it’s undeniable.

Kaitlyn & Claire

Photo Credits:  Claire Rosser