Thursday, November 6, 2014

God's calling....easy or hard?

God's Calling

I have been struggling with God's calling and knowing whether or not it's God speaking.  It had me thinking about God and his plans for me.  This also led me to think, "well I can't do that, it would be so hard, God's plan certainly wouldn't make my life harder."  As I thought longer and marinated on that I had to laugh.  Why do I and get so caught up on the wanting only the easy and thinking God will never give me more than I can handle?  If God only gave me an easy lives and easy path, when would I ever turn to him? When I get in over my head, when life gets difficult is when I look up. Of course there are always times of praise, but it's when I am on my knees and completely humbled that I surrender.  When I fully and totally have to rely on God to get me through.  It's in those times that I have grown more in my faith than I ever have in my life and found God like never before.  Without those times I certainly would not have the faith that I have today.  The polishing and shining so God can see his image in me and his light only shines brighter for it. 

Noah building the ark would certainly not agree that God wants us to travel the easy path.  Nor would Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  How about Jonah going back to a horrible land of sin and pain to warn them if they didn't change their ways they would surely face the wrath of God's judgement (which is what he wanted for them). Mary carrying the baby Jesus and facing the ridicule of being pregnant outside of marriage. David facing Goliath the giant as a teenager.  None of these examples or the many, many others show of an easy way of life.  Sometimes the great things that God will call me to do are going to require hard work, sacrifice, loss and anything but an easy life. There is a bright side to all of this though.  All of these people in the Bible also had great victories when they trusted God and brought glory to him.  The first step though was listening to God's calling and trusting him. To take the first steps. Of course we could be like Jonah and take the hard road and get stuck in a fish belly first.  Thankfully God gave Jonah grace by saving his life and letting him do what he was called to in the first place.

So, when God nudges you to something that seems impossible, hard or it's going to turn your life upside down, remember that you are in good company! Pray, trust and take the next best steps!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

God's Strength

It was a beautiful cool fall morning so I went for a run and as I was rounding the corner into the subdivision, I could hear jingling next to me through my headphones blaring praise and worship music.  I turned to see my dog following me on my run.  Historically she can’t do much more than 3 miles; most of the time, even that is a struggle and I was set out for 4. She is slightly out of shape.  As we ran, she struggled a bit and would roll around in a ditch to cool off.  Unfortunately there wasn’t much moisture for her other than the morning dew.  At about 3 ½ miles I could tell she couldn’t take much more without a break and some water. So I veered off to head toward the pond.  As we headed down the small path, she kept stopping along the way to lay in the muddy ditch.  There in the weeds and muck she seemed happy.  I kept calling to her though as the huge, beautiful pond was only 10 steps away.  She got out and almost made it to the pond before veering off for comfort and missing the bigger picture.  She laid down again in the muck and tall grass with big weeds blocking her view from the paradise just beyond.  I just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t take the next 3 steps to the clean, beautiful refreshment of the big pond.  It is there I felt God.  I took my phone out to take a picture of this.

How often do we lose sight of the forest for the trees when we are in a struggle (whether financially, spiritually, health, loved ones, work)?  We are weighted down by the troubles of this world and our burden becomes too much to bear; we cannot take another step on our own we give up.  We can barely call out, “This is good God, that’s all the strength I have, I can’t keep going.  This mud and muck is enough.” We are happy with what we can see with our very human sight, not knowing that if we fully trusted God, there is so much more that lays ahead.  How often in life when obstacles get in our way do we lay down in our weakness and try to be content in staying there without seeking  God’s will or God’s strength to get us to that next place He has called.  Like Bella and like the Israelites I think we know of God’s promises, but we easily forget his faithfulness when we cannot see beyond our current circumstances. The weeds to Bella were like the giants in the Promised Land to the Israelites.  It was hard for her to see beyond them to the greatness that was just beyond.  She was too tired to care, too tired to move one step further; she was out of her own strength.   Thankfully, God promises over and over, verse after verse in the bible that not in our Strength but in His.  He has so much more for us.  Isaiah 40:31 states, “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.”  God never asks us to keep going in our strength. That old saying, “The Lord will never give your more than you can handle,” bothers me.  Where is that found in the Bible? God will give us more than we can handle or we may never seek him. Sometimes it’s exactly what He has to use to change and shift our stubborn hearts.  He promises His strength, we need only ask and believe.   Realize that we are totally and completely dependent on his strength.  The revelations were straight from God this morning, just what I needed to hear.  Maybe what some of you need to hear as well?  When he leads us on a journey, even when it gets hard, he will renew our strength to see it through.  His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  God never promises that we will not have trouble in this life.  In fact Jesus states in John 26:33 “In the world, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

When he calls us, we need to act obediently, trusting that what he has in store for us in better than what we could have ever imagined.  “For my plans are not your plans declare the Lord, neither are your ways my ways.” (Isaiah 55:8) Life will throw us curve balls, beautiful endings can start with horrible beginnings, things God calls us to, can seem nearly if not completely impossible.  But that is the absolutely amazing thing about God and his promises.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  I just hated to see Bella struggling and overheating when relief was steps away, much like I would believe God would hate to see his children suffering and settling for much less than he had planned for them.  For most of the time His plans are not only to bring us closer to Him, but also those around us can learn much from our journey and those we will meet in the future.  God is glorified in our journey when we let him strengthen us.  Our stories of His strength overcoming our obstacles are treasures to be shared with others, not only to remind ourselves of the times God was faithful in the past but to help others through their journeys as well.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Seashells: A journey on the beach but a lesson in God's grace!

We drove down to Florida last week with the kiddos.  We had had enough winter in Michigan and were ready for some fun in the sun.  One day we went to the beach.  It was glorious to see the ocean, waves, sand and sun.  AHHHHHHhh!! As my husband fished and my son was working on a big sand castle with some friends of ours, my daughter and I decided to grab a bucket and walk down the beach.  It was nice to have some girl time, just us.   We talked, walked and looked for treasures.  As we were walking I was kicking over shells to see if they were interesting enough to make it into our bucket.  Did they have blemishes?  Imperfection?  Were they broken?  Then they stayed on the beach. Were they pretty? Whole? Perfect? Unique? Then they were coming with us. As I did this I looked over and noticed my daughter passing over all of these "perfect" shells and picking up pieces of shells, shells with holes in them, shells with blemishes.  I was confused.  I inquired as to why she was picking up all of those shells, when we had plenty to choose from.  She exclaimed, "I love the broken ones!" 
It was at this moment I swear I could feel the Lord's presence.  Just like my daughter sifting through to find the broken shells that were so beautiful to her, so does God.  God calls the broken, the lonely, the poor, the imperfect, the blemished to Himself.  I could feel this lesson going on in my heart and I was mesmerized.  He uses our worst of times to rescue us and show us His love.  We all have things going on in this life that leave scars on us forever, inside and out.  But God doesn't judge us by this, He loves us anyway.  He can use our messes and our scars to bring others to him.  He sent the ultimate sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ to save us from all of our sins.   He doesn't see us as broken, shamed, bitter, angry, He sees us for the people He created us to be. He has a plan for all of us and sometimes that might include what we have gone through.  I know some of the roughest times I have been through have sometimes been blessed by others coming along and saying, "I have been there, keep going, you will get through this!"

Thank you Lord for this lesson that you love and call the broken to Yourself.  That you love us in spite of our broken spirits and bodies.  No matter how many times we screw up, You are there to forgive and love us anyway! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

God speaks to me at Walmart!

I was sent off on a mission today by my husband to finally buy a printer.  We have been without one for 7 or 8 years.  I also needed a new cord for my laptop.  The bill was going to be somewhat pricey.  As I was checking out a lady pulled her cart behind me with cat food.  As I am just getting over a fast of media, I noticed her.  I smiled at her and something was pulling me toward looking toward her. Before I would probably have been emailing or facebooking and too busy to notice her.  She placed her 2 things of cat food up on the belt behind my items.  It was then that I felt this amazing feeling saying, "Pay for her cat food," in my head.  I thought to myself why would I pay for her cat food?   Then I felt it again, "I am serious, pay for her cat food."  This is when I thought maybe God is trying to communicate with me. I thought back to God, "Look God I can't just offer to pay for someone's cat food, she is going to think I am a nut case, or slap my hand away if I try to grab it." I am normally too distracted to be reached I am realizing. I thought God doesn't talk to me like this, He doesn't talk to ordinary people like me.  I must be reading too many bible studies and christian books, my mind is finally completely off it's rocker.   That's when I noticed her start to dig through her purse.  She had that look I have sometimes when I can't find my debit card (my purse is usually too messy) she started looking through pockets and looked panicked. I heard her whisper over to her husband, my wallet is not in here, I can't find it.  That's when I heard it again, "see, pay for the cat food."  So I reached over as the cashier had just finished ringing me up and grabbed the cat food and said ,"this to." 

The lady looked at me with shock on her face and said, "no that's mine." 

I said "I know it is, it's ok!!" 

She replied "no, this can't happen, there aren't nice people in the world, why would you do this for me?"

Without trying to sound totally crazy I tried explaining, "I know this is going to sound crazy, but I felt even before you started digging through your purse that God was telling me to pay for your cat food and I didn't get it."

She said back, "I must have your name so I can pay you back, you should be on the news!"

I told her, "My name is Ginnie, but you don't have to pay me back, just thank God because He told me to!"  With that she had tears in her eyes and we hugged and her husband came over and hugged me as well.  I turned to leave.  I got to my car, unloaded my purchases and sat there in tears myself just praying and crying and thanking God for using me to help someone else.  I am so humbled by the way he works!  

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Seven Experiment: Staging your own mutiny against excess FOOD

So I meant to journal, but like all projects I jump in and forget to take before pictures, this is similar.  I thought I have been working on food choices for 2 years how hard can this be?

We have been working on The Seven Study at church in ladies Bible study.  It's been a journey, we went through it the first time studying it and then the next 8 weeks are all about living it out.  I think the living it out part is key as I have done so many bible studies and found good points or ideas but they easily wane over time. 

Week 1 is Food.  Getting back to a more farm to table food style that God intended, as well as picking only 7 foods to eat for the 7 days.  My food items were the same as the author, Jen Hatmaker:

Chicken breast
Sweet Potatoes
and Bread (with as little ingredients as possible)

How many times have we stood in our kitchen with pantry's full, fridge, freezer and sometimes an extra freezer and claimed, "We have nothing to eat?"  Do we realize how many people in the world would be overjoyed at having such a luxury of choosing what to eat or that they get to eat something at all?

With farm to table being hard this time of year, seeing as we don't have many (ANY) farmer's markets in Michigan in the dead of winter, we did what we could.  Thankfully my husband joined me on this journey.  I will say I spent a TON more time in the kitchen this week, preparing.  Days 1-4 weren't so difficult it was new to me still and while I had NO COFFEE or sweetener or spices except the salt, pepper and oil in moderation it wasn't difficult yet. 

Days 4-7 were excruciating for some reason.  I believe that women tend to eat their emotions, or when making my kids lunches I would eat a handful of (Insert whatever here: goldfish, cereal, lick the peanut butter knife).  I had to really be even more conscious about what I stuck in my mouth.  I caught myself a few times and literally went over to the garbage can to spit it out. Only for God could I do such an extreme diet/fast.  My husband said as long as he had food, he was fine.  He even had to go out to lunch a few times with wholesalers and just ordered according to what he could eat. 

I tried to be thankful over the course of this week to have 7 healthy choices to feed myself and my husband and sometimes the kids. God has certainly blessed us abundantly.  My kids chose to give up dessert for my daughter and candy for my son but they had chicken with us each night.  They also found it difficult to not partake in eating sweets at events, church and birthdays.  

There are so many people in this world that are lucky to have any food or any kind of variety.  With a large amount of the world's population eating rice and beans I found myself sometimes feeling sorry for myself I couldn't have more.  I didn't think my heart would be tied up much in food, but I was wrong.  I am not sure what this is going to mean about our future with food.  We do plan on a garden and lots of canning this summer/fall.  We also are looking into more opportunities to give. Jesus calls us to bless the poor and hungry and we need to figure out what that means for our family! 

Next week: CLOTHES!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Change is a present action not a future event!" A weight loss journey.

"Change is a present action, not a future event!" ---Jillian Michaels
You want to see a difference in something, then start now. Stop thinking about it, stop dreaming about it and JUST DO IT (thanks NIKE). My journey with weight loss and I call it a journey because to stay in shape will be a consistent non stop journey. It never ends. 

That's an interesting thought! Doing something we have never done!  Is sitting on the couch at night complaining about our body and eating donuts, chocolate, chips, pizza or ice cream getting us where we want to be? Is thinking about getting up and doing that exercise video or popping it in and watching it going to burn the calories? Are the excuses, "I am too tired," "I will do it tomorrow," "what's the point, I will never reach my goals anyway" getting you results?  They probably are getting results, but probably not in the direction you hoped for.

Here is a popular excuse, "I CAN'T DO IT!" One phrase I strongly discourage my daughter from saying.  There is no can't.  We are capable of so much more than we can imagine.  Not only our bodies but anything, especially if God is involved in your life.  I CAN learn to run.  That is one phrase I keep repeating as I board the treadmill and click on the couch to 5k app.  It would be difficult for me to count the number of times I have said "one day" I will learn to run.  Did I do anything to accomplish that, no!!! Now I am.  I am on week 5 of 8 on the couch to 5k program/app.  I am loving it.  The feeling of overcoming something I thought I could not do is an amazing and powerful feeling. I am GOING to run a 5k in June with my husband.  For fun and because guess what, I CAN DO IT!  I am excited to do it. 

This goal goes along with my goal I started last year.  To get off my butt, stop feeling sorry for myself, stop watching the scale going in the wrong direction and DO SOMETHING.  It started with Jillian Michaels and her 30 day shred.  I did that for a few days a week, then I started logging calories on myfitnesspal app and got some cardio in on off days.  Simple things, like cutting our acre and a half of grass with a walk behind mower, walking with a friend, taking the kids to the bike trail, anything but sitting on the couch or around the house. I refuse to let my husband buy a ride on mower, since I accomplish two things buy mowing, the grass gets cut and I burn an excellent amount of calories (WIN WIN)!  But my goal was only half reached when I lost my 15 lbs.  My goal is to be healthy, to keep it off.  Getting it off is only HALF the battle.  March will mark a year and not only have I kept my 15 lbs off I have lost 7 additional pounds. I feel great, I have more energy and I love my clothes (the ones that aren't too big) everything looks better on, when you are in shape.  I will keep that weight off, I will continue to work out and keep logging my calories to keep myself in check.   It's about making better decisions, setting a better example and getting IT DONE!  

Something extra that keeps me going is using my workout time to praise God.  I pray, something about exhausting exercise lets my emotions over-flow. You have seen the Biggest Loser, right? The emotional breakdowns they have.  It doesn't exactly happen like that for me, but I do find I can clear my mind and speak freely with God when I am running on the treadmill.  I find some of my best praise and worship and prayer happens when I am cleaning the house or exercising. 

Can you do it??? ABSOLUTELY!!! I LOVE when people ask someone who lost weight, "How did you do it?" GUESS WHAT??? There is NO SECRET??  As much as we would all like the EASY way out, there isn't one.  Stop eating poorly, start exercising and get it done!!  ANYONE can do it. One of the many things Jillian says on her videos that makes me laugh, "There is no modification for this particular exercise, I have 400 lb people who do this move and live to tell"  I also saw recently on the biggest loser the contestants ran a 5k!! If 300-400 lb people can run a 5k than you better believe you and I can do it! 

It's almost February, almost a month since you made those weight loss commitments, don't give up now!  Stop saying you can't do it and DO IT! 

Home improvement, not house improvement

The dreaded ironing...or.....

As I started to think I have not been on here in...well let's just say...quite awhile... I was pondering about the title of my blog.  I named it home improvement Mom and Wife.  I am glad I chose "HOME" improvement instead of "HOUSE" improvement.  The word house, to me, means an empty vessel.  It is an object of boards, bricks, shingles, paint, etc.  But the word home means something totally different, "home is where the heart is," "home is where you can let your hair down," "home is where your family is." These cliches come to mind.  We have not been doing much house improving lately.  I am back to school, taking 3 classes.  I am trying to keep my house and home in order and raise 2 kids and try to support my husband however I can.  As I was sweeping the floor it's 60' here in Michigan.  The snow is melting and the dogs are a muddy mess.  I decided to mop to make the floor look nice (at least to give the dogs a blank canvas for their muddy paw art).  Then I cleaned the bathrooms and dusted, wiped the counters in the kitchen and emptied the dishwasher.  Then it was onto the last task I had set aside a few days...ironing.  I do not enjoy ironing, in fact, I do not know many people who do.  It is tedious and something to be put off.  When thinking about it like this, it was putting me in a bad mood.  My mind drifts as I do the most mundane chores, run on the treadmill, let's just say I cannot shut it off.  I started thinking how handsome my husband would look in his freshly ironed shirt.  Then I thought of how hard he works for us.  He wasn't always an ironed-shirt wearing guy.  He used to own a landscaping company.  His idea of dressing up was a sweater and khakis.  He chose to use his degree and start a different career after having a family. If he can learn to (at least tolerate) wearing suits and ties, then the least I can do is learn to enjoy ironing.  I use the word "enjoy" somewhat loosely here.  I can enjoy it through thinking of how much more handsome he looks in a ironed shirt versus a wrinkled shirt.  I can also use the opportunity to pray for my husband.  I am ironing a "work" shirt, so what I perfect opportunity to pray for my husband and his work.  As I was finishing up ironing his shirts, I realized, this is not so bad.  I can take a few moments out of my day to pray for my other half, my team mate in life and the one who works so hard to provide for myself and our children. 

It seems it's all about mindset.  I can go into a task dreading it, or I can find the joy in it.  I can give everything I do my all and honor God, or I can grumble and be miserable.  I choose to pray for my husband in this task from now on and find the joy, YES, the JOY in IRONING! How ironic!