“When you don’t feel like it, do it anyway. Discipline creates desire, not the other way around.”
I recently came across this quote and thought it was perfect for my goals for the summer. I started my very first week of summer break with the goal of working out a minimum of 4 times a week. Now, throughout the school year my alarm tears me out of sleep at 4:30 every morning. And here I was setting a goal to get up at 5:00am (sleeping in for a half hour) at least 4 times a week in order to get in shape and change my lifestyle. Which leads me to why this quote seemed so appropriate for me this summer. There have been many mornings that I do not feel like it. Many mornings. But I kept telling myself that the more disciplined I could become toward my goal, the more desire I would have to keep at it. It has truly been a phrase that I believe has made a difference…but not just toward my physical goals. Another goal that I have set for myself (and I think most Christ-followers do) is to be more immersed in God’s word – in order to be closer to Him each day. I love to read and study and learn…and I cannot even name the closeness that being in the word has brought me. But I’m not going to lie – sometimes it is hard. At times the frustration that I feel trying to “understand” outweighs the feeling of closeness that I get. One of my Bible study groups right now is studying the book of Isaiah. Let me just say that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know so much. It has been such a challenge. But the same principle that I have applied to my physical way of life has been so beneficial to me growing my spiritual side. There are times when I don’t feel like sitting down and trying to understand or to apply the word to my life. That’s the truth (and I feel guilty for saying that)…but the more disiciplined I become in my time with God through his word, the more desire I have to do it more. God has planted that desire in my heart to learn and study and spend time with him. It has been an amazing transformation for my spiritual life. The times that I don’t feel like it are few and far between in both my workouts and my study time. I see and feel the physical benefits of my early morning workouts, and I see and feel my relationship with God and the conviction in my heart growing as a result of my time alone with His divine teachings. My desire to serve God and to share Him with others is stronger than ever before. So glad that I came across this quote and that it has made such an impact of my every day.
I heard this saying from a dear friend just the other day. “You can’t buy puppies at Kroger.” She was upset about yet another negative encounter with her mother and we were talking about how those mother/daughter relationships can be so tricky. She was upset more with herself than with her mother’s behavior. She kept saying, “I know that Kroger doesn’t sell puppies, but I keep going there anyway.” It took me a minute to realize what she was saying…but then it hit and sunk in. She knows how dysfunctional her relationship is with her mother, yet she expects a different outcome each time they interact. She expects that her mother will be loving and supportive and caring…but guess what – she’s not. It’s like expecting to walk into Kroger and buy a puppy, when you know that they don’t sell them. The more I kicked around this phrase, the more I began to think about other ways that this relates to real life and to other situations. I have been blessed to minister to many people over the course of the last year and a half. I have met some amazingly faithful, strong people who have had experiences that I can’t even fathom. I have also met people who I know needed the Lord so badly in their lives, but remained lost. There are a lot of lost people out there trying to buy puppies at Kroger. They are seeking peace and comfort from people and things, but sadly, they will never find true happiness and contentment in those people and things. True peace and true life comes from a relationship with Jesus. Not from a man or woman, not from a drink, not from a pill, not from shopping, or food, or wealth or fame. Its so sad to see people hurting and lost, looking for fulfillment from the wrong sources. I know this all too well. For many years I sought acceptance and love from so many negative places. I was lost and wondering around trying to find what only God can give. Thankfully we serve a God who is merciful and pours His grace out on us daily. I have found such happiness in living my life for God…and I want everyone else to have what I have. God’s love and acceptance are more than enough to mend any hurt, heal any wound, and calm any storm. I went back to my friend yesterday and shared these thoughts with her. I thanked her for sharing her insight with me and for allowing me to listen to her. God is so good at putting people in our lives from whom we can learn so many valuable lessons about life, and about ourselves. I am thankful for the lessons I continue to learn from those around me. I am thankful to God for fulfilling all of my needs as He sees them.
I heard a saying once – or maybe I read it on a magnet at Cracker Barrel – and I didn’t really commit it to memory intentionally, but I have never forgotten its words and the power of it message in my life. The saying was “Jesus accepts me for who I am, but loves me too much to leave me that way.” Lately this phrase has become really important to me as I seek to continue to grow in my love for the Lord and in my desire to bring people to Him. Through my lowest lows in recent weeks, I keep asking myself why in the world Jesus would want to use me for his work. I’m not the smartest, the most well-spoken, the strongest…I’m broken and often afraid of losing my way. I feel like sometimes I’m not worthy enough to call myself a child of God. And in spite of my broken state, God loves and accepts me for who I am! I don’t have to be anybody else but me. But it gets even better (do I sound like an infomercial…?) Jesus does accept me for who I am – but through his mercy and grace he loves me way too much to leave me like I am. Since I surrendered myself to his will, He has begun to change me. In small ways and in BIG ways. I am His work in progress. He is transforming me, renewing my mind, using me to further his Kingdom, placing amazing people in my path, and allowing me to grow in my faith and in Him. He showers me with mercy and grace in my daily walk. He listens and he speaks. He teaches me to believe when I doubt, to ask for his help when I’m hurt, and to rejoice in him when he has made me glad. He does not turn his back on me when I slip and fall, but rather opens up more to me to help me learn each day. I know that Jesus loves me, and I know that He is working in me to make me a better person every day. He accepts me and keeps changing me with his love. And He’s not finished with me yet.
Recently Brian and I started a small group in conjunction with a series called “Fearless” we had been doing at Foundation Community Church. The study is based on a book of the same name by Max Lucado. So far there have been so many things that have really stuck with me. I’ve been asking myself what it is that I am truly most afraid of. Where do those fears come from? And on and on. And as a follow up to all of those questions, how do I react when my fears control me. There is a story of Jesus and his disciples climbing onto a boat one day. Jesus took a nap. While he was sleeping a violent, fierce storm blew up. The disciples immediately questioned Jesus by asking him if he didn’t care if they died. This reaction has always interested me. They knew what he was capable of…they just wanted to know why he wasn’t helping them. They were questioning his character. They were frustrated and angered even. My big take away from this lesson is that Jesus knew all along what was going on. He didn’t “accidentally” fall asleep. He purposely slept – for the disciples to grow in their faith and understanding. It makes me wonder how many times God has gone to sleep so that I could grow. How many times have I become angry at God for seemingly not caring that I was suffering? I know that he has slept through some of my storms so that I would come out better on the other side. That’s a lot of love. I see my responses in the words of the disciples. I have questioned God and his love for me. And through the course of each of those storms, my faith has grown. God loves me enough to sleep through my storms.
There is a new subdivision being built near my home. I actually pass by it every time I go to Brian’s house. It’s got one of those fancy, schmancy community names like Harbortowne or something crazy that doesn’t have anything to do with the cornfield in which it sits. I’ve watched this subdivision begin and grow over the course of the past year. Recently a sidewalk was formed and poured leading from the entrance of the community. I thought it a bit peculiar at the time, because, as I said, the community is surrounded by fields, but I then I figured it would perhaps become like a walking path around the subdivision. Each day that I passed I saw more forms constructed and more concrete poured. One day I noticed that it looked as if the work had stopped. Continue reading →
A few months back there were a series of commercials that ran, seemingly every other 30 seconds, about depression. They started out with soft, meloncholy piano music. The first line of the commercial was…”Depression hurts.” I must say that I agree. For a long time (decades) I think I was in denial that I suffered from this ugly disease. I blamed hormones, post pardom, relationship issues, seasons, and anything and everything else I could think of. I’m not sure that I used to even believe that depression was a “real” disease. I thought that it was just me that felt the way I felt…like it was all in my head…and I just wasn’t “right.” My understanding and acceptance of this dreaded disease have changed and after a lot of reading about conversations with others, I know that I do indeed suffer from depression. Continue reading →
Life is frustrating…especially when you’re a control freak (that word is harsh..but appropriate). When things don’t go the way I think they should, it gets under my skin. It affects my mood, my outlook, and my motivation. I know all of this and yet I still let myself get frustrated. Hmm…guess that means I’m not perfect – life’s not perfect. Sometimes lessons have to be learned the difficult way. I think that God puts me in situations that will allow me to grow in areas that He knows I am lacking. Continue reading →