Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Less is more: Our journey to the fasted lifestyle, pt. 22

Today I decided "this is it! I'm going to buckle down and do it!"  What is this it?  It's reorganizing and cleaning out our storage room.  Our fourth bedroom has been deemed the storage room.  We have excess craft stuff, medical supplies, food storage, and emergency preparedness stuff in there.  Basically anything that we need to store in a more climate controlled environment, i.e. not the attic or garage.

I was going through all this stuff and thinking, man how did it get like this?  I mean the room was a mad house.  I have not been able to touch it in months.  Between busyness and the crushing "where do I start" feeling, it was just easier to shut the door and walk on.

This room has been the bane of my existence for the past few months.  I call it our hub of chaos.  The chaos spills out into the rest our home, making it a cluttered mess. When we can't get to the shelves in the room, the overflow takes up residence wherever it may land in the rest of the house.  Remember our tiny kitchen?  Well our tiny kitchen has a tiny pantry and right now our tiny pantry looks ridiculous because the majority of that stuff should be on the shelves in the storage room.  Which then leaves a bunch of stuff to gather on the kitchen counter because there is no more room in the pantry.  And the cycle just keeps going.  

The accumulation of stuff over time is overwhelming.  Do we need it all?  Could we bless someone with it?  Then the, but-what-if-I-need-its starts.  You never know when a huge case of stamp ink pads is going to come in handy.

In reality, will I need 5 million (exaggeration) sticker letters for projects I truly don't intend to do for years?  Could I get rid of it, then buy new ones in the future?  Most likely yes.  

A wise friend once said "if you want to see a picture of someone's spiritual life, look at their garage".  Well our garage in this instance is our storage room.  We have been dumping things in there that we don't want to deal with "right now" and shut the door.  Out of sight, out of mind.  We have done that with so many issues in our own hearts.  "Well I will work on that later."  "I'll get to that when I have more time."

I told my husband a few weeks ago that our storage room is a reflection of our hearts and he asked how so. Well we can tidy up the area that everyone sees, but we throw as much overflow back into the room and shut the door when company comes.  That way no one sees our mess (our sin).  Those things that nag at us, but we are afraid to admit them openly.  Then the but-what-if-its-too-hard-to-change starts.

We are holding onto things we can give to the Lord and be delivered from, but it's so comfortable to hold onto it because it's all we have known.  Sometimes our thought processes and even sin can be comfortable to the point of routine.  We keep tripping over the same stuff because we are afraid of a new way.  This way seems easier because it's what I've always done or been taught to do.

So as I'm cleaning and purging this area of our house, I'm asking the Lord to highlight the junk in my heart that I need to get rid of.  What can be pruned so that new abundant fruit can grow?  What is keeping me from the fullness of my destiny?  Lord reveal it in Jesus name!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

7 Things I Have Learned From My Daughter

Over the past year and a half, I have learned so much.

1.  Having a toddler is scary.  I feel like I may have a heart attack at any moment.  She likes to take risks like walking on the couch, climbing on things she shouldn't, sneaking up behind me and yelling, even her toys are scary.  Just the other day, I was putting away her toys and pushed down on stuff to make more room.  All of a sudden I hear a muffled "Hello, I love you".  This is in the middle of the night and it's just me at home with my daughter asleep in her room.  I almost jumped out of my skin!  It was just her Leap Frog dog toy.  Nothing sounds more evil than a little giggly toy "sweetly" saying "I love you" in the middle of the night.  That's the stuff horror movies are made of.

2.  Your child will reflect the stuff you don't like about yourself and make you deal with it.  I can be super stubborn and defiant when I want to be.  Well so can my daughter.  She wants what she wants, when she wants it.  Sadly I say about myself "I want things done yesterday".  Geeze Louise! You mean I have to deal with my own stubbornness in order to deal with my daughter's?  I know that if I want her to have righteous characteristics I must lead by example.

3.  Having a toddler can be painful.  I mean physically painful.  Stepping on sharp hard plastic toys, slaps, kicks, head butts, tripping you up because they are right under your feet.  I think I need full on hockey gear just to make it through the day sometimes.  It doesn't help that I'm super clumsy on top of it all.

4.  Having a child highlights the selfishness in your heart. If you look at your life pre-child, you will see what you spent your time and money on.  Yourself.  Doing the things you want to do, buying the things you want to buy, hanging out whenever and wherever you want.  Not so much with a kid in the mix.  Now it's thinking of others before yourself.  It's making sure a more meaningful agenda is met before your own.

5.  Dealing with your kid's gross stuff is different than dealing with someone else's kids gross stuff.  I'm talking mucous, puke, spit up, blow outs, etc.  I'm not easily squeamish.  I don't faint at the sight of blood nor do I gag if someone is having digestive distress.  Snot is my Achilles Heel.  It makes me gag. With my daughter it does not phase me a bit.  Oh here wipe your nose on my shirt honey, you have a boogie.  Another person's kid, don't touch me, your nose is runny.  I'm being overly dramatic of course, but you get my drift.  It's so funny how we can totally handle our own kid's gunk, but not someone else's.  Wonder what that is?

6.  It's cliche, but it's the most rewarding job in the world!  It's old, cheesy, and 100% true.  It's in the first time your baby says "I love you".  It's in seeing them grow and learn.  The first time I truly saw my daughter hear a new noise for the first time, I was deeply moved.  She was a few days old and nursing in the silence of her nursery.  Outside there was a bird chirping.  She stopped and turned her head to hear better.  I was in awe of this little life that is a clean slate, discovering everything for the first time.  I have a million more memories and moments that I cherish deeply and hold close to my heart.

7.  Motherhood has completely changed my world.   It is so amazing and I will take every bit of it even with the challenges that are presented everyday.  I want to raise godly children who seek Jesus and to serve others.  I want to see them grow and flourish.  I want to be the best helpmeet I can be to my husband.  4+ years ago these things were nowhere near on my list of "wants".  My wants were so ridiculous and self serving.  Now I have a new set of wants and I'm so thankful.

Zoe in the bounce house at her cousin's birthday party. 

Weeks 11 & 12: Our journey to the fasted lifestyle, pt. 21

...Or as I like to call it, falling off the wagon.  Yes, we failed to plan the past two weeks.  In week 11 we ate out here and there because we were so busy.  Week 12 was ridiculous.  We had VBS and ate out 4 of the 5 days. Ugh! One of those times was Chic-fil-a! Double ugh!

So where do we go from here?  We get back on the wagon and press on toward the goal.  The wagon doesn't leave us behind.  It waits for us to dust ourselves off and mount up and go on.  

We did learn some valuable lessons.  Next year, premade meals at home.  Something either in the crock pot or easily heated up.  There is no backing down again.  

We did however get to celebrate father's day at the Astros game this past Friday.  It was so much fun!  Zoe loved the game and the fireworks afterwards.  We couldn't have asked for a better night!

Sadly that's all I have for the past two weeks.  We were just so darn busy to do much of anything else.  

My two loves! I'm so glad she enjoyed watching Daddy's favorite sport!

Purity of the Body: Our journey to the fasted lifestyle, pt. 20

This post could also be called "Guarding the Gates".  As in guarding the gates into your body which then leads to your soul, then onto your spirit.  This is eyes, ears, and mouth.  "Speak no evil, hear no evil, and see no evil."

When we fail to capture thoughts, we speak what we feel rather than what we know.  We have knee jerk reactions and don't filter through a Biblical perspective.  "From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks."-Matthew 12:34  "The power of life and death is in the tongue."-Proverbs 18:21  Are we speaking life over people or death?  When we use condemning words like "never", we are dooming that person in our own eyes and dooming ourselves to judgmental attitudes that are spirit crushing.

Another aspect of guarding our mouth is guarding what we are putting into it.  A few weeks ago, my husband and I watched a documentary about food and how the western diet destroys you from the inside. Through a plant based diet we can undo damage wrought by heavy meats and animal proteins.  Something resounded in our spirits when we saw this (hence the vegan announcement a few weeks ago).  So we have taken steps on the journey.  We look at Biblical examples throughout Genesis and Daniel and know this to be the right path for us.  If we are going for purity we want it on the cellular level!

Oh be careful little ears what you hear.  We must be vigilant against false teaching and unfruitful things.  Faith comes by hearing.  What you listen to, increases your faith.  But what faith is increasing?  If you are listening to self promoting, moral relativistic jibber jabber, you will only produce a boastful spirit.  If you are listening to gossip, slander, and bitterness, your faith in your own self sufficiency will increase.  If you are listening to Truth, you will wash yourself in holiness and increase your faith in the Lord.

I know that when my daughter hears us, she repeats us.  As a 1.5 year old, she has picked up the words, "no", "don't" and "stop" because those are said all the time.  When we are told or hear something over and over we begin to repeat it then believe it.  I only want what is pure, righteous, and holy to be repeated and believed in my spirit.

One of the easiest ways to allow sinful influence into your life.  The vast majority of people operate visually. It's easy for a visual image to roll around in our brain all day, doing damage.  How do we guard what we see in a society inundated with sinful images?  For us, it was getting rid of TV.  Internet is difficult for us too.  Sometimes staring at the screen is so mind numbing that it feels like you are taking a break from the stresses of life.  It's taking time away from what we need to be looking at, the face of God.

So at the end of all of this, am I seeing, speaking, eating, hearing things that will kill me physically and spiritually or give me life?  I can say I'm not anywhere near the "give me life" answer at this point in time.  I know that with discipline it will get better.  The path to purity starts here at the gates.  If I can begin here, the other's will be less hard.

Purity of the Soul: Our journey to the fasted lifestyle, pt. 18

You know the saying "Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil"?  (Not sure if they are in the right order) Well I'm going to add one, "think no evil".

What does that even mean, think no evil? How hard is it to purify your thought life?  To answer those two questions there are two answers:  1.)It means to capture your thoughts before your brain runs with it and 2.) leaning not on our own understanding and trusting the Lord's ways.  And yes it is very hard.

Defining impure thoughts.
Any thought that comes to prick the area of your heart and mind that causes you to stumble.  My sin has been laid out in small measures in the past few posts.  I sin with food.  But also several other things that I will share in the future.

Capturing your thoughts
I was looking through some old notes from a women's group I was in.  One line said "the mind set on flesh is hostile to God."  All the thoughts that I struggle with on a daily basis are about me.  Me me me me me me.  I want that food item that's bad for me.  Why did that person say that to me?  What does he/she mean by it?  What did I do wrong?   I want you to do that the way I want you too.  Etc.  I get so sick of me!

How do you capture thoughts?  When something pops up, think of the Truth.  It may take a million and two times before it goes away, but it will go away.  I sometimes struggle with old ugly memories (see last purity post) and I wrestle with them.  When those things come up, I speak the Truth that I'm saved, redeemed, and made clean.  Be gone, in Jesus name! When insecurity pops up, the Truth is that the Lord made me wonderfully and He loves me.  The Creator of the Universe loves me!  Kinda overwhelming.

Trusting the Lord
As these things pop up I typically try to work out on my own.  Which leads to failure.  Why? Because I'm leaning on my own understanding.  I think the Bible says explicitly not to do that!

After all is said and done and I've exhausted my thought process by letting my imagination run rampant, I look to the Lord.  Why didn't I do this from the beginning?  Because of trust.  Do I trust God as much as I need to? If He has an answer for everything and will work things for the good of His people, why can't I lay down my own understanding about things and give it to the Lord?  Do I think I know better?

The reality of it is, I do think I know better.  Not conciously, but subconciously.  That is a thought I would never have at the forefront of my mind.  When I place trust in myself over the Lord, I'm telling the Lord, it's ok, I got this.

Trust is a very soulish battle waged in "logic", which is past experiences, facts and figures taught by human teachers, and the culture you live in.  Logic is focused on the here and now.  Trust is focused on eternity.  Peace comes from an eternal perspective.

When we get these two areas, trust and capturing thoughts, in submission to your spirit, you become freer and freer.  It will take awhile because it always does.  I always feel like I'm at the beginning until I come to something that makes me look back to how far I've come.

For me it was this past week at VBS.  I was so worried about temptation and wrestling with memories, but the Lord is so gentle and good that He showed me "look, it's not even there anymore".  What a freedom!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Week 10: Our journey to the fasted lifestyle, pt. 19

Has it been ten weeks?  Hmmmm...

I wanted to talk first about one draw back to eating at home, every meal, every day.  Dishes.  Lots of dishes.  And a messy kitchen.  All the time.  If we don't stay right on top of it, it gets insane.  We have a very small kitchen so it's easy for it to get out of hand.  A messy or cramped kitchen can be a big deterrent when you are trying to cook or prepare every meal at home.  Any suggestions on time saving methods to keep a constantly used small kitchen clean?

All in all every dirty dish is worth it! Abundantly worth it.

By not eating out unless on a special occasion we have been able to pay off around $2,000 worth of debt in two and a half months!  What a huge blessing!  It feels great to have that weight off our shoulders for sure.  All it took was a little obedience.  And lots of grace and favor!  Our part in all this is very minuscule when compared to the Lord's great works.

Funny little story about a debt that we paid on Friday.  So we were praying as to which bill to pay off.  We have two medical bills from the last year and a half that are not a negative mark on our credit score, three that are already on my credit score from years ago, and two credit cards (one small and one large).  So we both felt we should pay off the higher medical debt.  I start looking for the number and lo and behold the creditor called me in the middle of my search. Hahahahaha.  Funny when that happens.

On the flip side of that coin, we were kicking ourselves Friday night.  We went to celebrate my mom's birthday with her, which meant a meal out.  Well we failed to plan properly and had to get something for lunch as well.  Two meals out in one day.  Ugh!!!  Goodbye money, hello heartburn.  That was a big kick in the pants to make sure we are always prepared.  My grandmother used to say "failing to plan is planning to fail."  So true!

It was a great testament to how our paradigm has shifted over the last ten weeks though.  We would not have thought twice about eating out twice in a day 3 months ago.  We now felt awful.  Definitely don't want to do that again!

After the pool at Nene's house
As we enter the 11th week, we have gone to a new depth with our food fast.  We are walking more steadily toward the Levitical diet and have made steps to eat vegan.  Yes, eat vegan.  Some of you may be having a heart attack right now.  I apologize.  ;-)

We are weaning ourselves off meat, dairy and eggs.  We will have meat at holidays and special occasions, but our diet will consist of a very small percentage of animal protein.

Pretty eventful week huh?  I would say so.  I will publish the other two portions of my purity posts soon.

Purity of the Spirit: Our journey to the fasted lifestyle, pt. 17

A few weeks ago I posted that the husband and I had gone on a date.  This is pretty rare for us, but if we ever want to go to a movie we try to work it out to go back to our college town and go to the theater there.  Because it is SUPER cheap.  Especially matinees.

So we went to a movie, enjoyed our time together, and then drove around our old stomping grounds to reminisce.  We saw our old dorms, apartments, hangouts, etc.  I started having mixed emotions about everything.  I look fondly on some of those things, but mostly I felt shame.

We were not saved in college and were very worldly.  We lived together prior to marriage.  I was promiscuous, into witchcraft, drank heavily, and many other things that grieve the heart of the Lord.  The list is so long.  I was feeling very unclean because of my memories.

I began praying on my inner man, asking the Lord "if we desire purity, how do we get there when we have been in this disgusting hole?"  I have all these memories of impurity, how in the world do I attain purity?  Psalm 24:3-4 says "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts." Well Lord, my heart is not pure.  Just look at what I've done!  I have defiled myself in many ways.  How could I ever ascend the hill of the Lord?

The Lord spoke to me and said "it's never too late for purity."  He began revealing to me how He can recreate ANYTHING.  He also showed me that the key to purity is forgiveness.  Not just His, but also our own.

Forgiveness comes when we ask for it and turn from our wicked ways.  The Lord then throws out that record of our wrongdoing.  We on the other hand keep a running tally.  We beat ourselves up over and over.  We in turn never forgive ourselves which binds the hand of the Lord from forgiving us (Luke 6:37).  We put ourselves in a shame cycle that can be broken with the one thing that we don't want to do.  Forgive ourselves for our past wrongs.

Then we can see true freedom on the path to purity.  We can break the chains of bondage and begin to not hold all these mistakes against ourselves.  What we once saw as impurity and defilement can now be grafted into our testimony as the marking points of God's glory in our lives.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Week 9: Our journey to the fasted lifestyle, pt. 16

We made it through 9 weeks.  I can't believe it either!  

Yet another hard week.  Harder than the previous week.  Mostly because there was a lot of turmoil and warfare this week.  A couple of extended family members were in the hospital this week.  Lots of intercession and calling and checking and not sure if we need to go visit right now...  It was crazy.  Great report at the end of the week though because both people are doing really well!  Praise the Lord!

I have learned this week that cooking for your family (just like any other "chore") is a sacrifice.  Do I like cleaning? No.  Do I like a clean house? Yes.  So when I put away my selfish attitude of "why can't you do it" or "I just don't want to" and put on a joyful countenance, I'm dying to my flesh and that is pleasing to the Lord.  He delights in sacrifice no matter what the circumstance, be it monetary, physical, emotional, attitude, or time.  

So I'm learning a lot about sacrifice this week as I move into this new arena (see previous post) and how it requires submission.  

Overall update- 9 weeks (starting week 10 tomorrow).  Out to eat meals:  4 (1 bridal shower, 2 mother's day outings, and 1 visit with family this week after a hospital visit).  Meals cooked or prepared at home: 185 (not including snacks).  

There are a few more testimonies I can't wait to share, but it's not time yet.  I can't wait!  Have a blessed week everyone!
This kid is so cute!  This was a month or so ago and she already looks different.  How is that possible?

Submission: Our journey to the fasted lifestyle pt.15

I have been struggling with this for a long time.  Not only is food a problem, I have a more specific problem the Lord is addressing.  Sugar.  I LOVE SUGAR!

The Lord has been trying to get me to stop slowly killing myself for a long time, but I have had the hardest time saying no to myself.  Thus far on the journey, I have been able to confidently say "Jesus, I love You more!" when it comes to eating fast food or at a restaurant, not spending a crazy amount of money for stuff we don't need, and various things.  Sweets is my Achilles Heel.  I still use my allowance money to get junk.  So basically I'm saying "cake, I love you more", "candy bars, I love you more", "Dr. Pepper, I love you more", etc...

My heart wants to submit everything to Him.  And it seems so odd that a sweet snack would be my stumbling block.  It seems so small when I look at it with logical eyes, but when I'm upset or stressed, sugar is my comfort.  How silly does that seem?  The Lord should be my comfort.  Why can't I get this one right?

I need a lot of time with the Lord for this one.  Being obedient in the food arena has been a huge deal to my husband and me.  We have had such grace and favor.  I'm asking the Lord to pour it out more as we go further.  I won't make it without it.

My husband and I have been discussing these past few months and how we would not be this far without the Lord's guidance and grace.  We talk about how we would have failed under our own strength.  So as I move into this new arena, I'm gonna need some serious support.

I will be totally honest, I'm having a problem publishing this post as I'm highly embarrassed by this subject matter and feel absolutely ridiculous for struggling with this.  But to that I say "get thee behind me satan!"