A Lenten Challenge

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Ok, I know, Lent is longer than 30 days…but as part of this Lent season, I am doing my very best to give up Soda…for me that means straight up, full sugar, Coca-Cola classic (or, a Dr. Pepper, if Coke isn’t available).

To be honest, for me, a lot of it is the caffeine in it – I don’t do coffee or tea. So, it’s my old reliable.
But, it’s also the comfort. It’s what I turn to when I should be relying on Him, so it’s out.

Only, this year, as opposed to previous years, I hope not to return to reliance on it.

So, I’ve decided (beginning last friday, March 17) to track the next 30 days…because apart from strictly spiritual reasons, we hear so much what Soda does to our bodies – the amount of sugar and the empty calories. I want to know if that’s true.

Changing nothing else in my life, just cutting out soda, what will the difference be in 30 days?

I’ve replaced soda with water (and once a day: Lemon/Peppermint water (or just Lemon, or just Peppermint, or Lime/Peppermint) using my lovely Young Living oils):

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This is an example – love my lemon/peppermint mix. Typically, I use a metal cup. If using citrus continually, don’t use a plastic cup like this, as the citrus will corrode plastic over time (I poured the water from the bottle into my cup).

So, no extra exercise (which, for me pretty much is only whatever happens for work & house keeping, and, recently, downsizing/packing…), no change in diet. Just eliminating soda.

Now, I am not doing this to look better or live a healthier lifestyle, though, I do plan to continue moving that direction once I get this no soda thing down.

It’s one thing to be able to look down and love the body you have (which is where I am); it’s another thing entirely to be treating that body with respect & care (which is what I am working towards).

So, there is no end “goal” for me in this, except to cut out soda. No final weight or measurements, though I have taken starting weight and measurements (which I am not comfortable sharing, but will share the differences at the end).
I simply want to be able to eliminate my reliance on something that threatens God’s place in my life, and be at a healthier place than when I started.

Two caveat’s to this:

  1. Last september, I was diagnosed gluten free…since then, I have already made some changes to diet, namely: no wheat products. However, I still don’t eat the healthiest…I eat a lot of snack foods for meals, eat processed food, and a lot of dairy. So, though gluten is out, it hasn’t changed my weight much – being sick often has left me several pounds lighter over the past several months, but that has leveled off in the past month.
  2. Recently (for the past month or so) I have been drinking Zeal by Zurvita once a day to get my vitamins, as I am unable to take multi-vitamins. I will continue this as I go forward. Once a day, a serving of Zeal, which does give a natural caffeine boost & may skew results slightly:
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Zeal is actually a great addition to my life, since I cannot process most multi-vitamins…I don’t think any skew it may have will be enough to be much difference.

 

Tonight’s Prayer

Abba:

I’m getting restless.

I’m tired of being in Oklahoma.
I’m ready to be somewhere else.
Pack up my new tiny home & hit the road.

Realistically, I’m not in a place to leave yet.

And, lately, that truth has been wearing on my heart.

I know that for my own well-being & health, I can’t make this place my forever home.

But, it’s not time for me to move yet. So, I’m almost regretting the choice to come here in the first place, though there has been so much good being here.

There is a spirit of oppression on this place that feels like it weakens my spirit.

There is so much pressure from inside & out to be what everyone wants me to be. I almost feel stuck in my situation. Like there’s no way out, no opportunity for change. Making me ready to cut ties & run.

This is a good chance for me to learn – that’s not the way the world works.

Please, show me the good that has been done. Reveal the next step in Your plan for me here in this place. Open the right doors & close the rest of them.

Lift the spirit of oppression over my life, destroy any anxiety or depression that would threaten what You have called me to do; destroy any apathy that has made it’s way into my heart.

Soften me, remove the callouses that are developing on my heart. 

Open up opportunity for me to use the gifts you’ve given me to bring Glory to You.

May I leave every situation with my integrity intact.image

Send me more relationships to sharpen my relationship with You, allowing me to see more hope in the world around me.

Lord, be with this city, this state, and this nation. May any confusion & disillusionment begin to melt away. Soften hearts and turn them towards you.

God, please remove anything that is hindering the purpose you have for me.

And, in this waiting time, may I remember to take care of my soul & refresh my spirit, trusting that what’s on the other side of this waiting is Your best for my life.

I am so thankful for the amazing life I live, a life of beauty even on the hardest days.

Amen

 

 

This. Is. The. Time.

In one of my favorite posts to date, Imagine That, I wrote about what the world would look like if we all began praying like we meant it.

Really, how different would it look?!

But, recently, about the last two months or so, I have been apathetic about, well, everything.
It isn’t until more recently that there has been a change: dreams awoken, faith renewed, heart rested.

And, with last week’s youth revival at our church (I’ll have to do a post about that in the near future), and the series our youth pastor is doing, I’ve been challenged again:
what could my life be if I really got settled into an active prayer life?

I feel as if there are some big things missing from my life (feel free to explore this blog to read about that…it’s all over the place here). And I have been doing so much to stay faithful, but I still find myself in trial & hard time after trial & hard time.

Then I ask God, Why? Haven’t I been faithful? then, I find myself slipping out of faithfulness…

But, the fact is, God never promised we would have hard times. Ever.

“I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

I have written before about the flip-side of faith; that if we take God at His word for our good times, we Have to respect His word that we will also face trials. If He is untrue in this, then He is not God.

So, as we were going through revival & our service last Wednesday night, I felt God’s pull on my heart to read through the book of Daniel again. And, let me tell you, Daniel was a faithful man who had trouble.

But, right there in chapter one, we see God’s favor with Daniel because of Daniel’s faithfulness to God’s law.

Then, the fact is that because of Daniel’s, Hananiah’s, Mishael’s and Azariah’s faithfulness, they found themselves in huge hard times – trial by fire & thrown in a lion’s den. But, God got them through this & then brought His name greater glory.

See, God does not spare us hard times because of faithfulness; but He gets us through the hard times because of faithfulness (ours and His), bringing Himself more glory.

In fact, it is more a reflection of God’s faithfulness than our own. As we see in Joel, when He restores a broken & unfaithful Israel. His love never left, and His promise to His people was great:

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God promised to restore what had been lost, what had been broken.

So often, I feel lost, broken. As if I am not somewhere important I should have been. I get complacent and apathetic, fearing that God has all but forgotten me & my dreams.

He has yet to do that, though. Even in my times of unfaithfulness, God is always faithful.

And, I fully believe His word. He is restoring what has been lost. He has been doing so for a while now. Some days, I just miss it.
He is bringing restoration I never knew possible, and I trust Him to continue to do so. I believe that as I continue to return to Him in faithfulness, He will continue to make good on His word.

I believe I will see lives around me changed.
I believe I will see my own life changed.
I believe I will see beauty restored in this world & in my relationships.
I believe people around me will realize the power of His faithfulness, and all that I have been through will be for His glory.
I believe I will even see a change begin in my clients & at work.

This week has really reminded me that I can’t wait for others to pray where God is leading me to pray, and I can’t expect 5 minutes a day to be enough.

It’s time for a revival in this country, in this world; and I am on the frontline with many others.

This. Is. The. Time.


Is there something God has placed on your heart to pray for? A situation in your life, a person you know, a dream you have? I encourage you to begin really seeking God’s will in that area, following His prompting to spend time in prayer about that. If you want me to add it to my prayer list, feel free to share below or email me. I’m in prayer for everyone who reads this blog that God would begin a frontline revival in each of our hearts.

Choosing Hope

“You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream.” – CS Lewis

There have been so many times in my life when things aren’t exactly as I’ve expected….and recently, I find myself in a whirlwind of times like that…

I feel like therapy sometimes lacks/neglects an integral piece – connection on an “I’ve been there” basis.

I love what I do (about 95% of the time) and most of that 5% of time is made up of paperwork no one told me I would have to do & I hate it…but a small portion of that 5% is that piece that I feel is missing:

Our professional decorum often prevents us from getting further down into the muck of people’s lives with them, giving them a glimpse into what we’ve struggled with.

I know my kiddos (the older ones, especially) have a hard time connecting with me at times, because all they see most days is the successful counselor who got a 3.8 GPA in high school, graduated, went to college & grad school, and has lived a great life. They see someone well put together & seemingly without struggle.

What I never get to show anyone – what regulation dictates I keep to myself is:

The success was born out of many sleepless nights, when I did homework, read, or watched TV only because I was not going to sleep anyway.
That many nights are still spent this way – how most of my creativity & studying comes about.
The amount of nights tears stained my journals, all with similar messages: God, why is this my life? Don’t you love me? Why am I so worthless and unlovable?
The work was all about being enough just in who I was, and I could never seem to get that.
The only reason there are no physical scars is because by the time I knew what self-harm was all about, I had one “acceptable” form, along with knowing how to do it without leaving any marks. So the scars only live in my soul.
The amount of days the only reason I made it out of bed was out of anxiety for what people would think if I didn’t…and some days even that wasn’t enough.
That I was so traumatized by my middle school experience I have since never set foot in the school building – and am not sure I ever really want to.
That I cried so many tears in my high school – their high school – and didn’t know if the future would be as bright as I always pretended it would be.
That the only reason I am where I am today is because I refused to quit fighting, even on my darkest days. I chose to believe in hope and then live each day as if that belief were true.
The bullies didn’t stop, the pressure didn’t loosen, and the pain was with me day in & day out, as I made the choice to do something different, hoping one day it just wouldn’t be there any more.
That faith was more of a fight most days than a given…and it is that precise faith & walk with Christ that is the only reason I am where I am today. He didn’t give up on me, even when I was ready to give up on myself (and on Him).

I mean, my clients & my kiddos know a little bit of my story, but professional guides would limit what they have access to; and in the therapy world, that makes sense.
So, I will stick with this, as this is the path I am currently on…

I just don’t know if this is the exact place God will always have me.
As a matter of fact, I know it’s not. I know His call for my life involves so much more.

But, right now, He is teaching me so much where I am. And, for that, I am thankful.

I am also praying for doors to open and opportunities to present themselves for me to walk in others’ mess & share the hope that I’ve always had, but sometimes had to consciously choose. I am praying that, even with the proverbial “hands tied,” I get to be hope in a hopeless world, as I am tapped into the ultimate source of hope.

I wish more of my clients would understand Lewis’ words, and that I would also embrace them…instead of feeling “stuck” in the choices I’ve made that got me here, I’d like to trust that after I’ve mastered this step, lived this dream, God has another one ready & waiting; and the same for those around me…

I’ve had a lovely Halloween night.

Made this gorgeous dinner:

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Hung out with Little Seester, passed out candy to the few trick or treaters, watched Halloween movies, cleaned the kitchen, and packed my work bag for tomorrow.

Honestly, though, I have to say good riddance to October. It’s been a heck of a month & I’m ready to say goodbye &

Hello to more of my favorite time of year. Colder weather, cuter clothes, & more motivation for my dreams (fall and winter always seem to wake my sleeping heart).

See you all in November 🙂