Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

Today is our 15th anniversary! And while it is commonly known that the traditional gift for 25 years is silver, and the gift for 50 years is gold,  it is a lesser known fact that the gift for 15 years is a blog post. So since I am a slave to convention,  here ya go babe! This one’s for you!

Fifteen Things to Look for in a Man

1. A man that knows and loves Jesus and the Word of God

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2. A man that will join you in your hobbies

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3. A man that loves Chik fil a….. enough to wear cow ears

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4. A man that puts your happiness above his pride

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5. A man that understands your love for Movember and is not threatened by your pre-teen crush on Magnum P.I.

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6. A man that will drive 23 hours straight to take you to the place of your birth

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7. And drive you the very next summer across the country to California to see your college roomie

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8. A man who cares for and respects the elderly

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9. A man who loves your family

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10. A man that loves and respects his mom

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11. A man that will fly you back to NY, just to meet your fav talk show host

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12. A man that dances. Your daughters will thank you

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13. A man that regularly shows affection963860_10153121206960510_998525973_o

14. A man who can wrestle. Wrestling is really important

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15. And last, but definitely not least, a man with whom those sparks fly!13567184_10157067265085510_1930858657536733103_n

Here’s the truth. Having a list is important. But a list won’t get you to fifteen years or even fifteen months. It takes more than ideals and standards to build a thriving marriage. You need love. But not just any love. You need the greatest love. Jesus told His disciples that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. Listening to Kelly Minter recently brought new depth to that verse for me. Yes, Jesus laid down his life at the cross, she reminded us. But that wasn’t the first time He laid down His life. Every day that he stepped foot on this earth was a day that He laid down his life in heaven for us. Having a beautiful marriage requires this kind of love. Laying your life down every dang day for the person on the pillow next to you. That is the greatest love. That means laying down your right to be right. Laying down your pride. Laying down what’s fair. Laying down past pains. Laying down insecurities. Laying it all down and loving with an everlasting love that can only come from God. Without a doubt, Paul is truly more than I could have hoped for or imagined, but we have been through many ups and downs. We are broken people with hurts we are healing together.  We have had horrible fights (aka “strong fellowship”) that left me doing the ugly cry,  and we have had utopian moments when I thought my heart would burst. Yet without exception, our marriage is the strongest, happiest, and the sweetest when we are mutually seeking to serve the other through the power of our loving Creator.

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How I lost 30 pounds and my husband’s shocking response.

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First off I have to let you know that I had no desire to lose 30 pounds. Yes, I had some old dresses in the back of my closet that I dreamed of wearing again one day, but I was quite sure I only needed to shed about 10 pounds to squeeze back into them. Talk about delusional! But I digress.

Last November I started a 3 month journey on a candida diet using this book. If you know what candida is, congratulations! You are officially a health nut! I grew up eating whole wheat cookies, tofu, and carob, so…yeah. I am well acquainted with the term candida. But for those of you that do not know, candida is a fancy word for yeast. Yeast is kind of like bacteria in that we all need some in our bodies, but an overgrowth spells trouble. To fix an overgrowth, you need to starve the candida, which means eliminating certain foods that contain sugar, gluten, dairy, caffeine or anything that produces happiness and joy. I kid. Not really.

So I did this. For 3 months. Religiously.

Let me just tell you that I have tried EVERYTHING to lose the “baby weight,” and been somewhat successful. Over the course of the last 13 years I have gained and subsequently lost over 150 pounds total! However, my youngest baby is almost six, and the numbers on the scale were only going up, so there’s that.

My attempts as of late consisted of crash dieting when big events were approaching and packing the pounds right back on when said event had passed. But this time it was different. This time, I had an impetus even greater than fitting into that perfect dress.

If your paying attention, you may have noticed that I started this diet only weeks before Thanksgiving. Yes, I actually lost weight during the holidays while following this diet. While everyone else was indulging on seasonal sweets and decadent delights, I was abstaining like a diet ninja. How, you may ask, did I conjure up such paramount powers of self control? Well, it was easy actually. The alternative was torture.

You see in September I developed this slightly annoying rash in my underarms. Apparently this is more common then I would have thought, because I have talked to many of you that nodded your heads in understanding. Over the course of several months the irritation went from annoying to unbearable. I tried several doctors that all treated the symptom, giving me steroids that led to vertigo, and then antihistamines that left me virtually unconscious. Realizing that a trip to an allergist would likely cost our summer vacation fund, I was determined to try a natural remedy. It was then the Lord reminded me of a friend that put her husband on the “Candida Diet.” Graciously she lent me her book, The Candida Cure. However after thumbing through the pages, I felt very discouraged.  There was no way I could do this. I lived on caffeine. How could I function and take care of my ever growing laundry list of responsibilities without my dear friend, Chai tea?

The next morning I woke up and simply decided to skip my daily dose of black tea. One choice at a time, I ended up following the diet to the “T,” (pun intended,) and after about 2 weeks I saw a huge improvement.

I made myself plain sweet potatoes and green beans for Thanksgiving and found it easy to say no to dessert. I felt stronger than ever and realized it actually felt good, almost empowering to take back control over my food choices.

 

However a few weeks later I had one slip up. Events were the hardest. Eating plain salad at a memorial service catered by a delicious Italian restaurant is hard to explain. Discussing my armpits is not a comfortable conversation starter. So I caved. I ate a dish that I knew had sugar in it, and all the way home I looked like an orangutan scratching my armpits till they were raw. From that moment on there was no messing around. I had gotten to “that” point. The truth is that change only happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain (literally in my case) of change.

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I would like to say that it got easier as time when on, and to a certain extent it did, but there were many days when my texts to my dearest friends would reveal otherwise. While the practical side of preparing foods did get a bit easier, it was often exhausting and even depressing to avoid the foods that I had always associated with happiness!! However as time went on, and I began to easily fit into clothes that had been busting at the seems, my resolve did strengthen.

Here are a few things I learned:

  1. Caffeine makes you tired.

    I had more energy without caffeine than I had with it. Caffeine brings your body to an unnatural high and then crashes you mercilessly to the floor also increasing moodiness.

  2. Sugar affects your mood more than you realize.

    Since finishing the diet, I have indulged in sweets more than once. And now I notice it more than ever. Sugar not only depletes my energy level, but also affects my mood. In fact, midway through this 3 month experiment my husband uttered these terribly brave words that shocked me. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” he began. “but, you’re a lot less moody these days.” And friends, it is so true!! We have no idea how easily we are affected by our food. Yes, in the beginning I felt depressed and exhausted by the need to say no to everything I had indulged on before, but once my body and mind got over the initial detox, I felt stronger, happier, and less crazy than I had in over a decade! Knowing my mood will be affected by sugar has actually given me strength to say no more than i used to (which was never! ha!)

  3. Carbs are no joke.

    Between the infamous carb coma to the extra belly weight, carbs leave a lasting impact. Growing up with a Sicilian mother, pasta was a major food group. So I denied this reality for so long. However, since I have now felt the positive benefits of reducing carbs, I’m a believer.

  4. Real food tastes better.

    I actually like the taste of grilled meat.  You can actually taste the meat when it is not slathered in ketchup (sugar) and encased in bread,!

  5. Making healthy and delicious substitutions is key. 

    I didn’t put my family on the diet in order to keep some semblance of sanity. But when I would make them burgers, I would saute some onions for me, and while they ate a typical burger, I would enjoy mine sans bread and condiments, but covered in caramelized onions that I legitimately now prefer. And now some of them have joined me. Last Monday, half of us had no bread and covered our burgers in homemade salsa instead!

  6. Food isn’t supposed to be that convenient and cheap.

    When you have to spend time or money making your food, you tend to eat less. Bottom line. A cheap bag of chips is easily demolished, but if it takes you 20 minutes  to make some kale chips, you are less likely to eat them all in one setting.

  7. Three months was the perfect time frame to change my habits.

    Contrary to popular belief, 21 days is not nearly enough to change a truly established habit.See here.It’s actually closer to three times that.

  8. Weight loss is 80% diet.

    Since I regularly over share on Facebook, including posts about running, everyone I bump into since losing the weight says the same thing. “Wow, that running is really working!”

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    But the irony is that I have been running LESS then ever before. And this relates back to number 2. Apparently the sugar combined with the caffeine in my life was making me really anxious. And the endorphin rush I got from running was the one thing that seemed to ease my anxiety. I would literally run out of complete desperation, same time every day. By 3pm I felt like my head would explode it I didn’t go running. So I would throw my shoes on and run my cares away. But since changing my eating habits, I finally realized that I don’t have that same daily need to go running! It was an amazing and sobering discovery. All these years I lived with anxiety and didn’t have to! And now when I have that feeling again, I quickly identify the culprit, and reduce those problematic foods.

In the spirit of full disclosure, during the last few weeks, I have slipped back into some old patterns which simply underlines the importance of accountability. Although I started this alone, midway through a friend joined me. We would text each other food ideas when we were feeling successful,  and sobbing emojis when we were over it! It is also imperative to process and share what we learn. The small act of writing this blog has reminded me of all that I learned during those three months and inspired me to get back to some healthier choices.  It is so easy to forget isn’t it? In the Bible we are commanded to remember or “Do not forget” hundreds of times. We forget so easily!

Maybe you feel like you could never change. I feel like that a hundred times a day. The world would tell you that you actually don’t have to change.

 

Change isn’t possible, they say, but I serve a God that changed water into wine!

You deserve it, they say, but we are called to crucify our flesh, daily.

Obedience to Christ is always the hardest option. But it is the only option that will truly satisfy. None of us are walking this path perfectly. We all need grace. Surround yourself with people that will encourage you in your pursuit of Christ’s calling on your life and pray for you when you fail.

I cannot take credit for the power to make this huge change in my life, it only came from Christ. And in my case, that power came in the form of a trial, a weakness, an irritation that left me no choice but to obey. I pray that you would take that hard step of obedience whether it relates to choices in diet, lifestyle, or relationships. But even if you don’t have the strength to change, because of His love for us, God will often allow trials into our lives that will bring us to the end of ourselves, forcing us to run to him, and finally experience the joy He had waiting for us all along! Run to Him today. Confess your failings, pick up your cross, and follow Him!

 

 

 

 

The Unexpected Solution to Losing Your Happily Ever After.

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After finding the love of my life, I had a hard time watching the predictably pathetic chick flicks that fill the summer blockbuster lists. The plot lines were all the same and went something like this:

Two gorgeous people meet and are horrible together, except the lovin’ is good. So after 1.5- 2 hours of dysfunction and drama, inflamed by alcohol, an affair or both they part ways. Then…they see each other from a distance at a club/restaurant/mall/park and can’t stay away from each other realizing in that moment that they are destined. Credits roll, and lonely women walk out of theaters nationwide dreaming of such “love.”

YUCK!!

I just kept thinking how much more I preferred my real life love story to the manufactured Hollywood versions. The details of  how we met, the waiting and wondering, the chemistry, the ups and downs. Then one day I stumbled across a writing challenge on facebook and I decided to begin writing our own story in novel form. The twists, the turns…the other woman, the vow! And the strangest thing happened. My love for my husband came alive in a way I didn’t realize had even died. I remembered the way I dreamed of being with him while simultaneously battled fears that it would never happen. I remembered the pain I felt each time we had to say good night as I wished we were just married already. I realized that so many dreams I had for our future were now fulfilled, yet where was my happy ever after?

Living in the minutia of life had given me an amnesia of sorts. Where was the girl who bargained with God for just one more date with her apparent soul mate? Where was that girl that promised to lavish love on her fiance every day of their life as long as they both shall live? How did they become an old married couple at the age of 30 something!

I guess sometimes life gets in the way of really living.

Diaper changes, physical exhaustion, mental burnout, hormonal imbalances, lost jobs, lost dreams, lost family members all enter the plot line unexpectedly and we forget. We forget we have the one thing we always hoped for.

So I think it’s time to remember. And a great way to do just that is to literally write your own story. The details, the conversations, the feelings, the warmth, the angst, the plot twists and that final moment, the knee hits the floor and your heart soars……

Remember and write.

Literally. With a pen and paper. Or fingertips and keyboard. Put words down, and watch your heart grow.

Here are some steps I took to prime the pump:

  1. Dig up the past: find old emails, old love notes, go through old journals, photo albums,anything that has any details of a time now forgotten.
  2. Enlist help:Send emails to close friends that knew you during those days. Ask them for any stories they remember, their perspective, anything will help.
  3. Talk about it: Use date nights to reminisce. Ask your spouse one of their favorite memories. Jot it down in on your phone for later. Tell bits of your story as bedtime stories for you kids. They will beg to hear more!
  4. Organize your information: Start with events that stood out to you, then start filling in a time line by days, months, years, whatever makes the most sense going by what bits of information you have. Start folder on your computer. Throw any pertaining journals, photo albums, keepsake boxes into a bag to keep it all together.

There are a few roadblocks to this challenge, two majors being motivation and time. So let’s start with motivation. Who doesn’t want romance? Just think of the popular show “The Bachelor.” Every season 24 perfect looking people go home alone, but not before crying into the camera the exact same line:
“All I want is someone to share my life with,”
And you, my married friend, have that! Even with their great careers, great looks, great bank accounts, they weep because they do not have what you have.
So you possess this coveted treasure. What are you going to do with it?
Here’s an idea.
Make it awesome. Make your OWN romance novel. Be the heroine of your own novella and watch your feelings follow.
I know, you say,  but who has the time? You do. We all do. If you are alive, you have time. You decide what you do with it. Ten minutes a day adds up! It does seem that time and money are always on short supply because we can never have enough.

But the truth is you do have time for what you do have time for.
It’s that simple. Tweet that!

I have talked to so many friends that have these amazing beautiful love stories. But just a short time later and that adrenaline is long gone. Bring it back, I say, using this simple technique. Write it out. If not for the big screen, do it for your children, or friends, or family.

Think of it as a beautiful keepsake to pass on to your children someday.
Just recently I had conversation with my dad about his story with my mom. Back in those days, he was considered an old bachelor at the age of 27.

What took you so long to get married? I asked him.
I guess I just hadn’t met anyone that made me want to give up my freedom, he replied.
So what was it about mom that did? I continued.
Well, she was intelligent, and beautiful, and I didn’t want to lose her.

Swoon.
The rest of my parents story is also Hollywood worthy, I might add, including a proposal, FROM ANOTHER MAN, literal writing on a NY subway wall, and more.
But this one line from my father just took the cake. I shared it with my mom. And ya know what she said?

“Really?”

Oh, my heart, just thinking about the sweet surprise in her voice. Forty-four years later…. a tender revelation….. simply because we took the time to remember.

Memory is a powerful tool……

Did you know people are divorcing these days simply because of memories that are dug up on facebook?
Can’t we make the contra-positive true? Can’t we keep people married by cherishing, exploring and chronicling our own precious memories?

There are copious amounts of verses in the Bible that implore us to remember, and in addition to remembering we are challenged to WRITE IT DOWN! This verse in particular stood out to me:

For whatever was written before was written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope. (Romans 15:4)

Remembering and writing can bring you hope.
That’ll preach.

But here’s the reality. Maybe your story wasn’t great and you would actually rather not remember. In fact remembering makes it worse. Now what? Well here is my advice for you. Write a new story. Sometimes the most magnificent love stories have the most wretched beginnings. Become the heroine in this new chapter. Be the woman that opens her heart, gives her all, lavishes her love on that stone hearted man and watches a change take place. Or be that man that serves his wife and breaks down the wall around your wife’s heart brick by brick with every act of selfless love and kindness. Stop searching for the perfect romance on Netflix and make your own. Become the sexy seductress that brings excitement to your time together. Look into your mate’s eyes and be what you want to see.

One of my “Grandma Moses” dreams is to publish a series of real life love stories. I have heard some of the most amazing love stories in just the last few months, and have even BEGGED these women to start writing. Maybe it’s you. Start now. Start small. But just start. We live in such a microwave speed society that we forget some dreams take years of work with nothing to show for it before anything comes to fruition. In this case, however there CAN BE immediate satisfaction, however, because as you remember, your heart will grow towards your mate while you begin chronicling the story that God wrote for you!

Is that you? Take the first step! Be bold! Write the synopsis of your story in the comments today. Send me your email address and I will send you reminders and encouragement to keep writing! Let’s do this together 🙂

The Fair Minded Friend- Paul

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It’s “Friday Friend-day” people!

This is where I share with you some of the life changing lessons I have learned from friends who displayed God’s character in ways I needed to see. Here’s the catch, and what makes this a little….awkward. Sometimes when God is trying to teach me a lesson it is painful. It usually happens in the form of someone rubbing me the wrong way. My initial reaction is to reject this lesson, or person, in order to make that uncomfortable feeling stop. However God has been so gracious to me by letting me learn what he was trying to teach me before it was too late.

After this “Friday Friend-day” blog entry, the rest of the friends I introduce to you will not be in any specific order of “friend importance” mostly because I am not that organized, but also because, well, how do you even rank friends? I can’t. The only order I have is that my hubby comes first, and not because he is supposed to, but because I genuinely like him the best of anybody I know.

However……..I do remember the first time I had serious doubts about this man I married. We were sitting around the dinner table with family, and someone was airing their grievances, at which point we all rallied around said family member in solidarity, decrying this clear act of oppression of which they had been a victim. All of us, that is, except my new husband, who unwittingly replied, “Well, I can kind of see their (the clear enemy’s) point of view.” In that moment my head whipped around so fast to appropriately glare at my other half realizing I did not even know him.

What was he saying?

Obviously there was no other side, but our side. You stick up for the ones you love.

They vent, you agree, and we all demand justice! That’s it! What was he talking about? I was so embarrassed. The tension in the room, whether real or imagined by my own insecurities, was palpable.

I wish I could say that this was the last time my dear husband forgot where his loyalties were supposed to lie.

But it wasn’t.

So many times over the course of our marriage I would share my latest woe with him expecting sympathy, outrage, and the like, but more often than not, I would receive silence.

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Is he even listening? I wondered. Doesn’t he know that his required response to my outrage is very simple? We need more outrage people! Who did I marry? What is life?

Then one day God told me the answer to that question….who did I marry….

The answer?

A pastor.

While he didn’t have the position when we married, he already had the heart. You see when God was knitting Paul together in his mother’s womb, he gave him distinct parts of his personality too.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:6

What I didn’t realize at the time, was that God created Paul with this beautiful ability to step back from the emotion of a situation, and see both sides. Knowing that as a pastor,he would be put in the middle of countless disputes, discussions, and disagreements, our Sovereign Lord created him with the natural inclination to be slow to speak, slow to form opinions, but quick to see the point of view of another.

 Proverbs 18:17 The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.

What I saw as a lack of loyalty or refusal to back me up, was actually a desire to get to the truth, and help me in a far deeper way then a momentary affirmation would.

There was another reason for his silence. He knew that his opinion would likely not be received well. So while I was unloading the drama of my day, he was trying to decide how much truth, if any, I would accept, versus how much I would take as a personal affront to my character. This is a hard thing for me to admit, yet it is also a common source of conflict in many relationships.

What happens when you share a story? Does the listener have freedom to give their take on the situation? If someone has a different point of view, are they allowed to share it without being shut down? We live in a time when we are married to our ideas. An attack on my philosophy feels like an attack on who I am. However, looking at the life of Christ we see a different response.

How did Jesus respond to the  people yelling “Crucify Him!” or the soldiers that literally nailed him to the cross?

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

He saw their point of view, He had compassion, even though they were wrong.

Do you have friends that are allowed to offer a different perspective to the situations in your life, especially the difficult ones?

Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Proverbs 27:6

As we have matured in our relationship, Paul and I have found a middle ground. He has learned to first try to empathize with my hurt feelings or my anger at a perceived injustice, before jumping in with a birds eye view of what might be really happening. Likewise, I have learned that his disagreement with my opinion or perception is not a personal attack.  I have learned that listening to another person’s point of view doesn’t devalue your own. In fact, it can often enhance it.

I have not mastered this skill. It is a daily discipline to receive concerns or critiques without contempt. But I am thankful for the grace of God to place a friend,a husband, in my life who could faithfully display this image of God, “the God who sees” – El Roi.

 

The real- REAL reason people are leaving the church.

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I think I have read no less then 35 different blogs titled:

“The real reason people are leaving the church.”

There is even a rebuttal saying, “Because actually, they’re not.”

Even the famed Matt Walsh jumped on board this sinking ship.

But so many seem to be missing the point. While I don’t necessarily have an issue with their explanations and analysis for the supposed exodus, I do have a problem with the initial premise. You see the question they are answering is not a new question. About 15 years ago,in particular, people were asking the same question.

And the answer was this:

“We need to be more relevant! Hey, we’ll even start a magazine called ‘Relevant’ and that will help!” So the music got flashy, people church-hopped, and the pendulum swung.

Now, the question is being asked again.

But this time the answer is: “We need to be less relevant! Let’s go back to hymns, sacraments, liturgy and stuff and NO flashy music, this will bring them in.” (insert pendulum swinging the other way)

My problem with all this conjecturing is two fold.

First of all, I don’t buy the assertion that ‘Christians” are leaving the church.

Why? Well, because there is really no evidence that this is happening. In fact some would argue that it is not even theologically possible. The evidence presented to prove their point of mass exodus is that  the percentage of self-professed Christians has dropped from 78%-70%. But look. No Christian I have talked to has ever given any credence to that unrealistic original statistic.

It’s kind of a joke. A sad joke.

It usually goes like this:

“How are we still killing babies if 80% of the country is following Christ?” Oh, right. Because the statistic is false. People check the “Christian” box like it is a nationality instead of an actual commitment to following Christ.

Secondly,  since there is no actual proof true believers are leaving the church, I personally don’t think a decline in numbers is a bad thing. 

You see, after 28 years or so of constant growth, my church went through a definite decline when the pastor at the time had one of those “Moral failings.”  The weeks following the initial disclosure were filled with many emotions, not the least of which was fear. Driving home from running errands one night, I had a noteworthy moment of anxiety. I thought of my former pastor and feared for his soul. What if he doesn’t truly repent? What if he walks away from the church altogether? What if he is lost forever? Then I had an even greater fear of something much worse. What if he doesn’t walk away from the church, per se, but instead walks away from truth? What if he pulls a Rob Bell, and decides that he “humbly” realizes that he knows more than all of the church fathers before him, and truth is relative and “Love wins” and joins forces with…. Oprah! And what if he, with all his charisma and charm, leads thousands of people away?

It was there at that stop light, that I heard a voice in my spirit say these words:

 “It’s still too big.” 

What? I thought. My church ? What is too big? 

“You want the moral majority, but I have called you to the narrow road.”

My mind immediately went to the story of a scared Gideon as he prepared for battle, when the Lord reduced his army from thousands to hundreds. I realized at that moment that life was different now. Not just in our church, but in our country. And I knew that our church was being prepared for something more. Something greater.

Greater persecution. Greater affliction. Greater obstacles. A greater mission.

And before our church had been hit with tragedy, it was just too big. Possibly a bit of the “mile wide, inch deep” syndrome. Don’t misunderstand. Great ministry happened for years at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale. Scripture was taught. Disciples were made. Pastors were sent out all over the country and beyond. Lives have been forever changed. However, this depth of faith was not a reality for the entire body. For some people it was entertainment. They were there for the show. And now that the main character was gone, they were leaving too. And that was a healthy decline.  But for those that stayed – there has been an awakening. A girding up of sorts. A unity towards the forwarding of the gospel. We have been reminded that we are on a battleship, not a cruise ship! When we look at those “Christian” statistics in America? They aren’t real. They are still too big. So you want to know why the church is or isn’t growing? Here’s the answer that I haven’t heard one person say.

…neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (I Cor. 3:7-HSCB)

We have to look at a couple factors. Are we preaching the word? Yes.  Are we mentoring and disciplining? Yes.

Great. But remember, here’s the important part:

Only God gives the growth. So it doesn’t matter if you sing hymns with an organ, or praise songs with a tambourine (our worship leaders nightmare.)

God watches over His word to perform it. He has a story to tell. And He has already warned us in great detail where we are headed. But take heart! This is not a doom and gloom message. This is a Joshua 24 type call to action! Do not despair over numbers. Choose this day whom you will serve. Go and make disciples. This was and is our commission. Be bold and courageous. Do not be afraid. Be prepared to give an answer for your faith. Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Let us run with perseverance, the race marked out for us. Keeping our eyes on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith!

9 facebook friends we all have!

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I want to tell you about some of my facebook “friends” although I am pretty sure you already know them. They are likely in that “Mutual friends” box. See if you recognize them…..

1. The Vaccine Vixen- Ok I have 2 of these. One is adamantly for, and the other is adamantly against! But they are passionately seeking the truth, which makes me so glad.  I have “researched,” (whatever that means) and prayed and made choices, but I rest assured that if there is new information out there she will find it, she will post it on facebook, send out a group email, and fight against big pharma (or not). I am exhausted just thinking about all that!

2. The Organic Organizer- She knows all about organic food, raw milk and free roaming chickens. She buys beef by the cow, and posts recipes with ingredients I can’t pronounce. It used to intimidate me. I can’t afford that stuff right now. Maybe never. Or maybe I don’t have time or won’t make time, but this girl is getting the word out, and we are actually seeing positive food changes!

3. The Missionary Mentor-  She is fighting hard for the least of these, and for those that haven’t heard the gospel, and I am so proud of her. Her status updates make my complaints seem very small, which is kind of perfect.  I need that perspective more often than not.

4. The Political  Provoker- He fights against the political lunacy that surrounds us every day. His words are harsh at times, but the Bible does actually say that we should answer a fool according to his folly. It’s actually a type of math proof. Reductio Ad Absurdum. To prove something is true, you prove the opposite is false. Sometimes perceived as sarcasm.

5. The Culture Warrior- This “friend” is on the radio every day fighting the culture war. I am so glad she is taking up these battles for me. Her voice reaches a lot farther than mine. I imagine that she has lost some friends because of the public stand she has taken, and I am incredibly grateful for her sacrifice.

6. The Essential Oil Educator- Girlfriend is in love with oils. She has used them to cure just about everything and no longer has any over the counter products. I wish I had about 20 less laundry loads to do a week so I could learn more about the benefits of oils. But she has always been so generous to share with me what she has learned, even though I don’t go to her meetings.

7. The Workout Announcer- This friend posted her workouts for 60 days in a row. She is working hard to accomplish her goal, and ya know what? It inspired me, and I started posting my workouts too, and realized how motivating posting your accomplishments is!

8. The Devo Diva- When I saw that picture of her coffee cup and Bible, I realized I hadn’t done that yet. And it looked so good. I needed that. I needed the reminder of how good it is to sit for a moment at the feet of Jesus.

9. The Baby Biographer- The older generation always says to treasure every moment. And my friend does this well. Soak it in and remember. Babies are precious. Children are a gift. And sadly undervalued. Please fill my feed with sweet baby pictures every chance you get and remind me how fast it goes!

As different as all these friends are, they have one thing in common. They have chosen to follow Jesus. They defend His words. And they are each reaching different people groups.

I confess that I used to roll my eyes at some of these friends. Enough with the vaccines, food worship, political rantings, culture war fights, oil sales, working out and devo pics!

But here’s the thing. God has given us all different passions. And typically we can’t help but share them with everyone we know.

I am grateful for those fighting the battles that I am not fighting because somebody has to do it! Can you imagine one person taking up all of those causes?
It wouldn’t work.
Ya know what else doesn’t work? Belittling the passions of another.
Case and point. I remember reading one poverty focused blogger waxing wise about how a legal minded blogger needed to focus more time on the poor instead of our religious rights. She somehow missed the reality that the  legal blogger is actually fighting for the poverty bloggers right to keep fighting poverty…in Jesus name. So there’s that little bit of irony.

If I go on the politically passionate friends page, I will read people warning him that his fervor is turning people away from Christ. But I didn’t see Jesus worrying about that when He walked the earth. In fact it almost seemed like he tried to turn people away.

“Follow me” Jesus said.
“But I have to go bury my father”
“Let the dead bury their dead”

Yikes.

“What must I do to be saved?” someone asked.
“Give away every single one of your possessions.” Jesus answered.

Sounds reasonable.

See? Jesus was offensive and radical, and yet He didn’t seemed bothered that they walked away.

Here’s my point.
We, in the body of Christ need each other.

This passage of scripture in 1 Corinthians 12 brings it home. You may have read this a thousand times. But yet it seems like no remembers the truth expressed.

 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
All too often in family settings when trouble hits, we turn against each other instead of turning to each other. Now is not the time for that. Now is the time to pray for each other, stand beside each other, support each other, in Christ, for His name’s sake, humbling serving the body of Christ.
I pray that we as Christians, followers of Christ, would do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, (Philippians 2:3) Because they will know we are Christians by our love for one another.

Amen!

Strength for the Season- Psalm 18

I will love You, O Lord,
The first time I read this verse I missed one simple word that changes everything.
Will.
I will love you.
That’s different.
Just this morning my sweet littlest child told me he loved me. In fact, he loved me super duper much. And my heart melted. Like it does every time.
I am not sure, however, that I would have had the same reaction if he would have said “Mommy, I will loveyou.”
You will? Like, when?
This whole passage is future. You will do this, and I will do this.
And that is so good. You may not feel it now. But take hope. God is going to deliver you, and you will love him.
my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
We all need supernatural strength. All of us. For different reasons. But none of us can do it on our own. If you think you are doing fine on your own, I guarantee you the people around you might beg to disagree. But this is the good news. He is our rock. Our strength. In whom I will trust. 
My God, my strength, when I blow it again.
My God, my strength, when my will is weak. 
My God, my strength, when the answer isn’t clear.
My God, my strength, when my doubts are overwhelming.
My God, my strength, in WHOM I WILL TRUST!

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I will call upon the
Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.
Prayer.
The action is simple, but the result is profound.
I will be saved from my enemies.
We all have enemies. Can you think of any?
No, not your boss. Not your ex. Not your (fill in the blank.) Don’t be confused. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Sometimes we can feel like people are against us. But the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not against flesh and blood. This is the most exciting news. If we can remember that, we are so home free. The devil’s best offense is to set us against each other.  You see, we cannot change people. We try. We manipulate. We punish. We conspire to get people to change their offensive ways but all to no avail. Here is the good news though. Despite what you may have been told, you CAN change people. Namely, but not limited to, yourself. Prayer changes everything. And everyone. Can you change someone by nagging? Not likely. With passive aggressive behavior? Doubtful. On your knees with humbled prayers ? Oh yes! But be forewarned, if you truly spend time on your knees with a humbled heart, the person that will be changed the most is you!
So shall I be saved from my enemies? Yes, because oftentimes, our greatest enemy is our own self.
 
Ok, now read the next part slowly, and drink it in because it is so good. And it is all for YOU!!

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
30 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He isa shield to all who trust in Him.

31 For who is God, except the Lord?
And who isa rock, except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
34 He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great.
36 You enlarged my path under me,
So my feet did not slip.

The Lord lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let the God of my salvation be exalted.
That portion needs no commentary, but it probably needs to be read again. Slowly.
FOR BY YOU, I can leap over a wall!!
THE WORD OF GOD IS PROVEN!!
HE IS A SHIELD TO ALL WHO TRUST HIM!
IT IS GOD WHO ARMS ME WITH STRENGTH!
Alright that’s it. This one is going on the wall. I just love it!! Who is God, except the Lord? Not me, that is for sure! His gentleness has made me great! Let Him enlighten your darkness!
This time, this season, although it brings great joy, for some, it actually brings great pain. My prayers are with you. My heart is holding you up. I bear these burdens with you and bring you before my God. I pray that you would feel His support, that you would feel His right hand holding you up, and that your feet would not slip. This is a great time of year to meditate on a verse that can hold you up and this passage is full of great ones. Choose one, write it down, hang it up and hold on to it.
The Word of God is proven!!  

And tell someone! Allow them to bear your burdens, share in your story, and be Jesus’ arms around you.
What verse do are you needing to meditate on? Tell us in the comments 🙂
My verse,hands down, is “My God My Strength.”  Because I blow it a lot. Like even moments after typing “Publish” on this blog. And I need to know that it is His strength, not mine. And He is proven! Amen!!