Move In Love

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Revelation Wellness®Instructor Training Retreat
Photo by Raint Photography

Every move we make – every thought and decision – is rooted in either fear or love.  And it’s way too easy to root our physical movements, namely our workouts, in fear.  It’s kind of our go to motivation when it comes to fitness, isn’t it?  My good friend, and MOMENT’em sister, Kasey Schuler posted about body shame this week using a BINGO card and she reminded me just how true this is.  Out of fear of having to fill a row or two on the imaginary Body Shame Bingo card we’ll put in extra sweat equity.

Here’s the thing.  I am so over moving because I’m afraid.  I spent the better part of my 20’s doing that.  Working out for hours in hopes of gaining/keeping the attention of a man.  In my late 20’s I met and married a man who God used to help me overcome much of that fear and insecurity.  But if I’m honest, I started getting caught up in it again the summer I got pregnant with the twins.  I was the fittest I had been in my adult life but there was always another goal to reach.  And those goals weren’t rooted in love, gratitude, joy, or freedom.

I was caught up in a side of the fitness industry that insists that the only way to be successful is to be a “product of the product”.  So I thought I needed to continuously improve my physique.  I look back at the pictures from the summer of 2013, shake my head as I remember where my heart was and wish I could have simply enjoyed the health God had blessed me with.

It’s funny, because this summer I wore a bikini for the first time knowing I wasn’t “beach ready” and was totally okay with it.  Too much has happened over the years for me to point to one thing that shifted my motivation from fear to love.  But I’ll tell you this much, my body was broken for my twins and it will never be the same.  So when I move, I choose to do so as an outpouring of gratitude that I can move at all.

In a couple of weeks I’ll start teaching early morning Revelation Fitness® classes because I’m on a mission to help others move in love instead of fear.  To move as a “get to” instead of a “have to”.  If you live in the Columbia area I would love for you to join us!  If you’re not local to our new Irmo class, check out live classes here.  Can’t find one, or live classes just aren’t your thing?  You can stream videos via RevWell TV.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18

Open Letter To The Church: Sin Is Sin, So Why The Double Standard?

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning and clicked on an article a friend shared.  It was about this pastor Rob Bell and the apparent backlash he endured when he, according to the article “asked some questions about reconciling eternal punishment with a loving God, and he examined matters of life and faith that had become foregone conclusions to most believers.”  I haven’t read Love Wins so I can’t speak to what questions Bell asked within its pages.

While I was reading the article, I felt the Spirit of God stirring within me.  Setting off red flags and sounding warning alarms.  At first I shrugged off His warnings, assuming I just didn’t like the author’s voice.  But as I continued to read I couldn’t ignore the warnings any longer and I had to admit that something was just off – theologically speaking.

I nodded in agreement with several sentiments, mainly those pointing out that Christians have the tendency to label and ostracize people they don’t agree with rather than having tough conversations.  It’s so much easier to just write someone off than to wade into the uncomfortable.  But it felt like the author, in a way, was doing the same thing with the Christians who “abandoned” Bell.  He labeled them intolerant and went on to explain why Bell was a brave theologian asking the tough questions.

But never once did the author call out the elephant in the room.  Bell wasn’t simply innocently asking questions.  He was preaching universalism, which is the belief that everyone will be saved because of God’s unconditional love.  Um, nope.  I finished the article, taking away that God was reminding me of the importance of guarding my heart.  I figured it was a teachable moment and that was that.

But God pressed deeper into my heart as I was preparing to shower.  He does this on the regular.  I’m fairly certain it’s because it’s one of the few opportunities for me to be free of distractions.  As I was about to get into the shower He asked a seemingly random question, “Why did everyone commend Lysa Terkeurst’s strength and faith while so many of those same people commended Glennon Doyle Martin’s bravery for being true to herself?”

I hadn’t given much thought to either situations in quite some time, and certainly not that morning.  If you’re not familiar with either of these women, Lysa is a Biblical teacher and speaker, and Glennon is a Christian mommy blogger and author.  Lysa recently announced that she is leaving her husband because of his ongoing infidelity and refusal to put his vows before the desires of his flesh.  Back in August of 2016 Glennon announced that she was leaving her husband of 14 years for her close friend – a female friend.

When God asked me that seemingly random question, I did what I often do with His questions that seem to come out of left field.  I confessed my confusion.  So He asked me, “Why would people grieve with someone who has suffered at the hands of an adulterer when they cheered on an adulterer just a few short months ago?”  The only thing I could think of was that the people who  spoke out in support of Glennon weren’t supporting the adultery, but her decision to live the “lifestyle” that honored her true self.  God immediately pointed out that it’s not our call, especially not for those of us who wave the flag of Christianity.  We don’t get to decide which adulterous act is acceptable and which is not.  He drove His point home by telling me, “Anyone could have come to Art Terkeurst’s defense with the same statement – he was making a decision to honor his true self.”  Ouch.

 

“God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” – James 4:12 (NLT)

 

But here’s the truth God reminded me of – just as we are not to judge, we are also not to pardon either.  The Judgement Seat isn’t ours to sit in.  At.  All.

So, if we are not called to judge others, what are we called to do?  First, God calls us to love one another.  And by “one another” He is saying that His followers must love one another. (John 13:34-35)  We get into trouble when we love according to the world’s standard instead of God’s.  In love, we will tell someone to follow his heart, to do what she thinks is best, to be true to himself.  Unless we are simultaneously pointing people to the Truth, we are co-signing their self-indulgent ways.  We are telling them it is okay to idolize self.  God calls us to love people in truth, and to speak the truth over people in love.  Tim Keller put it so succinctly I won’t bother trying to paraphrase his words.

 

“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws.  Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.  God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us.  The merciful commitment strengthen us to see the truth about yourselves and repent.  The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.”

 

Here’s the thing, you and I can’t do this with people we don’t know.  I mean, we can try to on a superficial surface level kind of way.  But that doesn’t do anyone any good.  Unfortunately, all things social media invite us to start and join conversations that are meant to be had on a very personal level.  It may be safer for us to “talk” to someone through a screen, but God doesn’t call us to safe.

He calls us to have authentic relationship with our fellow believers, even though relationships are messy and uncomfortable.  But we are messy and broken people.  We may be saved but we are still wrapped in flesh.  And flesh rubbing against flesh is anything but comfortable.

Should people who walk away from the straight and narrow road be ostracized, or commended for being true to their true self?  Neither.  God encourages us to confront our brothers and sisters, first on a one-on-one level, then with another believer, and a group of believers if needed.  Waving goodbye to someone or wishing them the best as they walk away from The Way is not what God calls us to do. (Matthew 18:15-17)

Charm VoxBox Review

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Every so often I qualify to receive a box of samples to test and review, free of charge from Influenester.  I’m never disappointed by the boxes I receive because there is always at least one product I end up loving that I would have otherwise never heard of or would have been too reluctant to try.

 

This has to be my favorite VoxBox to date, though, as I loved most of the products.  It included two perfume samples from a Vera Wang collection, a shampoo and conditioner set from EVA NYC, and full-sized products from Mott’s, Wet n Wild, PEEPS, and McCormick.

Vera Wang Embrace

Vera Wang Embrace

Let me preface this review by stating that I am not a perfume kinda girl.  I’m more of a crunchy chica at heart and I’ve been using the same perfumed oils I bought back when I followed Phish before their hiatus in the early 2000’s.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve purchased different perfumes over the years, but I never quite found my signature scent.  So I stuck with the oils.  And lately I’ve been using Progressence Plus from Young Living (awesome by the way) and I haven’t had the patience to wait for its pleasant scent to wear off in order to apply perfume, oil or spray.

But that’s exactly what I did in order to try the samples of Embrace by Vera Wang.  And I’m so happy I did.  Rose Buds and Vanilla starts off a bit strong, but within minutes settles into what reminded me of a subtle bouquet of flowers.  It totally smells like spring, but without the nuisance of pollen-induced allergies.  Oh, but the Marigold and Gardenia is definitely my favorite.  It too, starts off a bit strong, but it’s never off putting.  As it reacted to my body temperature, it smelled like jasmine.  It wasn’t until I looked at the name of the sample that I noticed it was in fact gardenia I was smelling, not jasmine.  It reminded me of summers in Hawaii and spending time with my grandma.  If you like floral + spicy scents this is the perfect perfume for you.

Wet n Wild 1 Sep WonderGel

I am a mother of three boys which means I wash my hands.  A lot.  And throw in frequent washing of dishes and you can understand why I rarely put in the effort to keep my nails polished.  I tried gel polishes when they first hit the shelves of my local CVS, but I wasn’t too impressed.  The brand I tried started to chip along the tips of my nails within the first day, but took way too much effort to take off with nail polish remover.

Not so with this bottle, which is a 2016 Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner.  It lasted a whopping two days before starting to chip, but it came off with ease when I was ready to remove it.  I loved my experience so much that I bought a bottle of….  It came off just as effortlessly as the bottle from my Charm VoxBox, but it did leave a bit of a stain on my nails.  Not a deal breaker, though, because the stain faded fairly quickly.  I plan on buying a bottle in a summer coral before my next trip to the beach.

My only small complaint has nothing to do with the quality of the polishes, but the names Wet n Wild chooses to use for them.  While I’m sure the marketing department is just trying to be cheeky, the names can be a bit risque.

EVA NYC Clean It Up Shampoo and Therapy Session Hair Mask

EVA NYC Clean It Up Shampoo Therapy Session Hair Mask

I really wanted to like these products.  But as a curly girl, I just can’t give them the FFMS stamp of approval.  The Clean It Up Shampoo touts itself as being created for ALL hair types, but it’s simply too stringent for my thick and curly hair.  Thick hair, especially thick and curly hair, tends to be dry because it’s difficult for moisture to make its way down from the roots to the ends.  And one of the first ingredients listed is sodium laurel sulfate, which is great for getting hair super clean, but notorious for stripping away hair’s natural oils in the process.

At first glance the Therapy Session Hair Mask sounds like it would be curly girl friendly.  But a quick read of the ingredient list shows it’s full of silicones.  And while I’m sure you can find some site on the Interwebs in support of silicone-filled hair products, this curly girl has personally found my hair to be much healthier since I gave them up.

Final verdict: If you are looking to deep clean your hair and add shine, then this is a good option.  If you want to leave your hair’s natural oils in tact, look for a duo that’s sulfate and silicone free.

Mott’s Unsweetened Applesauce Pouch

Mott's Unsweetened Applesauce

My boys love these – all three of them.  They make a great snack and after meal treat because they’re nutritious and aren’t too filling. So, when only one sample showed up in my VoxBox, I knew I had to keep it out of sight until I was able to buy more.  Fortunately for me, Publix had a BOGO sale on them and I bought several boxes.  A quick search of the Mott’s site shows they have several unsweetened options, so I’ll need to ask my local Publix to up their game and carry more than just the unsweetened apple flavor.

McCormic Organics Taco Mix

McCormick Organics Taco Seasoning Mix

I’ve been wanting to make tacos lately, but ever since we started exclusively eating grass fed beef, I can’t bring myself to use traditional, chemical-laden, taco mixes.  So you can imagine just how excited I was when I saw this packet in my VoxBox.  I used it in a post-Cinco de Mayo meal and the boys loved it.  My oldest said it was a little spicy, but not hot.  Which means it has all the right flavoring without the over the top heat.  And since the twins each wanted seconds this is a winner in my books.

PEEPS Delights

Peeps Delights Coconut Dipped Dark Chocolate

Oh. My. Sweet tooth.  Real talk, I hated PEEPS when I was growing up.  I thought they looked pretty in my Easter basket, but I never enjoyed them.  They were always more colorful than they were flavorful.  When I opened my VoxBox and saw the iconic PEEPS I figured I would put one in each of my boys’ Easter basket.  But as I picked up the package something caught my attention – COCONUT.  I love coconut.  And upon closer inspection I noticed the bottom of each PEEP was dipped in chocolate.  Say what?!?  So there was no way these were making it into any Easter basket.

I can’t speak for the other Delights flavors – blueberry, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate mousse, raspberry, milk chocolate, dark chocolate – but the coconut and chocolate made a perfect pairing.  A little too sweet for me, but yummy just the same.  And it’s been years since I put a PEEP in my mouth, so I have to ask, was the granulated sugar always so noticeable on one’s tongue?

My only real complaint about this particular flavor of PEEPS is that none of my local stores  carried them.  I could have ordered them online, but I just wasn’t willing to put that kind of effort into getting seasonal candy.

Charm VoxBox

Influenster Charm VoxBox

This really has to be my favorite box of products to test that Influenster has sent me to date.  If you’ve already tried any of these products, or do in the future, I’d love to hear about your experience!

Out Of Shape?

I attended a Relay For Life fundraising event yesterday, that Jessi, a Revelation Wellness Platoon 16 sister, was holding.  She provided breakfast, shared her testimony, and led an awesome Revelation Wellness fitness class.  Complete with a hope filled message and a kick butt workout.  Well, I can’t speak for the other participants, but she definitely kicked my booty.  The class ended at a quarter to eleven, and I was already feeling soreness creep into my muscles by the time we went to lunch.

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Modifying as needed. Photo credit – Jilly White Photography

 

As we were walking up to Jason’s Deli (it was my first time and I loved it) I was about to tell Jessi, “Wow, I really must be out of shape because I’m already feeling it in my quads and booty!”, but the Holy Spirit led me to use a different phrase.  In what felt like a split second, He said that using the phrase out of shape insinuates that there’s something wrong with one’s shape, that something is wrong with their form, that they are broken or less than.  Whoa.   He then instructed me to use the phrase out of practice instead.  He said it was true, whereas my go-to phrase was not.  Isn’t it crazy amazing how the Spirit’s leading can happen in a brief moment but encapsulate so much teaching?

As I was writing that last paragraph, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the lie vs. truth exercise Jessi led us through during yesterday’s class.  During a RevFit class, participants are asked to exchange a lie for a truth.  Jessi asked us to think about a negative word or phrase we believe about ourselves and to write it down on an index card.  My word was broken, as I have believed for over three years that my body was broken beyond repair and would never be able to move as it did before my twins.  She then instructed us to tear up the index card and put on some truth by writing on ourselves (shoulder, arm, hand, etc) what God says about us.  In Revelation Wellness we call this war paint.  The word God spoke over me was restored.

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God calls me RESTORED. Photo credit – Jilly White Photography

Even with RESTORED written down my left forearm, I was quick to speak out of shape over myself.  How quickly the enemy of our hearts will come and refute truth that God has declared over us.  I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit stepped in to remind me who I am.  He provided a way out for me.  A way out of the temptation to believe lies, however benign they may seem, that I have believed for years.

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

So the next time you hear someone say that they’re out of shape, or you’re tempted to say it of yourself, please speak truth – out of practice, not out of shape.

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Post lunch – Jessi and I showing off our shirts based on Psalm 139:14.

My Fitness Plan For 2017 – Aiming for Wholeness

“Your body isn’t broken.  God just needs to show you how it works.  His ways are not harsh, sharp or pressing.  May God show you the kinder way that leads you to the real and free you.”

– Alisa Keeton

I feel like the title of this post is misleading because my fitness plan for this year has very little to do with what most people consider fitness.  By that, I mean that I’m not signing up for a Spartan Race (although that’s on my Fitness Bucket List), vowing to pick up a new fitness related hobby, or even joining my local Y again.  Not that there’s anything wrong with these options.  They’re just not right for me.  At least not right now.

You see, I carried my twin boys to 37 weeks and 1 day.  That’s full term for twins. And they could have gone the full 40 weeks if I hadn’t been in such excruciating pain. But I was.  So much so that I begged my doctors to take them before 37 weeks to no avail.  One doctor told me, “I have three patients under my care.  Two of them are content as can be.  Healthy and happy.  The other is miserable.”  Can you guess which one was me?

They broke me.  Or at least that’s what it feels like.

I honestly have no idea how my body managed to carry them for 37 weeks.  You’d wonder the same if you saw me in person.  My frame is tiny and I have a very short torso.  I am grateful that my body took such good care of my babies, but whatever it did to accomplish that feat has left me in constant discomfort and pain.

The pain has decreased over the years.  I couldn’t sleep the first several weeks after the boys were born.  Initially it was because I had no idea how to care for two infants.  But even after I got a handle on their sleep schedule, I couldn’t fall asleep because the pain in my hips kept me up in tears.  The pain became manageable after several weeks of working with a chiropractor. During one of my visits last year, she explained that due to muscle memory my body was returning right back to how it held itself during pregnancy.  I heard this and accepted that my movement would be limited and pain would just be a part of my everyday experience.

Then I went to Arizona in November to complete my Revelation Wellness instructor training and that was no longer enough.  God showed me how that settling for a life of pain wasn’t really living.  At least not the abundant life He offers.

View More: http://riantphotography.pass.us/fall-retreat-2016--tue
Riant Photography – On location at Revelation Wellness instructor training

He spoke healing over me.  So healing and restoration is what I’m aiming for this year.

In December I  visited a new chiropractor.  During the initial visit he said I was a “hot mess”.  I smiled, nodded, and said “I know”.  But I really had no idea just how much of a hot mess until he went over my X-rays with me a couple of weeks later.  I won’t pretend to remember all the medical jargon, but here’s what I do remember = my hips aren’t leveled, and one leg is longer than the other because of it, my head rests almost two inches forward from where it should, and I have 97% less curvature at the top of my spine than I should.

While I found his rehabilitative methods promising, driving to his office twice a week wasn’t realistic for my schedule.  But I didn’t give up on healing and found a physical therapy practice closer to me.  The therapist who worked with me the second half of my visit asked how I injured myself. I told her that I had twins.  She smiled, laughed, and told me that she’s an identical twin .  During her evaluation she told me that I was “a train wreck”.  I smiled, nodded, and said “I know”.  She confirmed everything that both chiropractors had told me, and explained how and why in more detail.  She also told me that with work I could restore my body to its pre-pregnancy alignment.

Knowing how messed up I am could be discouraging.  But my experience has actually been the opposite.  It’s been encouraging and motivating.  It means that while I may never “bounce back” to my pre-twins body, I can – and will heal.  I may never rock a two piece again, but I will be able to exercise without the fear that I’m making things worse.  It’s going to take several weeks of physical therapy, maybe even months, but I will retrain my muscles to hold my body the way they did before I carried the twins.

Healing and restoration are my fitness plan for 2017.  Who knows, maybe this time next year I’ll be signing up for a Spartan Race.

Craving Community? Me, Too

Disclaimer: I wrote this sometime in the summer of 2015, so if you were at the get togethers mentioned or watched the scope I reference, you know they didn’t take place this summer.

I prayed before I wrote this because I have the tendency to edit as I write. I also chose to write it in a journal before posting it.  Here’s the prayer I wrote out.

Communion and Craving Community

Lord, clear my mind so I can have a conversation with You.  I want to let go of all pretense – to give up on sounding clever or relate-able.  I don’t want community based on smoke and mirrors.  I just want to share my heart.  My naked and broken heart.

I’ve been thinking about friendship and community a lot this year.  Questions like “Why don’t I ever hangout with my closest friends?” and “Why does my community seem to all be virtual?”  dominate my thoughts on the topic. I started to cling to the notion that my life would be so much richer if I got to spend time with my besties or meet up with members of my tribe for coffee.  Okay, not really.  We’d meet up for smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe since God made me naturally caffeinated.  I even half convinced myself that in lieu of getting to meet up with my besties or my tribe that I need to attend a conference or retreat every three months or so.  You know, for spiritual maintenance.  More like a mountain high experience fix.

I was at one such retreat/conference in June when I told Brooke, the woman sitting to my right, “I wish I could have this at home.  I wish I could have this all the time.”  I was referring to the intimacy, transparency, and grace that filled the room.  I went on to tell her that although I get along well with the women of my church, I didn’t have this.  She shared that she could relate.

Full disclosure – Totally unsure of what the Celebrate Motherhood Retreat was going to be like and not knowing anyone in the Happy Mommy Box community, I attended the pre-retreat dinner so I would be acquainted with someone, anyone,  the day of the retreat.  Yep, I drove almost an hour and a half so I would feel more part of the day of the event.  That, and I was hoping to meet Jess Connolly who I’ve been following on Instagram since before she moved back to South Carolina.  It was a little awkward that most everyone was familiar with each other through the Happy Mommy community and I had never even heard of the company before my friend tagged me in a comment for one of their posts.  But by the end of our post-dinner trip to Marble Slab I felt like we’d all been meeting up like this regularly.  And the next day, I totally scoped out the room and looked for someone from the dinner to sit near.

Just a few days after that amazing weekend, I caught Angela and Catherine of REFIT® Revolution on Periscope.  They were in a Chick Fil A line with two of Angela’s daughters in the back seat.  They were just doing life together and invited us to take a peek into that every day experience.  Towards the end of the broadcast Angela said that she doesn’t have friends that she does everything with.  And she was clearly disappointed by that.

So it got me thinking about community again and why I feel like I’m missing something.  Something about friendship and community that holds the key to contentment.  Something I assumed everyone had in their own friendships and communities but I didn’t have.  But the confessions of Brooke and Angela had me rethinking all that.

I don’t blog much (I’m totally tempted to add “anymore” but let’s be honest, I’ve always been a sporadic blogger) but I remember writing something along the lines of “God calls us to be in community.  First with Him and the with others.”  I don’t know,  maybe it’s in one of the many posts sitting in my draft folder.  Anyway, God totally said those exact words back to me and then said “You’re glossing over that first part.  That’s the problem.”  What?  “I spend time with you every day.”  Silence.  “I even took prayer walks after my quiet time for a couple of weeks.”  I felt like a kid trying to convince her parents that she deserved a raise in her allowance because she was doing such an awesome job with her chores.  Ugh.

That’s when the conviction set in.  “That’s hoops and legalism.  I want you.  I want your heart.”  I had to admit that a lot of my quiet time was about studying and not about spending time before a holy God.  I also had to confess that I would often enter my quiet time hoping that God would give me a Tweetable nugget of wisdom or the perfect Instagram quote.

None of that has to do with communing with God.  I’d love to say “I get that now,” but I knew that already.  The thing is my heart is bent towards legalism and works.  I can sit here and blame the denomination I grew up in, but it’s more universal than me or a single denomination.  Since the fall in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been trying to earn or manipulate our way back into God’s good graces.  To work our way to good enough.

Before I could even try to devise a new and improved approach to quiet time, God whispered softly to me, “You’re looking to community to give you something that only I can give you.”  I can’t quite describe how I felt as that truth sank in, but it was like a mixture of relief and disappointment.  I was grateful to know that there as a reason that although I felt full when I left a retreat or conference that the feeling didn’t last long.  I knew part of the reason was that while a mountain top experience is meant to sustain me through the valleys, I can’t live up there.  Now God was showing me there was more to it than that.

The disappointment crept in when I realized that the solution was to do something I can’t really “do”.  I’m learning that communion with God isn’t’ about doing something, it’s about being something.  Humble.  Surrendered.  Vulnerable.  Willing.  As much as I want to be in the Lord’s presence and hear from Him, all that has me feeling pretty fearful.  And I’ve gotta tell you that my initial reaction isn’t to press into that fear, but to jump online and find a group of women who are in the same boat so we can go through this together.  But I know that isn’t what God is calling me to do.  I also know that He isn’t asking me to walk this out alone, either.

During the spring, on many of my post-quiet time morning walks I mentioned earlier, the Holy Spirit kept saying “Let’s do this”.  At first I thought He was pumping me up for the walk.  It was before the time change and it was scary dark out still, so I totally appreciated the motivation.  But as the weeks passed and He kept saying it I saw that it was more than a motivation to walk.  It was an invitation.  An invitation to what exactly, I’m not sure.  But I’m certain that God knows my heart.  He knows how I earnestly long to be in community with Him and others.  I trust that whatever “this” is that He’s inviting me to do with Him will equip me live the life He calls me to live.

Comfortable With The Uncomfortable

I wrote this a few months ago.  I never did feel led to put in a photo.  Instead I went with a verse.  I’m not sure why God asked me to share this, but I trust that it will resonate with someone out there.

No graphics or photos for this post.  I don’t know, maybe as I go through my day God will give me a visual to share.  But right now, right this moment He’s telling me to just share my heart.

Yesterday a dear sister in Christ texted me a link to a video from the Leading and Loving It #JustONE2016 virtual conference.  I’m not sure what day it was from, but it was good. Like brush off the dust of complacency and do some work for the kingdom, good.  Work I have been too _______ (fill in the blank – tired, busy, lazy) to do.  I’m not talking projects here, either.  I’m talking about the work of boldly living out my faith.  Declaring His truth whenever and wherever I feel His Spirit leading me to.

Here are some of the notes I jotted down, and you can watch the video here for yourself.

  1. Get going – say YES to God without knowing the details, especially the outcome.  Move when He says to and move with urgency.
  2. Get strategic – be aware, be intentional, and be sensitive.  Pay attention to people’s details.
  3. Get uncomfortable – God calls me to serve and wash feet.

After watching that video I decided to sign up for the conference – funny, I thought I already had signed up but I guess that was last year – and watch all of the videos.  They’re sent directly to my inbox so there’s no extra clicking on my part.  The Day 1 video arrived this morning and I couldn’t really relate it to my current season of life.  Lori Wilhite talks about God trading our junk for joy, our hurt for healing, and our pain for purpose.  Believe me, I’ve had plenty of junk, hurt, and pain.  Enough to last a lifetime.  But as of this morning I had no current junk, hurt, or pain to reflect on.  {Or so I thought} I still looked up Isaiah 60:17, the verse she was focusing on, and took notes.  I even added personal reflections to each of her three points.

I could feel God stirring something up within me, and knew He was telling me it was time to dig deeper.  Back in early January I signed up for my second ‪#‎cleanhearting‬ challenge to support the amazing ministry of Revelation Wellness. I wasn’t planning on going through the challenge again. I figured I’d watch Alisa Keeton on Periscope when I could or pull up a scope on Katch.

But I started experiencing heartburn a couple of weeks ago and it hasn’t let up. Heartburn is only something I dealt with during pregnancy. And before you ask, no, I am not pregnant. At first I was in denial, blaming the one meal that might have triggered it. But then I got still and quiet long enough (after several days of refusing to listen to my body) to see that the discomfort is God lovingly nudging me.  Nudging me to look at my habits and idols.

So when I had finished watching the Day 1 #JustONE2016 video, I decided to read the Day 1 email for he Clean Hearting Challenge to do just that.  To identify and confront the idols and habits that are keeping me from doing the kingdom building work God is calling me to do.  Day 1 seemed easy enough – looking at the root of our desire to live clean, a desire God created us to have because we were made in His image and He is clean and blameless.  Looking at Alisa’s very simple and straight forward definition of clean eating – avoid refined and processed foods and eat real food – was just the “Dude, I can do this” moment I needed.

And the let’s do this attitude wasn’t just about the eating either – and that’s the whole point behind the Clean Hearting Challenge, by the way, to pull off the blinders and see that it’s all about the condition of our hearts.  It’s about treating myself better by eating life giving foods more often than fake foods, by getting more sleep, and by moving more.  And moms out there, please hear me when I say that none of those goals are selfish.   When I take better care of myself, I am better able to love the people God calls me to serve and love.  And so are you.

The notion of loving people better got me thinking about February being the perfect month to practice being more intentional in my marriage.  So I took The Husband Project: 21 Days of Loving Your man on Purpose and with a Plan off a shelf and started reading it.  But right when I was getting to the “meat” of the first chapter it was time to get the boys ready for church.

Just a typical Sunday morning.  Until it wasn’t.  I got the twins dressed and fed.  They were happily playing with our oldest until I had to go upstairs and get dressed and my husband out of bed.  As I was getting ready he told me that he decided to sleep in and not to come to church.  I was fine with that since he doesn’t sleep in very often.  But a small disagreement with our oldest turned into something much bigger not only between the two of us but also between me and my husband.  Before I knew it voices were raised and doors were slammed.  And to top it all off one of the twins was refusing to get buckled into his car seat.  I wanted to cry.  And I did.

In spite of my feelings and the tears streaming down my face I went to church. Well, not exactly.  The truth is I no longer wanted to go to church.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do – I just knew I didn’t want to go.  I almost marched everyone out of the minivan and back into the house, but I inadvertently locked the basement door when I slammed it and didn’t have a key to get back in.

So I drove us to church and apologized to my oldest on the way.  I apologized for my tone and for slamming the car and house doors.  He accepted my apology, because that’s what we do in our house.  We humble ourselves to apologize, and we humble ourselves to forgive.

As soon as our junior pastor started preaching I knew that God meant for me to experience what I did this morning so I could really listen to his message.  Not just hear it, but listen to it.  His message was anchored in Job. It was such an encouragement from my Daddy. It was a reminder that when I make a kingdom declaration – like I did today saying that I was ready to do kingdom building work – that I will be met with opposition. I just forgot how quickly it can happen.

Today I spent some intentional time with God, and shortly thereafter the enemy came at me.  Hard. He attacked my marriage and my motherhood. I wanted to throw up my hands and throw in the towel. But as a daughter of the King of kings I must remember that I am not called to do the easy things. I am not called to be comfortable. I am called to roll up my sleeves and wield the Sword of the Spirit and fight, for the victory has already been won.