Day 303: Zero Car Garage

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My garage is a mess.

I mean… not like an “Oh no… the rack that holds up all the yard tools just fell down” kind of a mess, but a “You mean they make racks that hold up yard tools?” kind of a mess. Like… my garage has probably only been able to fit a car in it for like a total of three months during the eight years that we have owned this house. Just look at it… it’s cuh.ray.zeeeeeee.

And I hate that. I mean… winter is coming to Texas. Yes, I know, it will only be really, really cold for, like, two or maybe three months, but all the same… the whole defrosting the car in order to drive five minutes to take my son to preschool and then five minutes back home, well, it just wears me out. (I’m not a fan of cold weather, if you hadn’t noticed.) Plus, a clean garage is such a great place to take kids to play on rainy days… it’s like they are getting outside kinda but not really. And then just looking for something… for ANYTHING in there is a beat-down.

What was that?

Clean it out, you say?

Pffffff, well OF COURSE that would be an easy solution. If it were THAT easy do you think that I’d have an unorganized, cluttered, messy garage?

And that’s just it… the garage is an area of my life in which I am able to close a door and forget about it… sure, occasionally I have to go in there to get out Christmas decorations or to look for my son’s toy light saber to complete his Obi-Wan outfit, but most of the time I just avoid that entire room. No one else goes in there, so no need to clean it, right?

But deep down I know that it is an area of our house that needs to be organized. It needs to be cleaned. to be decluttered. to be… useful. Cause now it is only “useful” for holding junk and for successfully hiding all of our tools when we need them.

And I think that my life and my soul… they are pretty similar to that. Most of my soul, I at least give touch-up spots occasionally. Some areas, I clean regularly. Some areas, I am closed-up, locked-down, and there are no-admittance signs posted all over that stuff. And then there’s areas like the garage… ignored. Purposefully ignored. But ignored all the same. And I think that this is almost more dangerous than those areas with top-secret-clearance-only. Because ignored stuff rusts. festers. grows. It defeats me whenever I look at that part of my life just because of the sheer AMOUNT of things to sift through.

But (yes, here’s the big but… you were hoping that I wasn’t gonna ramble about my garage for an entire post, right?)…

My husband and I are planning on asking my parents (Mom, if you are reading this, then you can consider this me asking you about it… haha) to watch our boys for a day over Thanksgiving break so that we can, as I like to call it, mama-jama that sucker and clean. it. out.

And we are going to have to sweat. and get dirty. and get rid of some things that we are attached to. and be embarrassed at some of the things that we have been keeping in there. BUT we are going to clean it out. And start fresh. And start new. And clean. And hopeful that we can keep it relatively fresh, new, and clean.

And sometimes that’s what we need to do with our God. Like I said, recently I went away for a MomsAway retreat… and that’s what I let God work on… pulling some stuff out of the garage. But I needed to have someone take over my responsibilities for the day, for the weekend. No, not everyone can do this for a full weekend, I know. I guess I would encourage you to set aside a night each week to do it for yourself then. If your kids are in bed by 8:00pm then take every Thursday night to let God get some stuff out of the garage. Or if you have to wait and do it on Saturdays or Sundays if you work, do it then. Just remember, the dishes can wait. the laundry can wait. lesson planning can wait. catching up on your favorite shows from the week can wait. Eternity… can’t. It’s too important. Actually, it’s the only thing that is important AT ALL.

I was reminded again of this yesterday when I was reading through my Jesus Calling devotional (I spoke about it yesterday) and it had Jesus saying, “My main work is to clear out debris and clutter, making room for My Spirit to take full possession. Collaborate with Me in this effort by being willing to let go of anything I choose to take away.” And I know that He is working to clear out a lot of my debris and clutter right now… in a bunch of areas of my life, not just with food… although food continues to be an issue that I have to deal with daily. Daily I have to open up the garage door… the BIG garage door… and let everyone see what is going on in there while He rips out the junk and replaces it with cleanliness. And so my prayer continues to be:

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24

Day 302: Jesus Calling

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A friend of mine that has recently started the covenant (along with a fast from Facebook and several TV shows… you go girl!) recommended the devotional Jesus Calling. She told me there was an app and so I thought I’d check it out. I’m a bit of a devotional snob… as in, I am terribly picky about them and almost never read them. BUT, I love apps so I simply couldn’t resist looking into it!

Well… let me tell you, from the perspective of someone that is pressed for time, only has a few minutes a day somedays to read the Word or meditate on God, and gets annoyed by typical devotionals… this one is great! (If you are already a Jesus Calling fan, then you can skip down a bit and then I talk about one of the things that I have recently gotten out of the study.)

1) It is from “Jesus’s” point of view. Not His actual words but based on His Words. It really does feel like Him… calling. speaking. encouraging. challenging.

2) There are always scriptures at the end that support what was just written. A couple of times if the writings didn’t snag my soul then the scriptures have done so. But for the days where the writing really hits it, the scriptures just come behind and solidify the revelation.

3) Hate to say that this is a “selling-point” for me, but it is… the devotionals are short. Of course I prefer days when I am not interrupted during my 6am readings or prayers, but… kids like to wake up early when you need them to sleep in. It’s just a fact of life! So, this is a great boon on those days when I might not otherwise have gotten anything for my soul.

Alright… that was my little “check it out” speech. I promise that I didn’t get paid or whatever for all that. It’s just that when I find something that I think is spiritually encouraging, I love to share. Cause if something will crack through my hard heart then it is typically good for just about anyone!

And yesterday’s reading (Nov 6) was just really, really helpful. This sentence in particular (remember to read it as if Jesus is saying it to you):

    A quick glance at Me is all you need to make the right choice.

I mean…… bam. That was all I needed to help me get through the past few days. I had been really struggling lately with the “little bites” of food sitting around. The leftover homemade donut bite. The remains of a jelly sandwich. (Yes, you heard me right… a jelly sandwich… my 5 year-old doesn’t eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Nope. Just jelly.) The three or four uneaten goldfish crackers destined for the compost bin.

I knew that those things were not what was best for me. not on my covenant. not an honor to God. and not being eaten when I was hungry. But I was popping them in my mouth anyway! But after reading that little phrase, I tried it… there was a donut bite out and I literally glanced up and away from it at Jesus. Knew what was right. Knew He would give me the power to resist. And threw it away. And then it was soooooo much easier to resist the next time and the next and the next. (As a mom of two boys and wife to a grown-boy, I am around food… a lot.)

And through those moments I found one of the accompanying verses exceptionally accurate!

    Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Psalm 37:4

My true heart’s desire is not to eat a leftover goldfish cracker. My heart’s desire is to be free of the things of this world (right now, food). And I delighted myself in God’s power and loving spirit and He gave me the true desire of my heart… freedom.

Day 300: Almond Joy

Ahhhhhh, day 300. Now, I’m not so hot at math but I know that if I am on day 300 and there are 365 days in the year, THEN I have less than 100 days left. (How’s that for a word problem??? My 4th grade teacher would be so proud! Ha!)

And still my journey is rocky and rough at times. Although, I continue to grow and discover why it is rough and rocky. And so I consider myself “well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.Philippians 3:12

I laugh at myself a bit here as I look back at the first sentence of that last paragraph… “And still my journey is rocky and rough at times.” This is true, but when I think back on the grief and weight (both literal and spiritual) of last year… it is so. much. better.

And it is honestly exciting to think, as I come closer to starting in on year two, how it will be THAT much better next year on day 300!

Thinking about that made me want to find a verse, and I was looking for a verse about the future and had seen Ecclesiastes 9:4There is hope only for the living.” And then I kept reading and I came across verse 7: “Go ahead. Eat your food with joy, and drink your wine with a happy heart, for God approves of this!” (Ecclesiasties 9:7)

I was kinda like… eat my food with joy!?!?! Hmmmm, ya know, this focus on weight and weight loss, this struggle with gluttony and food-greed, the lack of self-control and discipline with food, and the ill-placed comfort from food… it has stolen this opportunity for finding joy in my food. Food is the enemy. Like this sign I saw recently at my retreat…

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All we think about anymore with food is how it will affect our rear end or our thighs or that flabby stuff under our arms. We think about if it is off-limits or allowed and then we pine after those things that are off-limits or, worse, we give in to the off-limits food and then have to endure the guilt and shame, failure, and inadequacy. We find ourselves enveloped in despair and hopelessness. All of these things… because of FOOD. Oh these words are a far-cry from eating with joy.

But, now, as I sit here, I am able to happily, joyfully snack on almonds and raisins. Why? Because for 300 days I have been freed from the guilt of food, the shame, the failure, and inadequacy. I’m not saying that I am totally free of food… but oh so much closer just to have a freedom from sugar-food. It’s certainly a step in the right direction!!! I can look at a plate of brownies and know that I don’t need to despair… that it is not hopeless… that Christ has given me power and strength… and oh what a joy that is!!!

Day 299: Holy Honeymoon Hours

More than any verse that has to deal with spending time with God, I am really drawn to the ACTIONS of my Christ:

“Before day break the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1:35

He had been casting out flippin DEMONS and HEALING people for crying out loud… but He got his rear out of bed and found that peaceful place of solitude to pray.

As a stay-at-home mom (and even more so when I was a working mom) finding a time of the day for solitude is nigh impossible. And even when I do find a time for that, my mind is so full of to-do lists and grocery lists and that mental list that is always running of all the ways I am inadequate… it is hard work to make room for a Word from the Spirit, and so I get less out of it because I spend so much time clearing my mind that I have less time to absorb His Truth, His Hope, His Mercy. But in the morning… His mercies are new and fresh and my mind is “empty” and open and relatively free from the cares of the day.

It’s almost like the holy honeymoon hours of the day… like, in marriage before you have learned all those strange idiosyncrasies and seen what your spouse is REALLY like… and there is just… love. In the morning, you have yet to see all the tiny nuances in the day of earthly things. You have yet to see your hopes for the day crushed by a four-year-old with the stomach flu or realizing that you are out of the eggs that you need for that breakfast casserole you are to take to bible study, or that the drier has dried its last towel and ain’t no Maytag man gonna be able to revive it.

There is only… Faith. Hope. Love. And those things are just about the best things to start the day off with.

Day 298: Some Friend You Are

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Well, whadda know… I went a whole big chunk of time again not blogging. I am on a retreat this weekend called MomsAway (THE most amazing retreats I have ever been on…) and because I am away is probably why I have time to write. I suppose, though if I am really honest with myself, that I could MAKE time to write again if I were home. You see, writing is a bit like personal bible study or prayer: there MUST be a time every day set-aside for it, you must have solitude, you must set aside your to-do list (or have yet to have looked at it), and you must be deliberate about it.

Annnnnnnnd I have been none of those things lately for bible study, prayer, or writing.

And I think to myself now, How will I explain that to Christ? ……Wait. No…… How, at this very moment, how DO I explain that to Christ?

Can I truly look him in the face and say, I didn’t meditate on Your Word or pray to write about you because I wanted to sleep in???

But that is what I must say to Him now. And I am embarrassed to say it to Him. And ashamed. And regretful.

I am reminded of that song right now… What a friend we have in Jesus… But would Jesus say the same of me??? Would he say: What a friend I have in January? Hmmmmmmm, likely not. But as I look further into that hymn I am grabbed by the lyrics that follow…

What a friend we have in Jesus.
All our sins and griefs He’ll bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.

O what peace we often forfeit
O what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

I am struck over and over again by those lines “O what peace we often forfeit… O what needless pain we bear.” How my life has danced around those sentences. When I think of the times in my life that I have carried burdens… that is where my gluttonous eating was able to bloom and grow. But I forfeited peace when I turned to a brownie. I carried needless pain when I turned to a bowl of cookie dough. or a milkshake. or a bag of chips (Cheetos… if we’re getting specific!). I traded the truth of God for a lie… I relied upon the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of all praise! (Romans 1:25)

And so I am keenly reminded (againnnnnn) of how important that daily connection to Him is in my life. And I am reminded of how “the faithful love of God never ends! His mercies never fail… never stop.” (Lamentations 3:22) And so now, againnnnnnn, I ask Him to “satisfy me each morning with His unfailing love.” (Psalm 90:14)

And I smile to myself… knowing that He will.