Day 654: So That

Ya know, after writing about Jonah yesterday on Day 653 I started to think about it.

And when I posted the pic from the blog to my blog’s instagram and I was looking at it

jonah belly of the whale

And I realized that I was essentially asking God what looked like two complete opposite things… one, I was asking for God to toss me into the proverbial sea and in the next sentence to show me grace and mercy.

Like, we don’t typically think of those two ideas as the same.

But, once again… God’s thoughts are not are thoughts. God’s ways are not our ways.

Cause think about it with Jonah. God could have just struck him dead with lightning or had him catch some kind of terrible illness that would kill him. But, God decided to show grace and mercy through the situation and toss Jonah into the sea…

SO THAT Jonah would be able to go to Nineveh and share the chance to experience God’s grace and mercy.

SO THAT Jonah would be able to tell this amazing story of how God chased after him to give him another chance.

SO THAT Jonah would live to tell the tale of God’s grace and mercy.

And oh man… what a story.

And that’s why I pray for God to “toss me into the sea”. I know that swimming around and getting swallowed by a whale would totally and completely be terrible, BUT I would be able to live to tell His story of grace and mercy.

if it will save my soul into the sea i'll go

To end… I am reminded of a song I have loved since high school. And a prayer that I have prayed time and time again (and I warn you, a prayer that He has been very, very keen to answer).

Take my world apart
I am on my knees
Take my world apart
Broken on my knees.

Here is the song. I’d encourage you to listen to it (the lyrics will be on the screen), but if you can’t the full lyrics are below. I just listened to it again sitting in La Madeleine’s and couldn’t help but bawl as they sang the cry of my heart.

“Worlds Apart”

I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die

To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
more deeply than the oceans,
more abundant than the tears
Of a world embracing every heartache

Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow

To love you – take my world apart
To need you – I am on my knees
To love you – take my world apart
To need you – broken on my knees

All said and done I stand alone
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me

Did you really have to die for me?
All I am for all you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart

I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
and wash the feet and cleanse my pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
the sin-soaked heart and make it yours
take my world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that I despise
speak the words I can’t deny
watch the world I used to love
fall to dust and thrown away
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
so wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
so steal my heart and take the pain
take the selfish, take the weak
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
take my world apart, take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
take my world apart

Day 653: Just Like Jonah

Lately I’ve been continuing to think about what can I do to help me get back on track. Well, to get back on track faster. I know that I’m on the right track of fighting back against my issues with food, but admittedly, I just want to be over it… faster.

So I tend to want to go back to how I did things at the beginning: by fasting for a few weeks. But then my brain is all like “No, you need a total 100% lifestyle change!” but, honestly, I am so daunted by that. The rest of my life… to commit to eating healthy without sugar for the rest of my life!?!?! It’s such a HUGE commitment. So instead, I just avoid it. I eat MORE junk than I would have normally. Cause… yeah, like that’s gonna help.

I’m afraid of making a huge commitment of “sacrifice” so what do I do? I run from it.

Like Jonah.

And just like God caused Jonah to get DUMPED into the sea to put him back on course, so will God do the same to me. So maybe it’s time to say, “God. I’m the one. I’m causing this ship to toss about in this terrible storm. I give up. Send me back to the path.”

So, I say that to Him now.

Say it with me if you are struggling (in any area):

God, put me back on Your path.

Allow me, as Jonah did, to see your undeserved grace and mercy.

I ask that, as with Jonah, your grace and mercy would fall on me and on those who hear my story and hear your offer of mercy.

Your way.

Your path.

Your message.

is life.

Help me, God. Help me to choose your true life.

 jonah belly of the whale

Day 633: Re-Imaging

One of my favorite parts of this whole blogging experience is the pictures. Some of them are just personal snaps I take on my phone (like from my birthday yesterday on Day 632) and some are pics I take and then infuse them with scripture or a quote. It’s really cool – I’m not an artist but I can use an app and convey some kind of truth or encouragement visually!

Recently, when I was working on Day 626: New and Free, I made this image…

go and sin no more

I loved it. It was so powerful to me.

And just as I was about to hit publish, my eyes glanced up at the text to which I was referring:

Your sins are forgiven.
Go.
And sin no more.

I suddenly realized that I had completely focused on the second half and forgotten the first.

And the most important part.

Your sins are forgiven.

And aren’t we like that with ourselves? We forget the MERCY and GRACE of Christ and go right to “DON’T DO IT ANYMORE.”

So, I re-did the image and used the new one instead

your sins have been forgiven go and sin no more

And I liked it so much better! For two reasons.

It was so much coooler looking to me!

And it was the full story of how Christ speaks to me. to all of us.

It’s the combo deal that we can get from Him. Forgiveness and Hope in a better future. Forgiveness of whatever we were in the past but also Hope that we can still have that full and abundant life that He offers.

So friends, really zone in on that today.

Your sins are forgiven.
Go.
And sin no more.

Day 507: Pardon Me Please

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Today’s positivity is, yet again, perfect timing! After yesterday’s conviction through my son (Day 506: Childish Conviction) in which he inadvertently called me out on my sin and altered the course of my approach to this covenant and then yesterday’s positivity just “happened” to be I am free (Day 506: A Slave No More) it was only fitting that today should be…

POSITIVITY: I am pardoned.

Now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not judged guilty. Romans 8:1

All of my self-centered attitude. All of my pride. All of my gluttony. All of my food-lust. God will judge me not-guilty for all of it because Jesus stands in my place. And what’s really cool, is that because I am “in” Christ Jesus, God will just dismiss all that has happened, AND He will reward me for returning to Him. He will reward me for jumping off the road most traveled and getting on the road less traveled. (Thank you Mr. Frost for that.)

PRAYER:

God, You ARE Grace and Mercy. Just the fact that You even still interact with humans is evidence of that. And You are the Best of Grace and Mercy because you are also the Judge and the Eye that sees everything. Only You could fairly judge a person’s heart.

I am blessed that You have offered me Your Mercy. I know that given the state of my heart and my motivation, I didn’t deserve it, but you gave it to me all the same. I am blessed to have been treated with such kindness by You… when I think of some of the other ways that you could have tried to get my attention, I know that Your Grace gave me the easy way out.

Thank you for staying so close to me today. I have sensed You and Your Holy Spirit near me several times. Please stay near me longer, God. It is only with You that I am strong. Thank you for my pardon. Forgive me for my sin. Forgive me for being so focused on myself. For thinking I knew what was better than You did. For shoving my face with something other than what would fulfill me. For longing after something other than Your Greatness to sustain. Thank you that I am not guilty. Thank you.

Day 483: Way, Way Out

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Looking back at my last post, Day 481: Black Sabbath, I realized that there were so. very. many. “outs” that God gave me to not have to take that downward plunge.

My husband saying “Get a pizza for you.”
Not previously having had any wine in the house.
The moment at the store where I thought “I could get something else entirely.”
When my husband hung out in the living room longer so I had to wait to sneak out the cookie dough.

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

He was all over it… on my behalf. And, honestly, I saw the signs then too. I knew that He was giving me a way out, but I was so determined to do wrong at that point that I just ignored all the lifelines He was throwing at me.

But Monday was another day entirely… a new day… with new mercies. And then this morning I was going back through my bookmarks and came across this one:

God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. Philippians 2:13

It’s so cool when the Word of God expresses just what you need to know, just what you need to hear, just what I needed to be reminded of.

And ya know… this post is pretty short and sweet, but honestly, there isn’t a whole lot more to say about it! That last verse is what I’m gonna focus on today.

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.

Day 233: Dare To Hope

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I am kind of amazed today with myself. That after 233 days of this I still will turn to things that cannot fulfill. things that have proven to let me down. things that will hurt me.

Even after an awesome three-week hard-core Daniel Fast.

So, after I have all this wonderful spiritual enlightenment and peace, what do I do?

I drink three cups of coffee this morning.

I get myself all sorts of addicted to getting on Facebook again and again and staying up late checking the dad gum thing (even though it is scooched down to the last “page” on my iPhone all by itself).

I make a fresh loaf of bread and knock out half of it before it’s even had a chance to cool.

I eat when I’m not hungry. Several. times.

I ignore God when He tells me to pray and stop working on my to-do list (oh yeah, there was a pretty immediate consequence for that one… not a good idea to ignore God).

Honestly I’m getting frustrated with myself just writing this post!

But

I still dare to hope when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord. For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord.Lamentations 3:21-26, 31-32, 40

Day 116: Christian Closet

A couple of days ago, my good friend and former co-worker was coming over to chat while my oldest was in preschool and my youngest was napping. Even though she and I have been friends for a lonnnnnng time it’s been difficult to see each other as we go through the crazy stages of raising kids and so I was really extra excited to see her since it has been, like, five years since we last hugged each other’s neck.

And as I woke up that morning, I thought to myself, “Well, Rhonda’s coming over… I should do my hair (even though Thursday isn’t a day I usually “do” my hair) and I need to wear an outfit that makes me look extra skinny since I haven’t seen her in a while.”

And then I just sorta stopped myself. I thought, “Whoa. That is entirely off of the focus here. You need to just wear whatever you pick out in the morning and roll with it. No trying on 53 outfits to see which looks skinniest.”

And it wasn’t because Rhonda would love me no matter what (although she would!) but it was because Jesus loves me no matter what. Because Jesus looks at my heart.

And I saw a glimpse of myself having the potential to be one of those girls that I have always admired that looked comfortable and cute in whatever they were wearing but never seemed caught up in their looks. And I realized that I really don’t care about fashion or cute-clothes. I never really have. And that’s cool because…

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Colossians 3:12

So now, when I wake up in the mornings, I would love to spend a moment focusing on one of these qualities. Asking God as I dress in my earthly garb to make my humility stand out far more than the jeans I’m wearing. That my mercy would “bling” more than my necklace. That the kindness I show someone will show off Christ more than a shirt will show off my figure.

I would love for someone to think about having seen me during the day and not be able to recall a single item of clothing but be able to remember my gentle spirit.

Now, that would be one great outfit.

Day Eighty-One: You can’T do it!

A friend of mine (who is so much like me it’s a little weird) is doing a mini-covenant. Well, mini in the sense that it is not a full year, but HUGE in the sense that it could be the start of something completely freeing and ground breaking for her.

Anyway, I am so excited for her… well, I am excited when I think about the freedom that is ahead of her. Based on what she has said, she seems to struggle in a very similar way with sugar that I have dealt with over the past few months. And so when she mentioned to me yesterday that she had started her own covenant, I was like pumped all day long! And I love how she told me too… she sent me this text (and yes, I have changed her name):

“Hi. My name is Christy and I am addicted to sugar.”

Haha! She’s so funny! See… she is a lot like me! Haha!

But anyway, and so God has totally got her stuck in my mind and I have had the opportunity to pray for her a bunch this past day because I remember a) how incredibly difficult it was to start, and b) how awesome it was once I got a few days in. So, earlier this morning I was going to send her a text that said “I believe in you… you can do it!”

And then I stopped… because I was like, that’s so… opposite of what is really going on here. Now, I do believe in her commitment to Christ. I can tell that she lovvvvvvvves her some Jesus. And that’s why I believe that she will go through with her covenant. But, what I want to say is, “I believe in Jesus! Jesus can do this in you!”

But why doesn’t that have the same ring to it? Because that’s not the phrase that the world would say to her. The world would say “I believe in you! You can do it!”

But what it really takes is not a belief in self (in fact, belief in “self” can be more detrimental than helpful in my case) but what it really takes is a belief in the POWER OF JESUS.

Recall the time in which a father brought his son that was possessed with an evil spirit to Jesus’s disciples. They could not heal the boy, and so the father asked Jesus directly and ended his request with… “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24

So, if anything, my message to my friend is to believe. If she does nothing else, it is to believe in the Power of Jesus. in his desire to show us mercy. in his desire to heal us. in his ability to do both.

So maybe I’ll just text her this post instead! Haha!