Swipe Right–thoughts and take-aways

IMG_1655.jpg

I enjoyed reading Swipe Right  by Levi Lusko, though I thought I was buying his newest book, I Declare War. I guess I will just have to buy that one next. We had been watching his sermon series, “You in Five Years,” and I wanted to read one of his books. This one includes humorous stories, sobering stories and draws straight lines from God’s Word to daily living. He is an honest writer. I appreciate that. No fluff. Just straight-forward talk with real-life illustrations. Here are a few thoughts and take-aways:

Reminder to trust God’s Word over feelings every time: Trust your instrument. Don’t rely on feelings. “Just as a pilot needs instruments he can trust, you need objective indicators for your soul. Your feelings aren’t irrelevant; they just can’t rule your life. Monitor them, but don’t trust them. Rather, run them through an objective filter, so that even when you feel like doing wrong, you can spot the danger and choose to avoid it.” (page 47, Chapter 4)

Reminder to persevere and be hopeful that God is at work: Samson’s hair grew back!! Lusko provides encouragement for those who feel defeated by their sin. He also reminds us to be patient and to never give up. He tells about a tree being ripped out of their front yard and leaving a bare spot on their lawn. He decided to let his kids put down the soil and seeds and to water them. One of the daughters was so disappointed when the growth wasn’t seen immediately. He could see himself in her reaction. “We give twenty years to the devil and two weeks to God, and then expect everything to change overnight. … You’ve just got to do the hard yards of walking with Jesus. …growing fruit takes time and flourishing takes work.” (page124, Chapter 8)

“Before a tree is a tree, it is an acorn. An entire building springs out of a simple blueprint. World-changing inventions leap off of sketches hastily scribbled on napkins. Victory comes to those who can see past the seed. Harvests look nothing like the kernel that produced them.” (page 186, Conclusion)

Reminder to Work Hard at Marriage: “Marriages are like saving accounts: they have only what you put there through sacrifice over time, but the more you invest and the more patient you are, the more it will pay off.” (page 151, Chapter 10)

Reminder to Remember that Heaven is Our True Home: “Your treasure is not in this life but in the next. You are just passing through, waiting for a city whose builder is God, a kingdom that can’t be shaken. There’s no stronger motivation than anticipation.” (page 193, Conclusion)

Thankful for the work God does in a life and for their willingness to do the hard work of putting words and thoughts together to encourage and challenge others. Happy Reading!

 

Little by Little.

What a difference a year makes! 

That’s not really completely true unless you’re referring to the height of one of your adolescent-aged kids.

For me, I would reflect on this past year and say, “What a difference getting to the gym/trainer 3 times a week and sweating my butt off as I ran, pushed the sled, squatted, did bicep curls, glute bridges, lunges, planks and more for 52 weeks in a row makes!” Now that would be true. The year was going to pass by minute by minute, day by day, month by month no matter what I did or did not do. 

Little by little my waist shrunk, my mood lifted, my energy rose, my strength increased, my confidence was built, my food choices improved. I have abs, y’all! I don’t just believe by faith that they are under there; I can actually see them with my eyes!

Little by little. 

It’s not the way I would have wanted it to happen. I mean, if I could not go to the gym and not do the hard things Gym Tim told me to do, if I could sit on the couch and eat all my favorite foods and still lose weight and feel great, well then, I would have done that. I am not exactly a person up for a challenge just for the fun of it. But we all know change doesn’t happen overnight.

Change happens as a result of choices made over and over.  Levi Lusko has an awesome sermon series entitled “You in Five Years,” and in it he says that ongoing consistency is greater than short-term intensity. I agree.

For example, it would have done me no good to starve myself for two weeks and then give up on that plan because I didn’t see the results I wanted and eating very little is not sustainable. 

It would have done me no good to work out for 8 hours five days in a row and then burnout and hurt myself and never go back to the gym.

What helped me get results was plugging along little by little. Driving to the gym when I didn’t feel like it. (Showing up was half the battle!) Once I was there, I would do what I was supposed to do. I might huff and puff and even roll my eyes some times, but I did it! Little by little. No one is an overnight fit and healthy person.

Another way I could fine-tune the “What a difference a year makes” statement is “What a difference getting up early and starting my day in God’s Word almost every day of this year makes.” I was able to read through the entire Bible this past year, and I cannot even begin to put into words all the Lord did in my heart and soul. Truth is, I can’t see all that will come of that time sown in His Word. But I know I never wasted a second when I was reading Scripture, meditating and praying. Again, the year would have ticked along whether or not I started my day with God. I am so thankful God is so faithful and loving and draws close to His children. Little by little is the road of sanctification. No one is an overnight spiritual superhero. 

Lusko also tell his audience that in five years you will just be an exaggerated form of current you. Are you kind to people? You will likely be more kind in five years if you keep heading in that direction. Are you greedy? You will likely be more greedy in five years if you keep heading in that direction. Are you generous? You will likely be more generous. Are you overweight? Unless you change some things, you will likely be more overweight. Are you healthy and fit? You will likely be even more fit in five years if you keep it up! Are you a complainer? You will likely be even more a complainer unless you decide to change. 

Change is possible! I am living proof in the area of health. Man, I was unhealthy and mentally in a not-good place this time last year. It has encouraged me to keep on keeping on because little by little you can change. Little by little. Step by step. Morning by morning. The year will pass no matter my choices. I pray I am able to keep making good ones! There is always room for improvement and growth. YOU CAN DO IT!

 

End of the Year Review

The last day of 2018! We made it through and made lots of memories along the way.

JANUARY: I started working out and kept it up all year long. Praise the Lord!, All three kids and I survived the flu, We watched UGA win The Rose Bowl and then lose the National Championship to Alabama, Rolo experienced snow for the first time and loved it, Josh and I celebrated 17 years of marital bliss.

 

FEBRUARY: Mack tried out basketball, Josh went to Africa, Valentine’s Day was fun, we participated in a co-op on Thursday afternoons, and friends visited us.

 

MARCH: Mack started tackle football, we did lots with the youth group, Jud and KB visited us with Sweety and Cacy, Mack turned 11 and we visited Augusta and saw Marcy’s new house.

 

APRIL:  Eye appointment for Ruby while the other two napped, Jason&Merrilee and Deacon visited, the girls sang in their spring choir performance, Molly sang at a youth event, Mack kept playing football and loving it!

 

MAY: We wrapped up football season, Rolo had her first daycare stay, Josh and I went to the Kentucky Derby, PawPaw visited, and Ruby turned 14!

 

 

JUNE: We finished up our school year, the cousins visited and Dingle bit Josh, we went to the beach and had a blast, Publix opened!, and the girls and I visited Woodstock.

 

 

JULY: Uptown Showdown happened, we had our kitchen painted, got new bedroom furniture,  Rolo got spayed,  I kept working out, Josh got his deer for his office, we got a new downstairs A/C unit, Mack went to his first week long camp, and we sadly lost GG to heaven.

 

AUGUST: I started my tenth year as a home school teacher/mom, we celebrated Molly’s 13th birthday with Noah’s 20th, the girls got new laptops for school, Paige and her family visited us, we went to the laundromat for the first time, had fun at a football game with the Dawson kids, Josh turned 41, and Josh and I started teaching an adult Sunday school class.

 

 

SEPTEMBER: We started watching UGA football again, got new furniture for the living room, Mack started flag football, Molly dyed her hair red, had a night out with the Dawsons before a hurricane arrived, and Rolo celebrated her first birthday!.

 

OCTOBER: We met Bob Goff at a With Open Eyes event, we hosted a four week discipleship time on Friday nights for the young girls in the youth group, Ruby got her braces off, the girls and I went to IF Gathering, we got a new pastor, Mack was Kirby Smart for Halloween at church, and kids went trick or treating with the Dawson kiddos and Noah.

 

NOVEMBER: I pulled up the carpet in our sitting room, we went to Fall Retreat in Virginia, Molly and Josh went to a running coach, they went to a Hornets game, had Thanksgiving with Sweety and PawPaw, and we Decked the Halls with the youth group.

 

DECEMBER: Lots of shopping, lighting of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Christmas tree, ice skating with the youth group, Billy Graham Library church Christmas party, ladies party with my girls, Augusta trip before Christmas and home for Christmas Eve and Day, another Hornets game, I finished a year of working out!, and we helped with Room In the Inn at our church. Bringing in the New Year with some lazy kiddos that aren’t feeling 100% and chicken&rice soup on the stove.

What a full year! These are just a few highlights. It’s been a great 2018 with lots of growth and encouragement and accomplishments. I am excited for 2019. God is so faithful and true to His Word, and I look forward to walking with Him in the coming days. After all, every single one of the days make up the year!

Consider Jesus

I don’t fully understand why Christmas comes around more quickly the older I get, but it truly does seem that way. All of us middle-aged folks say to each other, “I can’t believe it’s this time of year already!” And for whatever reason, this particular Christmas season seems busier than any of the previous ones! I glanced at our calendar that the kids have used since they were toddlers to count down the days until Christmas, and I cannot believe we’ve almost got a full nativity scene.

IMG_1246.jpeg

And while I have read my Bible daily and prayed, gone to church and listened to worshipful Christmas music, I still sensed that my heart was distracted. Maybe it’s the noise of the shopping mall or the clicking of the keys as I add more and more to my calendar. Or maybe it’s the wrapping paper being cut and the tape being pulled from the roll or the kids clarifying their Christmas List. I find it ironic that there is always plenty to keep our minds on anything but Jesus at Christmas time.

But, thankfully, with taking a break from school work, came a less-hurried Monday morning when I found myself in Hebrews 1.

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets to many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son,…”

Indeed, God has spoken to us through Jesus. Jesus in the exact representation of God!

As the verses go on, they tell us why Jesus is better than angels.

Chapter 2, verse 1 says, “For this reason, we must pay closer attention….”

As it transitions from the topic of angels into Jesus being the only priest we need forever and ever, 3:1 says, “Therefore, consider Jesus,…”

Pay closer attention.

Consider Jesus.

Now, of course, we should pay close attention to and consider Jesus every day of our lives, but Christmas is a specific time to double-down on turning away from distractions and devoting time to consider Jesus.

Have you had time to pull away from the every day responsibilities and to-do lists to consider Jesus? It is HIM we are celebrating after all.

“And He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature and upholds all things by the Word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3)

He is worthy of our time, our attention, our consideration, and our worship.

Merry Christmas!

It’s Been A While

Wow! Time is a flying. I have random thoughts about blog topics and even funny illustrations to go along with them. I make lists of these blog ideas, and I pray there will be time to focus more on writing one of these days.

For now, I am afraid a photo-dump of sorts is about as good as it is going to get because, well, December.

We took some family photos with our iPhone for our Christmas cards this year. I even made a spreadsheet for keeping up with people’s addresses, so that I can stop texting friends at Christmas time asking for their addresses! It is time to be a grown-up.

The kids helped deck the halls of the youth rooms at church one Sunday and had a great time.

We went Christmas shopping and then to Josh’s work one evening for the lighting of the Christmas tree they have on the lawn. Fun times!

Around the house we have been enjoying the twinkling lights of the tree, wrapping Rolo up like a present and finishing a couple more books with Molly and Mack. School has gone fairly well this first semester, though I did have to enlist Josh to help with Ruby’s Algebra test. I probably haven’t shared this before, but I failed Algebra 2 and got switched over to a remedial general math class, where I made a 100 for the second semester of my Junior year. I didn’t do great in higher math–obviously. But I survived.  I went to college and got a tutor for College Algebra and for Statistics and all was well. I do quite well as an adult in ways that matter, so I am ok with all of my math struggles. I suppose it made me a more compassionate person, I don’t know. But this is not about me, it is about our homeschool. We’ve been reading, writing, doing math, learning our science and spending time together. And now it is time for a Christmas break! Tomorrow is baking day, so that will be fun. IMG_0870

Our church had a beautiful Christmas singing service, which we all enjoyed very much.

I am trying to meal plan and have better choices on hand, so that’s been fun!

The youth group had their annual H2O at the Rink for ice skating. Ruby learned last year that ice skating was not her thing, but Mack tried and hated it. Molly survived several falls and had fun. I enjoyed watching everyone, safely on the sideline.

These are a few more little shots from around the house this season. Fires, naps, presents, and a sweet puppy.

We went to the church Christmas party at The Billy Graham Library. It was gorgeous out there!!! I am so glad we were able to make it. We have been at the church a year and a half or so and it feels more and more like home, and there are no words to express what this means to me. Grateful and Blessed!

IMG_1099

Finally, we spotted Santa at Chick fil A looking over his list…he is more high-tech than I knew! Clicking away through his list while enjoying his chicken sandwich and waffle fries. I figured we shouldn’t interrupt him, so we just weirdly snap a few pictures and whisper to one another about him.

Alrighty, I think that covers it. Or at least these are the photos I have taken over the past few weeks that I thought I would share here. Josh and I finished our Christmas shopping yesterday, so we are set to just enjoy these days leading up to the big day! I am hoping for some quiet in this coming week to focus more on Jesus. To reflect on His coming to earth. It is worth the time and effort, so I hope you get quiet time to reflect during these days leading up to Christmas. It’s easy to be distracted and it’s normal to have lots of things to do, but what a sad thing to miss out on Jesus–the One all this celebration is about!

IMG_1036.jpg

Thankful for my Defender

Thanksgiving ushers in reflection. Reflection on what causes gratefulness to rise up within us. Reflection on the past year. The ups, the downs, the progress or lack thereof.

This year, getting a handle on my health and exercise has been one of my greatest accomplishments and reasons for gratitude. I feel so much better! I can move better, and I enjoy being active. I have even started running with my husband and Molly. They want to run more often; I want to do it without feeling like I need to vomit. They went to a running coach for some tips and have passed them on to me. So far, so good. We have been running a mile at a time and practicing our form, cadence and breathing. The little metronome has been quite helpful in that it gives me something to focus on rather than focusing on how in the world I am even going to make it til the end of my run.

I am also super grateful for this past year and my time with the Lord and in His Word. I am in the book of Romans and just about five weeks away from finishing the whole Bible! I don’t read the Bible through every single year, but when I do it is one of my greatest joys and provides much spiritual growth.

One theme that I notice when I read through the Bible is God being our Defender, the One who fights for us, who prepares us for the “nexts” in our lives in ways we don’t even know at the time He is doing it.  He keeps us from dangers. He carries us through extremely tough times. He does the work.

2 Kings 6 tells a story about the king of Aram warring against Israel and wanting to capture and kill Elisha.

“He sent horses and chariots and a great army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And Elisha’s servant said to him, ‘Alas my master! What shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ “

{2 Kings 6:14-16}

I can so imagine what the servant was thinking. He’s looking around at the horses, chariots, and the great army and then he is looking at Elisha. Scratching his head, he looks at Elisha in disbelief.

“Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

{2 Kings 6:17}

Wow! Lord, I pray that You would open my eyes to see Your army of protection and rescue. I am not alone! I am worth being fought for. I haven’t always experienced that with earthly relationships, but never once has God given up on me or folded His arms and just decided that I was too tough a case. He is always fighting for my good and His glory. I am worth it to Him.

Psalm 141:8 “For my eyes are toward You, O God, the Lord; In You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless.”

Psalm 142:2-4, 5b   “I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk they have hidden a trap for me.Look to the right and see; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul…’You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living.”

Psalm 18:2-3, 16-19, 28-30 “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies…He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay. He brought me into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me…For You light my lamp; The Lord my God illumines my darkness. For by You I can run upon a troop; And by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him”

Psalm 139:5 “You have enclosed my behind and before and laid Your hand upon me.”

Psalm 3:3, 5&6 “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory and the one who lifts my head…I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me round about.”

Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Thank You, Lord, for being my Defender. Open my eyes to see You fighting for me. And for the times I don’t see it, help me walk by faith and know it is happening. You are my refuge and strength. You are a very present help in times of trouble, and I praise You for that! Amen.