This is a letter to the Dirty Old Men at my gym…..

Dear Dirty Old Men,

Since I was a little girl, you’ve been lurking around the edges of my life. I remember seeing you sitting in the window and watching me play in my backyard. And I noticed you walking down the halls of my elementary school. Somehow you even showed up to my softball games.

Because you loved looking at teenage girls, you taught in my high school.

I couldn’t avoid you in the workplace because you were my boss.

But now you’re older than dirt and have discovered that the gym is the right environment for you to do what you’ve always done.

You sit on the stationary bikes and stare at the ladies playing racquetball. You plant yourself on the weight machines so that you can watch the group exercise classes.

You should know that we are still aware that you are there. Even though you are old, you still make us uncomfortable. When you stare at us, we feel like bugs are crawling on our skin. We do our best to avoid you when you try to talk to us. And we hate it when we hear you stage whisper, “damn that looks good.”

You used to be young, strong, and powerful. We used to be afraid of you. But not any more. You no longer have the power to stop us from doing what we love. We are younger than you. We are stronger than you. And we’ll outlive you.

JOY

It’s been a weekend of movies for us. We went to see 13 Hours on Saturday and Joy on Sunday. But the one that I’d recommend for all of my girlfriends who read this blog would be Joy. It’s the story of one woman who stopped listening to what everybody said she couldn’t do and began doing what she knew she could.

I think that we are all a lot like Joy and know that deep down there is greatness within. Yet, like Joy did for so many years, we get caught up in living the life that we’ve been given instead of creating the one we want. But you know what? It’s never to late to start.

What is it that you’ve always wanted to do? If you didn’t have to work to make money, what would you do? Would you paint? Would you sew?  Would you build? Would you write? Would you give?

Like Joy, do you have an idea that could make life just a little easier for someone?

Let’s you and I decide to stop wasting our free time watching television, scrolling Pinterest, mindlessly wandering through Facebook, or whatever it is we are doing. Let’s make a commitment that we will use  that time to develop the greatness that lies within.

 

Deuteronomy 8:18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

(The only downside to this movie is that she never found the courage to separate herself and her children from those who had been intent on destroying the dream within since childhood.)

 

Book Recommendation

51mm2b3zte1l-_sx322_bo1204203200_I just finished reading Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss.  I think it confirms what we already know.  Big Food is only concerned with our well-being  only if it affects their profits. They are not in the business of making food that keeps us healthy. Their only concern with the obesity epidemic is if you and I stop buying their products.

To me, it was scary to realize that Big Tobacco companies own many of our food and drink manufacturers.

As you know, I’m all about eating as healthy as I can and try to avoid processed foods as much as possible.  And after reading this book, I’m thinking that I’ll probably eat even less of the stuff than I did before.

If you are concerned about what you eat. And if you wonder why you crave what you know you shouldn’t have… then I’d suggest you read this book.

 

How old are you?

My two and a half year old loves to say no to anything that she does not want to do. She’ll tell you no when you ask her if she wants to eat. Ask her if she needs to potty and the answer is no. Ask her if she’s ready to go to bed and she gives an emphatic no, no, no!

And she hates hearing it as much as she loves saying it. My daughter tells me that my little princess can throw a royal tantrum when she’s told no.

Aren’t we just like her? Think about it for a moment.

Our love/hate relationship with the word no has caused us to gain weight, be out of shape, go into debt,  destroy relationships, and walk away from God.

No means that we can’t have our way and, like any two and a half year old, we absolutely hate not getting our way.

Liberty is a child and has someone who will back up her no with discipline but we don’t. We’re adults. We get what we want even when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s bad for us. We have money and can drive so we can go and get what we want when we want it. We can eat whatever we want. We can charge it if we can’t afford it. And if someone gets in our way, we can leave them because they’re not making us happy.

With God, we throw royal tantrums when he tells us no. We question if he’s real. We throw his promises into his face as demands. And if he still tells us no, we walk away because he’s not any use to us anymore.

Like a two and a half year old, we think that no‘s sole purpose is to deny our desire and we don’t like that at all!

For a moment, think about this from a parent’s perspective. Hannah is telling Liberty no because she’s loves her. She knows that cookies for breakfast are not a good for her. And pooping in your pants is just gross. She tells Liberty it’s time for bed because she needs rest to grow. For Hannah, no is another word for love.

And it’s the same for us. Remember, I wrote about loving yourself awhile back.  If we truly love ourselves, we can harness the power of no and come to understand that we are not being denied, we are being empowered!

 

 

Just Say No

littlemermaidOkay, I have to preface this with a disclaimer. When Hannah was a little girl I would not allow her to watch the Little Mermaid because I felt that Ariel was rebellious and still got everything she wanted. I did not want Hannah to think that life worked like that…. Remember, I was teaching her that disobedience brings pain.

Now Hannah is a mom and she’s decided that Liberty cannot watch the Prince and the Frog beca2071417-princessandthefrogposteruse of the voodoo.

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But not every one thinks the way that we do.  Today, Hank and I went to see The Revenant staring Leonardo DiCaprio. I gotta be honest here. I had to leave before the movie even started because I couldn’t watch the previews for  Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies or the The Conjuring. (Up to that point, I was beating the popcorn temptation but I had to go somewhere and found myself at the concession stand.)  Once I was sure that the previews were over, I made my way back to my seat and was totally horrified to have to scoot by a three year old!

I know that we live in a different time but I still believe that our little ones are to be protected from the scary things in life even if that means that we deny ourselves.

We have got to learn the power of the word NO! whether we are telling ourselves that we can’t see certain movies because we don’t have childcare or if we are explaining to our children why they can’t see a Disney movie.

There are so many areas that need a good firm no….. So, parents and grandparents, let’s do what Nancy Reagan taught us and “Just Say No.”

 

self-acceptance

How many of us accept ourselves as we are? Maybe it would be better to ask, “how few of
us accept ourselves as we are?”

I struggle with this because I fear that if I ever accepted myself as I am then I would become stale and stagnant. I’d stop trying to become a better version of myself.  I think I would give up and give in to life as I know it instead of searching for ways to experience the abundant life that I’ve been promised.

For me the better option may be loving oneself. And I’m not talking about selfish or self-centered love. I’m talking about loving oneself like we  love family, friends,  or  neighbors.

Matthew 22: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 Loving oneself allows the pursuit of  abundant life. Loving oneself prevents accepting things as they are and encourages each of us to seek out the best that God has promised in His word. Loving oneself encourages positive change and leads us on the journey of becoming who we are created in to become in Christ.  Loving oneself demands that we dethrone the goddesses of doubt, despair, and discouragement and give ourselves the love, joy,  peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and  self-control  that we wish we could give to others.

Loving oneself demands that we take care of ourselves. We feed our bodies nutritious foods, we exercise, and we schedule sleep so that we can have the physical strength to enjoy God’s creation, our families, friends, and, quite simply, the life we have been given.

When we love ourselves enough to receive God’s best, we have the strength to give it away.

When I was a pastor, I accepted people as they were when the first came to Christ. There was no condemnation for past choices. Yet, I never wanted them to stay the same. I wanted to see every person become a better version of themselves and to live a better life then they had ever experienced up to that point.  I wanted to see everyone around me reach their full potential in Christ and in the world we live in.

And I want that for you and me too.

Scripture References:

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Matthew 10:8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

 

Identity found….

I went to church yesterday. I’ve been to this church before and I really like it. I think it’s because its a bible study with worship. Nothing more happens. And right now that’s exactly what I need. Honestly, I think it’s what the church needs…… the word and worship.

Anyway, he taught on the following passage found in Hebrews 10:

What I remember most from his sermon is this,  Jesus completed the work of the cross and became the final sacrifice so that your  identity can be  God’s child. Your identity is loved by God.

identity-in-christ1 My identity isn’t lost. My purpose isn’t to teach. Or to write. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to bring me into relationship with the Father. He didn’t do it to make me a better writer. He didn’t go to the cross to give me a purpose to fulfill God’s will. He went to the cross to make me God’s daughter.

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to earn my identity in the kingdom when it was mine all along. My identity isn’t author. My identity isn’t teacher. My identity isn’t pastor. My identity isn’t blogger. These things are not my identity nor are they my purpose. They are gifts that God gave me to enjoy. They are just like sewing,  quilting, reading, and going to the gym.  All of these things are just a few of the ways that God has allowed me to share the goodness of who He is in accordance with the talents he gave me. God doesn’t have me in a cocoon of transformation to make me into anything new but to teach me to rest in my one true identity and that is His daughter.

The purpose of purpose is to be fulfilled not to fulfill.

Hebrews 10: 1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,  but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings  you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—  I have come to do your will, my God.’”

First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:16 “This is the covenant I will make with them   after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,   and I will write them on their minds.”

17 Then he adds:“Their sins and lawless acts  I will remember no more.” 18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

 

Identity lost….

In 2015 I lost my identity. Not in the way that you might be thinking. No one gained access to my finances. No one bought a single item using my credit cards.

No, it was worse than that.

I’m a mother and grandmother whose family lives 14 hours away. I’m not a pastor anymore. I no longer teach. No one asks me for counsel or advice. And, due to injuries, I can’t even go to the gym.

In 2015, I lost my purpose. And in losing my purpose, I lost my identity. This is particularly hard for me because I need to feel needed. I’m wired to be responsible. I never learned  how to be a daughter of God but I had gotten really good at being his servant.

IMG_1138I’ve found things to occupy my time. I sew costumes for Liberty. I make quilts. I read books. I watch television. I go to the beach. I’m not unhappy. I’m just not very useful.

On my hip is a tattoo with a butterfly on a cross. I got it to remind me that “In Christ, I became who I am becoming.”

I am  like the butterfly who must go through her own metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly. I am in my own cocoon of transformation.

I hope to transform from pastor to author. I believe that when I get out of this I’ll be able to teach with the written word instead of standing behind a pulpit. I trust that God will use these blogs and, eventually, a book to counsel others as we go through shared experiences together.

So often I write about what we must do to align ourselves with God’s purpose. This time, I’m suggesting that there are times when there is absolutely nothing we can do but rest in his promises. We have to trust that God loves us as sons and daughters who do absolutely nothing but love him.