Party Crashing

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As the soundtrack from Alvin and the Chipmunks:Chipwrecked plays in the background, I hear a few loud crashes.  I run up the stairs to make sure there haven’t been any injuries. It is apparent when I walk in the room I have crashed a party.  Both the Princess and the Little Dude turn to look at me with wide mouth surprise, frozen in awkward motion.  “Is everything ok?”, I ask.  “Yeah,” she replies, “we are just having a dance party.” They stare at me until I leave….

I go back down stairs to finish cleaning the kitchen as the atmosphere in the Princess’ room changes.  The music has ceased but I can hear the soft murmur of little voices and I decide to eavesdrop.  “Come on Billy.  Rita has Trini trapped at the bottom of the ocean without her morpher. We have to save her.”  And in his jumbled toddler jargon, he replies “Ok kimly (Kimberly)”.  Then the thumping of little feet insues across the creaking wood floor as they morph into Power Rangers and set off on their adventure.  Laughing, cheering, yelling and chattering float through the ceiling.  Knowing that we are past a difficult phase brings such sweet calmness.

Life before my kids were friends was frustrating and overwhelming.  Entertaining two children while simultaneously breaking up fights left me exhausted.  Even though I am still worn out after chasing those two through the grocery store…it makes it a much easier task when I can smile at them holding hands as the Princess sings her made up song, “Best friends, best friends…” So, if my role for awhile is just to be the party crasher, I am ok with that.

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Reflection of “Lies Women Believe” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

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Standing in the garden with a choice to make, Eve gave in and the whole world was changed. If you had been Eve, would you have eaten the fruit? If you are honest, you know you would have. You would have convinced yourself that life could be better, you would have believed that you deserved to be like God. You would have taken a bite because you believed the lies.   Our sinful flesh and selfish desires leave us so open to deception, we hardly even recognize it as such. Since the garden Satan has used lies to pursuade us to make wrong choices and ultimately sin against our God. Little lies have crept in to what we think to be our strong core of beliefs and Nancy Leigh DeMoss addresses those untruths in her book, “Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free”.

DeMoss confronts some difficult and controversial issues as she attempts to debunk some of the lies that women have allowed to effect their relationship with God.  So many people are turned away from God because they feel that He has wronged them in some way or they live as if he owes them something.  I was convicted as I read through the list of misconceptions on God, as I realized that in my actions I held to the belief that God was not really enough for me.  Building up my bank account, getting a better car and buying a new house was more important than building my relationship with Him and resting in His provisions.  Have you resisted God’s love because you are angry with Him for not providing for you? Do you think of God as unjust because he has allowed something bad to happen in your life? Do you feel like God is enough or are you clamoring for more assurance through money, relationships or success? This book uncovers the truth about God, allowing us to shed these misconceptions that have been holding us back from a joyful and loving relationship with Him.

DeMoss also seeks to destroy the lies that women have believed about themselves. Through my struggles with body image, I had become intrenched in the lie that to get over all of my problems I just needed to love myself more.  This is such a huge misconception among women and it actually makes so many problems worse, not better.  Many women are labeled as having “low self-esteem” and the remedy given to them is to focus on themselves and their needs.   The truth is, intrinsically we already love ourselves too much…we are most aware of our needs and we are always inclined to take care of those needs first.  The true remedy lies in the Word of God.  We are told in Matthew 22:37 that we are to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves….this is with the understanding that we already love ourselves.  The bad view I had about myself actually arose because I was already thinking about myself too much…what I looked like, what I was feeling…and the way too fix it was not to love myself more but to love myself less and to love God and others more. 

I could go on forever about the lessons I have learned form this book.  DeMoss approaches topics such as sin, priorities, marriage, children, emotions and circumstances with passion and loads of scripture.  She address our misconceptions  powerfully and poignanty and gives applicable and agressive ways of dealing with them.  I challenge you to find this book and take the time to read and apply each section….you will undoubtedly be changed by the truth.

Coming Next Week

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Monday–I will be reflecting on yet another one of my favorite books…The Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. 

Tuesday–My kids actually like each other now so they don’t let me play anymore…maybe they will let me watch?

Wednesday–Follow me as I work through the messiness and revel in the fulfillment of interacting with people in my new series on relationships.

Thursday–Where will my crazy interests and hobbies take me next week?…tune in to see what my favorite thing will be.

My Favorite Recipe

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Last week I made these cinnamon rolls…I was thankful I divided the recipe in half and that I had my hungry family to feed or I could have seriously eaten all of them by myself.  A massive quantity of butter makes this confection extra gooey and delicious.  I am totally addicted to the maple icing that covered the top of this cinnamon and sugar swirled breakfast delicacy. I’m beyond disappointed that they are already gone, but I’m sure I will be making some more very soon.  Who is going to help me eat them?!

Running the Race of Sanctification

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On the road of sanctification, as we strive to be more like Jesus, we often take the easy route hoping to find a short cut to the finish.  Holiness is such a prized reward many try to plan their own course to change and end up back at the start.   But truthfully many people don’t even realize that they are taking short cuts…they simply have filled their mind full of misconceptions about sanctification that they are lost somewhere along the way and need direction to find their way back.  Whether shortcuts are intentional or not we need to break these misconceptions so that we don’t end up going in the wrong direction.

“Let go and let God”….You have seen it on bumper stickers, you’ve been told it by a well-meaning Christian friend or you may have even said it yourself.  What was originally meant as a Christian form of “Don’t worry, be happy” has now led people to the common misconception that we are not at all responsible for making changes in our lives.  I once confronted a Christian friend at school about his failing grades and his poor study habits and his response was, “well, if God wanted me to make better grades, I would.”  And that is how many people view sanctification…as if there is basically nothing they can do about it but sit back and possibly send  up a half-hearted prayer or two and then see what happens.  Even praying is only half of it.  We are given many imperatives in the Bible about how we should go about making changes in our lives.  For example in Ephesians 4:22-24 we are given the responsibility of putting off our old self and putting on the new self. The verses do not say “Sit back and let God get rid of your old self” or “Pray about putting on your new self”…we are told to do it. (also see 2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 Timothy 4:7 and 1 Timothy 6:11)

On the other hand, many perfectionists (such as myself) live in a way that says “I have to do it all. I am completely and fully responsible for how sanctified I am and if I work my butt off I will eventually be holy”.   This misconception completely leaves out the work of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:13 tells us “for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” So, though we are told to be responsible for putting off sin, it is not solely our duty but also involves the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Taking complete responsibility for sanctification also leaves a door wide open for pride to creep in.  In Ephesians 2 we are told we were not given our salvation by works because that would cause us to boast in ourselves…it is the same with sanctification, if we can claim our growth as our own doing then we become prideful and arrogant about how great we are and leave out the boasting we should be doing in God and His grace.

And lastly, many approach sanctification with the misconception that it should be easy. Then when it is very difficult, they walk away feeling discouraged and they miss the opportunity for growth.  The Bible presents the Christian life as a race…the one who is diligent, the one who perseveres, the one who stumbles but gets back up, the one who practices and gets better will win the prize.  Sanctification is not a straight shot to the finish line…it is a jagged mess of ups and downs, twists and turns, hurdles and pits that ultimately bring you closer to being like Jesus.   Recently I had a friend come to me frustrated with the lack of progress she was making.  She made a list of all the things she was doing to seek holiness with the help of the Holy Spirit, she told me all the things God had done in her and I even chimed in with how much growth I had seen in her life. “But I want to be better. I don’t want to struggle anymore”, she said.  But that’s just it, as long as we are on earth we will (and should) fight for sanctification.  It is a race, a very difficult one, and if we truly want to win we will run with all we have and we will not give up when it gets hard.

A Day in the Life

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Life in our house is many things….fun, frustrating, chaotic, busy, hilarious…but never boring.  Here is what a day in our life looks like:

1:00 am–It is officially Monday and I am up with a scared little girl.  The absurd winter thunder has served as her alarm clock and she is in a panic.  After comforting her….and attempting not to give in to my frustration and exhaustion…I head back to bed

8:30–My sweet husband has gotten up with the kids so I didn’t have to get up at the command of my littlest early riser.  The first sips of coffee give me just the spunk I need to produce a smile for my adoring fans waiting at the bottom of the steps…”Mommy!” the kids shout in unison.  They make me feel so special!

9:00–After a busy Sunday, we are always ready for a Monday spent in pajamas.  I pick up the mess that has accumulated over the weekend while the kids play together. Then after being overwhelmed by the clutter, I proceed to list a pile of old clothes on Ebay.

11:00–The kids are ready for lunch…which is followed by an impromtu dance party.  Both of my kids think that no day is complete without a little dancing.

1:00–The little dude is sent to bed and my little baker joins me in the kitchen to make a cake.  Spills and messes are inevitable and sometimes the end product is inedible…but it is all totally worth it to see the grin on that little girl’s face.

4:00–My husband is home for an early dinner.   After a quick meal and clean-up, we are outside at the request of the kids.  But at the first gust of wind we are back inside…my kids got their opinion of weather from their father.

5:30–I’ve been taking a counseling class on Monday nights…it makes me feel smarter, gets me out of the house, helps me be better equiped for ministry and I get to see some of my favorite people.  I look forward to it every week.

9:00–Back from my class and the kids are in bed.  I am filled in on the evenings events…poop in the bath, screaming fits and cleaning up a cake mess…just the usual excitement when you have little ones.   I enjoy a piece of cake and an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” on Netflix.

11:00–I’m asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow…much rest is needed to do it all again tomorrow.

A Reflection on “Idols of the Heart”

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A few years ago a good friend and concerned Christian sister put a book in my hand and strongly encouraged me to read it.  “I had a friend who was going through the same thing and this really helped her.” I had been through so much already with my eating disorder…I really felt too far under for a simple book to be of much help to me.  But as I skimmed through “Idols of the Heart” by Elyse Fitzpatrick my eyes were opened to an important point that I had been missing.  I knew that what I had been doing to myself was a sin…I even went before my church and openly admitted it.  But I never imagined that underneath my sinful actions, lied an idol so precious to me that I had been willing to give up my relationship with God to obtain it.

This book pointed out to me that idolatry isn’t just worshipping a golden calf or building a shrine to some weird wooden god…it is putting ANYTHING before God.  With Biblical examples and creative anecdotes, the author presented an entertaining platform for a very serious subject.  When it was time to get down to business, though, she hit a subject hard and wasn’t afraid to challenge and repremand where needed.   As I was challenged to look deeper into my heart I began to see the nasty truth inside.  Deep in my heart I had placed my need for perfection and the opinion of others far above my God.  As I began to dig out the contents of my tainted heart, I had a chance to search through many aspects of my relationship with God that had never been uncovered before. I was able to ask myself the following questions:

Do I really think that God’s commands are good for me? So much of my life was spent following God’s “rules” for me and expecting Him to acknowledge my obedience….as if He actually owed me for something.  Or I followed the rules just because I knew as a child of God I was supposed to, and people expected that out of me.  But God placed those boundaries because He knew how sinful our hearts could be and they remind me that when I mess up it is merely an opportunity to trust God and His amazing grace so much more.

Do I truly even love God? Yeah, I served and worshipped God because I knew I should, but doing those things without true love for God were useless and meant nothing.  Putting love behind those actions gives absolute glory to God where it belongs.

Can my actions change without God changing my heart?…and the obvious answer was “no” but I lived differently.  In trying to deal with eating disorder, I set up an absurd set of rules. Instead of trying to tear down the rules I had made for myself of “eat this”, “don’t eat that”, I had just placed a whole new set of eating rules.  I had to eat so many meals, I had to eat so many fruits and vegetables, I had to eat at certain times and with certain intents and I had to be careful about what I ate and who I ate it with.  So instead of dealing with the problem I tried to reprogram my behavior.   It wasn’t until I dealt with the issues in my heart that I saw some real progress.

This book is applicable to everyone…all of us at some point in our lives put something before God.  Whether you have put the opinion of others in an elevated position or your life is consumed with your work or studies…whether your obsession has become a better income or smaller dress size…or whether you are overcome with an addiction or you simply watch too much TV….at some point and in various manifestations, we have all put something before our God and this book helped me to uncover this problem in my own life and helped me find a way to freedom.