The #truths I live by

Today many people claim that truth is relative. Some will even go so far as to say that there is no such thing as truth. (You can check out the various “theories” of truth here.)

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I choose to believe that the Bible is the inspired, inherent word of God, written by at least 35 different authors over a period of about 1,500 years. The truths I live by all come from the Bible. (Note: I use BibleGateway.com to look up verses. These are in the New American Standard translation.)

1. I believe that salvation is only available through Jesus Christ.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'” John 14:6

2. I believe that I can know where I’m going when I die

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

3. I believe that each person is uniquely created by God

13 For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.”  Psalm 139:13-16

4. I believe my body is a holy temple of God

16 Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” First Corinthians 3:16,17

5. I believe that I am no longer condemned

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1-4

6. I believe that God fills me with His peace

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7

7. I believe that God gives me the power and strength to do what He calls me to do

11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

So how does all this relate to me and my body?

  • God made my body just the way He wanted it to be; I need to choose to accept  the parts of my body that I can’t change, including what I perceive as “flaws”
  • God gives us food to eat and enjoy; I need to choose to eat food that will give me energy and keep me healthy
  • God gave me unique abilities; I need to choose to use my abilities to honor Him

Delighting in Obedience: Redefining Success

How do you define success?

This is a question we need to answer for ourselves and revisit on a regular basis. Our definition of success will affect how we act and react to life and what it brings. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about “success”:

BiblePsalm 62:7 (Living Bible) “My protection and success come from God alone. He is my refuge, a Rock where no enemy can reach me.”

Proverbs 3:6 (Living Bible) “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”

Proverbs 12:3 (Living Bible) “Wickedness never brings real success; only the godly have that.”

Proverbs 28:13 (Living Bible) “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.”

Ecclesiastes 4:4 (Living Bible) “Then I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy! But this, too, is foolishness, chasing the wind.”

Mark 4:19 (Living Bible) “but all too quickly the attractions of this world and the delights of wealth, and the search for success and lure of nice things come in and crowd out God’s message from their hearts, so that no crop is produced.”

2 Corinthians 3:5 (Living Bible) “and not because we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success comes from God.”

At the beginning of January I picked a chapter of Scripture to memorize while I walk on my treadmill. I have been working my way through 1 Timothy 4. This morning as I walked, this is the verse I memorized and meditated on (verse 8):

“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

This fits perfectly with what Lysa Terkeurst discusses in chapter 8 of Made to Crave.

“We need to define ourselves by our obedience, not a number on the scale.” -Karen Ehman

I Timothy 4:8 is NOT an excuse to avoid exercise. However, it reminds me of where my priority should be – becoming more godly. My job is to be obedient by:

  • Thanking God for the body He gave me (Psalm 139: 13-17)
  • Eating nutritious foods that will provide energy to accomplish God’s will
  • Getting sufficient exercise to become or remain fit so that I can use my body for God’s glory
  • Measuring my worth by what God thinks of me, not by a number on the scale

And even more importantly:

  • Reading God’s Word regularly to nurture my spiritual growth
  • Replacing my negative “self-talk” with true, uplifting statements from Scripture
  • Listening to (and making) music that will feed and nourish my soul
  • Meeting regularly with other believers to learn more about God and encourage others
  • Praying every day, throughout each day, so that I’m conscious of God’s promptings and fellowshipping with Him
  • Walking in obedience to God and His Word

We are told success is winning a prize, becoming wealthy, having influential friends, being beautiful, and myriads of other things people expect. As Christians, I believe our definition of success should be:

“Consciously and persistently pursuing God and His will in our lives, no matter what the cost.”

Do you agree? If not, how would you define success?


3 Things I’m #Determined to Do

This week in our Proverbs 31 study of Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food, by Lysa Terkeurst, our key word was “Determined”. Our key verse was:

1 Peter 5:7-8a, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert.”   NIV1984

There are three things I’m determined to do this year:

  1. IMG_00000206I am determined to follow God with all my heart and strength. Determination requires a choice. In Joshua 24:14-16, Joshua challenged the people of Israel to choose who they were going to serve. This choice resulted in actions – they had to throw away the gods their ancestors worshiped and serve the Lord. In Ephesians 4:22-25 we are given more details about how this choice to follow God should affect us (emphasis mine):22 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”   I will choose to follow God, to seek His will, and to do what He asks. I will choose not to pursue my own selfish interests, not to engage in activities which will draw me away from God, and not to do things I know are wrong.
  2. I am determined to make lifestyle changes which honor God. I was reminded lately that I was not taking care of my body the way God wanted me to take care of it. I was feeling sluggish and the number on my scale was the highest it has ever been. Although I ate mostly healthy food, I ate too much of it, and snacked instead of waiting. Exercise was also something missing from my schedule. One of my resolutions this year was to make lifestyle changes which will honor God. I Corinthians 6:19 reminds me that my body really doesn’t belong to me; it belongs to God. I am determined to make the following lifestyle changes: eating mindfully, no snacking after supper, taking smaller portions, and exercising regularly. Although I have set some weight loss goals for myself, they are secondary to honoring God with my choices. I started this journey on January 2nd and am blogging here on Fridays about my journey.
  3. presentI am determined to use my spiritual gifts to honor God. I believe God gives each of us spiritual gifts to serve Him and His people. (If you’re not sure what your spiritual gifts are, take this gifts test.) My spiritual gifts are administration and exhortation. Although I don’t always like to lead, people tell me I’m good at it. Last year I took on the challenge of leading InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Writing is a gift I’ve enjoyed most of my life. However, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started taking this gift seriously. I’m thankful for a group of Canadian Christian writers who are determined to encourage, mentor, challenge, and equip one another. I will choose to use my writing to exhort others as God leads.

What about you? What are you determined to do?


#Empowered by trusting God

Made to Crave CoverI’ve started another Proverbs 31 online Bible study. Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food by Lysa Terkeurst is the book we’re using. One of the questions Lysa asks early on in the book is:

“Is it possible we LOVE and RELY on food more than we love and rely on God?”

One of the things I appreciate about the Proverbs 31 studies is that these women are not afraid to ask tough questions and they expect honest answers – from themselves as well as study participants. It’s refreshing to be part of a community where we are able to be brutally honest and allow God to change us, while being supported and encouraged. I find this very empowering. Excuses don’t cut it. Only the truth.

This study deals with an age-old problem — relying on food; putting our trust in money, or position, or people RATHER THAN GOD. In Jeremiah 2:13, God states it this way:

“My people have sinned twice.
They have deserted me,
even though I am the spring of water that gives life.
And they have dug their own wells.
But those wells are broken.
They can’t hold any water.

Isn’t it ironic that we turn away from the almighty, loving, perfect God who created us and try to fill our emptiness with created things that don’t last, hurt us, and leave us in worse shape than we were before? How can we be so foolish? Thankfully, God understands that we are prone to sin and He waits for us to repent and come back to Him. He is the only one who can truly empower us.

As I begin this study, I choose to turn away from relying on food and people to relying on God. In and of themselves, these things are not bad. It’s my reliance on them that is wrong. I confess my sin of relying on “broken wells” and choose to rely on God today.

I know I face an uphill battle, but that’s okay because I’m empowered by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He stands with me and I can call out to Him. Lysa shares:

“When I started, I knew this battle would be hard — harder than I ever imagined. But through it all I determined to make God, rather than food, my focus. Each time I craved something I knew wasn’t part of my plan, I used that craving as a prompt to pray. I craved a lot. So, I found myself praying a lot. . . It was my way of tearing down the tower of impossibility and building something new. My tower of impossibility was food. Brick by brick, I imagined myself dismantling the food tower and using those same bricks to build a walkway of prayer, paving the way to victory.”

What about you? Are you trusting food, people, money? Or are you choosing to be empowered by God?


My Writing Goals for 2014

Blog Hop for WritersNOTE: Writers: please click on the button above to share your blog link and participate in the blog hop. Readers: please click on the button to go to other writers’ blogs. They will be sharing posts along the same theme as this one.

“Write. Start writing today. Start writing right now. Don’t write it right, just write it –and then make it right later. Give yourself the mental freedom to enjoy the process, because the process of writing is a long one. Be wary of “writing rules” and advice. Do it your way.” ― Tara Moss

Path SignEach year, around New Year’s Day, I sit down and set some goals for myself. I find goals inspiring and look at them as guides, not something written in stone. Here are my writing goals for 2014:

1. Finish writing my novel, Olga’s Discovery. I’m working with Kathi Macias, the acquisitions editor for A Taste of Chocolate (an imprint of Elk Lake Publishing) on this project. She liked my proposal and I’ve promised her the first 20,000 words by mid-February. Currently, I’m at the 18,000 mark of my first draft. After that, I’m aiming to write at least 10,000 words per month until the story is finished.

2. Write a Twitter Manual for Writers. This was on my list last year, but I didn’t do it. I’m giving myself a goal of having the rough draft done by the beginning of May. Ongoing discussions with a publisher have given a kick-start. I’m aiming to get it done.

3. Write a full-length novel about Cecile and Colin. In December 2013, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, a novella, was released. I’ll admit that I packed a lot into the plot – too much to be resolved in the length of the novella. Several people have told me they are waiting to read the next part of the story. I’m in the early stages of working out plot details and doing research, with a view to continuing the story in a series-style manner – releasing several chapters at a time. My goal is to have the next part of the story released in October or November and then continue the story on until it’s a full-length novel.

Those are my main writing goals. I know that there is a lot of work to do behind the scenes as well. I want to move my website and blog from WordPress.com over to WordPress.org. I also want to continue to post regularly. The plan right now is to post 3 times a week:

  • Mondays – Writing related posts
  • Wednesdays – Posts about what I’m learning in my walk with God
  • Fridays – My fitness journey

Of course there’s social media to keep up with as well. I’m still figuring out how I’m going to fit this all into my schedule. (If you have any tips, I’d be happy to hear them.)

As I start this new year with enthusiasm and optimism, my prayer is that I will always be sensitive to God’s leading in my life and that if I have to choose between my writing goals and spending time with people, I’ll choose the people.

What are some of your goals for 2014? I’d love to hear about them so we can encourage and support each other throughout this coming year.


5 Choices that help me in my walk with God

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Come, Thou Fount has been one of my favorite hymns for a long time. I guess I appreciate it because it describes my struggle to follow the Lord. Walking with God STARTS with one decision, but after that, I need to continuously choose, every day, even every moment of the day, to follow God. Otherwise I drift away. It’s like I have an automatic setting to do my own thing that overrides everything else, unless I choose.

In my walk with God, I continue to find ways to encourage or force myself to grow spiritually. Here are a few things I’ve found helpful:

  1. Setting aside a specific time for Bible reading and prayer. I’ve found that if I don’t make this a priority, it doesn’t happen.
  2. Getting up early. I’m a morning person, so it’s easier for me to focus when I get up. My alarm usually rings at 5:30 on weekday mornings. This allows me to have time by myself with God before anyone else in my family is awake.
  3. Keeping a planner beside my Bible. I find I’m easily distracted by my “to do” list. If I write things down in my planner, I can forget about them and give my full attention to God and His Word.
  4. Writing down lessons learned, prayer requests, etc. My mind wanders easily. Writing things down helps keep me focused. It’s also encouraging to go back and see how God led and taught me in the past.
  5. Using a devotional resource. Over the years I have done a variety of things including: reading through the Bible in a year (Google “Reading through the Bible in a Year” to check out different options), using Our Daily Bread (I now have the app on my iPad), working my way through a book of the Bible and studying verse by verse (using a concordance and doing word studies), participating in online Bible studies (Proverbs 31 Ministries is a great resource for women.)

What about you? What have you found helpful in your spiritual journey?


Day 2 on the Treadmill

TreadmillI have a confession to make. I don’t like exercise. No, let me be totally honest – I hate exercise! It’s something I’ve always had to work on and often I make excuses NOT to do it. If I can do something fun (like play volleyball or curling) and get exercise at the same time, great. However, with my current family responsibilities it’s difficult to do those things on a regular basis.

Not exercising is bad enough, but add the fact that I love to cook AND eat, and you have a recipe for disaster spelled O-V-E-R-W-E-I-G-H-T. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve moved from thinking about changing, to making choices that will help me change. I’m still working out the details so that I’ll stick with my decision to get back into shape. However, here are the choices I’ve made so far:

  • Set a weight goal
  • Decided to use my treadmill again, including an i-fit walking program
  • Asked my husband to move my treadmill so I can use it
  • Figured out a time of day I can consistently exercise
  • Started the walking program

I’m on day 2. I huffed and puffed my way through the 20 minute walking routine which helped me walk just over a mile and burn 143 calories. This is hard. I don’t like it. But I’m going to grit my teeth and do it, because I know it will be good for me in the long run. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are 7 benefits:

  1. Exercise controls weight
  2. Exercise combats health conditions and disease
  3. Exercise improves mood
  4. Exercise boosts energy
  5. Exercise promotes better sleep
  6. Exercise puts the spark back into your sex life
  7. Exercise can be fun

Add to that I Corinthians 6:20:

“Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” (The Message)

If I forget, I give you permission to remind me. I’m looking at this as a life change, not a resolution. I’m aiming to blog about my exercise journey every Friday. I hope you’ll join me.

What about you? Are you choosing to do something that’s hard for you because you know it’s the right thing to do?


5 Steps to developing good habits

good habits

Happy New Year! It’s a greeting we exchange every year at the beginning of January. None of us know what 2014 will bring us. Many people try making resolutions only to have them fall by the wayside. Some people even refuse to set goals, explaining that only sets them up for disappointment and failure. Many of us want to make changes in our lives, but how do we set ourselves up for success rather than failure?

“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”   -Ralph Waldo Emerson

  1. Choose your thoughts – UCLA claims that we have approximately 48 thoughts per minute, 3,000 thoughts per hour, and 70,000 thoughts per day. Those thoughts affect what we do or don’t do and how we feel about ourselves and others. What kind of food are we giving our thoughts? Are we feeding on the truths of God’s Word? Philippians 4:8 instructs us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (NIV)
  2. Choose your actions – Just because we think about something doesn’t mean that we need to do it. We need to carefully choose our actions, sorting out our thoughts and picking out what should take precedence. As the quote above says, it’s easier to give up good habits than bad ones. Will I choose to be thankful today or complain when something doesn’t go my way? Will I choose to react when someone is mean or will I choose to love them anyway? These are little choices, but they all lead to results.
  3. Choose your habits – I find that my morning routines set the tone for my day and make it easier (or harder) to accomplish what I want to get done. I’m a morning person, so getting up at 5:30 works for me. If you are a night owl, perhaps what you do just before bed sets the tone for your next day. Find out what works for you. In my routine I include time to read the Bible and pray, time to sort through priorities for the day, time to catch up on e-mail, and time to share something inspiring on Facebook. This year, I’m also including 20-30 minutes of exercise because I want to do more than think about becoming more fit. Although some people say that a new habit is formed in 21 days, some researchers from UCL say it is probably closer to 66 days before something becomes “automatic”.
  4. Choose your character – When was the last time we stopped to think about what kind of person we want to be? What character qualities do we want to develop in life? (Check out Character that Counts if you need some ideas.) Some of the character traits that are important to me are: godliness, dependability, empathy, and joy.
  5. Choose your destiny – Where do we want to end up? What do we want to accomplish before we die? These are questions we often avoid. However, if we don’t tackle them, we will probably be disappointed. Those who do set goals start with a destination in mind. We have to dream before we can get down to work. Some people think it’s morbid, but what epitaph do you want on your grave? Martin Luther put it this way: “If you’ve got nothing worth dying for, you’ve got nothing worth living for.”

Lately I found myself thinking I should lose some weight and become more fit. These thoughts would flit in and out of my mind on a fairly regular basis, but that’s where it would end. In her book, 100 Pound Loser, Jessica Heights gives some helpful tips, including breaking goals down into small, attainable steps, like losing 1 pound a week. Last night I chose to take some steps towards healthy weight loss and fitness. This morning I shared my decision with my husband, so that he can keep me accountable. He also made my treadmill accessible so that I can use it again. I know that there will be ups and downs, but I plan to keep my destination in mind.

What about you? Did you make any resolutions or set any goals for yourself?