Sharing stories with our children

Story quote 1

This week in our Proverbs 31 online Bible study, I especially appreciated Lysa Terkeurst’s questions and suggestions at the end of Chapter 24: Do They See Jesus in Me? Here’s a summary for your benefit:

  • Think back over your life and pinpoint some specific moments that made your heart leap for joy. Write them down, so that you can review them when you’re facing difficulties.
  • Share your happy memories with your children and husband
  • Review your childhood and write down at least one memory where God’s hand was evident
  • Write down a time Jesus was very real to you recently
  • Pray, thanking God for the special moments in your life
  • Write a prayer celebrating parenting and confessing your shortcomings to God. Ask Him for strength to make any changes you need to make.

I hope you’ll take time to do some of these exercises.

Moments that made my heart leap for joy:

  • Visiting my Grandparents in Three Hills (Grandma Beam’s desserts were legendary!)
  • Visiting my Grandparents in Gibbon (It took no time at all for 50 or more relatives to gather!)
  • Using wax paper to make the circular slide beside Grandpa & Grandma Beam’s more slippery
  • When my dad made a special trip to visit me on my birthday while I was attending Bible College
  • Surprising my parents when I was one of the speakers for my Bible College graduation
  • Finding a place to order an out of print book when I worked in customer service at Prairie Bookroom
  • Working at Whitney Lake Bible Camp
  • Getting rid of all the piles of files on the credenza after I started working as a legal secretary
  • My first date with Kendall
  • Our wedding day
  • The day we brought Grace, our oldest daughter, home
  • When we received an adoption order in the mail
  • When Kendall was able to compete in the Yamaha competition in Toronto
  • The day we met Luke and Levi
  • The day Jayson arrived home
  • When Luke and Levi said “Mom and Dad” after 4 years of signing
  • Winning the Northern Lights School Division school board bi-election
  • Bringing Dorothy home
  • Winning first place in the God Uses Ink contest
  • Taking a walk and capturing beauty with my camera

As I thought about these moments that made my heart leap for joy, I realized that every one has a story behind it. I also thought about how I should be more intentional about sharing these stories with my children. There are some things we have put into place to help share the memories:

  • I have made a wedding album as well as a photo album for each child. We often pull out these albums and talk about things that happened and how God has blessed us.
  • We have adoption parties for our children. On the anniversary of the date a child’s adoption order was signed, we have a party. The child gets to pick who comes to the party, his or her favourite food, and where the party takes place.

What about you? What makes your heart leap for joy? How do you share stories with your children?

 


Encouragement to Persevere

Encouragement to Persevere
Encouragement to Persevere http://ruthlsnyder.com

This is week 5 in our Made to Crave Action Plan study.

Here are some great quotes from Lysa Terkeurst:

“Our goal is not a number on the scale. Our goal is to be absolutely at peace—emotionally, physicallyand spiritually.”

“Our scale can measure what our body weighs, but it can never measure our worth as a woman.”

“Between every trial and every blessing that comes from that trial is a path that we must walk. . .and the path is perseverance.”

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:2-5 NIV from http://www.biblegateway.com)

6 Summary Tips from Dr. Ski Chilton:

“Food was made to nourish us . . . when we come to manipulate it, it comes to destroy us.”

  1. Calories in; Calories out – Start your day with 16 oz of water. (This will help you reduce the number of calories you eat throughout the day by as much as 20%.)
  2. Fiber (25 grams/day for women or 30 grams/day for men) will help you feel full.
  3. Exercise to lose inches, not weight (30 minutes 5 days/week).
  4. Omega 3’s will reduce risk of heart attacks and decrease the speed of aging. The ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in our diet should be 2:1.
  5. Eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables (To reap the benefits of Polyphenols)
  6. Have a positive attitude!

For more details, check out The 7 Ingredients for Healthy Weight Loss

I find the item I struggle with the most is eating 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables. Some ways I’ve found that help are:

  • Add a piece of fruit to breakfast
  • Add a salad at lunch time
  • Eat wraps instead of sandwiches, especially when you’re eating out. However, you have to be careful. Tim Horton’s snack wraps only have 190 calories, but Swiss Chalet wraps have 710 calories!
  • Have an apple or banana for a snack
  • Have a salad and two or three other vegetables with your dinner entree

What tips do you have to share?


3 Essentials on the journey to fitness

The road to fitness and eating well has many potholes that can easily trip us, make us detour from our original plans, or even make us totally give up. Some weeks the numbers on the scale will mock us. Some days our schedule will squeeze out our time for exercise. What will keep us moving towards our goals? How will we continue to make those difficult but healthy choices?

tiredturtle_tns

1. Choose your focus carefully

“Focusing only on what we’re giving up will make us feel constantly deprived. And deprivation leads to desperation, frustration, and failure. Instead we have to focus on everything we’re gaining through this process. And see the gains as more valuable than the losses.” – Lysa Terkeurst in Made to Crave

  • Focus on how you’re able to walk or run further without getting winded
  • Focus on the extra energy you have because you’re fueling your body with healthy food
  • Focus on the freedom you have to walk away from junk food
  • Focus on the discipline you’re developing by exercising regularly

2. When you “trip,” get up and continue on the journey

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” C.S. Lewis

We need to accept that we are going to fail sometimes. That’s okay. Failure doesn’t have to be permanent. If you missed a day, or even a week, of exercise that doesn’t mean you have to give up. Start again . . . now (not tomorrow!). If you gave in to your cravings and ate way more than you should have, that doesn’t mean you are a failure. Figure out if there’s something you can do differently next time. Learn from your mistakes and carry on.

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure . . . than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

3. Figure out what makes the journey “worth it” for you

“Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.” – Les Brown

We are all motivated by different things. Find out what works for you. What will keep you going when you encounter those obstacles? Who will cheer you on when you’re down? What messages do you need to encourage you to keep going?

“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” – Pat Riley

If we tackle these three essentials, we’ll be able to celebrate our successes in the long run and change our “want to” to “I did”!

pursuingWhat helps you to keep going? I’d love to hear from you.


Pursuing Holiness, One choice at a time

pursuingThis morning I read Ephesians 4:14-24. Here are a few thoughts that “jumped out” at me as I read:

  • I am not to be like a child who is easily tricked and led astray (vs. 14)
  • I am to allow God’s truth to ground me (like an anchor) and help me mature in my faith (vs. 15)
  • I need to choose to reject “folly, vanity, emptiness of soul and futility” (vs. 17)
  • Going my own way will result in spiritual blindness, a hard heart, and indulging in “every form of impurity that (my) depraved desires may suggest and demand” (vs. 18,19)
  • I need to reject (die to) my old nature and renew my mind (vs. 20-23)
  • Choosing to follow God will enable me to be truly righteous and holy (vs. 24)

Lysa Terkeurst says, “Pursuing holiness means God is the only One we should long for; want greatly; desire eagerly. The only One worthy of worship.” She sums it up this way:

” . . . the very next choice I make is a crucial one. Literally, it will determine if I am walking the path of victory or compromise. One wise choice can lead to two, can lead to three, can lead to a thousand, can lead to the sweet place of utter dependence on God and lasting discipline . . . A place our souls were made to call home.”

Steve Green reminds me that I have to choose to die to my desires, will and plans in order order to enter into the holy life God has for me:

Enter In by Steve Green

Nothing chills the heart of man
Like passing through death’s gate
Yet to him who enters daily
Death’s a glorious fate
Dearly beloved we are gathered here
To be a holy bride
And daily cross death’s threshold
To the holy life inside

( Chorus: )
Enter in, enter in
Surrender to the Spirit’s call
To die and enter in
Enter in, find peace within
The holy life awaits you, enter in

The conflict still continues
Raging deep within my soul
My spirit wars against my flesh
In a struggle for control
My only hope is full surrender
So with each borrowed breath
I inhale the Spirit’s will for me
To die a deeper death

(Chorus)

If mourners should lament
Let them weep for those alive
For only when my will is killed
Can my soul survive

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Cf55DsPe-Sg]

Today I choose to pursue holiness, one choice at a time:

  • I choose to get up early to spend time reading God’s Word and praying; I choose NOT to sleep in.
  • I choose to eat food that nourishes my body and gives me energy; I choose NOT to eat junk food which only provides temporary enjoyment.
  • I choose to exercise and strengthen my body; I choose NOT to be a couch potato.
  • I choose to spend time with my children, talking with them, listening to them, teaching and training them; I choose NOT to spend my time escaping by reading a book.

What about you? Are you pursuing holiness one choice at a time? I’d love to hear about the choices are you making.


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?


Saying Yes to God Every Morning

Lysa TerKeurst says,

“…Satan hates the radically obedient soul. He hates it when a person jumps off the fence of complacency and into the center of God’s will. There is a spiritual battle raging around us and, because of that, life can be hard. While saying yes to God does bring blessing, it’s not easy. If our desire for obedience is born merely out of duty, we may be quick to give up. However, if our desire is born out of delight, out of a love relationship that burns deep in our soul, it won’t be extinquished–no matter the cost.”

I’ve been reminded this week of the intensity of the spiritual battle we face. First there has been the last minute rush to get my five children ready for school. Usually school doesn’t start until after the September long weekend, and usually I’ve purchased all the necessary school supplies weeks before school starts. This year, due to busyness the purchases didn’t get made until this week and school starts tomorrow! I’ve found myself tempted to be impatient with my children, short with my husband, and discontent with my lot in life. which way?Secondly, I’m facing several transitions right now. My husband is transitioning from working away from home to working at home. My children are transitioning to school, including my youngest daughter. Which means I’m transitioning to having an “empty nest” during school hours. I’m also transitioning out of my position as school board trustee to being home and teaching Music for Young Children. There have been several times in the past couple of weeks when my resolve to step down from my school board position has been tested. However, God continues to confirm that now is the time to build into the lives of my children. Thirdly, there have been struggles in several of the areas where I volunteer my time. One morning I literally woke in a panic because of some of the circumstances I was facing.

I have a lot of knowledge about God – my parents were missionaries, I accepted Christ as my Saviour at an early age, and I was also privileged to attend school at Prairie Bible College where my faith was grounded in the Word of God. However, each day, several times throughout the day, I still have to choose to follow God and allow Him to work in me and through me. I have decided to start each morning off on the right foot by saying a prayer similar to what follows:

Good Morning, Father

Thank you for the gift of this new day, for air to breathe and strength to breathe it, for your presence with me no matter what. Thank you that you are aware of my personal limitations due to time, commitments, and physical strength (or lack thereof). Today I choose to place my life in your hands again. I give you my desires and goals, my fears and limitations, my time and energy. Today I say, “Yes, God” to whatever you bring across my path, no matter what, no matter when, no matter the cost. I choose to be faithful to Your calling on my life, even if I don’t understand. I choose to be faithful, not necessarily successful; and I leave the results in Your hands. In Jesus’ name, Amen

How do you start your day? What is the prayer of your heart? I look forward to hearing from you.