Friday, July 31, 2009

Putting My Feet Up (and my first GIVEAWAY)!!

This week I finally had the chance to put my feet up!

We just came back from an amazing, fun-filled week! For the past few summers, our family has rented the same little yellow cottage right on beautiful Silver Lake. Our time away was packed with daily boat rides, wiffle ball on the sandy beach, yummy vacation food, amazing sunsets, tons of swimming, and lots of reading and relaxation! Woo Hoo! :)

When I go on vacation, I like to bring two suitcases ~ one for me, and one for my books! This trip was no exception. My "heavy" suitcase contained my Bible, my Prayer Guide and notebook plus:

* The Five Silent Years of Corrie TenBoom (I finished The Hiding Place by Corrie TenBoom in June, and it was absolutely life changing for me!! Now I want to read everything I can to learn more about this amazing servant of the Lord!)

* Heavenly Man by Brother Yun

* How To Pray by R.A. Torrey

* Secrets of a Prayer Warrior by Derek Prince

* Anointed, Transformed, and Redeemed by P. Shirer, B. Moore, and Kay Arthur (our Fall Bible Study ~ I'm so excited!!)

* I Stand at the Door and Knock by Corrie TenBoom and

* Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Talk about my kind of vacation!! I love to read...and this vacation was the first time I've been able to tackle my reading list (sure helps to have the kids a bit older, and this year we let everyone bring a friend to the cottage too!).

What about for you?? What book(s) have you been reading this summer? What book (in addition to the Bible) has been impactful for you on your journey?? Do you have a reading recommendation for me to add to my list?? I'd love to hear from you!!

In fact, to encourage your participation, I'm hosting my first GIVEAWAY. The winner will receive a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card. Yippee!!

To Win my Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

What book (not including the Bible) has been most impactful for you on your journey and (briefly) why??

RULES: Starts today, Saturday, July 31st and ends Thursday, August 6th at 9 PM. Winner will be contacted via e-mail.

The winner will be chosen by http://www.random.org/ If your email address is not connected to your ID please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at cindy.bultema@comcast.net with the subject "Giveaway". (If you have a hard time leaving a comment, e-mail me and I'll walk you through it.)

I can't wait to hear from you! My mom is watching my kids next weekend (thanks, Mom!) ~ so John and I are headed out for some more relaxing. I'd love to bring some new books along!! :)

P.S. Can I just encourage you too...if you haven't had a chance to "put your feet up" this summer ~ could you schedule some time to do so? Take it from someone who usually likes to go, go, go....it will do your soul well to rest. (Trust me, I am no expert in this area, but I am learning and growing...!)



Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SAFE - Part 2

Do you ever have circumstances or challenges in your life where everything in you wants to RUN - to something, to anything...to bring peace and relief and comfort to your soul?!

In yesterday's post, I shared how Proverbs 18:10 has really helped me when I'm stressed, exhausted, weary (or a combination of all 3!!). Today I'll share a very personal, challenging season that my husband John and I went through a few years ago. By leaning on the Lord and remembering my S-A-F-E acronym, we were able to not just "survive" the storm, but make it through victoriously!

The year was Fall 2003. To give you a snapshot of my life...I was married to my dear husband John. Our kids were ages 9, 2, 10 months, and I was 8 ½ months pregnant. (Let that sink in…9, 2, 10 months (so not walking), and I was 8 ½ months pregnant).

I was working full time as a ministry leader at my church. It was a HUGE job. John was a stay at home dad (with all those kids!).

I was at a low place - emotionally, physically, spiritually.
John was at a low place - emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Our marriage was at a very low place - emotionally, physically, spiritually.

John has struggled with depression in the past, and for this season of our life, it was rearing its ugly head again.
And for me, as the troubles, worries and fears were pursuing me – I was running….but to all the wrong things. Not to bad, illegal things – but running, stuffing... none the less.

Finally, one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t keep up the fa├žade that everything was ok. I couldn’t handle the stress, the tension of our marriage, the ministry pressures, baby stuff – I was just done. Have you ever been there before??? Just done.

I remember saying to John one night– "I just have to get out of here! I can’t take it anymore!!" So he tucked the kids in, and I left. I drove around for awhile, ended up at a bookstore and finally….Stopped.

I bought a journal, borrowed a Bible and finally Stopped running and Acknowledged my needs to the Lord. I wrote and wrote and wrote in my new journal. Not long, poetic things…but more like,
OK God, here’s my reality ... (like He didn’t know (smile))
My job is overwhelming
My marriage is overwhelming
This pregnancy is overwhelming
My life is overwhelming
I need You, I need You, I need You!!

And then after hours of dumping on the Lord, I began to Fill my mind with Truth. I wrote things like…. God You are a Delivering God! You have delivered me from so much in my life, You can deliver me from these troubles too. You are a Loving God. Infuse us with Your love. You are Powerful. Reveal Your Power to us!
I left the bookstore that night feeling so much better, so much lighter. Expecting God to show up.

And He did...just not how I had pictured it. In fact, sometimes as we pray, things get harder before they get better. (Read that last sentence again....sometimes as we pray, things get harder before they get better) But it doesn’t mean the Lord isn’t working!! For us, within a few days –

John went away for 3 weeks to an inpatient treatment facility to work on his depression.
(For 3 weeks, while I was 8 ½ months pregnant).

The church allowed me to go on a paid early maternity leave so my work responsibilities were gone. It also meant I had lots of time at home and couldn’t "run" to my job to get away from the pain.

The Elders put together a plan of round the clock meals, child care, cleaning, snow shoveling – you name it… Do you know how humbling it is to have random people coming in and out of your home, when you really just want things to be “normal” again?

I started seeing a wonderful Christian counselor to help me sort some things out. It also meant dealing with some hard stuff and looking at places where God really was calling me to grow.

I cannot even imagine where we would be today if I would have kept "running" during this season. It wasn’t until I Stopped, Acknowledged my need for the Lord and cried out to Him, Filled my mind with Truth, and Expected Him – that God showed up. And show up He did!!!

God has used that very difficult season to strengthen our marriage and our family in unbelievable ways!
God is so awesome! Do you know the day that John left the clinic where he was staying, the very next day is when I delivered our baby? God had it all worked out!!
My husband John (who, by the way, is very comfortable with me sharing this part of our journey if it might bring hope to anyone struggling with depression, or journeying with someone who struggles with depression) – John is in a good place emotionally, physically, spiritually.
Our marriage is in a great place.
I’m in a healthy place.
Our family is in a healthy place.
By running to the strong tower, God provided the safety and security we needed to get through a very difficult season.

S - Stop
A - Acknowledge
F - Fill
E - Expect
Your turn!! How about for you?? When troubles, worry, fear, the stresses of everyday life pursue you – where do you run????
May I remind you of the Powerful Words of Proverbs 18:10....

The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are SAFE.
Let's pray....Oh Lord, Thank You that You are our Strong Tower. That You desire us to run to You. Please Fill our hearts and our minds with the TRUTH of Who You are and what You are able to do!! Show us Your goodness and Your Power and Your Love. Oh Lord, we are expecting You to guide and direct us, and to keep us close to You. We need You, Lord!! Reveal Yourself to us, we pray! In Jesus' Powerful and Life-changing Name. Amen!!!


Monday, July 20, 2009

SAFE

I'm taking a break today from my Prayer Focus Week (which is now going into week Two).
I am excited to share more Prayer resources, dowloads, and stories with you, (if you haven't printed off some of the prayer downloads from the past two postings, please be sure and check them out!) and even have a FABULOUS Giveaway planned for later in the week (my first Giveaway - yippee!!)....but for today... I am weary and not feeling great. I spent last night and most of this morning in the Word, begging Jesus to restore my weary soul!

So today I'll share with you a repeated post, but with Scripture and a message that helps me everytime I am feeling exhausted, stressed, alone (or a combination of all 3!).

May the Lord use His Word to encourage you today as well!

I'm mindful today of something the Lord taught me years ago when I wanted to run to "lesser" things. When I'm stressed out and overwhelmed and everything in me wants to make a pot of coffee or eat something chocolatey or drown my sorrows in chips and salsa. When everything in me wants to run to something, anything...this is what I've learned to do. It is based on Proverbs 18:10, which reads – The Name of the Lord is a Strong Tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.

S - STOP

Just stop. Maybe the kids are fighting, the dog is barking, my husband is coming, the house is a mess, I’m still in my workout clothes, I smell, I don’t have dinner planned, the phone is ringing,…. Just stop. I need to take a deep breath. Stop.


A – ACKNOWLEDGE MY NEED FOR THE LORD.

I am learning to pour out my heart to God. It really helps to get my stresses off of my chest. Whether it’s through journaling, prayer, crying, whatever. Sometimes it may be throwing myself on my bathroom floor and telling the Lord I just can't handle my girls fighting anymore. Or sometimes I might pray a Scripture (Psalm 86 works great). Letting the Lord know how I am really doing ~ and Acknowleging my need for Him.

F – FILL MY HEART AND MIND WITH GOD'S TRUTH.

Sometimes I open the Word and start praying scripture out loud. Or Sometimes I start at A and work through the alphabet…Lord You are awesome, You are beautiful, You are our Creator, You are a Deliverer, You are Eternal, You are Forgiving… Usually by the time I get to F or G as I’m focusing on the Names and the character of God, I start to feel His peace…but not always…I’ve been known to make it to Q or even Z on those hard days :)

Sometimes, I picture myself with an IV and I pray for an infusion. I love Phil 4:13 in the Amplified Bible which reads…

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me – I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me…

So I pray…Infuse me with your power, and I think about how powerful He is

Infuse me with your peace, and I think about He is the God of peace

Infuse me with your patience, and I think about His patience

Infuse me with your strength, and I think about how strong and mighty He is


However I can Fill my mind and heart with God’s Truth!


E – EXPECT GOD TO SHOW UP!

What a blessing to know that God always hears my prayers. That even if I walk away “feeling” the same, the Truth is that God has heard me, that He cares, and that He will answer – He will show up!

But let’s be honest, after I pick myself up off the bathroom floor, my kids may still be fighting, I’m still wearing my smelly workout clothes, my husband is now closer to home, and I still don’t have a dinner plan –

But by running to the Strong Tower, I now have a peace, a strength, a sense of security that I wouldn’t have by running to Starbucks or a plate of chips and salsa!

Stop

Acknowledge your need for the Lord

Fill your mind with God’s Truth

Expect God to show up!

S~A~F~E

My hope is that for each one of us, the next time we are faced with a challenge or stressful situation (which may even be yet today!), the Lord will equip us and empower us to walk through the challenge victoriously (rather than running elsewhere).

Perhaps the SAFE example will come to mind (it has helped me tremendously!). Whatever the Lord uses, may we be committed to turning/running to Him alone, and may He remove ANYTHING in our lives that is getting in the way of FULLNESS with Him!!

Proverbs 18:10 ~ The Name of the Lord is a Strong Tower, the righteous run to it and are SAFE.

Verse picture by Ivy Faith Creation. Isn't her work beautiful? To learn more, go here.



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Prayer Focus Part 2 - My Life Changing Prayer

As I've been preparing for my blog's Prayer Focus Week, I sensed the importance to start by sharing part of my journey. I want to make sure EVERYONE realizes I am not an expert in prayer, that I have SO MUCH to learn, and once you hear my story, you will see why I depend so heavily on prayer! Our God is such a God of miracles ~ I know...because I'm one of them!!

So today I continue my journey.... (If you missed Part 1, you may want to start here)

*********************************************************************
Now when Carole said I needed Jesus, I knew I needed something to fill that emptiness in my heart. I had tried everything else the world had to offer...and was still empty and lonely.

I figured...what did I have to lose by trying Jesus??

So on that day, July 21, 1996 I choose to believe in Jesus and surrendered my life to Him. My life changing prayer went like this..."OK Jesus, I’ve tried it my way, this time I’ll try it Your way."

I didn’t waste anytime trying to figure out what this whole new life with Jesus was about ---
I quit my restaurant job, left all my "so-called" friends, got into Christian counseling, and started attending a Bible-teaching church.

I began to study the Bible, and put into practice what I was learning. All those empty places inside were suddenly being filled with God’s peace and God’s hope. Even my backpack of guilt and shame (due to all the poor, self-defeating choices I had made) fell off!

God also began to show me through His Word my real identity. Who I was in Christ. That my past choices did not define me!! It didn't matter what people said about me....only what God says about me! And God says that in Christ...I am accepted. Adopted. Forgiven. Chosen. Dearly and lavishly loved by Him...just the way that I am!

It’s amazing and mind blowing to see what the Lord can and will do when we give our lives wholeheartedly to Him. In the months that followed my decision to accept Jesus as my Savior, God brought incredible amounts of healing into my life, including......

* I started getting plugged in at my new Bible teaching church and met a wonderful group of Christian friends. Suddenly I was experiencing the friendship and acceptance I had always desired.

* The Lord provided a great job for me, coordinating a program for teen moms and their kids at a Christian organization.

* I was invited to different elementary schools and churches, talking about positive self esteem and staying drug and alcohol free.

And would you believe just 2 1/2 years after I invited Jesus to take control of my life, I was offered a full-time job as the Children’s Director for a very large church. (Me, working at a church...crazy, I know!)

Isn't God amazing??!! Tomorrow I'll share more on how God answered my prayers as a single mom and provided a Godly husband for me (and an amazing step-dad for Jake!)

*********************************************************************

Today's Prayer Downloads are to help you pray for persons you know who are far from Christ.

Trust me, there is no one too far gone! I am so grateful for the men and women who prayed me into the Kingdom. (Thank you, JJ, for all of your prayers and notes while I was living in rebellion ~ and not giving up on me! I still have all of your letters!)

When Someone You Love is Lost by Kevin Meador (click here)

Scripture Prayer for the Lost by Kingdom Praying (click here)

Intercessory Prayer for the Lost by Dutch Sheets (click here)


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As always, I'd love to hear from you!! Do you have any comments, questions, or great prayer stories? Please share them with us!!

Thank you for sharing my journey with me. :) God is good!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Our Prayer Focus Begins! ~ My First Prayer

I am so excited for our Prayer Focus week! It might just turn out to be a Prayer Focus month!

Imagine my disappointment and frustration when my internet connection went down last night! Ahhh!! It made me think of this powerful quote....

"The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray." - Samuel Chadwick

Thus the reason I am a day late in starting my Prayer Focus post ~ but more determined to press on and persevere! In fact, let's pray now:

Oh Lord, would You please teach us how to pray?? Would you make us mighty, powerful prayer warriors for Your Kingdom? Would you remind us that prayer IS the work? Teach us and grow us, O Lord, we pray. In Jesus' Powerful and Lifechanging Name I pray. Amen.

**********************************
I am grateful for the new many readers , so as I've been praying for this Prayer Focus, I'd like to start by sharing my journey.

I want to make sure everyone realizes I am not an expert in prayer, but once you hear my story, you will see why I depend so heavily on prayer.
God has done such a miracle in my life, and I am so grateful!!
**********************************

Growing up, I was raised in a home that had limited exposure to God or Jesus.

In fact, my dad told everyone he was agnostic or atheist, depending on who was at the door with a pamphlet for him.

My Mom, bless her heart, would take us to church every week–
My brothers and I would fight all the way there,
go into church,
and fight all the way home.
And that’s basically how I viewed “church”.

My first prayers were prayed while watching the Bozo show on TV in the 1st grade. I would pray so hard each day that my name would be picked for the at-home Grand Prize drawing. It never happened. (Pretty selfish prayers, I know!). I decided God was too busy, too big, and just didn't care about me.

I didn't understand the simple truth that God loved me.

I was a chubby red-head -- shy, insecure, & teased all the time. I took it personally, and it just made me feel all the more unloved and rejected. I was a classic case of low self-esteem.

As I grew older, the more I tried to mask my insecurities – to pretend everything was okay --
the more empty I felt inside.

I was so alone and so desperate for someone to love me. Anyone.

I tried to fill this emptiness, this loneliness in my heart. You name it – I tried it - food, men, alcohol and shopping – but nothing worked.

By the time I graduated college in 1993, I had pretty much sampled everything the world has to offer. I was still empty and lonely – and was now carrying a huge backpack of guilt and shame
for the poor choices I knew I was making.

Soon after college, I found out I was pregnant.

Not my favorite Thanksgiving --- telling my parents right before the turkey and stuffing
that their only daughter was pregnant –
and would be going through this ordeal alone—a single mom.

My parents were very supportive (thank you Mom and Dad!), and 9 mos later they were blessed with a wonderful grandson, and I had a beautiful, precious son, Jake. (Who turns 15 tomorrow - Wow!!)
Fast forward a few more years – I was 26 and a single mom, a college grad waiting tables for a living. I was thousands of dollars in debt and had a new, very serious problem: cocaine addiction.

What started off as just “experimenting with friends” after work – quickly consumed my life. Cocaine gave me new confidence – new energy. It numbed my pain and even made the extra pregnancy weight I gained literally fall right off.

Suddenly, I was being noticed --- men wanted me. Isn’t that crazy? I‘d lost so much weight that my face was hollow and sunken -- but I was wanted!

My own Grandma said, “Wow, Cindy, you’re so beautiful now!”.
NOW?? --- Hadn’t I always been beautiful?

So, the cycle of addiction continued….

In my heart, I knew this was not the life for me. I wanted to be a good mom!
Except – my daily choices did not reflect my heart’s desire.
Cocaine was as routine to me as brushing your teeth and I didn’t know how to stop!
I remember sitting on my bed one night wondering… “What in the world happened??
“How did my life turn out this way”??

A few days later, I accidentally overdosed on the cocaine.

I drove myself to a med center, where after tests, the doctors told me they needed to take me by ambulance to the hospital. I was told I’d probably be dead on arrival.

I didn’t die like they said I would (Praise the Lord!), but was quickly brought to my senses when a police officer spoke to me.

He said: I heard what happened – so you obviously used cocaine - that’s a misdeameanor ,
and if you used, you possessed -- that’s a felony

I heard you drove yourself to the Med Center
What if you had killed someone? --
that’s negligent homicide and a minimum of 15 years in prison

I heard you’re a mom – is that what you want? - your son visiting his mom in prison every week?

That conversation with the police officer -- I’ll never forget, OR will I ever forget seeing my mom freaking out, rightfully so, to learn all this about her daughter.

Thankfully, no charges were filed. But, I made a charge to myself that night as I left the hospital: I vowed I would do whatever it takes to get my act together and figure this life thing out.

The next morning, I was thinking, if I could be like anyone, who would I want to be like?
And I thought of my friend’s mom. a woman I barely knew, named Carole. Her daughter and I worked together at a restaurant. Carole and her husband often came to the restaurant, and Carole was so full of joy, of life, & laughter.

So, I picked up the phone and called her, “I don’t know if you remember me , but I’m Cindy, your daughter’s friend, and I need help”. She said, “Cindy, you need Jesus.”

Now when Carole said I needed Jesus -- I knew I needed something to fill that emptiness in my heart......

My Journey continues tomorrow....

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Prayer Downloads for You...

Check your Prayer Pulse by Mary Kassain (click here).

A Prayer for Women by John Piper (click here). I love praying this aloud ~ this is the woman I desire to be!!

Prayers for Spiritual Growth by Joyce Meyer (click here). May I encourage you to tape this to your refrigerator and pray it for yourself and your loved ones each day!!

31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children (click here).

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As always, I'd love to hear from you!! Do you have any comments, questions, or great prayer stories? Please share them with us!!

And the sharing of my journey from Darkness to Light continues tomorrow....

Blessings to you!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fun in the Sun and my theme for the week :)

Today we were blessed with a perfect family day! After church, the kids called some friends and we spent the afternoon at the lake. The weather was beautiful, the company was fun, and the laughter was in abundance! It was a great afternoon!!

This evening we celebrated my son Jake's (soon to be) 15th birthday. Holy cow! How can Jake be 15 already? Does anyone else have a hard time believing little Jake is 15?? He starts Drivers Training tomorrow evening. No wonder my red hair is turning white!

Starting tomorrow, 2 of my 4 kids will be spending their days at a Christian daycamp. What fun! :) It also means I'll have more time to share on my blog (Lord willing). I'm hoping to devote this week to an emphasis on prayer. One of my life's passions is PRAYER. I hope to pass along lots of downloads, resourses, ideas, stories, and more!! Check back tomorrow for my first PRAYER posting!!

Speaking of prayer....do you have a favorite "answer to prayer" story?? A question about prayer?? A favorite resource/book on prayer?? I would love to hear from you!!

May I leave you with one of my favorite quotes from Max Lucado on prayer....

When men work, men work...
But when men pray, God works!!

Let's pray...Oh Lord, how we desire to see You work in our lives, in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our world! Teach us how to pray, O Lord!! Please use our lives to draw others to You. For Your purpose and for Your Glory!! In Jesus Name! Amen.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fabulous Friday!

Last night I surprised John with our Fabulous Friday date night! (A huge thanks to all of your fun ideas here. I used parts of all of them!).

Since John loves boats and we recently purchased one for our family, I decided to go with a boating theme. When he came home from work, I gave him a note with clues that told him to sit back and relax while I drove him to dinner. We ended up at Snug Harbor ~ one of our favorite restaurants in Grand Haven, Michigan. We had a front row table right along the water. The Lord blessed us with such a beautiful, clear night. It was fabulous!!

After dinner, we found a bench along the boardwalk. I surprised him with a photo album of different boats that John and his family have owned throughout the years. (A huge thank you to my inlaws for putting that together for us!). It was so much fun to look at his childhood memories together ~ and dream of how we can create new family experiences with our 4 kids. What fun!

Before leaving Grand Haven, we also went to watch the sunset. We went to a State Park that has steps up the sand dunes. We climbed all the stairs and were able to view the sun set from high up in the trees. It was a magnificent sight!!

So why do I share all of this??

To celebrate God's goodness and faithfulness in my marriage!

There was a season a few years ago where John and I weren't sure we were going to make it.

Our marriage was at a very low place. We were blessed with many friends and family members that dropped everything to join us in begging God for a miracle.

They prayed for us, fed us, helped with the kids, gave us time off of work, and so much more ~ journeying closely with us and speaking words of TRUTH to us along the way. It was a long, hard, painful season ~ but worth it to now experience the unconditional love and joy that we have in our marriage .

Stormie Omartian writes in her book "The Power of a Praying Wife"...

"The joy of seeing something hopelessly dead brought to life is the greatest joy we can know. The power that resurrected Jesus is the very same power that will resurrect the dead places of your marriage and put life back into it. (God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 1 Corinthian 6:14) It's the only power than can!

But it doesn't happen without a heart for God that is willing to gut it out in prayer, grow through tough times, and wait for love to be resurrected. We have to go through the pain to get to the joy."

I have these pages in my book highlighted and underlined and starred. What a blessing to look back on those days where all I knew was that God was faithful, and see how He breathed new life and love into our marriage and resurrected it to life. Thank You, God!!

If you are married and things are going well for you, may I encourage you to stop and thank God for His goodness in your life. And if you are currently experiencing a harder season, may I encourage you to stop and pray for God to breathe His life and power into your marriage.

He is in the business of resurrections!

And if today finds you single, may I encourage you to keep your focus up. God knows what He is doing, and will bring the perfect person at the perfect time. May He grant you patience and peace as you wait on Him.

And for all of us, may the Lord continue to keep our hearts open and tender as He transforms us more and more into the men and women He desires us to be!! Let's pray...

Thank You Lord for Your goodness and faithfulness in our lives. Please help us to keep our eyes fixed on You and to be used by You to bless those around us. Thank You for being a God of resurrections and miracles and joy!! Fill our days with more of You. For Your purpose. For Your Glory alone. In Jesus Name! Amen!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Shhh! ~ Don't tell John! :)

Shhh! Don't tell John, but...I just confirmed a babysitter for Friday night. Woo Hoo!!

We haven't been on a date night for awhile (we've had nights out together....but mostly we just go to a bookstore, veg out, read mindnumbing magazines and enjoy the quiet). It's time for some fun!!

John has been working so hard ~ at work, at home with our 4 kids, supporting me with ministry opportunities, helping our family adjust to a summer routine, and so much more! I want to surprise John on Friday night and treat him to a "Fabulous Friday"!! He deserves it!!

I am so grateful to God for my marriage to John! Don't get me wrong, John and I have definitely had our challenges over the past 9 years (especially having 3 babies in 4 years - whew!). After a lot of prayer, hard work, counseling, and more prayer ~ God has really brought us into a special season in our relationship. I am learning a ton (especially that I need to be intentional about investing in my marriage), and am trying to grow more and more into the wife God intends for me to be.

Which leads me back to Friday. Anyone have some fun, inexpensive ideas to create a great date night?? Would you mind sharing your ideas - please?!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Random Updates and the Swimsuit Saga

First of all, I'm sorry to those who have noticed I'm not updating my blog very often lately. I'm trying to get into a good "summer rhythm", which will probably mean a post or two a week while my gang is at home.

In my former cheerleading days, I learned a cheer that went like this...
"Good! Better! Best! We'll put you to the test!
Because Good we are and Better we'll be!
Good! Better! Best!!"


I'm trying to use this simple cheer to help me prioritize my summer schedule. What is Good? What is Better? What is Best?? I can easily confuse my priorities. For this season, I sense strongly that one of the BEST things I can do (besides staying close to Jesus and loving my husband well) is pour into my kids and spend lots of time playing with them. Unfortunately they don't nap anymore (bummer!!)...so my computer time is very limited! I do love sharing what God is teaching me and how awesome He is...so please don't give up on my blog yet :)

And now for the swimsuit update. You may recall that I hate swimsuit season! (I bared my soul about this topic here.) In so many areas of my life, I am experiencing God's victory and "promise land living", but bathing suit season brings out my every fear and insecurity. Until this week, I hadn't been in a bathing suit since April 2008!

So, the other day I decided I would face my fears and take my kids to the pool. I was PRAYING like crazy about it all morning (Please, Lord, please don't let me see anyone I know...please). Of course, before I am out of the parking lot, I see a friend who comments that she thinks about me everytime she puts on her bathing suit (so she must read my blog and know my "issue"...how embarassing) And as I head into the pool area, a lady yells "Hey Bible Study lady!". Great, I'm thinking...this is going to be a great day, God....

The kids and I stayed at the pool until nearly closing time. My kids had a blast ~ going down the slides, splashing and swiming, being kids. And would you know...I survived. Nobody teased me. Called me a bad name. Made a funny comment to me. I made it!

Isn't it crazy how our fears can become so irrational and huge - and almost paralyzing?! And not until we step out into those areas of fear...out of our safety and comfort zone...can we see things more clearly. And Truthfully.

Like why in the world when I am nearly 40 years old do I still think someone is going to tease or reject me. Where does this all come from?? And, most importantly, how in the world do I move forward??

As I spent time praying about it later that evening, I rememembered something I recently learned in a Bible Study that was eye opening for me. Kelly Minter, in her book No other gods shares, "Satan will tell us what's true, but he never tells us the TRUTH".

Remembering that simple statement was like an "AHA" light bulb moment for me!!
Yes, it is true I was teased as a little girl for being "the chubby cousin".
Yes, it is true, I am not a size 6 (or an 8 anymore).
Yes, it is true, I have given birth to 4 children.
Yes, I'm not comfortable in a bathing suit. Yes, those things are true.

But the TRUTH is that I am beautiful and accepted by God....just the way that I am!!
The TRUTH is that God delights in me!!
The TRUTH is that I am secure, significant, set apart in Christ!
The TRUTH is that I am dearly loved by the Lord God Almighty! Woo Hoo!!

"Satan will tell us what's true, but he never tells us the TRUTH".

Kelly Minter shares..."Let that sink in for a minute. For example, if you're currently struggling with your finances, you might think something along these lines...I don't have enough money to pay my bills; I'm going to lose everything. It might be true that you don't have enough money to pay your bills, but the TRUTH is that God will take care of your every need (Matt. 6:25-30).

I think this is what we see in Genesis 3. Satan spoke a lot of true things, yet none of it was the TRUTH! This is where deception can play such a huge role in our lives. Though we all have succumbed to believing bold-faced lies, my hunch is that we have far more often been captivated by sheer deception."

Aha!! Satan tries to deceive us by telling us what may be true...but he never tells us the TRUTH! True vs. TRUTH. How about for you?? Are there areas of your life where the enemy is trying to deceive you? Is he filling your mind with things that may be true...but are not God's TRUTH??

May the Lord reveal to you ANYTHING that is getting in the way of experiencing all of the FULLNESS and FREEDOM that He has for you!!!

And if you see me at the pool this summer ~ please feel free to say Hi!! A good friend helped me reframe my pool experience from the other day. When I said, "Obviously God wasn't listening to my prayers on the way to the pool. Everywhere I looked there were people I knew". My dear friend challenged me and said, "What if Dana in the parking lot, and Rachel from Bible study, and the other people you knew at the pool were actually reminders from God Himself that you were not alone?? That He was with you." Hmmm....sounds just like Him, doesn't it?!

Let's pray...Oh Lord, THANK YOU that Your Word says TRUTH will set us free. Please, Lord, set us free from any fear, lie, habit, attitude, addiction that is getting in the way of the full LIFE that You have for us. Eradicate any unhealthy roots. Plant seeds of Truth. For Your Purpose. For Your Glory Alone! Amen :)

P.S. The picture is for my friends that still don't believe I put on a bathing suit. Watch out ~ by the end of the summer, I might be going down the slide!!! :)

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