Not My Dad’s Politics (anymore)

It’s everywhere you look right now—the internet, the news, Facebook … you can’t get away from the impending presidential election.  I have read a lot on Facebook lately … tuning in more to see what people have to say—I actually love to hear other people’s opinions whether I agree with them or not.  I do not like hearing people put each other down over their political differences, which is one reason I keep my own off of Facebook.  I’m not interested in debating the better candidate (or political party) with other people; no one is going to change my mind and I’m likely not going to change anyone’s mind—especially not someone who is brazen enough to pick a fight with me via social media!

Over the past couple months I have been examining my own political views quite a bit.  I’m not what I would call a “political person” … I’m not really all that interested in the subject, but as a Christian and an American, I have made an effort to pay better attention during this political season.  I have always considered myself a Republican—ever since my dad told me not to vote for Bill Clinton in the 1992 presidential election—the first one in which I could vote.  My dad obviously didn’t control my vote, but I thought Clinton was well-spoken and handsome … when I said as much to my conservative father, he encouraged me to look at the issues and then make a decision.  I’ll be honest … I don’t think I looked at the issues, but I did end up voting for George H.W. Bush, because if my dad thought he was the right choice, then that was good enough for me!  Besides, it saved me the time of trying to research it myself (pre-internet) and pay attention to the more important things … like boys, hairspray … and boys.  Twenty four years later (WHAT? 24 years??! Sheesh.) I’m embarrassed to say that I have leaned on my dad’s opinion for far too long—he’s very well-educated, opinionated and he never hesitates to tell me what I should think, so why not?  But not this year—this year I’m thinking for myself!  And guess what? It’s true: father knows best! (Relish it, Dad!)

Here is where I’ve landed, and what I’ve talked myself through:

  1. The reason this country was founded was because our forefathers were trying to get out from underneath the thumb of the monarchy. They were tired of being told what to do and when to do it and not being allowed to do what they wanted … to me, big government is a step backward—the more control the government has, the less freedom the people have.  Case in point:  if I want to have health insurance, it should be my choice to decide whether or not I’ll have it, but I don’t want someone telling me I HAVE to have it.  As it is right now, if I choose not to, fine, but the IRS will collect a penalty with my tax return and the government will use it to help pay for the free insurance that the impoverished are receiving.  If I DO choose to have insurance, I get to pay the astronomical premiums and meet the exorbitant deductibles and still help pay for the free insurance that the impoverished are receiving.
  2. With that said, I whole-heartedly believe in giving to the less fortuante, but I believe this is the duty of the church (and people), NOT the government. Take welfare, for example … when the government provides free handouts, I believe it is enabling those people and not helping people get back on their feet.  It’s the whole “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime” concept.  I’m all about helping people out and taking care of our own, but I think there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.  Maybe let’s not tell people what they have to do and give them a chance to help people out on their own.  And let’s enable the church to take a more active role in caring for the less fortunate, too.  If we don’t let the government control everything, the hungry will still be fed, housed and educated—that doesn’t go away just because we allow the states to be autonomous, as intended.
  3. I’m pro-life in every sense of the word. Whereas the argument for women to be able to choose what happens to their bodies tugs at me a little bit, I ultimately believe that choice comes down to choosing to be smart when it comes to having sex and acknowledging that sex can create a baby.  If you don’t want a baby, don’t have sex.  Simple!  I don’t think we should stop caring about people after the baby is born (see #2), but again, I think we can go about caring for our own a little bit differently.  I’ll be honest, I’m holding back here a little bit because my opinions get very strong on this subject … to the point that it’s unattractive and sometimes not very Christ-like, I admit.  Killing babies is not an acceptable form of birth control … period.
  4. I’m against capital punishment (this doesn’t support my conservative status, I realize). Jesus calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  I’m not sure how to do that while killing people, and I think it’s pretty hypocritical to punish a killer by killing them back!  I’m not going to lie, if I were a family member who’s loved one was the one on the receiving end of that criminal, I may feel differently—I probably would.  But from where I stand right now, that is how I feel.
  5. The Constitution and Amendments are just as valid today as they were when written, if not more so. I’m not a historian and I already told you I’m not political so I may not know the exact reason behind EVERY amendment, but I can’t help but think that many of these amendments were written not only because of their past experiences, but also because our forefathers were worried there would be an attempt to take them away someday (free speech, right to bear arms, freedom of religion, right to a fair trial, the states having power for anything not deemed a constitutionally delegated power to the federal government, for example).
  6. I have a problem with authority–I always have–not just authority, but being told what to do in general. To this day I tell my husband, “You’re not the boss of me!” whenever he requests I do or do not do something … I suppose I feel the same way about the government, in general.

I don’t like our choices for this presidential election any more than the next guy (or gal).  I’ll be honest, Trump’s recent “locker room talk” did NOT shake me to my very core like it did Mrs. Obama—it didn’t even surprise me!  It’s not something I condone, but come on—we know the character of our two major choices—should anything surprise us?  And if I’m being honest, there have been plenty of things I’ve said in private that I wouldn’t want publicized.

I have read a lot of people saying that we DO have a choice and that a third-party can win, and that we have to take a stand to make change.  In theory, yes!  But historically, it doesn’t happen, and this election is about SO much more than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump … we have to look at the big picture, and we have to make an educated decision.  To me, that means not leaning on hopeful ideals and ignoring the reality of what history has shown us (as Doctor Phil says, “The best way to predict future behavior is to look at past behavior”).  Not that circumstances can’t change, but the reality is that the outcome likely won’t be any different than it has been in the past.

No matter who wins, there will be struggles, but I will vote for the party who holds the same values that I hold dear, not the man who is representing that party.  Above all, I will pray … for all the candidates involved, and our president, no matter who wins.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

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My name is Jenn, and I’m an …

I often refer to myself as a “closet introvert”. I’m outgoing, to be sure, but I don’t get my energy from people, rather I get my energy from time spent alone, or with my inner circle (I don’t think I even HAVE an “outer” circle!). I was thinking about this today and decided to look up the definition of “introvert” to see if it was close to describing me at all. Here’s what I found: “a shy, reticent person”. Crap! That doesn’t fit! So I looked up extrovert; “an outgoing, overtly expressive person”. Crap again! Not that I don’t want to be considered an extrovert, I just started feeling like I wasn’t quite as smart as I thought I was! Not willing to give up on myself or my (self-perceived) intelligence, I decided to look a little more and see if I could find some explanation for my outward-extrovert-inward-introvert-edness (pretty sure that term is the one you’ll find in text books!). I came upon a website that offered a 10-question quiz that would give me the answer once and for all to my question: am I an introvert or an extrovert? Yes, please!

Side note: I LOVE these things! When I see them on Facebook, I jump all over them … seriously. I can tell you which Friends character I am, which Disney Princess I am, which Inside Out character I’m most like and what my profession was in a past life. There is even an app that you can download to your phone or tablet that just lets you chose quiz after quiz after quiz. Seriously–when I found a quiz for this inquiry, I swear I heard angels sing. But I digress!

So, I took this quiz and guess what? I’m neither an extrovert or an introvert! I’m an AMBIVERT. To quote the website (www.quietrev.com/ambivert-results/):

AMBIVERT
Based on your responses, you’re an ambivert. That means you fall smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. In many ways, ambiverts have the best of both worlds, able to tap into the strengths of both introverts and extroverts as needed. See below for information on introverts and extroverts; you’ll likely see part of yourself in both.

INTROVERTS
Given the choice, introverts will devote their social energy to a small group of people they care about most, preferring a glass of wine with a close friend to a party full of strangers. Introverts think before they speak, have a more deliberate approach to risk, and enjoy solitude. They feel energized when focusing deeply on a subject or activity that really interests them. When they’re in overly stimulating environments (too loud, too crowded, etc.), they tend to feel overwhelmed. They seek out environments of peace, sanctuary, and beauty; they have an active inner life and are at their best when they tap into its riches.

EXTROVERTS
Extroverts relish social life and are energized by interacting with friends and strangers alike. They’re typically assertive, go-getting, and able to seize the day. Extroverts are great at thinking on their feet; they’re relatively comfortable with conflict. Given the choice, extroverts usually prefer more stimulating environments that give them frequent opportunities to see and speak with others. When they’re in quiet environments, they’re prone to feeling bored and restless. They are actively engaged in the world around them and at their best when tapping into its energy.

Hmmmm. I truly do see some of myself in both of those explanations! I will say that I’m not sure I’m able to tap into the strengths of each but nonetheless, I feel like the quiz identifying me as an ambivert spot on!

Now onto why any of this was on my mind in the first place:

We spent Labor Day weekend up on Fish Lake in Sturgis, Michigan where Brian’s parents and other family members have cottages next door to each other. There are always a lot of people around and especially Labor Day weekend when we have a family reunion on that Sunday–lots of family we don’t see very often with lots of catching up to do! And you know what?! I DREAD it every year!! Not because I don’t like Brian’s family–I do! They’ve been my family for almost 17 years now, and I truly enjoy spending time with them–I love them! But it is SO draining for me to spend time chatting with people all afternoon. Inevitably I end up in our cottage–either playing on my phone, reading a book in our room, or talking to a smaller subset of family which makes it less overwhelming. I always feel guilty reemerging from my hideaway–sometimes I feel dumb going back outside after a break–like I should want to be social all day long or not at all (to be clear, no one makes me feel this way–it’s all in my head–my crazy,  messed-up head!).  It’s always good to spend time with family–immediate and extended–but I’m always grateful when things quiet down again, too.

Yesterday, after a weekend full of activity, we were headed home. It was at the end of our trip–we had left the interstate and were a few minutes from our house, passing familiar landmarks (our church, both of the kids’ schools, etc.)–that a feeling of contentment came over me stronger than it has in a while. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for our little town in Indiana … for our house with plenty of room for me to recharge alone or entertain friends and family … for good schools for my kids and a wonderful church family … for a God that has made it all possible!

He knows just what I need, and it hit me at that moment (for the 243 millionth time) that He made me the way I am, too! I don’t need to feel guilty for needing time away, and I don’t need to feel like a contradiction when I’m ready to be social again.

I once had an employer tell me that I had “the ‘public’ part of public accounting down PAT” (although I’m certain it wasn’t meant as a compliment, the joke is on him because I totally took it as one!). As I’ve gotten older, especially, I’ve found more of a need for solitude and it causes conflicting feelings in me–if I’m good with people, why don’t I always want to be around them?

It should be either/or, right?

I sure have always thought so, but *gasp* … I’m wrong!

It’s tough not to be able to define oneself as one or the other, but that is par for the course with me! Not the smartest, but not the dumbest. Not without musical talent, but not possessing any significant musical talent. Not the fattest, but definitely not the skinniest. Not an IT expert, but not a complete technological moron.

The list goes on and on … I’m never the best, but not usually the worst–never one extreme or the other. Stands to reason it would be the same when it comes to social definitions, as well. Funny, when I Googled the word “ambivert” after I took this quiz (had to make sure it was legit), I found an article in Forbes magazine on this very subject. Come to find out that studies have found that the majority of people don’t identify with one social extreme or another! Who knew?!

Even when I think I’ve got it figured out, God teaches me lessons and reveals to me more about who I am … who He has created me to be.

And what a comfort it is … all I ever has to be is what He made me! (Thanks, Amy Grant!)

“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”
Psalm 139:13 – 14

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10:29-31

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The Significance of Sunshine

The sun breaking through some shade-giving clouds on a Saturday evening in Fishers, IN

The sun has been out in full force lately in the Midwest; IT HAS BEEN HOT!  It’s funny because when the sun isn’t shining (mostly in the winter) we Hoosiers complain about the fact that the sun hasn’t come out in days, but in the summer all we want is an overcast afternoon or two to cool us off.  The irony isn’t lost on me, and it got me thinking about the sun and what a significant roll the sun plays in my life, and in human lives in general.

Justin Timberlake has a song on the radio right now called “Can’t Stop the Feeling“; my favorite line of that song is “got that sunshine in my pocket …”, one of many phrases which he uses to explain this great feeling he has.  I starting thinking about other songs that use the word sun or sunshine to describe something positive and came up with more than I can even list!  The ones that immediately came to mind are:

All of these songs use the sun as a metaphor for a good feeling and/or to describe a significant loved one.  These songs are mostly upbeat and positive–the first two are a little bit more mellow but still have positive messages. Even the songs that are sad and refer to the sun use the sun as a metaphor for a good thing–just a good thing that the singer no longer has (like Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine“).  I guess it makes sense that the sun is a metaphor for a loved one: our solar system revolves around the sun, and many times our lives revolve around those we love–whether it be a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, child, grandchild, etc.–sometimes even more than is healthy!  Regardless, they are happy songs and the sun is a happy thing, whether metaphorically or literally, and that makes ME happy!!

Other observations about the sun:

  • It brings life for plants by aiding in photosynthesis so they can grow and convert carbon dioxide to oxygen to help sustain our human lives
  • It gives us vitamin D, which has all sorts of physiological benefits–keeps our bones, hearts and skin healthy, and it aids in healthy immunity (it has been linked with preventing certain types of cancers).  It also is good for our emotional health–research has shown that vitamin D may affect the function of certain neurotransmitters that are likely involved in depression.   Women with a greater intake of vitamin D were significantly less likely to suffer from depressive symptoms in multiple studies over the past several years!  Yay sun!
  • It provides warmth.  We couldn’t survive on this Earth without the sun: it would be too cold.

I don’t really know what my point is here … I guess it’s that, in a world that brings tragic news to our doorsteps daily, we need to appreciate both the literal and figurative sun in practice as much as we do in theory.  I know I need to!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18 (NASB)

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Blogging More (for my own good) … and free ebooks!

I don’t have anything enlighting to say most of the time, and I know that, but it is cathartic to write out the things I’m thinking or how I’m feeling.  The journaling I’ve been doing lately has to do mostly with the Bible Study I’m doing on the book of Ruth, which means I don’t take time to write down my feelings on life in general.  Obviously some of those feelings are personal or sensitive in nature and don’t need to be out there in cyber space, no matter how few people may read my blog, but others aren’t an issue and it’s those feelings that I wouldn’t mind throwing out there.  Sometimes I want to write but I don’t know WHAT to write about … fortunately, I came across a (free!) ebook with writing prompts that will give me some ideas for future posts, which leads me to my next topic.

I’m a big fan of free stuff and I LOVE to read, so what could be better than FREE eBOOKS?!  I use the Kindle app on my iPad (when I don’t have a paper book in my hands–at the ripe old age of 41 I’m still pretty old school!) and over the years I’ve been turned on to a few sites that offer free ebooks on a regular basis.  I’ve downloaded a ton of theses free ebooks and have found some real keepers, so I thought I’d share those resources.
 

Book bub sends a daily email with free and discounted books. You chose the genre(s) in which you’re interested when you subscribe and you’ll receive multiple options in each category. I find this to be the least overwhelming of the daily emails I receive, and tend to download most often from this one; I’ve even found a few keepers for my 12-year-old son!

David C. Cook books is another site at which I’ve found several gems!  This website specializes in Christian books, and like BookBub, it offers free and discounted books.  When you receive this weekly email, you will find usually at least two free ebooks amongst the books offered, ranging from bible commentaries to fiction, and everything in between.

Freebookdeals.com is the last set of emails I signed up to receive free ebook offers.  You can receive a comprehensive email with books in all genres available listed, or sign up to receive individual emails by genre.  I receive daily emails from three different genres, and each email has a pretty long listing!  You’ll see some duplicates with the bookbub books, but the books on these lists are ALL free.  I have to admit, there are many days that I delete the emails because the list of books is just too big for me to sift through, but I have found a lot of books that I enjoy because of these websites!

Some of the free stuff you’ll find isn’t great, but a lot of it is pretty good! Sometimes I’ll start reading a book and find it’s just not what I had hoped and quit after a few chapters, but more often than not I have pretty good luck.  I’ll be using one of my free finds to give me something to write about … some of which I’ll put on here, and others I may just record in my journal … probably not a whole lot because there aren’t a lot of topics about which I’m private, but I’m sure they’ll come up at some point. Stay tuned!  

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The Right of the People, to Keep and Bear Arms

Gun control is a hot topic right now.  I grew up around guns—with my dad being a hunter, my brother and I grew up respecting guns and understanding their power from a very early age.  My brother hunts and has recently taken my nephew hunting with him, and I know he teaches my nephew and both of my nieces the same things our Dad taught us.  I’m comfortable around guns—in general, they don’t scare me.  I don’t support gun control—I believe the second amendment is still relevant today, despite all the violence we’ve seen over the past several years. I feel this way because the guns aren’t the problem, it’s the people … it’s their hearts AND their minds … if guns were completely out of the picture, there would still be murder.  There would still be accidents.  There would still be tragedies.

I have held this position for a while, but feel more strongly about it after having gone target shooting with my Dad in Colorado a few weeks ago.  I’m extremely comfortable around guns, and I can shoot nerf guns and even BB guns with the best of them, but it was a completely different experience to shoot an actual, bullet-firing handgun!  My dad walked me through using the gun while we were still at the house—he taught me all about how the gun functions and how I should hold it.  He also walked me through the rules of the shooting range:  always keep your barrel down-range, when the allotted time to shoot is over we have to remove the clips, open the action and step behind the painted line or else we’ll be kicked out.  If holding that heavy metal gun in my hand wasn’t enough for me to realize the seriousness of the activity in which we were about to engage, hearing the strict rules of the range was.  We got to the range, went over everything with the employee out in the field, and Dad had me start shooting.  I was TERRIFIED.  I was shaking as I took aim to shoot a target. A TARGET! Not a living, breathing being, but paper, wood and dirt—nothing I hit would be hurt in any way shape or form, and yet the weight of what the gun in my hand was capable of was SO heavy.  I adjusted—ended up going through 200 bullets and hitting that target pretty good—but it wasn’t something I could take lightly, and every time I hear about awful shootings like the one last week in Oregon, those feelings come back to me.

I don’t think what I experienced is unusual.  Guns are meant to kill, and that is scary—I can’t imagine pointing that gun at a living being—animal or human—let alone SHOOT it at them.  Shooting another human isn’t natural—we’re not supposed to kill each other.  Even Cain hid after he killed Abel—it’s not right and he knew it—it has NEVER been natural, not since the beginning of time.  I think we have a serious problem in America—in the world—but it’s not the guns.  People will find a way to express the hatred in their hearts no matter what the means.

One last thing: I know there are people who are in professions that put them in positions where they have no choice but to shoot guns at other people—law enforcement and those in the US Armed Forces—and I have nothing but respect for those men and women.  They do their jobs despite the hardships, and it’s all for the greater good.  I hope it’s obvious, but I wanted to clarify that this isn’t about them … on the contrary; it’s about the ones those professionals are protecting us against!

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Legacy

My heart is heavy today as I mourn with my friends who lost their 13-year-old daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, sister and friend, Emma Grace, to brain cancer on Thursday morning.  The whole family has been on my mind quite a bit since they first found out about Emma’s tumor several months ago, but especially this week as Emma was taken to the hospital after a seizure rendered her unresponsive.  Every time the family entered my mind (A LOT!), I uttered a prayer, asking God to allow this sweet girl to continue her time on earth, cancer-free.

With all of this thinking I’ve done, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the Dotson women (Emma’s mom, grandma and aunts) and the times we’ve shared; for several years, I felt like I was an honorary member of their family.  Megan and I attended church together, and were fortunate-enough to have our each of our first sets of children (my only children) within a month of each other.  Neither one of us worked outside the home for those first couple years, so we were able to spend a lot of time together during the day while our husbands were working.  Megan’s mom (Karla) and sisters (Kari and Katie) welcomed me into their family and were a family-away-from-family for me.  As a new mom who lived far away from her own parents and siblings, I can’t tell you what a blessing it was to be taken in by these loving, hilarious and caring women!  I’ll never forget being at Megan’s house, trying to make Nicholas’ Christmas stocking for his first Christmas.  Emma was probably around 2 years old, and Kari had just changed her diaper (or taken her to the bathroom, I can’t remember which) and was letting her run around without her pants on.  I’m sure I made some smart-alleck comment to Kari about Emma not having her pants on, so Kari told Emma to rub her “booty-cheese” all over me.  Sure enough, sweet Emma came over and rubbed her rear all over my back as I sat on the floor and laughed!  With these women, that was the environment:  laughter, friendship and camaraderie.  We spent a lot of time laughing, but they also took care of one another, and of me.  I always had someone who was there for me—to spend time with, to complain and cry to, or to watch my kids while I ran a few errands.  They loved me and protected me like I was one of their own; I don’t think they even realized what a lifeline they were to me, nor did I realize it at the time.  Life happened and we haven’t spent time together in many years, but looking back, I needed them desperately and I know God put them in my life.

This is the family Emma is a part of—a loving, loyal, crazy-fun group of women (and men) who have instilled in their children these same traits. They’ve already been through a lot, but they are extremely courageous, strong and have an unshakable faith, even in the toughest of circumstances.  Kari so eloquently wrote on Facebook about the grace and strength that Emma displayed after she was diagnosed … it’s no wonder Emma displayed those characteristics and touched so many lives in her 13-years on this earth, not to someone who knows where she comes from.  She had the best examples of strength, grace, love and loyalty a girl could want.

As I started writing, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say, but it’s clear to me now that I want to pay tribute to Emma’s family.  The family Richard and Karla built, and the faith they passed on to each of their daughters … that faith has led them to their spouses, and that faith has been passed on to their own children.  My heart hurts … I can’t put it into words how badly … and that hurt is for a family that has had to say goodbye to their loved one, but it’s not for Emma.  Emma is fine—she’s better than fine!  She has never felt better or been happier than she is right now, in the presence of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  Although their hearts are broken, Emma’s family knows she is with Jesus … Megan posted an article on Facebook about Emma shortly after her death, and she prefaced it by saying all they can do now is to “cling tightly to the promises of heaven”.  That promise is that they will see Emma again one day when their time on earth is through—that death is not the end.  THAT is the legacy that Richard and Karla have passed down to their daughters, the legacy that was passed on to Emma … the legacy of hope in Jesus Christ. There is none greater!

I pray for you every day, Findley’s, Dotson’s, Taylor’s and Knisley’s … I list you each by name to our Heavenly Father.  I pray that God will wrap his arms around each one of you and give you comfort and peace that passes all earthly understanding.

I love you all.

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THE SUMMER OF PATIENCE (among other things!)

I’ve been making a conscious effort to spend more time in the Word lately (see my New Year’s Resolution post: Grow Spiritually) and have been trying to read what I call “Jesus books”—books that would be found in the Christian Living section at Barnes & Noble—rather than JUST novels. A few months ago, when Brian and I were at Half Priced Books, I came upon a book by David Crowder called Praise Habit: Finding God in Sunsets and Sushi.

We sing a lot of music by David Crowder at our church and the fact that he had written a book intrigued me; besides, it was only $1 so if it sucked, no big deal! I have been pleasantly surprised at Crowder’s writing abilities. He makes me laugh out loud at least every-other paragraph, and he’s CRAZY intelligent. So basically, he catches my attention, and then keeps it with his thought-provoking words and insight. It’s a slow-go … I’m a fast reader when it comes to novels, but when it comes to material I want to apply to my life, I tend to slow down. I struggle with the application and have a hard time going back to the book and learning more when I’m still chewing on what I have already read. Regardless, all this is to say that I’m working on ME and my relationship with Christ—really working in it. Part of this process has been to journal (see also my New Year’s Resolution post: Journal Everyday) and write my thoughts down—not just about what I’m reading but what and how I’m feeling. I’ve not done this EVERYDAY, but I’m good with my once-a-week journaling for now! (baby steps) So, as I was journaling last week, I had a revelation—an EPIPHANY, if you will. I had been at church, handing out Weeklies (Crosspoint’s fancy word for “bulletins”) for the 9a service. The beautiful part of handing out the Weeklies is that I get to stand in the auditorium and participate in worship while I’m doing it. We were singing “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” (one of the VERY BEST SONGS ever!) and it hit me: I don’t trust God. I mean, I must not. I say I do, and I sing that I do, and I really really WANT to, but obviously I don’t—there isn’t much other explanation for not having faith that God can move mountains (and by mountains, I mean my Rocky Mountain-sized ass and thighs). So, obviously, I’m still stuck on how fat I am. I haven’t lost any weight this year. Actually, that’s not true. I have lost weight, but then I gained it back again. I don’t think I’ve gained any more, not since I publicly declared that I wanted to lose weight, but your guess would be as good as mine because I avoid the scale at all costs. ANYWAY, I can’t IMAGINE myself being skinnier … not even SKINNY, but 20 lbs lighter. 40 lbs? FORGET ABOUT IT! No way! I can’t imagine fitting into clothes that I wore before Nicholas was born, or even before Paige was born (sadly). It’s not just about my weight, it’s everything. I can’t imagine quoting scripture left and right—I never have been able to—at least not with exact wording AND a biblical reference—and even if I’m studying the Word and trying to make praising God more of a lifestyle (Praise Habit), I can’t see the day that it will come to fruition and be a part of me. Last example: I just started taking guitar lessons (I’ve had two lessons total so far). I can’t imagine photo 1being able to play the guitar good enough to actually sing a song to what I’m playing. I can play a pretty mean “Ode to Joy” and my E minor chord is getting pretty good, but playing another chord directly from Em, or even more difficult chords by themselves seems just about impossible. All three of these things I’ve talked to God about, and not just once or twice. I know that I can’t lose weight without his help—I KNOW I can’t do anything without Him—and I’ve called upon Him and continue to do so, but I still completely doubt that these things will ever happen. So, where does that leave me? I don’t have an answer! It’s me not trusting like I want to, like I believe I should—and praying that I will be able to grow in yet another area.

That wasn’t my only revelation from journaling. I was journaling last Saturday—feeling pretty down and insecure. I had just shared with Brian about how frustrated I am with being “me” and I wanted to write down how I was feeling and what I was thinking. As I was writing, it occurred to me that all three of those situations in which I don’t trust God are things that also require a pretty good amount of patience to see results. Growing up, it was a running joke in my family about the lack of patience me and my Dad would exhibit in any given situation. At 104 years old, my Dad has gotten a good handle on his lack of patience (notice I don’t say he has “MASTERED it!” … and he’s not really 104, btw!) but I have a LONG way to go. Funny thing is, I thought I had already come a long way! I remember being super-surprised at how much patience I had when my kids were born, and feel like I’ve grown a lot and am even more patient than I was at the beginning. Then I started thinking about all these things that are frustrating me, and I realized that I have a serious lack of patience with pretty much everything. This goes back to when I was growing up, so I know it’s always been present, it has just taken me a while to really identify it: I quit when something doesn’t come naturally to me, plain and simple. This is why I lose weight for a few weeks, and then quit—it’s hard, the weight doesn’t come off as quickly as I want it to, and I say, “screw it” and stop exercising and don’t watch what I eat as closely. I tried to teach myself to play guitar a few years ago, and my fingers hurt and I wasn’t seeing any progress (we’re talking over a few weeks—seriously—not long at all) so I decided it was too hard. How many years in a row have I said, “I’m going to carve out time for devotions and spiritual growth and journaling!” and then stopped because it was tough for me to get up earlier or I missed one morning and got mad at myself and decided it was too hard. If something doesn’t come naturally to me, I won’t do it. Crafting comes naturally—crocheting, knitting, sewing, scrapbooking. Running DOES NOT. I did a couch-to-5K program a couple years ago and got half way through and quit because I photo 2was still breathing heavily when I did it and I thought it would never get easier. Are we seeing any patterns? To make it even worse, Paige has been taking piano lessons at the same time I’ve been taking guitar lessons, and the other night when she was practicing, she was complaining about how hard it was and how she hates only playing on the black keys. I reminded her that she was moving to the white keys this week, but it wasn’t soon enough for her and she started to cry. “It’s too hard … I’ll never get better … I don’t want to do all this work”. Man! She really IS a mini-me! If the other evidence wasn’t enough to make me feel convicted, seeing Paige mirror the same behaviors sure did the trick!

So, I’ve declared this summer the “Summer of PATIENCE!” I have always been drawn to the Fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and gentleness—I remember them in this order because it’s the order in which Steven Curtis Chapman sings them in Heartbeat of Heaven—I don’t know if that’s the order they’re listed in the bible or where exactly to find them—maybe Galatians?!) and I know that patience is the one I need to work on the most right now. I need to persevere in all my endeavors—exhibit patience—and when I don’t feel it, ask for it IMMEDIATELY!

One last thing. Yesterday morning I was reading Jesus Calling by Sarah Young Jesus Calling (I put it on my phone so it’s readily available at any time of day—a move inspired by smart cousin, Tiffany!), and at the bottom of each of Young’s very short devotionals are a few scriptures. The first scripture stopped me in my tracks:

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:18

Folks, I have been SO down about myself lately. At age 39, my insecurity has reached an all-time high (or low—whichever direction is worse). I have more weight than I want, my hair is too short and my skin is getting older-looking. I could become a hermit just out of not wanting people to see me right now … it’s BAD!! So when I read this scripture, it was like I was being reminded that it’s not what everyone can see that really matters—this shell is just temporary—it’s what CAN’T be seen that is important. I’m no theologian so I’m not sure the exact reason those words were written, but I have never related that scripture to myself or my insides—I have always viewed it as needing to put my trust in Jesus and not in the things of this world. Yesterday morning, I interpreted the verse differently and felt a sense of peace that I haven’t been feeling very much lately. I know these things, but I desperately needed a reminder in that very moment, and there it was. It was followed up by a wonderful Sunday morning worship service, in which we sang How He Loves, the song I like to call a modern version of Jesus Loves Me. There is nothing sweeter than standing in worship and hearing a whole auditorium-full of voices singing about how much God loves us. It was beautiful, and touching, and nothing I don’t already know … but the reminder came at just the right time.

I don’t have any fancy conclusion or way to draw this all together. I know it’s long and if you’ve gotten this far without moving on to a more exciting web page, thanks for sticking with me! These are just things that have been on my mind and I hope that, if nothing else, someone else feeling any or all of these emotions in some capacity will feel encouraged after reading my thoughts. Maybe this will be someone else’s reminder of God’s larger-than-life love for us, and that we really can do ALL THINGS through Him! (Philippians 4:13—and I actually KNOW that one!)

XOXO— jjw

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without border … let me walk upon the water, wherever you would call me. And take me deeper than my feet could ever wander … that my faith will be made stronger … in the presence of my Saviour.” –Oceans, Hillsong UNITED

 

 

 

 

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