Move Mightily

If it is important
You will find a way

If not
You will make an excuse

It’s a new year and once again time for a fresh start. Isn’t it strange how each year people need this? The previous year’s fresh start never carries them through to the end. It never comes to a full completion. Why is this? Why do we begin and never end? We falter, waiver, even stray. As Mary Poppins says, “Well begun is half done.” – which is an encouraging thought.

But it’s not all.

I have begun well with many things, many times. But if I have not had the strength and fortitude to follow through to the end – what good was my beginning?

If you are like me, each year you commit to the same things you have committed to year after year! For me – it’s lose weight, eat healthier, de-clutter my house. Things I want to do, but have yet to accomplish!

Last year, my goal was to “be” the things I wanted to be; the best me, the me God wants me to be. I did a lot of changing on the inside.

I begin this year much less attached to the things of this world. For one thing, Disneyland. Although it’s a place I love to be, I didn’t even go much this year. In fact, I let my pass expire without “one last trip” before it did –  and I hadn’t been in over 2 months. That was just not characteristic of me! But I have honestly been ok without it. Another thing is my collectibles. I do love my cute little things: POP! and Vinylmation figures, plushies, etc. But now I feel less attached to them.

I know this shift on the inside is due largely in part to the prayers of my husband who I know has prayed diligently for his family to be less attracted and distracted to the things of this world. And not only that – but he has been a godly example of this to us. This has also affected our youngest daughter, who has just recently blogged about her convictions here.

I did not see much change on the outside this past year. My weight and house are still pretty much the same. But my insides had some good trials and alterations. My stepdad passed away on his birthday at the end of April. I was prompted by God to go be with my mom the very day he passed. She would have been alone going through that. I stayed at her house for 11 days total, helping her with things. I had never taken the 5 hour drive alone, or stayed away from home that long.  It was truly God’s doing. I was in servant mode.

My son got married in October, and moved over 6 hours away in November. All the emotions of that separation took me on a tremendous journey of faith. Just before he got married, the marriage of someone close to our family was in jeopardy. We prayed without ceasing and saw God work and restore.

I know this is getting lengthy so let me wrap it up.

In 2016 I did a lot of growing and changing in my state of BEing.

“To see God move mightily in my life,
My life must move mightily towards God” – Lysa TerKeurst, Uninvited

This year, my word is MOVE. My great plans, ideas, and aspirations will move from my heart and head into tangible evidences in my life.

My body will move into exercise and reshape.

I will move and actually de-clutter my house. (instead of always planning to)

There are many more things I always say I am going to do. Plans in my head will become actions as I trust God, take steps, and MOVE!

“Commit thy way unto the Lord
Trust also in Him
And He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

Blessings,
Teresa

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Looking Forward

No Going Back

I have been trying and failing to get back to a place in my life where I felt better, where I was doing better. In fact, I have spent much energy over my lifetime doing this. And mostly it had to do with a time that I was eating better and working out more or in a state of mind and heart that was closer to God. As I was praying and reflecting this morning, I realized “I can’t go back.” And this quote from Return of the King came to my mind. This line has always made me emotional, always stuck out to me with a deep meaning. Although I didn’t realize my personal meaning until today.

“Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.”

Isa 43:18

I can’t go back. My path in life has been traveled. Along the way, threads are falling off of the garments I have worn, the path is riddled with debris that has fallen off of me as I have lived. The overgrown weeds and thorns of complications, the flotsam and jetsam of all of the choices I have made. When I look back, I cannot see the beginning of my path, or even the point in the path where I long to be.

Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.”

Pro 4:25

In order to move forward, I need to look forward. The path before me is clear! It is untraveled, without scars and blemishes. God has much to say about where my focus and walk should be. Trying to see and travel through a long and disarranged passage vs. moving forth on one that is clear should be a no-brainer.

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”

Phil 3:13

I cannot go back, but I can press on towards a new destination. And the place I end up may even be better than what I have been longing for.

Blessings,
Teresa

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Building My House

Build Your House

The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

This verse has been on my mind lately. Especially since we are looking into moving into a new house that has yet to be built. The process of looking is exciting and yet painful to me. You see, I was in this exact spot quite a number of years ago, when we were going through this for the first time. We got as far as to choose our lot and sign papers. But it all fell through and left me heartbroken. I resolved to live in my 40 year old house forever, and give up my dream of owning a brand new house. I didn’t even want to go look at model homes “just for fun” because it was too painful, and it was something that was such a deep desire that I knew it would light the fire in me again. I had resolved to be content, and had stuffed the new house dream into a corner of my heart that I did not want to visit.

Well, I visited it. Early this year, my hubby and I were on a lunch date, and passing by some model homes, he convinced me to go look “just for fun”. I hesitatingly gave in. I don’t want to sound silly, but upon entering the first model, I had to hold back tears. It was so beautiful and that longing instantly resurfaced. He was enchanted too, and being that those particular homes were out of our price range – he suggested that we look into an area that some friends had recently moved to. It wasn’t too far away, and the very next day we went.

I fell in love. Not only with the homes, but with the area! It is beautiful and green, with hills and views. Since then, we have been up and down a couple of times. One development seemed perfect. We waited for it to open. It was priced too high. Then hubby changed his mind, and didn’t want to move. Then circumstances with my mom made us look into something that we could buy that would allow her to move in with us. So that is where we are now. Waiting to choose a lot, and to see if the finances will all work out. I have a hope and a dream – but also a fear that it will all come crashing down again.

I am trusting God. I don’t want to force this to happen. My prayer is that if it’s His will, then it will be a smoothly paved road and so obvious to us. If it is not meant to be, then I would accept that. I am praying for wisdom.

“Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established” Proverbs 24:3

Obviously the Bible is not speaking about the physical building. But it is referring to the inner house – the atmosphere, the morale, the attitude, the values, etc. And I think I really am clinging to this right now because those things are far more important than the walls that surround us.

As a stay-at-home mom, I have had the privilege and responsibility of building my house this way. Being a homeschooling family, I was the one home with them 24/7. It was my attitude and values that were passed on to them through daily interactions. I am reflecting back over the years as my children were growing and hope that I used wisdom and understanding to build this house.  I know I tried. And it doesn’t stop when the children are grown. I think I may need to work on this some even now. Do I spread joy and love with my words and expressions? Do my actions reflect my beliefs? Do I model my character after Christ? Does my life bring Him honor and glory?

“Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it” Psalm 197:1a

Unless I am allowing the Lord to work in and through me to build my house – then I labor in vain. I desire my house to be a comfortable place filled with love and peace. I look to the Lord to help me to continue to build that dream home <3

Blessings,
Teresa

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The Apple of Our Eye

As I was having my devotional earlier this week, I read a verse that I have read many times before. But this time, it stuck out to me. I really love how that happens. God’s Word is never exhausted. There is always something fresh and new – perfect for the time in your life when you need it!  In Proverbs 7:2, God tells us to keep His law as the apple of his eye.

Apple of His Eye

I immediately thought “Apple of His eye?” What exactly does that mean? My understanding of this word is precious. The apple of our eye is the one we love, the one who makes our day, makes our life worth living, brings us joy, brings us pride. I think I have most often heard it from a mother, speaking of her beloved child. That is how God wants His law to be to us! He wants us to delight in it!

The actual meaning of this term can be translated “little man of the eye”. This refers to the tiny reflection of yourself that you can see in other’s pupils if they are focused on you. It can also refer to the pupil itself. Either way, if God (and His law) is the refection in our eye, or our pupil itself – it means our focus is on Him! Our eyes are on Him! And He is telling us lovingly, to bless us – and to warn us of consequences if we don’t – that He should be the one whom we are cherishing, looking to – for joy and completeness of life.

I want that. I want to be so focused on God that I am not distracted or lured by the things of this world that can pull me away and lead me to spiritual death. I want God to be the apple of my eye.

What’s more – twice in scripture God refers to His people as the apple of His eye! You can find these references in Deut 32:10 and Zech 2:8 He is focused on us! He loves and cherishes us! And He only wants that in return.

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Mt 22:37

How about you? What things in your life are you focused on, that maybe you shouldn’t be? Try focusing (literally) on more than one thing with your eyes right now. You can’t. We can have a great multitude of things in our peripheral vision, but only one object can be truly focused on.

Blessings,
Teresa

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An Ah-Ha! Moment

Have you ever had one of those? I am sure you have at one point in your life or another. We all can get so wrapped up in our current perspective of something that we are completely blind to what is really happening! Sometimes God needs to put a blindfold on us, blocking our view –  so that we can really see what He wants us to see.

A few weeks ago, my husband wanted to talk about a frustration he had with a portion of scripture. He had just read the first chapter of Leviticus and was disturbed about not only the limitless specific regulations for the people stated there, but also the gruesomeness of some of them. I had just read the same chapter that morning. But not only that, I was excited because I had the privilege of reading the First 5 App Study that went along with it! Lysa TerKeurst is so blessed with insight, and a skilled writer. I highly recommend this app as a great start to your day!

I couldn’t wait to read the study to my husband, and I only got through a small portion of it before he stopped me. “Stop, stop. I get it. It’s my attitude.”, he said. The word attitude was mentioned 3 times in 3 paragraphs. He was concentrating on the outward actions, and details – not seeing that it was the attitude of the people that God was trying to refine. It was an ah-ha! moment for my husband and he learned a valuable lesson.

Often times it’s not about the thing God is asking us to do, but the lesson behind it. Instead of asking Him “Why is this happening to me?”, ask “What are You trying to teach me?” Changing your vantage point can make all the difference!

Tell me, do you have an ah-ha! moment that you would like to share? I’d love to hear it!

Blessings,
Teresa

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But What About Second Christmas?

Easter Sunday just passed us. Happy Easter. What do those words really mean to you? What do they mean to me? This year, I found myself struggling with this holiday. As it approached, I was burdened with the thoughts of “what am I going to wear?“, “I need to buy my daughter a new outfit“, “what am I going to plan for dinner?“, “I need to clean the house“, “I need to shop for gifts for the kids” and “I haven’t gotten my Easter decorations out yet“. Not that those thoughts don’t occupy my mind every single year at this time. But this year, it bothered me.

As a Christian, I do remember what the Lord Jesus did here on earth for me. He was born for me, he died for me, and most importantly – He lives! I realize that Easter is the day we are to celebrate that, and often times Christians will say “Happy Resurrection Sunday” in lieu of “Happy Easter” – which is more fitting being that 1. It’s the one day we are celebrating His resurrection and 2. Easter was traditionally a pagan holiday. I am thinking, though – that it’s quite unhonoring to choose one day to make a big celebration over this. If He is the reason we celebrate, if He is the reason we live – ought we not to celebrate that fact every. single. day?

My social media feeds were flooded, as I am sure yours were – with pictures of grand celebrations of homes that were decorated with flower, eggs, and bunnies. Families dressed in their “Easter Best” with picture-perfect kids. And let us not forget the mountains of gift hoards, enormous baskets, baskets with gifts overflowing –  extravagant gifts. It’s not just candy anymore. It looked more like a second Christmas to me.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s all beautiful. And I love cute things, and fluffy bunnies, and giving gifts to my children. But wow. I bought into all of this, too. I raised my kids doing these types of things. I told them that we were celebrating Jesus, that it was not about all of this stuff. But what did I exemplify? I did not walk my talk. The expectation to do all of this is all around us. But more damaging is that it’s inside of me. I place expectations on myself regarding this holiday based on what its around me in the world, and what I have always done. And that is the root of my struggle this year. To quote Cinderella, “Just because it’s what’s done, doesn’t mean it’s what should be done.

Just Because

So –  I did not buy new clothes, clean house, decorate, or make way too much dinner like I normally do. I did go to church and spend time with my family. And it was all ok. I don’t feel as though I missed out on anything. I did use the day as an excuse to buy a little gift for each of my girls – but I always buy them stuff just because I love to, so it was nothing out of the norm for me 😉 )

I am on a journey this year. To BE more than what I have been. To BE the woman God wants me to BE. I believe the way my heart is struggling with this is a direct result of me drawing near to Him, opening my heart to listen to Him, and being open to Him changing me.

I don’t want to place these expectations on myself anymore. I do it each year at Christmas time, too. I hope and pray by that time, my heart will be at peace. I want to rest knowing that it doesn’t matter if I decorate the house “on time”, or that my kids only receive one gift vs. many, or that their stockings don’t contain $100 worth of gifts each.

The reasons for these holidays – for me, are truths that are planted in my heart that I will celebrate every day I am alive. I have a wonderful Savior who loves me like no other. He was born to die that I might live.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” 1 Peter 1:3

Blessings,
Teresa

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The Narrow, Slippery Path

Any time I make a decision to do something that would please God, I step onto a path that is both narrow and slippery. In the beginning of this year, I made a decision to BE the woman I was meant to be – that I longed to be. I vowed to lose weight, eat healthy, de-clutter my house and my life, and other things.

I started off great, as I usually do. At the beginning of March I had lost a total of 11.2 lbs. – which is great being that my goal was to lose 5 lbs a month. I was recording my weight loss at the beginning of each week in my daily planner. I was on track and feeling productive. But something has happened this past week – and if I continue to ignore it (as I have done in the past), I will find myself completely off the path I have chosen, and headed down the wrong direction.

“Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.” Pr. 4:26-27

This path I am on is extremely slippery, and I know I have slipped. I picture myself on a narrow path at the top of a cliff. If I do not look ahead keep my eyes on God, with my feet being firmly planted on that path – I will veer towards the edge and lose my footing. My current position is that I have fallen off but grabbed the edge of the cliff and am struggling to climb back up. I could just let go. I know there is another path within a safe falling distance. I will not get injured. And, in fact, it’s a much easier path to walk on, quite honestly. It’s wide – and not really slippery. But before I do that yet again, before I allow myself to lose my way – I am confronting this. Can my admission save me? Not really. But my confession can. I cry out to God, my Heavenly Father! “Help me! Please pull me up, back onto the path that I know You want me on. Back where you are. Where I trust in You. Where I am not distracted from the things you want me to do. I am sorry, and I don’t want to do this anymore!”

“From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Ps 61:2

Doing good things is good. It’s great. But I get relaxed in my resolve. I didn’t record my weight this past Monday. Because it showed gain, and not a loss. I tend to do that, subconsciously thinking the problem will go away if I ignore it. My workouts have not been as strong and focused. They have been more of a “let’s get this over with” sort of thing. And my personal devotion time has been kinda the same this week. There it is! That’s what it boils down to. When I am emotionally distant from God, whether I am still reading devotions and the Word or not – my world is not right! Where I am spiritually affects where I am in every other aspect of my life. And so here I hang on the edge of my cliff.

I have gained 2.6 lbs. I know, I know – some of you will say that’s not bad, etc. But what have I lost? I lost a whole week of my life. I lost my close connection to my Lord. I lost my resolve. I was trying on the outside, but with no results because on the inside – my heart was not in it.

I lost my footing.

I am making this public, calling myself out. Crying out to God. Because what is in my darkness needs to be exposed to the Light. Then it loses it’s power.

By the grace of God, I will look up towards heaven, and see Him – holding out His hands to me, waiting to pull me up and plant me on the right path again.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.” Pr 3:5-6

I pray this post encourages you, if you are in a place of complacency – to cry out to God.

Psalm 145:14

Blessings,

Teresa

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One Thing, One Ring

I watch Lord of the Rings as often as I can. And that’s not very often, because the rest of my family doesn’t always agree, or the time doesn’t allow. Sometimes I watch just part of it, like I did just a few nights ago. The movie to me is like visiting with old friends. It has a hugely impacting story that I just love. For one thing, the entire premise is a journey of heroic selflessness to destroy evil. Along the way, there is so much growth of character and relationships. It’s just jam packed with goodness for me. Anyways, as I was watching for the billionth time, it hit me, as it has before a billion times about how relative the story is to us as Christians. Let me tell you about it.

There is this ring. The One Ring. It is the key to destroying or empowering the evil in the world of Middle Earth. In a scene early in the first movie, we see Isildur with the One Ring, following Elrond, a very much older and wiser Elf Lord to the place where the ring can be destroyed. Isildur hesitates, and Elrond tells him, “Cast it into the fire! Destroy it!” Isildur replies, “No.” and walks away, holding onto that source of evil and power. Temptation had it’s day and evil had it’s way. Isildur did not choose wisely. It had taken hold of him, and eventually leads him to his death

Jump ahead 3,000+ years. Now the Ring is in the possession of Frodo. He wears it around his neck, and it’s a tremendous burden. It’s heavy, causing him pain and injury. He cradles it and strokes it, as it speaks lies to his mind, taking hold of him. He even puts it on his finger, knowing that when he does, the enemy can see him, and it puts him in more danger.

We are so like these characters! We hold in our possession something we deem is bright, shiny, beautiful, powerful, irresistible, enchanting. But in truth it is the one thing that we need to let go of in our lives. To surrender it means freedom. Only we are blinded and we feel that surrendering it will make us weak and incomplete. That’s the deception! Listen to the voices of those around you who are begging you to cast it into the fire! Listen to the voice of God, asking you to let it go!

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Cor 10:13

I am still fighting the battle of food addiction. Like the One Ring, it wants to be found. The foods I am trying to avoid call out to me often. They remind me how delicious they taste. But I know their game. There is a bitter aftertaste in my soul awaiting me if I succumb to their seduction. And I will not allow that. I look forward to the day on my journey when I can say “It’s gone!”,  as Frodo declared at the end of Return of the King. At the point where the One Ring was destroyed, it no longer had a hold on him, and he could see clearly. His mind was not consumed with the thoughts that the ring wanted him to have. He was free.

 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. Gal 5:1

What One Thing is your One Ring

So what One Thing is your One Ring? What in your life weighs you down, burdens you, tempts you, and steals your will? Cast it in to the Fire! Destroy it!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me Phil 4:13

Blessings,
Teresa

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Sticks and Stones

Who made that up anyways? – “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” I remember saying that all the time as I was growing up. It’s a great kid’s comeback, but it’s certainly not true. We may recover quite nicely from bumps and bruises, but it’s words that leave wounds that never fully heal.

“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health.” Proverbs 12:18

The Bible speaks volumes about the words of our mouth, the destruction it can bring (even bringing life and death), and how we need to be mindful of what we say. Our tongue is a mighty tool or weapon, depending on how we use it. And God cares very much about how we choose to do so.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” Proverbs 18:21

Words have great power. I am a “words” person. I take things spoken to me to heart, literally. This is not always a good thing. I have bad memories of words that were spoken to me, going all the way back to when I was a young teen. I remember them vividly, and am sure I will never forget. I don’t dwell on them, but they do “pop” up in my mind from time to time.

Here is an example of something that happened last weekend when I went on a lunch date with my hubby. I told my husband that I wanted to share something close to my heart with him. He responded in such a way that made me feel super self-conscious, and just literally dumb. He didn’t say anything bad, really. And now l know his intent was not as I had perceived it. But his reply was, “Oh, really?”, and that just shut me down. I was not about to share at that point. I told him how he made me feel, and he replied by saying that he didn’t realize what an impact his words had on me. THAT baffled me – because he has known me for over 30 years, and I went on to let him know that his words pierce me. And then that shut him down. Oh boy, was that date off to a bad start. We were only having our soup before the meal – and I wanted to just leave! After a few moments of silence (besides the soup-slurping), he spoke up. Thankfully, he is full of Godly wisdom. He used new words to make things right, and our date was redeemed!

A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

The power of life and death, blessing or curses, encouragement or discouragement, a good date or a bad date – are in our words. What we say matters. Taking a moment to think before you speak is always best. It can not only save you from trouble, but prevent you from hurting those you love. Proverbs 15:28 speaks of the heart of the righteous studying how to answer. My husband has a difficult job, where his character is consistently tested. He has learned to respond instead of react. The difference? Thinking before you speak.

The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.” Proverbs 15:28

In the book of Matthew, Jesus says that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. It’s not always as simple as thinking before we speak. Sometimes it’s a heart issue. Here is my prayer:

Psalms 19:14

Do you have trouble reigning in your tongue? Try to remember to pray and think before you speak. Then respond, don’t react.
Teresa

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