7 Things: October 2017

1. Looking

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I’m basically 10 pounds lighter than last month’s photo. That’s what’s up. Thanks, Weight Watchers!

2. Watching

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3. Listening

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Saw Fleet Foxes for the first time in six years this week and now their albums are on repeat.

4. Reading

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5. Studying

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and Psalms

6. Learning

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Learning about myself, God, and others through this book. I highly recommend it.

7. Anticipating

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I teach at Kindred this month!

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My Anthem: Hidden

I was thinking how interesting that there is some art that has the ability to pierce my soul and cause me to worship our Creator. That while no words or anything I could ever create could ever explain or worship God in how He deserves, there’s instances where some words, some songs, come close — well, at least they lead me to a place of worship.

My Anthem

“Hidden” by United Pursuit, featuring Will Reagan, is currently my anthem. It has pierced my soul. It stops me in my mundane activities and causes me to worship my Savior King. I have kept this song on repeat because I so desperately need to be reminded of it’s truth.

I pray it pierces your soul too. 

There was one when I was young
Who knew my heart
He knew my sorrow
He held my hand
And he lead me to trust Him

Now I am hidden
In the safety of your love
I trust your heart and your intentions
Trust you completely
I’m listening intently
You’ll guide me through these many shadows

As I grow
And as I change
May I love you more deeply
I will lean upon your grace
I will reap because your goodness is unending

You are my vision
My reason for living
Your kindness leads me to repentance
I can’t explain it
This sweet assurance
But I’ve never known this kind of Friend
I can’t explain it
This sweet assurance
But I’ve never known this kind of Friend

The sun, moon, and stars
Shout your name
They give you reverence
And I will do the same
With all my heart I give you glory
The sun, moon, and stars
Shout your name
They give you reverence
And I will do the same
With all my heart I give you glory

I want to seek you first
I want to love you more
I want to give you the honor you deserve
So I bow before you
I am overcome by the beauty of this perfect love

I want to seek you first
I want to love you more
I want to give you the honor you deserve
So I bow before you
I am overcome by the beauty of this perfect love

Now I am hidden
In the safety of your love
I trust your heart and your intentions
Trust you completely
I’m listening intently
You’ll guide me through these many shadows

Now I am hidden
In the safety of your love
I trust your heart and your intentions
Trust you completely
I’m listening intently
You’ll guide me through these many shadows

Hearing the Call of God is Not About You

“The call of God is not the echo of my nature; my affinities and personal temperament are not considered. As long as I consider personal temperament and think about what I am fitted for I shall never hear the call of God.” – Oswald Chambers

This quote by theologian Oswald Chambers is powerful as it is humbling. How many times have I thought about my life and following God in terms of what I can do? What I can bring to the table? I somehow turn God’s Kingdom into something about me.

Yet, it’s not about me. Sometimes God calls us to do something that we’re not gifted or talented in because it gives more glory to God. Why? Because we are stepping out in faith and obedience when we do something new and different. Yes, it may be easier to do something when you’re talented in it, but it’s much harder if you’re not talented and still do it.

It shows a deep level of faith when we attempt to do our impossible. We have to trust that God is going to show up and help us. It forces us to be dependent and obedient at every step because we have no idea what we are doing.

What Am I Fitted For?

I am not discounting that God doesn’t equip us (Hebrews 13:21; 2 Timothy 3:17) or give us gifts (1 Cor. 7:7) to use for His Kingdom. This is all true. But when we begin to rely on our gifting (whether or not they are from God) more than Him, we are in trouble. It becomes about us. About what we can do. What we can build.

And then we begin to assess the ministries in our lives in terms of what I can offer. “Well, I am shy and introverted, so I cannot teach in front of big crowds. Yes, I have this gift of teaching, but it should be used in this area of my life only and only when I feel comfortable.”

That quote is literally what I have been saying the past month.

Yet Oswald and Scripture has humbled and convicted me. I have been placing too much emphasis on me and less on what God can do through me.

 

What is My Personal Temperament?

I have also learned that my perfectionism and desire for personal peace gets in the way of God’s calling. I want to do it the best or I won’t do it at all. I want to know all the things before I commit to something because I want to do it well, I want to control, and I want an excuse to back out. That’s my sin. That’s my excuses. And that’s me ignoring God’s call.

God has gifted and equipped me for many good works, but when I concentrate on those giftings I don’t see God. I instead see my own failings and unworthiness and pitiful gifts before the King and it causes me to retreat.

Yet, Consider This…

So, if you’re feeling like God is asking you to do the impossible and you think you’re not worthy, consider how much you are looking at yourself instead of your Creator. If you think you’re burnt out because you’re doing all of the things, consider how much you’re doing in your own power and your own talents than relying fully on God. And know that God may call you to do something that may seem contrary to what you’re gifted in, but remember it’s His Plan, His Kingdom, and He knows what He is doing, so just trust and follow Him.

Easier said than done, I know – but the hard things are worth doing.

Losing Weight is More Than Just Pounds

Over two years ago I started this movement toward health. I called it #Fitby30 (you can see other postings on that here). I started this at 29 because I wanted to be fit by the age 30; yet, now as I look toward 32, at the same weight I started with at 28, I’ve learned quite a few things.

What I’ve learned most is that losing weight is a spiritual process.

Spiritual Process – wha-what?

As a Christian, I believe that God created me whole – my body, mind, and soul are all one. I cannot separate the body and soul, though I have tried! I would tell God, “All right, help me lose weight, but let’s not touch my emotional weight I am carrying.” It wasn’t until I started seeing them as the same thing that I began to realize that God was answering my prayer to heal my body, but it wasn’t in the way I thought.

He cares more about the interior than the exterior; although, friends, the exterior can also reflect your interior. So, if you’re a mess on the outside there’s a good chance you’re a mess on the inside. And the mess is okay! The mess shows our desperate need for God. The problem is if you allow the mess to build and act as a barrier between you and God.

There are also people who are incredibly messy on the inside and who are put together on the outside. They still need Jesus as much as I do and the outward perfection is their barrier.

Basically, we all need Jesus.

So, Where Am I Now?

So here I am nearly 32 and finally accepting the good work God is doing in me. I am celebrating that I am a mess and that God is helping me clean it up. I am celebrating that while the last two years have been a battle and I have may have lost some, God has also given me many victories. So, that’s why I wanted to mark this year with a photo.

Before Photos Are Tricky

There’s this big movement to do a before and after photo that seems to show the before image one as depressed, slouchy, unhappy, and most importantly, captured with a poor quality camera. And then the after photo is the complete opposite of that.

I get why we do it. I do. I really do. For one thing, we want to motivate others and even ourselves. We want to show the extent of change we may (or may not) have experienced.

But I’m not about that.

I want to honor God and celebrate the body that God has given me now. I want to confidently proclaim that I am beautiful and worthy at this moment.

Do I still have more weight to lose? Of course. Yet my weight loss does not change how I feel about myself — I am fearfully and wonderfully made; I am created in the image of God; and I am the King’s Daughter who is deeply loved and chosen.

Weight loss or gain does not take that away from me.

So to celebrate the work He has done in me and to celebrate the work He will do, I took some before photos.

My Before Photos

I am sure you just scrolled down to this section to see these awesome photos by Heather Love. Yes, a big shout-out to Heather Allison Love Photography for taking these photos for me.

Yes, the bottom right photo is my Valkyrie/Body-Builder Friend Lisa shot.

And lastly, I am posting this shot below because it comprises some of my least favorite parts of my body. And yet still, I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

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7 Things: September 2017

1. Looking

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2. Watching

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Re-watching some favorite GOT episodes before I cancel my HBO subscription until 2019 (the last season of GOT).

3. Listening

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4. Reading

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5. Studying

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6. Learning

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I’m on my third official week of WW. I am learning a lot about food, my emotional eating habits, and how I lack self-control. Good times.

7. Anticipating

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My church’s Women’s Ministry event! If you’re a woman in the Chicago area, please join me.

7 Things: August 2017

1. Looking

My friend came in to take photos of my staff and she captured this one of me doing my thing – yes, looking at a computer and drinking coffee.

2. Watching

3. Listening

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4. Reading

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5. Sharing

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My IG friend Laurie Heath is creating art as she reads through the Bible. It’s awesome! Follow her on IG and check out her prints!

6. Learning

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I finally learned how to sync all of my Scrivener apps/computers to write anytime, anywhere. I am now at 49,000 words! I think the goal of first draft by December 4 may happen.

7. Anticipating

 

My trip to Scotland. Sure, it’s not until the end of November, but look at all the places I will see!!!

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It’s 2003 and I’m Dreaming

While cleaning my apartment I started singing an old Damien Rice song from his album O. I then decided to put it on and sing to it while cleaning and I had a sudden flashback to when I was 17/18 in my room at my parent’s house.

I had an entire wall dedicated to posters, ticket stubs, band advertisements, and wristbands from past shows collaged onto the wall. And this wall went ridiculously high as it was in the center of the house where the two sides of the roof met. I had a hard time getting to the top of it, but thankfully my dad was a general contractor and he had access to the tallest ladders.

I remember laying on my bed with my feet against the wall looking at the posters dreaming of my future. I had a boyfriend then who was in a band, so obviously he was going to be successful and I would get to go on a tour with him and see the world. Get away from California. Get away from the depression that marked my life. Escape. You know, the usual dream of a high school punk.

What I find most surprising about this flashback is how different my life is compared to then and what I thought it would look like.

My 17-year-old self would have never dreamed she would be living in a flat in Chicago. Ever. And not only that, but as a Christian missionary.

It’s amazing to see what God has done in my life and what He continues to do. He surprises me every day and I am so incredibly grateful that He came into my life and showed me better a dream.

Take Courage; A hymn by someone who doesn’t write hymns

I am doing a daily devotion on American Hymns by She Reads Truth  and it’s inspiring me to write my own hymns. I figured I would share one. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to write music or else I would share with you the tune . So, I recommend finding your own tune if you’d like to sing along.

It’s been a great discipline of writing my own words of worship, taking my favorite Scripture (see below for what I am referencing), and worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth.

Take Courage

Let your heart take courage
Let your heart take courage
Let your heart take courage in the Lord

Let your soul find rest
Let your soul find rest
Let your soul find rest in the Lord

And all will be well
When the Son returns
Coming in the clouds of heaven

And all will be well
When the Son returns
Coming like a thief at night

There will be no tears
There will be no mourning
There will be no pain
in Him

And all will be well
When Christ, Messiah returns
When promises delivered
When prophecies fulfilled

So let your heart take courage
Let your soul find rest
All will be well
All will be well
In Him

Song inspired by Psalm 27:14; Psalm 62:5; Revelation 21:4; Revelation 1:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:2

7 Things: July 2017

1. Looking

2. Watching

3. Listening

4. Reading

5. Sharing

I LOVED this movie. I recommend a watch 🙂

6. Learning

Learning about American hymns from She Reads Truth and I am loving it! It already inspired me to write out a song this morning 🙂

7. Anticipating