Sunday, August 30, 2009

Walk for Life Update: "At Least..."

It’s time for my first “Walk for Life” update!!

Last week, I posted a blog asking for your support in the Walk for Life on September 19th. In that blog, I asked for pledges of both the financial and prayerful kind. Since then, I have had ten people (including myself) officially confirm their pledges (their funds and/or their prayers). THANK YOU SO VERY VERY MUCH to those of you who responded so quickly and are generously and graciously pledging from your hearts!! Praise God for you!!! There will be lives helped/saved because of YOU!!! Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus!!!

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I raised over $2,000 dollars in 2007 and had the support of over half of the 50 states!! I would like to meet or beat that this year!! However, I know that the economy is really taking a hit right now, so I am hoping to at least raise a minimum of $1,000. Right now, I’m a little over 25% of the way there. While I am really happy about that, I am hoping that the outpouring will begin to increase. As I mentioned before, if everyone reading this would pledge AT LEAST FIVE DOLLARS I would meet or beat my goal!! I blog on several different sites (and have sent my first blog out via e-mail as well). Yet, there are only nine other names next to mine on my pledge form (and all of them are women too!). Yep, that’s right! All of my pledgers are WOMEN!! WAY TO GO LADIES!!! WAY TO STEP UP!!! Though, it would be nice to have some MEN leading the way, wouldn’t it girls? After all, they are a part of this circle of life too! We may be the ones that give birth to life, but God allows them to be part of that creative process too (and every man has a Mama after all lol!). So, here’s your cue, guys!! Take your place!! Lead!! Step up!! Defend, protect, and sound the battle cry for life!!! Let’s hear from YOU!!! (Maybe I should make a “guys vs. girls” leader board! Would that help? I think I’ll do that! The male pride won’t stand for being outdone by girls will it?? LOL).

I’m hoping and praying that I will hear from more of my life-loving, God-fearing family and friends! I know there are PLENTY of you out there that profess your faith and your passion for others and so I am expecting to see that faith in action!! ;) I know that you guys can AT LEAST PRAY and probably AT LEAST pledge FIVE DOLLARS!! I don’t think that’s asking too much, do you? There are probably a lot of you that spend just that much on breakfast at McDonald’s in the morning every now and then. It’s pocket change! Can you sacrifice one coffee and a McMuffin in order to help save the lives of women and children?

Ok, not trying to make you all feel guilty - I just want you to think a little. We are all SO BLESSED in America!! I’m hoping that as we realize that, we will be willing to share what wealth we have with the least of these (Matthew 25:40). Will you please consider helping? All you have to do is contact me and tell me your name and address and how much you want to pledge. I will write it down on my form (only myself and the Hope Clinic will see this information) and the clinic will send you a letter AFTER THE WALK to collect the money. So, pledge now and pay later!! The walk isn’t until September 19th, so I think that gives everyone plenty of time to save AT LEAST FIVE BUCKS!!!! But, if the money really is an issue right now, no problem! Would you AT LEAST consider pledging your daily prayers? (Please, see previous blog for prayer suggestions for each day of the week). PLEASE?!

I have also made it easier for you to contact me too!! I have set up an e-mail account specifically for this walk. You can contact me at melissawalksforlife@gmail.com

So, that settles it!! You know what to do and you know how to contact me!! No more excuses!! ;) I’m expecting LOTS of people to step up now (and not just the women either!! COME ON GUYS!!!). I want to hear from people all around the country!! Blow me away and bless this Crisis Pregnancy Center with the outpouring of your compassion and love!! Please, just FIVE DOLLARS at least? If anything, AT LEAST your prayers??? And this isn’t for ME, it’s for the women and babies that are walking through those clinic doors; desperate for help, love, compassion, and wisdom. Are they worth FIVE BUCKS to you? Are they worth your prayers? Can you put a price on LIFE? Think about it…..

In the coming days and weeks, I will keep you updated on how things are going. I will post the “leader boards” each time (though I will keep the exact dollar amounts pledged secret until the very end because I don’t want to deter people from continuing to give once I reach my goal!! I want the pledges to keep coming!!). ;)

Thank you, everyone, for reading!! I pray that God will stir your heart to action!! Grace and peace to all of you!!! God bless you!!


Financial Pledges

1. Indiana
2. Ohio and South Carolina

Prayer Pledges

1. Indiana (7)
2. South Carolina (1)

8 Prayer Warriors!

Men Vs. Women

Men = No pledges/No prayer warriors :(

Women = Leading in pledges and prayers!! (8 prayer warriors!)

THE WOMEN ARE LEADING!!


Participating States 3/50


Indiana
Ohio
South Carolina

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Need Your Help

Today is August 22, 2009. While that date may not mean anything in particular to anyone, I know at least two people who celebrated a birthday today (happy birthday to my friends Jen and Brian!!). So, truly, this day IS a special day! In fact, EVERY DAY is special and significant because it’s another day that we are blessed with; another day to live, breathe, and enjoy life!!

Life - what a gift!! My two friends are celebrating the many years of life they have had on this earth thus far. They are alive today because God created them with a purpose and their mothers lovingly birthed them into this world.

That is why I am blogging today; to ask you all if you will help make it possible for everyone to have a chance at life. Two years ago, I participated in my first Walk for Life which benefited The Hope Clinic in Berne. Once again, they are having their bi-annual walk and I am eager and ready to be a part of it!!

In 2007, so many of you blessed The Hope Clinic with your prayers and donations. All total, they collected over $20,000! Praise God! And, $2,860 of it came from my family, friends, and perfect strangers who graciously donated after I posted about the walk in my blog!! Thank you!!

I am now hoping and praying that what was raised in 2007 can be matched and surpassed!! Of course, I will need the generous help of all of you!! Some of you might remember that I had people in over half of the 50 states (plus Canada and Washington D.C.) who pledged their prayers and their pledges. You also might recall that while my home state, Indiana, had the most people pledging to pray (10 in my state - 41 overall) we were beat by a landslide in the financial pledges by (ironically) the liberal and pro-choice state of New York. New York gave a total of $2,000 while the givers in Indiana came in second with $425.00 and ironically (again) the highest givers sandwiching us between 1st and 3rd place was California and Washington D.C. (both gave $100.00). While it’s very encouraging to see that we still have wonderful and loving pro-life givers in these typical liberal/pro-choice states, I am hoping that my state (as well as the rest of the states) will give even more this year and show just how solidly pro-life and supportive they are!!

Alright, people. NOW is the time to pledge!! I KNOW that money is tight (believe me, I KNOW!) but there is no better time to give!! Why? Because in an economy like this, more and more women and babies are in danger! Organizations like Planned Parenthood push for more profits off of death during times like these by encouraging scared women to rid themselves of a “burden” during uncertain times. We must prevent these women from being taken advantage of by the abortion industry!! We must be there for them and show them that LIFE is still the best option!!

So, how will your pledges do this? All the money that The Hope Clinic raises goes to offer care and support to women in need through: pregnancy testing and ultrasound verification, education on options beyond abortion, client education in regard to sexual integrity and STD’s, Baby Bucks incentive program, maternity and infant clothing loan program, free diaper program (income based), and the Tender Mercies post-abortion recovery program. They also provide community referrals and volunteer peer counseling.

Additionally, The Hope Clinic has just opened a sister clinic in the northern part of the county!! Praise God! TWICE the opportunity to help women in the county and surrounding area!! Isn’t that GREAT?!!

Ok, now for the meat and potatoes of this blog. Just like my simple “Will You Help?” request from two years ago, I am once again asking for your help and support. All you have to do is contact me and let me know how much you want to pledge. I DO NOT COLLECT THE MONEY!! All I do is write down your name, address, and amount on my pledge form (and NO ONE else but me and The Hope Clinic will see or share your private information). Then, The Hope Clinic will send you a letter to collect your pledged amount AFTER THE WALK (which is on September 19th). So, pledge now and pay later (by the way, it’s tax deductible)! This gives you more than enough time to save some money back if you need to. Any amount will help!! In 2007, I had people pledge all kinds of amounts; anywhere from $5 to $500 or more. I have a few hundred people (including my e-mail contacts) that will read this. If everyone who reads this pledged just FIVE DOLLARS, I would raise well over $1,000 (though if you want to pledge even more, that’s GREAT!!). C’mon! Is FIVE DOLLARS doable for everyone?? Look at your hand and those FIVE fingers. Those FIVE fingers were once no bigger than the palm of your hand! That’s right, go on…..look at your hand. Imagine a tiny little baby’s hand (or your own child’s hand) in yours, with those five tiny fingers. How much will you give for that little one? Or, maybe you want to give ten; one dollar for the fingers on both hands. Or, maybe twenty; for all of his/her fingers and toes. Every life is precious and priceless. How much are you willing to invest?

I look forward to hearing from all of you in regards to your beautiful and sacrificial gifts of pledges and prayers on behalf of the mothers and babies who need you!! I will also keep you updated on how many states are pledging their dollars and prayers. Additionally, if you have material goods (like baby blankets, diapers, etc.) that you want to donate (or if you would like to join me in Walking/Fundraising) let me know!!

If you pledge your prayers, here are the areas of prayer that I encourage you to pray for in the weeks leading up to the Walk (and hopefully, continuing afterwards). Prayer is the most effective tool we have! After all, as I heard at a pro-life rally, ‘The goal isn’t to make abortion illegal, but unthinkable.’ We do this through prayer and by being there to support and educate others about the sanctity of life and helping them recover in the event that they have regretfully made a mistake. There is no condemnation or judgment; only information, love, comfort, and healing (I know many women who have gone through this; love, compassion, and understanding is what they need most of!). Let’s pray for one another and pray for changes of heart towards abortion. Then, we will truly see abortion abort itself as people begin to respect the lives of themselves and others! Grace and peace to you all! God bless you!!

Day by Day Prayer Suggestions (if you are prayer pledging)

Sunday

Pray for the hearts of this nation and that God would soften every heart; opening everyone’s eyes to the evil of abortion (and the lies that are used to enforce it). Pray that there would be a passion stirred within every heart to stand together to protect and defend human life! A lot of people who support the pro-choice/pro-death agenda are just ignorant, deceived, and don’t know any better. They really don’t know what they are doing and it’s not “people” that we are wrestling with, but the evil spirits at work.

Ephesians 6:12 - 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.

Genesis 1:27 - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.



Monday

Pray for Planned Parenthood and abortion providers everywhere! Pray for the patients who walk into their doors; and for their workers (and so-called “doctors”) who perform the abortions. Pray that God’s conviction would rain down on them and that their eyes would be opened and that they would have a change of heart/mind and repent. Pray that government funding would be stripped away and that as more people realize their agenda, the clinics would be put out of business. Pray also that the truth about abortion and awareness would spread and that the media would stop hiding the tragic facts about abortion.

Isaiah 46:3-4 Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.


Tuesday

Pray for the healing of women who have had abortions (as well as the healing of the men who will never know their children, the children that will never know their siblings, and the grandparents that will never know their grandchildren). Pray that they will know God’s healing and forgiveness. Abortion takes its toll physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Pray for understanding and compassion and how you can offer it to a hurting person who has gone through the emotional turmoil of abortion.

Isaiah 49:5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;


Wednesday

Pray for Crisis Pregnancy Centers everywhere and that they would have the funds and the volunteers that they need to keep them running. Pray that more women will seek them out first rather than seeking an abortion. Ask God to move their hearts towards life rather than death. Pray also for the effectiveness of things like the monthly call for life, prayer vigils, etc. and that hearts would be softened and changed.

Psalm 139:13-16 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Thursday

Pray for our elected officials. Pray that God would strengthen and encourage the ones that are standing for life and values and that He would convict and change the ones who do not. Pray that God would move people to vote for solid pro-life candidates that will value and protect human life.

Psalm 119:73 Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn thy commandments.

Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:


Friday

Pray for a spirit of adoption to move in the hearts of people. Pray that those facing the decision will choose life for their pre-born babies and also that there would be more people who willing and able to adopt. Additionally, pray for the women (especially the struggling single Moms) who are keeping their babies and are working hard to provide for themselves and their children.

Job 10:8-12 Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round about; yet thou dost destroy me. Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again? Hast thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted me life and favor, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.


Saturday

Pray for an end to abortion. Pray this little prayer written by Lou Engle (and please check out this website for more information on “Bound for Life“ http://bound4life.com/) : “Jesus, I plead your Blood over my sins and the sins of my nation. God, end abortion and send revival to America.”

Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lessons from the Purse Party

It’s funny how you can learn lessons from things that you never expected would have a lesson in it. Such is the case with me as I reflected on some of the things God stirred in my heart yesterday (regarding the purse party I had).

Those that know me realize that hosting a party is not easy for me (even though I LOVE to do it!). Space is my only obstacle. How I would love to be blessed with more space so I could open up my home more often to entertain and welcome others in for fellowship! Though, despite my lack of room, I decided to host one anyways. I was at my friend Jama’s purse party a few months ago, so booking one of my own added to the benefits she got as a hostess. Even though I couldn’t believe I was agreeing to do it (knowing that I would have to clean up my clutter at home lol) I booked one. Yeah, that’s a real motivator isn’t it?!

I had been getting ready all week! I had to plan what kind of foods to prepare as well as endure cold-like symptoms while dusting/cleaning/organizing my house. Despite my allergies, I thought it would be worth it just to be able to have people over (as well as see the hard surface of my computer desk for the first time in I don’t know how long!). Not only does the house look better, but I had a great day with lots of great people too (below is a picture of Jeni, Maggie, and myself...as well as the purse I picked out at the party)!



Throughout the week, several verses came to mind. One being this verse from Philippians 2:3: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” I know this verse, in its context, doesn’t fully apply in the sense that I was thinking it, but in some ways it does. When you have people over, you want your place to look nice for them so that they can feel welcomed and comfortable. Even though your own “mess” is tolerable and comfortable to you, you want better for your guests. So, you make every effort to “esteem others better than yourselves” by honoring them with a clean home. Caring means offering your best to others. We even managed to finally replace the cracked/chipped toilet seat that we have been “tolerating” for I don’t know how long lol. Can any of you relate to this? Maybe some of it is “vainglory” (because we all want our homes to look nice anyways) but for the most part, I think it’s because in examples like this, we really do want to honor our friends and guests.

Another thing that came to my mind was the story of Mary and Martha and how Martha complained to Jesus that Mary wasn’t helping her with all the tasks she had of serving everyone in her home. Instead, Mary had chosen to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words. Jesus told Martha that she worried about many things, but that only ONE THING WAS NEEDED and Mary had chosen what was better (Luke 10:38-42). What was that one thing? It was fellowship with Jesus! Jesus said in Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 that He didn’t come to BE SERVED but TO SERVE and to give His life as a ransom for many. He was more concerned about serving and giving Himself to the people than He was being served Himself. No doubt He appreciated Martha’s efforts in being a servant, but He showed her that fellowship came first. After all, don’t we have more of ourselves to offer in servanthood after spending time in the presence of Jesus?

Now that the busy week/weekend is over, I have had a lot to reflect on. Have I been more of a Mary or a Martha? I have had lots of fellowship, but I also spent a lot of time being Martha; preparing. Not that preparation isn’t good and necessary, but I don’t ever want that to outweigh the very reason for which the preparations are made to begin with. My aim was to be able to have a fun get-together where I could welcome others into my home and have a good time. I didn’t want to spend too much time concerned with the house or food preparations that I missed the true treasure.

I wonder how balanced I have actually been. Have there been any missed opportunities in the midst of my “Martha” moments? It kind of makes me think of my Grandma (though I mean no disrespect to her at all). She always prepares so much that she misses out on actually BEING with people. In her effort to serve everyone, she misses out on serving people in the biggest way: with her presence. I can’t tell you how many times we have missed out on actual time with her because she was busy preparing food, wrapping Christmas gifts, etc. for the people she loved rather than BEING with the people she loved. If she truly understood that we valued her more than we did her perfect wrapping jobs, amazingly savory foods, fruit tray arrangements, etc. maybe she would care a lot less about making everything “perfect” (though, it’s not like we don’t appreciate all she does for us). It’s the perfect illustration of the Mary/Martha concept. What Martha did was great; she was serving and ministering to others. But what Mary chose was even better. Food will be consumed today and gone tomorrow, but the benefits of fellowship last MUCH longer!!

One last thing that I thought of was how those invited compared to those who came was also a factor. I have run into this before (like with the kids’ birthday parties). You have a big reason to celebrate and you want others to share in your joy. So, you invite people to be with you and some accept the invitation and some don’t. You don’t want to celebrate alone, so you just keep inviting others so you have a full house (as in this parable in Luke 14:15-23). You wonder to yourself why more people don’t choose to come (aside from legitimate reasons like illness, emergencies, other time commitments, etc.). Don’t they know what all is store for them if they do come? Don’t they know that you want to delight in fellowship with them? I invited LOTS of people, but only a few came. I thought to myself, “Not to be arrogant, Lord, but why didn’t they choose me?” Instantly, it was like God was saying, “Now you know how it feels. Why won’t people choose ME?” I understood so deeply what He’s saying. Like Him, we long to be chosen and to feel like we matter. We vie for attention and for other peoples’ time and we don’t always get it. That’s why God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). Why should He have to compete with other “gods” of ours? What can they give us? They are inferior! They cannot satisfy! So why do we give our time and worship to these things? Why do we often forget and find it difficult to give to God that which is due Him? Isn’t He worthy of our time, praise, and worship? It is HE who created and made us and HE who chose US, not the other way around (John 15:16). He purposed us and destined us for good things (Ephesians 2:10). Why do we look for worth and fulfillment in anything else other than Him who KNOWS us and formed us (Psalm 139:13)? If only we would realize the true treasure that He is and stop going to our pathetic and broken cisterns (Jeremiah 2:13).

Overall, I think having the party was a blessing. It provided some much needed motivation for me to be productive in cleaning my home; not only for others but for my husband and kids (clutter is one of Mitch’s pet peeves!). And, the fellowship and teamwork that Mitch and I got to experience together in accomplishing all our tasks was good medicine for us. However, I also think I missed the mark in a lot of areas. So often, these words from Hosea 6:6 come to my mind: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Sometimes in wearing ourselves out in servanthood and sacrifice, we miss out on the “Mary” opportunities - the things that are “better” and will do the most good. Twice this week, I missed out on visiting with a neighbor that I had gotten to know on my runs. He’s an elderly man that sits out in his garage and watches people and traffic go by. One day, I finally decided to introduce myself and get to know him. He’s a nice guy (when he’s not making racist remarks that is). Maybe it meant something for me to actually stop and sit with him a while rather than just smile, wave, and acknowledge him (not that that isn’t good too, but quality time is better). I had been so “busy” just trying to fit in my running time and get home so I could keep “preparing” for the week that I missed two occasions in which I could have (and likely should have) visited with him. That, my friends, is a classic example of the desired mercy over sacrifice. Compassion and quality time outweighs everything else I needed to be doing (that is, finishing my run in a timely manner, and getting home to do everything else I had to do). I regret that I didn’t take even a few minutes to stop and visit with him, even if I couldn’t have stayed long. Instead, I opted not to be interrupted in my workout time so I could keep my heart rate up, burn the calories, and then get home and work some more in order to “serve others” later.

That wasn’t my only blunder either. In spite of knowing that I needed to be vigilant and take it easy when it came to the food at the party, I know that I focused too much on it and I ate more than I should have as well (and I KNOW better - especially on the day before my weekly weigh-in!). Most of the food was “good” food; that is, veggies, fruit, and the veggie pizza I made (thanks, Nancy, for that recipe!) but there was also cake and punch. Even though I had more of the first few foods than I did the cake, I still had more than I should have. It caused me a 1.4 pound gain on my weigh-in today. Not good, but not as bad as it could have been. I still do great about exercising consistently, but all that sweat is nearly wasted when I throw in the towel on my eating and disappoint myself (and God) with my lack of self-control. I need to be a better example than this! (Here are some pictures; including the cool purse cake that my step-Mom made. I didn't attempt to make it because when I made one for Jama's party, it looked like a taco! LOL And yes, some of the food is on my washer and dryer because that's all the counter space I have - yep, the washer and dryer is IN the kitchen!)




Well, there have been many lessons learned….and all because I booked a purse party lol!! I never would have thought it!! It just goes to show that anything can be a teachable moment!! I’m thankful for these things God has showed me, even the stuff that was unpleasant and broke my heart (though, my heart needs to be broken if I’m going to have any kind of change and do better next time).

Grace and peace to all of you!! May you all live as “Marys” and be filled with mercy and compassion for others as you fellowship with one another!! Remember, choose Christ! Choose fellowship with Him, and with others! Fellowship builds relationships, and through those relationships, you can learn to be a better servant! Put fellowship first!! God bless you all!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

"He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease"

This is a personal weigh-loss update. Typically, I post them exclusively on spark, but today I felt led to share it on all my blogs. I pray it blesses someone! And, if you want to join spark, my screen name is melissaforlife. Enter that as the referral when you sign up for FREE (that way, you'll be added to my friends list automatically)!! God bless you!!

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I am now 194.8 which is a loss of 3.4 pounds this week!! All glory to God!! Not that I am surprised, but I am just beyond thrilled (and relieved) that I am having this success since starting "The Lord's Table" course (You can take the course for FREE if you want: www.settingcaptivesfree.com).

Even though I had made Christ my goal in this journey when I started sparkpeople.com back in 2007, I didn't experience the true depth and fullness of Christ that it takes to truly overcome my overeating and sinful gluttony. I didn't have the brokenness over it yet. Guilt, sure, but it's not always the same as godly sorrow. It's more of our own self-pity. Self-pity isn't what leads you to repentance and change of heart. It's knowing that you break God's heart that motivates you to forsake your ways. Sometimes, you even have to pray for a broken heart (as hard and undesirable as that sounds). Though, as our church counselor once said, "When we're broken, we're teachable." Indeed!! I am learning so much!!

I went back through my weigh-ins on spark and it looks like on this day last year, I weighed 195. Prior to that, I had weighed even less and had gotten within 28 pounds of my 150 lb. weight goal (I was 178). Then, I made a lot of mistakes and I allowed myself to put weight back on. I lived in denial about how out-of-control I was getting again and had all sorts of excuses. I woke up to just how ridiculous I had gotten when I found myself at 207 several months ago. It was detestable to me!! Not too much more and I would have been back to where I started!

For months I have yo-yoed up and down; having combinations of successes and failures. It wasn't until I started "The Lord's Table" that everything became clearer to me. The depth of the teaching in each lesson has truly changed my heart and outlook on this whole journey and helped me to truly focus on Christ more than ever!! It has been my biggest breakthrough ever, and now I am more certain that before that I will get to (and maintain) my goal weight!! I am so grateful to Jesus for all He has done for me, and all He will continue to do!!

I am beyond hopeful that I will not only get to goal, but that I will walk in freedom. I had always thought that even when I got to goal, I would struggle for the rest of my life just trying to battle binge impulses, cravings, etc. Now, I don't fear that anymore. Through the Holy Spirit, I am experiencing freedom and self-control and the more I walk in that, the better it gets. I know that I will have days where I do mess up, but they are getting fewer and fewer as I make freedom my new habit. ;)

I am looking forward to the many more things I will learn in this course and am hoping that the lessons will stick with me for life!! :) I am excited about getting to goal and being the kind of example that I should; and reflecting the glory of God through obedience!! I pray that my desire for Him will grow and my desire for food (and anything else that gets in the way) will continue to lessen and disappear.

It's all summed up in this: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Isn't that the whole principle in a nutshell? The MORE we are fulfilled in Christ, the LESS we are full of ourselves. Hence, the LESS of ourselves that there will be. Christ melts away the sin (fat) on my body. There will be less of me because there is MORE of Him!! Amen!!

Grace and peace to all of you!! God bless you all!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm Modeling In A Charity Fashion Show!

As evidenced by the title, I will be modeling in a charity fashion show for the Salvation Army on September 12th! Hence, it is my job to invite and recruit people to come and support this great cause! The cost is $25.00 per ticket or $200 for a table of eight. This admission cost grants you entry to the preview, luncheon, fashion show, and silent auction. All of the proceeds fund the Salvation Army programs that aid needy families in the community. They do MUCH MORE than just ring bells for spare change at Christmastime! They also serve the community through youth programs, tools for schools, community care, emergency disaster services, and much more! To see a list and description of what your dollars would be funding, please click here.

My dear friend, Jama, is in charge of this event and she never disappoints!! This won’t only be a great night to raise funds for those in need, but it will be a fun night that you’ll be sure to enjoy!! Contact Jama via the Fort Wayne Fashion page in order to purchase tickets (and be sure to check out the pictures of me and my fellow friends/models!). And, when you send in payment for your tickets, be sure to mention me on the referral form that‘s included!! ;) Thank you so very much!! I appreciate your support!! Hope to see you at the show!!

In the meantime (just for fun) check out this list of “Fashion Fiascos” that my friend (Amy) and I conjured up (Jama, I hope I made you proud lol!!). We made this list after Amy posted a few blogs about her pet peeve fashion faux pas. We originally collaborated to bring you a “Top Ten” list of “Fashion Fiascos” but ended up with 15 because there are just SO MANY!! ;) Anyways, we hope that you’re in good humor because chances are, you have “been there done that” (or ARE doing it lol). This is only done for a laugh and is in no way meant to be mean-spirited or judgmental. After all, who doesn’t look back on fashions past and present and say, “What was I thinking?” It can be hilariously funny, as well as a learning experience! He he. Feel free to share your own fashion "pet peeves" and enjoy the blog!

TOP 15 FASHION FIASCOS

#15. “Matchies”20(as my friend Jama calls it)

“Matchies” is a disease in which your “outfit” matches a little bit TOO MUCH. Amy cites the example of when someone wears too much denim; like a denim shirt with denim pants. Of course, it’s GREAT not to “clash” but “match” carefully. ;) LOL




#14. Crocs

Sure, they’re comfortable, but CLUNKY! They stand out like a sore thumb! Although, the one perk is that they are so outrageous that they won’t “match” with anything and so you will avoid “Matchies” disease (though “Clunky Crocs” disease is not much better!). ;)




#13. Humongous Belt Buckles (Guys)

It seems that ladies can rock out any kind of belt, or belt buckle. But for guys, nah, they just don’t have the knack! It’s just plain old tacky (especially when paired with tight Wrangler jeans! I don’t know what’s worse, those or Gloria Vanderbilt jeans - as explained in Amy’s blog LOL).


#12 Pleated Pants

(explanation on Amy’s blog).



#11 Over-Accessorizing

Some mistakenly acquire this disease after recovering from “Matchies” disease. In an attempt to learn how to mix it up and add some diversity to the wardrobe, they overcompensate and end up looking like a gypsy or Mr. T....which is great (if that’s your Halloween costume).



#10 Outdated Or Overdone Hair And Makeup

Now we are getting into the REALLY serious fashion boo boos! You would think that the huge hair or "Queen Amidala" hair, mullets, rat tails, and the like would be extinct right now but alas, they are alive and well. If I have to explain why this is sad, then you are probably sportin’ one of these styles right now!! Scissors were invented long ago. Scissors are your friend - say it with me - “Scissors are my friend.”


Also, overdone make-up (and even underdone make-up) is another no-no. Treat yourself to a makeover (or make-under) if you look like the walking dead or Mimi (from “The Drew Carey Show”).



#09. Time Warp Clothing

There are times when “vintage” clothing can look neat. However, that's only if you know how to pull it off and if the particular “style” works. For example, stirrup pants just don’t work (my friend, Saundra, told me about someone she knows with this obsession!). Though, the pants that were called “bell bottoms” are now “flare” jeans and THOSE work.


#08. Stripes And Polka Dots


Once again, we have something that can sometimes “work” (if you KNOW how to “work it”). Otherwise, it can be a total disaster and leave you looking like you either escaped from prison or the circus. Probably the worst of the worst are when these two patterns are huge (as in wide stripes - ESPECIALLY horizontal ones - and LARGE dots). Be very careful with these patterns! Otherwise, you might be mistaken for a referee, a lost zebra, or a circus clown!



#07. Orange Tans

Sometimes too much sun (or sun tanner) is just too much!! The Oompa Loompa look works for NO ONE (remember Anne Hathaway in "Bride Wars"? LOL).



#06. Fanny Packs

OH THE HORROR!! LOL Though, I think all of us are guilty of this one. Me, personally, I have had at least three in my lifetime (and one was neon! I thought it was totally awesome at the time lol). Though, all of those fanny packs died long ago and are no longer in my possession. They died with the decade they were made popular in. I understand that they can sometimes be very “convenient” (believe me, I have been tempted). However, I have recovered from fanny packitis. If you are wearing a fanny pack, you might as well be carrying a superman lunch box and wearing a propeller hat on your head as you skip down the lane. (Are you laughing, Cindy? You know I’m just having fun don’t you lol? I know you don‘t technically “wear“ yours!). Oh, and in case you don't notice right away, the last picture is also a nice example of #4 and #1 (which you will soon read about!). ;)



#05. Spandex And Tight Clothes

Ahem, enough said!


#04. “Muffin Tops” And “Tuckers”

This is classic as well as epidemic. I know we have all been guilty of these! I think everyone knows what a “Muffin Top” is. It’s the “my pants are too tight and my fat oozes over like a muffin top” look. Yeah, ew! This happens when you are in what Jama calls “size denial” (and can go along with fiasco #5). In addition to “muffin tops,” “tuckers” are the ones that almost always tuck in their shirts. Sometimes, it can look ok; but more often than not, it doesn’t.



#03. Granny Dusters aka "Mu Mus" (IN PUBLIC!!)

Ok, I won’t knock the granny dusters in the privacy of one’s own home. After all, some do prefer those kinds of “nighties” (if you want to call them that). But, you cross the line when you wear them IN PUBLIC!! It’s made doubly bad when it’s paired with the “curlers in your hair” look. WHY would anyone want to wear that out in public anyways? That’s like someone going shopping in a hospital gown or something! LOL There’s a time and place for those kinds of “nighties” and “gowns” but it’s in the privacy of one’s sleeping quarters. ;)





#02. No Support For “The Girls”

Sometimes this one can go along with the granny dusters. It must be another kind of disease where you think if you wear a granny duster, you don’t need a bra and “the girls” can just “hang low”(think Tyler Perry as "Madea"). Hang low? No, no, NO! There are PLENTY of great bras out there, ladies! There’s no reason why you have to trip over your ta tas!! (No picture here. I'll spare you the horror!).

AND NOW………THE #01 FASHION FIASCO IS………

#01. MOM JEANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s right, MOM JEANS!! No woman should EVER have to be subjected to jeans that make her butt look monstrous and totally screw up how she looks proportionately! Mom Jeans have that eerie way of making you look like you have all butt and breast and no middle (to guys, this might originally sound appealing, but when you actually see what I‘m talking about, I think you‘ll ultimately be appalled)! Maybe we can call that “the accordion look” where your upper body and lower body scrunch together (see SNL's Mom Jeans "commercial" lol).



So, there you have it!! That’s our top 15 “Fashion Fiascos”. I hope you had a good laugh (maybe even at yourself! I know I did! I’ve had LOTS of my own “Fashion Fiascos” in my time!). I also hope that it’s given you a new sense of “fun” when it comes to fashion. To Amy, me, and most girls (and sometimes guys), it’s creative expression. It’s like art. It’s fun to put a “look” together. Though, as you can see, be careful in your creativity or it won’t end up looking like a masterpiece! LOL If anyone spots someone that is doing all 15 of these no-nos at the same time, I would LOVE to see a picture of it!! LOL (Or, even if it's just most of the no-nos). Wouldn't that be a sight?! Beware of mullet men in spandex with tucked in denim shirts, as well as ladies in polka dotted granny dusters (with no “support”) with “matching” Crocs!! ;) Have a “fashionable” day everyone!! ;)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Grace: God's Stain Remover

Have you ever noticed how a stain often gets worse the more you try and clean it? Sometimes it smears, gets ground in, or become even uglier the more you try to clean it up. Even if you can manage to eradicate it, sometimes remnants still remain. You can still see the faint hues of a pasta sauce stain on a white shirt or a red juice spot on the carpet. The mistake lingers in that faint reminder; never fully erased.

I was having some quiet time; trying to pray and have time with the Lord. That’s when I noticed just how “quiet” things really were. It was then that I noticed the lid of Gianna’s plastic vanity seat in the bathroom and it had something all over it. At first, I thought it was Gianna’s hair and that she had found a way to give herself a trim. She was standing on the potty (hair intact) with a wad of toilet paper in her hand. She had colored all over her vanity seat with a black crayon and when she realized how permanent the marks were, she tried to clean it off with toilet paper (and it obviously didn’t work).

I was rather upset. Regrettably, I yelled at her (in fact, quite a bit today). This isn’t the first time she has destroyed something in some way or another (whether it be her own stuff or ours). Though, any other time, I have been able to get marks off the walls or washed off whatever she used to paint her body with (or just lived with the scribbles on some of my books). This time, however, it didn’t come off very well (it’s a little textured, so it was harder to clean). I managed to get most of the crayon marks off with some steel wool, but it is still stained. Unless I can find a better way to clean it, it will never be the way it was; perfectly pink and white. Same thing with all her underwear because even as I was typing this, she decided to poop her pants today! Also, during snack time, she spilled her food on the floor and stained the wall and tablecloth. So, naturally, I am at my “accident” limit today. I am very frustrated because whether they were purposeful or on accident, I am just fed up with the messes! Why does she do this?! Won’t she ever learn?!




It was in these examples, however, that I learned something myself. I was reminded of how years ago, one of our pastors had showed us the same lesson. He had a piece of paper on stage that looked like a thermometer with some black ink representing the sin in our lives bubbling up in that thermometer. He showed us how trying to clean it off ourselves smears it. We can’t purify ourselves. Only the blood of Christ can make us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). He removes the blackness and makes us completely clean and new by giving us a brand new heart (Psalm 51:10, Ezekiel 11:19). We aren‘t just a cleaned up old version of ourselves. We have been made brand new (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Praise God! Only Christ can do that! We cannot hide, clean up, or remove our own filth. When we do, it only makes it worse. We end up staining ourselves even more and leaving ourselves with more remnants of what our sins have done. This is why we NEED Christ! Only through Him are our stains removed and we are made new!

I know that like Gianna, we don’t always learn our lessons. Sometimes we make the same mistakes over and over again. Even after suffering the punishment and consequences of our actions we still return to our vomit (Proverbs 26:11, 2 Peter 2:22). Gianna has been punished, talked to, and I have taken her seat away from her (and told her she wouldn’t be coloring for a long time) and she has been sent to her room for a nap (she looks like a sweet, innocent, sleeping angel now lol). I forgive her; even knowing that she may possibly do it again someday. I still love her no matter what she does. I also asked her to forgive me for yelling at her and she very sweetly said she did. I don’t want to be angry at her and I want to be as forgiving and gracious to her as the Lord is to me.



In all of this I am all the more aware and amazed at God’s love, forgiveness, and patience! We all behave just as badly as children. We sin against our perfect Father in heaven and we don’t always learn from our mistakes. However, he loves us anyways and forgives us for our misdeeds. He even lovingly disciplines us and/or allows us to suffer the consequences of our actions so that we might repent and do better next time (Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6). He also removes our sins as far as the east is from the west and remembers them no more (Psalm 103:12, Isaiah 43:25, Jeremiah 31:34, Hebrews 8:12, Hebrews 10:17). That is beyond gracious! He’s far greater than any of us because who among us can always completely forget even if we learn to forgive? He is so AMAZING!

As frustrated as I have been with all of Gianna’s blunders today, it has also been a strange comfort to me. It was the teachable moment that I needed in order to better receive God’s grace for myself. That’s because yesterday, I really blew it with my eating. I have learned so much from “The Lord’s Table” course (and yesterday’s lesson was even about being vigilant and on guard) and yet I STILL screwed up!! Even as aware and determined as I was to be disciplined in my eating, I still strayed. I feel all the worse because I was aware (and even expected) that I would be faced with some difficult food choices yesterday and I STILL blew it - even after all the reading, praying, and spent time listening to/singing my favorite worship songs to God. It’s frustrating, upsetting, and shameful. Today, the scale reflected a 1.2 pound gain instead of the slight loss I was showing earlier in the week. It’s the obvious consequence of my actions and while I’m disappointed, I am not surprised. Nevertheless, it’s humiliating and it both saddens and sickens me.

That was when God showed me (and assured me) of His forgiveness and grace. As I cleaned up every mess today, God used them to remind me of how He completely cleans me and replaces that which I have destroyed by my own will. He truly forgives, loves, and restores me. I am truly beyond grateful! I really don’t deserve it - not one bit!! Yet, he repairs what I never could and releases me from my immense sin debt that I have accumulated in my lifetime and could never atone for or “clean up”. He takes my guilt and sorrow and uses it for good (Romans 8:28).

I’m glad that I am now more convicted over my food mishaps instead of regularly being so callused and indifferent about it. Gluttony is a sin that breaks His heart just like any other, and I’m glad that I’m finally truly disturbed by it to the point of tears and true remorse. I pray that He will continue breaking my heart as needed. It’s painful and unpleasant, but necessary. Like someone once told me, “When we’re broken we’re teachable.” God is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3, Isaiah 61:1).

Grace and peace to all of you! I pray that you will find the joy in repentance as the grace of God transforms you from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18)! May you experience the wonder of His love and forgiveness as He sets you free from (and erases) every stain and makes you new!! Jesus is the one and only stain remover! ;) Hallelujah! God bless you all!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Drink Up!! :)

Today, the lesson I read in “The Lord’s Table” talked about truly drinking of the Living Water and what it means. It’s beyond metaphorical and I thought I would share a little bit of what I read and learned today. Drink up!! ;)

***

“Drinking implies taking something into your system, and receiving nourishment and sustenance from it. I can read that Jesus is the Bread of Life and not feed on Him, or that He is Living Water but still not drink of Him. Feeding and drinking are directly related to the application of Scripture in my life, and it is much more than mere reading. Mere reading of Scripture would be like reading the nutritional contents of a package of food; it does no good to the body until it is eaten and digested. When you read the Scripture, ask God to apply it to your heart and to change your life by the reading of it. This is what it means to drink the Living Water.”

To sum it up: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) Read and digest. Be nourished and motivated by God’s Word! Faith isn’t faith if it’s not lived out!
If our sin nature didn’t get in the way so much, it would probably be a lot easier to live in faith. However, we continue to go to other water sources seeking for satisfaction because we are so often led by our flesh rather than the Spirit. This quote from the lesson describes just how difficult it can be: “The problem is that today’s society offers so many other ‘water fountains’: each one promising joyful satisfaction and delight.” Additionally, one of the course member comments in the lesson really stood out to me: “It is amazing that something which you know causes such anguish is at the same time so alluring. It’s like being addicted to an electric fence.” Powerful and maybe even “shocking” isn’t it? ;) Kind of “jolts” you awake doesn’t it? It makes us mindful of the fact that when we live to satisfy ourselves with other fountains and wells, we will never truly quench our thirst. Self-gratification never ultimately satisfies. It can’t and it won’t. What DOES satisfy is when we allow ourselves to be lead by the Spirit. Then, we WON’T gratify the nature of our flesh (Galatians 5:16). We will stop turning to other things to get satisfaction because we’ll already be filled up with Christ.

More and more, I am truly forsaking other water fountains. More than ever, I am drinking of the Living Water and feeding on the Bread of Life. My love for God and satisfaction in Christ is growing and I am leaving my “electric fences” behind! Praise God!!

**If you would like to feast at “The Lord’s Table”, visit www.settingcaptivesfree.com to take the course for FREE!**