Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Last night we went caroling, but you'll never believe what happened next!!

I have this friend who is always thinking of ways to make me to step out of my comfort zone. She is bold and loves Jesus and quite naturally comes up with ideas to serve God and others. About 4 years ago, or more, she decided our home school co-op needed to go caroling. My first thought was, “People still do that?” and my second thought was, “AWK-ward” But just like everything else she dreams up, I went along with it, and even agreed to go in my families neighborhood, where people know me. 

I was nervous. After all, there is a war on Christmas, right? I mean, if you watch the news, they would have you believe that 90% of people in this world are horribly offended by all things Christian, and especially Christmas. So what, pray tell, would we encounter? Would they slam the door in our faces? Call the cops? Throw eggs? I steadied myself for the worst and held on to the thought of hot chocolate with friends when it was all over. Between our four families we had about 12 kids. So we bundled them up and headed out. 

As we approached the first house, I still couldn't believe we were about to sing on someones door step. And yet with all my preconceived notions, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. House after house we got such similar reactions. First there was shock. I mean, think about it. When is the last time someone showed up on your door step to sing to you? I can tell you with certainty that I have no recollection of this ever happening to me!
 Next came the smiles. These huge soul moving smiles that came from a place of hope and love. Then there were thank you's. Repeated and heart felt thank yous. Many joined in song with us, and some even responded with tears. I don't know where those tears came from, whether loss or nostalgia, but they were way more beautiful than what I ever imagined our little singing troupe would see.

This year we were at it again. Yet this Christmas, our family is in a different place in life. My husband Paul is now the pastor at Calvary Chapel Midtown, a regional campus, near Fort Lauderdale, a little ways away from where we normally go caroling. Yet despite the distance, instead of going to one of our own families neighborhoods, our sweet friends decided that they would like to make the trek with us to a neighborhood near our new church to invite those neighbors to our very first Christmas service. I knew that we had had great responses in years past, but Fort Lauderdale? Or more specifically, Wilton Manors? That would likely be different. Surely they would balk at our lyrics of silent nights and angels singing? I mean, this is offensive stuff people! There is no way that they would tolerate our songs to a newborn king.

And they didn't. Tolerate it, that is. They embraced it! The first house was a sweet lady and her ninety year old mother. Upon hearing why we were there, they came outside and sat down in their wicker chairs to get comfortable as they soaked it all in, smiling from ear to ear. They joined in singing, eyes brimming with tears. Our first song, she told us, was her late fathers absolute favorite. House after house we were received and welcomed with love. There were more tears. So many thank yous. And one sweet lady was noticeably overcome with total shock that we were doing this, this small thing.”But it's just me here” she explained, sure we needed a bigger audience. Oh and the silly little candy canes we handed out garnered even more gratitude.

I need you to know, however, that this is not me saying “Wow, we changed the world tonight with our humble hearts and awesome vocals. Aren't we great?” No, not one bit. Especially because our hearts are likely not very humble, and our voices certainly not great.....except the kids. Oh man they are adorable and cute!! But I digress...This is not about what we did. This is about what HE did. The reason I am sharing this is in the hope of reminding you that our world actually really needs more of Jesus. But not only do they need Jesus, a staggeringly large number actually really wants more of Him..Even though we are being told that nobody wants Him anymore, and even though a select, albeit noisy, few tell us that His words are offensive and His truths un-welcome, it is often not the reaction we get when we approach with love! This world is hungry for Emmanuel, God with us. I am so thankful for the boldness of friends, who encourage us along, year after year, to share the love of Jesus, invite a stranger to church, and watch the world change from the inside out.

Let's pray together for more sweet divine appointments as Christmas draws near. Let's pray for boldness and wisdom with our words everywhere we go!
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6:19

Amen!!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Strength for the Season- Psalm 18




I will love You, O Lord,

The first time I read this verse I missed one simple word that changes everything.
Will.
I will love you.
That's different.
Just this morning my sweet littlest child told me he loved me. In fact, he loved me super duper much. And my heart melted. Like it does every time.
I am not sure, however, that I would have had the same reaction if he would have said “Mommy, I will love you.”
You will? Like, when?
This whole passage is future. You will do this, and I will do this.
And that is so good. You may not feel it now. But take hope. God is going to deliver you, and you will love him.

my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;

We all need supernatural strength. All of us. For different reasons. But none of us can do it on our own. If you think you are doing fine on your own, I guarantee you the people around you might beg to disagree. But this is the good news. He is our rock. Our strength. In whom I will trust. 
My God, my strength, when I blow it again.
My God, my strength, when my will is weak. 
My God, my strength, when the answer isn't clear.
My God, my strength, when my doubts are overwhelming.
My God, my strength, in WHOM I WILL TRUST!

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I will call upon the
Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

Prayer.
The action is simple, but the result is profound.
I will be saved from my enemies.
We all have enemies. Can you think of any?
No, not your boss. Not your ex. Not your (fill in the blank.) Don't be confused. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Sometimes we can feel like people are against us. But the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6 that our battle is not against flesh and blood. This is the most exciting news. If we can remember that, we are so home free. The devil's best offense is to set us against each other.  You see, we cannot change people. We try. We manipulate. We punish. We conspire to get people to change their offensive ways but all to no avail. Here is the good news though. Despite what you may have been told, you CAN change people. Namely, but not limited to, yourself. Prayer changes everything. And everyone. Can you change someone by nagging? Not likely. With passive aggressive behavior? Doubtful. On your knees with humbled prayers ? Oh yes! But be forewarned, if you truly spend time on your knees with a humbled heart, the person that will be changed the most is you!
So shall I be saved from my enemies? Yes, because oftentimes, our greatest enemy is our own self.
 
Ok, now read the next part slowly, and drink it in because it is so good. And it is all for YOU!!

For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
30 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

31 For who is God, except the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
34 He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great.
36 You enlarged my path under me,
So my feet did not slip.


The Lord lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let the God of my salvation be exalted.


That portion needs no commentary, but it probably needs to be read again. Slowly.
FOR BY YOU, I can leap over a wall!!

THE WORD OF GOD IS PROVEN!!

HE IS A SHIELD TO ALL WHO TRUST HIM!

IT IS GOD WHO ARMS ME WITH STRENGTH!

Alright that's it. This one is going on the wall. I just love it!! Who is God, except the Lord? Not me, that is for sure! His gentleness has made me great! Let Him enlighten your darkness!

This time, this season, although it brings great joy, for some, it actually brings great pain. My prayers are with you. My heart is holding you up. I bear these burdens with you and bring you before my God. I pray that you would feel His support, that you would feel His right hand holding you up, and that your feet would not slip. This is a great time of year to meditate on a verse that can hold you up and this passage is full of great ones. Choose one, write it down, hang it up and hold on to it.
The Word of God is proven!!  

And tell someone! Allow them to bear your burdens, share in your story, and be Jesus' arms around you.
What verse do are you needing to meditate on? Tell us in the comments :)
My verse,hands down, is "My God My Strength."  Because I blow it a lot. Like even moments after typing "Publish" on this blog. And I need to know that it is His strength, not mine. And He is proven! Amen!!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

All I want for Christmas is a grateful child.


We are about to launch into that season where parents and grandparents (that's right, I'm going there) are about to spend copious amounts of money in hopes of making children happy. "Slow down," we plead as they rip through present after present with barely a moment to notice that gift purchased with blood, debt, and tears. Or worse, if they stop to enjoy one present, they are encouraged to "Keep going" and "play with that later, we have a lot of presents to get through!" And then, after the ripped up Christmas/Hanukkah paper has settled, we imagine we will see and experience this elusive emotion evoked from said little ones.
Gratefulness.
Yet more often than not, moments, days, or weeks after this grand display of affection, we find ourselves saying the same thing.
"You should be grateful!"


Similarly, this same fruitless attempt at producing gratefulness is utilized at popular theme parks. Thousands of dollars are shelled out for a week of extreme delight, yet this sacrifice is quite often met with temper tantrums, melt downs, and requests for more! A visit to see Mickey isn't enough. We want a special Mickey ice cream too. A picture with Elsa isn't enough. Next comes the request for the Elsa doll. All is given in pursuit of the sought after grateful child. Yet no matter how much is doled out, what do we find ourselves saying?
"You should be grateful!"



Here's the reality. We have it all wrong.


Things of this world, even something you always wanted, will not satisfy.

You may feel thankful, in that moment, yes. But it doesn't last. I have attended many churches that told us that healing and prosperity would lead people to Christ. If I was healed, people would see that, marvel, and be saved. While this absolutely can happen, it is actually not the norm. Take this example from the Bible in Luke 17. Against all odds, these 10 lepers received the one thing they all craved with every fiber of their being. Healing. All ten! Healed. However, what was the result?

15 Then ONE of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not TEN cleansed? Where are the NINE? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”


Getting doesn't garner gratefulness.

Like almost never.
True heartfelt gratefulness decidedly comes from want, not plenty.
This concept clearly resonated with me a few years ago while listening to Pastor Doug Sauder in a parenting class. "If you want to make someone grateful for hot water, take them on a missions trip where they will get one cold shower for the whole week. When they get home they will feel more grateful for that hot water than ever before."

Prosperity without perspective can never produce gratefulness.

I do not think that I am unique in my desire to make my children happy. I want them to open their presents and discover that present they were dreaming about. I want them to have that moment of sheer bliss when their dreams are fulfilled but at what cost? Because more than wanting them to be happy, I want them to be grateful. I want them to find joy rather than pursue happiness. Godliness with contentment is great gain. This is what I want for my children. This is what I want for me. I want to be content. I want to be grateful. I need to remember that I am indebted. I am indentured servant. I deserve nothing but have been given everything.

However it is uncommonly easy to forget these goals and trade them in for a momentary feeling. Case and point: I sat there watching my 4 year old son launching hot wheels into the air on a loop-da-loop contraption yelling "AWESOME!" and thought...."I need that. He needs that. Look how happy that would make him. I know I said that we had enough toys, but that should be an exception. Clearly."
 But then I remembered. We have no room. We don't need it. He doesn't need it. This moment is a moment, and he can experience it whenever he is at someone's house that has this toy, and it will be special.

I want him to be grateful. I want him to be content. This goal is more important than that momentary, and I do mean momentary, happiness that will come from opening the "perfect" gift.

This point was reiterated to me on Facebook with a map showing the unique things for which people were thankful. People that had experienced drought were thankful for rain. People that had experienced power outages were thankful for electricity.

Here is the point.
Take a deep breath. Step away from the internet. Put down the credit card. And pray. Ask the Lord to show you how to cultivate gratefulness in your own heart and your children's hearts. If you can't afford those sought after toys of the season put down that mom-guilt right now. God has a plan and a purpose for this season of your life, and it is not for you to acquire debt or ignore other financial responsibilities (like saving for a rainy day) simply to chase the ghost of false joy. You can take confidence in the truth that if your children have less, you are likely closer to the ultimate goal of gratefulness. On the other hand however, if you can afford whatever your heart desires, pray even harder to keep from indulgence which is the enemy of a grateful heart.

This is not another post about Thanksgiving. It's not even necessarily about Christmas. It's bigger than that. Grasping gratefulness and cultivating contentment is a year round adventure. Living in the world we do, this is no humble task. Every commercial, every friend, every Facebook status tells you ....you need this!!! Fight it. Do not accept it. The only thing you need more of is Jesus. And he will supply all of your needs according to his riches in glory.

If you are a Christian, you have prayed for God's will to be fulfilled in your life. If you are a parent you have prayed for God's will to be fulfilled in your child's life. That is why this lesson is so important!
I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us in no uncertain terms what His will is!! Gratefulness!

Give thanks in everything, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

But how?

Read this powerful point in Job 20:20 in two versions:

For he knows no satisfaction in his appetite;
he does not let anything he desires escape.

Because he knows no quietness in his heart,
He will not save anything he desires.

If you are not satisfied in Christ, you will grasp at everything!

The apostle Paul was able to be content in everything. Why? Because of his great prosperity? His easy life? No. Because he was satisfied in his appetite, in the quietness of his heart with Christ. That is how we produce gratefulness. When our hearts are filled day by day, moment by moment, with God's word, when our mouths and hearts are filled with praise, there we will find gratefulness. The best gift you can give your children and/or yourself is a thirst for Christ and His Word, at every age and stage. Amen!



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sweet November-From Bratitude to Gratitude! *




November 2000 I met a boy. Cute laugh. Piercing green eyes. Just so handsome. He made me laugh. He made me feel special. He made me hope. And he loved Jesus. Four months after meeting and already falling for him, he dropped a bomb. He had forgotten to mention that days before we met, he made a vow to the Lord that he would not date anyone for a year. Having just gotten out of a long and "unhealthy" relationship, (because this is what wives say about all prior relationships)  he was encouraged by a mentor to get His relationship with the Lord right, and take a year to do that. And he was just telling me now, four months into this friendship. So in March the countdown began- to November. I remember flipping through my CD collection (so archaic) when I found the soundtrack to a movie called Sweet November. On that CD was this song by Enya, and I thought of it today.


"Only Time"
Who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time
And who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose, only time


It was so true. God knew, but only time would tell. It was the perfect song. I couldn't believe it. On a Sweet November CD of all things! Only time would tell. Well, long story short, and 5 kids later, November is still a very sweet month to me. If I close my eyes, I can still remember the day he told me it was me that he wanted. I can remember the feeling in my heart as I held his hand for the first time. I can remember so many sweet moments- moments that I dreamed of, all coming true.

But when I open my eyes, there is a full trash can, a crashing computer, an unfinished bathroom, and a toilet roll hung the wrong way. Their are obstacles, difficulties and failures. My heart forgets that I am living a dream. My heart forgets how I begged God for this man. We are imperfect people needing grace. Over and over again. Seventy times seven times.

I know I am not alone because I have heard your stories, the amazing God stories that need to be written down and published. My mother who saw a spray painted letter from God on the subway wall “Choose Bill.” My friend that pointed to a football players face on an FSU flyer and told her mom she was going to marry him and years later did just that. These beautiful stories that make the creations of Nicholas Sparks look woefully small, can so easily be forgotten amidst the monotony and difficulties of everyday life. And discontentment grows.
The eye never has enough. The ear can never hear enough. There is nothing new under the sun.
No matter how many dreams God fulfills, we always want more.


It is so popular to “vent” to let out your frustrations. But maybe instead of a venting partner you need a gratefulness partner. Never are we told to confess other peoples sins, only our own. Of course we need to share each others burdens, but when the majority of our conversation is a burden, we have a problem.

Be grateful. You cannot be grateful and discontent at the same time. You have to choose.



Colossians 3:15-17
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Do you want peace? Be thankful. Do you want to be thankful? Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs! And whatever you do- do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus!! AMEN!!

November is a month that we all focus on gratitude. I pray that you would do more than make a list, but that you would close your eyes and remember. Remember the prayer that you prayed ,remember the dream in your heart that the Lord fulfilled and walk in gratitude. Remember the love that you felt and don't let the enemy steal that from you. Remember the person you dreamed of and how they are standing in your kitchen, perfectly imperfect. And be grateful. Remember the child you prayed for, acting like a sinful human, and be grateful. Remember the job you fought for and be grateful. Remember the parents that raised you, the siblings that played with you, the friends that loved you, and when they inevitably do something to annoy you, be grateful. In everything, give thanks!

* Title credits go to the one and only Jewel Keefe 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Luke 22- Of course.



Last week I posted about my affinity for the number 2. So as per my life, this Sunday Pastor Doug taught from Luke 22. And I can't stop thinking about it.  Here's why. These Words:

"The greatest crime, the greatest murder in the history of humanity, happened during the holiest week, the Jewish passover...... 


Part of passover was getting rid of all of the yeast of their home

The Pharisees, they were meticulously getting rid of every bit of yeast from every jar, every corner of  their home and at the same time they were plotting to kill an innocent man....."

That'll preach. And it did.


Then there is Judas. Judas knew exactly what to do. He followed the rules. He fit right in. In fact, none of the disciples guessed Judas when they questioned Jesus about his betrayer.

 Judas.

I thought yesterday about the option to invest in someone who has the potential to betray. The potential to cause an immense amount of heartache is real. And my first reaction and response was that it was not worth the risk. My heart is tired. I don't feel up for betrayal these days, if ever. Then I remembered this weekends teaching. Jesus invested in Judas. He was not held at arms length. Jesus knew. And yet He loved. He loved in such a way that those closest to him had no inkling, no question of Jesus love for Judas. Not to mention Peter, when He did betray, after Jesus told him he would, was welcomed back with open arms. Forgiven. Loved.


Lord Jesus, what yeast are we meticulously eliminating from our lives, all the while missing the greater picture, the greater offense. You see I have these moments in worship, or prayer, or Bible study where everything seems so clear. The choice to love seems obvious. The option to overcome is eminent. But only moments after that revelation, seconds after that clear call I hear that all too familiar whispering....did God really say?

And it is that moment where we can get stuck in the middle. It is that moment that we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Call out to Him. Out loud. Father. I believe, help my unbelief. Not my will but Yours. Not by might, nor by power, but by Your Spirit.   I pray that the words we hear on Sunday, the scripture that is presented, would bring lasting change and continuous comfort throughout the week.
Amen.

Watch the sermon here.

What did you learn this weekend that is drawing your closer to Christ this week?
 


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I'm feeling 22.

This actually happened. I knew it would happen, and I couldn't wait to see when and where it would happen. Here's why ;)

I love the number two- but not in a weird numerology number-worship sort of way. Let me explain.

When I played volleyball in high school I choose the number 22. Or maybe it chose me. Kidding.
But seriously. Maybe.
That was the beginning.
Then when I was in my early twenties, God told me to do something that I recorded in my journal on 9-9-99. I didn't do it. (Topic for another day) He told me again 2 years later. I finally obeyed. It wasn't until many years later when reading through journals that I noticed the date on which I finally obeyed. It was the 22nd. No big deal right? Except a year later, to the day, the 22nd of March, ended up becoming my wedding day. The funny thing was we originally wanted to get married the 15th, but it was taken, so it had to be the 22nd.

I had my 22nd birthday in Germany, away from all my family and friends, while listening to Switchfoot sing these words in my headphones:

"It's my birthday tomorrow
No one here could know
I was born this Thursday
22 years ago"


When I met Paul, he was 22.
We were married in '02.
Our flight number for our honeymoon- 222
First child, also, '02.
The building number of our first home? #2
Our mortgage has 2222 in it.
Debit card # had 2222 in it.

And a ton of other random coinkydinks like that, the most recent happening a couple months ago. We were on our way to our homeschool group where it was our turn to take the stage at chapel to introduce our family. Deciding what to share about myself for the 5th year in a row, I decided to go for quirky, and share my affinity for the number 2. Moments later we pulled behind a car with a license plate that made everyone in the car break out in disbelieving laughter. Smack in the middle of the plate read the numbers 222.

 I can't make this stuff up!

So as the odometer turned closer and closer on our old faithful Toyota Sienna, I asked (read harassed) Paul daily....did you miss it??? I need a picture!!! This is more rare than a blood moon people!

And then it happened.

He got it!
So where was he?
I bet some of you know.
He was on his way from Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale to our new church home, Calvary Chapel Midtown, on his first day of work as a Pastor. 
And it couldn't be more perfect, because  I serve such a personal God.
He made me a weird math nerd. And so he humors me. And He does things for me that are special even though they seem silly to some. It's the big things and the small that make me say with Peter in John 6-

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”







Saturday, October 25, 2014

Running for my life- Why accountability matters.

I have 5 children. Have I mentioned that before? They are the joy of my life. And I don't mean that in a cliché way, but in the truest sense of the words. No matter how bad of a mood I am in, when my 4 year old boy tells me I am “Super super duper PWETTY!!” everything is ok. Or when I watch my 11 year old girl turning into a young lady right before my eyes, my heart is glad!

However....
Our children also provide me with the most challenges. Raising children is nothing if not a roller-coaster of emotions. It is for that reason my favorite thing to do at the end of the day is go for a run.......by myself. When I time it right, dinner is almost ready and can be kept warm, daddy comes home, we kiss, I pass the baton, and run out the door- literally. My run takes me west, so if I am especially lucky I run right off into the sunset. Endorphins start pumping and the stress/joys of the day get all worked out in 2.12 miles. But sometimes I don't plan so well, and I get to day 5 with no running and start to feel the need, although not necessarily the “want.”

Like today.

It's Saturday morning and I would much rather make some tea and sit on my rocking chair on the front porch. But my body is singing another song. I know I need a work out so I call to the kids, “Get your bikes ready, we are going for a run/bike ride!”

This is the first layer of accountability.

1. Tell Someone.

I really didn't want to run, but I knew if I told them, their excitement and drive would keep me on track. (Read: If I changed my mind I would have to endure 5 children wining!)

Normally taking the kids means I go slower. (Picture herding cats.) Recently, however, the littlest one got a bigger bike which helps him go faster. On the down side, however, he barely fits on it which makes dismounting a little tricky. Basically I have to be right next to him when he stops or he freaks out. Usually this is not a problem speed wise as I am the one cheering him a long.
”C'mon William, you can do it! A little faster :) Mommy needs a good work out!” However the last time we went I noticed his tires were a little flat. Apparently that was the problem because after pumping them up this morning, he rode like the wind!

To add to the intrigue I brought the dog. Apparently I am crazy.

This provided the second layer of accountability. 

2. Choose someone faster than you.

I didn't realize I had done this. I thought I was safe with William. But his newly pumped up tires actually made him faster than me! I found myself running for my life, or his, realizing I had to catch up with him before his next stop! All the while I had a crazy boxer puppy trying to kill me by criss-crossing in front of me. I was so tempted to stop the whole thing. I was tired. This was not the run I had planned. I did not want to run this hard and I had not anticipated the obstacles. Then I remembered my goal. I wanted a good work out and actually thought my kids were going to slow me down. Yet here they were, charging me forward, providing the training that I thought I wanted, and all I wanted to do was yell “STOP!!”
But I didn't. I remembered the goal. Get in shape. I remembered the means. Running hard. And I relinquished control. Somehow we think that we can cruise through life and still become who God wants us to be. We read about a refining fire, clay that needs to be heated, a race that needs to be run with endurance, and yet we despair when the obstacles come. This is the only way to the heart of God, to join in the fellowship of His sufferings.

When we finally crossed the finish line into the driveway, I felt so good. Knowing I had run faster than I had anticipated, I couldn't wait to check my “Run Keeper.”

This brings us to the third layer of accountability.


3. Keep Track.

When I checked the running app I found out I had cut 23 seconds off my 2 mile run. I had zero expectations of improving my time while wrangling 5 kids and a dog. But God knew. And now I knew because I had been keeping track. This running app has been the best thing for my running. So many times in our lives we think we are doing better, eating better, working out better, loving better. But without some type of assessment, the reality is that we normally give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. If you asked me how many times a week I run, I would probably tell you about 3. But when I check my app the results don't tell the same story. The app encourages me when I make progress, and gives me a check when I miss the mark.
As a math teacher another example comes to mind. How many times do math students say they understood the material, until they took the test?

Right after I finished typing that last sentence one of my blessings came up to me with a math test she had taken. She missed a few. She had no idea she didn't understand the math. Isn't God funny? His timing always amazes me.
“I hate tests!” she let me know. And I can relate. It can be really painful when we find out that we weren't quite as right as we thought we were. Sometimes we feel like a child or situation “makes” us impatient. Or a coworker “makes” us lose our temper. But the reality is those feelings were there all the time. What if I didn't keep track of my children's test scores? How would I measure progress?

Growth is not easy. Making yourself vulnerable to another person is hard. Continuing on when you want to give up is not the norm. But God never intended for us to go it alone. In fact He said it was not good for man to be alone.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.
    Pray that the Lord would give you a trusted friend. And then take the plunge. Confide in them. Allow them to pull you up. Choose someone who isn't afraid to tell you the truth in love. You don't need a venting partner. You need someone who loves you enough to tell you hard things, but won't heap judgment on you either. And write it down. A journal. A blog. A chart. On your phone. Anything. This allows you to see God working. Over and over the Israelites were told to write it down and remember! We are so forgetful.
    God is so good. He knows just what we need! He knew I needed a run. But you may have needed some time on the couch!! And that is ok too! I am praying for you today, that God would send you that person to hold you up and bring you closer to the finish line!