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Sometimes life is hard. In fact, I have to admit that sometimes I am not a big fan of being an adult. This is a scene from the TV show Will & Grace, and as I read it, I admit I am reading it in Jack’s voice because I know it well.
Things happen to us in life that are both in and out of our control. Some of those things are easy and good, some are hard and good, some are easy and terrible and some are hard and terrible. It is all the product of the fact that we live in a fallen world, a world where sin and evil abounds.
Good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people.
And we can’t explain any of it in a way that makes sense to our rational minds.
But it is what happens in the midst of life that keeps us pressing forward: unexpected words of encouragement in a time of deep discouragement; a surprise check in the mail that you weren’t counting on; spending time praying a particular scripture one night and the next day getting a text from a friend who was praying that same scripture over you; finding out that at a particular moment in time that you were dealing with something hard, a friend was woken with you on their heart to pray; having someone verbalize exactly what you were feeling in your heart before you even had a chance.
These moments that seem like coincidences are what I call God-incidences. Because God knows exactly what we need and when we need it. And sometimes that comes in a form that doesn’t look exactly the way we think it should. It may hurt. It may suck. It may be completely unexpected. But He knows what is best and He knows just what we need to move through each phase of our lives.
Even when “it’s very hard.”
Last week I was watching the GAC Top 20 Countdown and heard a new song. They don’t play it on Country radio. It is a new song by some old friends, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.
WAIT! Don’t tune out!
I have always loved those two. They make beautiful music.
But this song stopped me in my tracks and made me weep.
And it did it because it is true.
We can make new friends every day, and that is a wonderful gift.
But those old friends that know us intimately we can’t make again.
It is true. It is beautiful. It is moving. It wrecked my heart.
And it made me realize that I need to make sure that my old friends know just how important they are to me.
I love you all – you know who you are. I am so grateful for you and the place that you have in my life.
Take the time to tell your friends what they mean to you.
Because “You Can’t Make Old Friends.”
I have been eating a (mostly) vegan diet for almost a year-and-a-half now. I say mostly because sometimes I still like to eat cheese and ice cream, so I indulge.
In the last two months, I have allowed quite a bit of cheese to re-enter my diet – mostly because I haven’t felt well. When I don’t feel well, I don’t cook. And when I don’t cook, I default to things like cheese and crackers for meals.
I knew I didn’t like how it was making me feel, but I felt powerless to stop the encroachment of the cheese.
And let’s not talk about the bread and crackers that have re-entered my diet. (I like to say that bread is a gateway drug – the carbs in bread make me crave sweets like CRAZY!)
Sunday afternoon when I was feeling particularly weak and needed to just hang out on my couch (while my kids were raking leaves), I opened Netflix and got to looking at some of the things I have in my list to see if there were any that begged to be watched. I came across Vegucated and decided to give it a watch.
I obviously was already on the vegan bandwagon after watching Forks Over Knives, reading books like Eat & Run, Eat to Live, and Forks Over Knives, and talking to friends who were on the same path, but watching Vegucated put a whole new spin on things for me.
I choose to be vegan for my health. I truly believe that our Western way of eating is killing us. We eat entirely too much in the way of animal products and processed foods and that is hurting our health. I am not saying that a vegan diet is for everyone, but I do believe that everyone could benefit by cutting down on the amount of animal products and processed foods that they consume, and upping the amount of plant-based foods ingested.
Vegucated covers the health benefits of a vegan diet as it follows three people taking a six-week challenge to eat a vegan diet, but more importantly it encourages all of us to be educated about where our food comes from, and particularly how animals are treated in the process. It was eye-opening in a new way. It’s not that I didn’t know that there were issues in the industry, but to actually see some of the conditions in which these animals are kept and killed was heart-wrenching for me to watch.
Yes, my husband is a hunter. Yes, my kids and I just attended a hunter-safety course so they (and theoretically I) can hunt with him. Yes, our family (not me) eats what he hunts. And I am okay with that.
What I am not okay with is the harsh treatment of any being – human or animal – for the sake of the mighty dollar.
We don’t purchase much meat at the grocery store. We purchase beef from a family member who raises cattle. We purchase pork from a local farmer. When we can get eggs from people who raise them in town, we do. (Again – my family eats these, but I do not. How we manage to do that is a whole different post. 🙂 )
It may not be much, but in these ways we try to make sure our money is not going toward the mistreatment of animals. (Or humans – but again – a different post.)
After watching Vegucated, I re-committed to the vegan lifestyle that I have chosen. No more cheese for me.
We all have to make decisions based on our convictions, and this is one of mine – to be healthy and to promote the well-being of others – whether human or animal.
Where do you stand on these issues? (Be kind – I will remove comments that aren’t.)
(Warning – stepping up on a soap box. 🙂 )
When did it happen?
When did we start thinking that in order to give something, we must get something in return?
When did generosity turn into entitlement?
When did church become a place for the consumer mentality rather than one of giving all we have in worship to the King?
Something in our culture has changed us. And it isn’t for the better.
Instead of giving to the work of the Lord out of obedience, people have decided to give to the church (or any organization) based on what that church (or organization) gives to them.
Is the childcare good? Is the coffee free? Does the pastor preach sermons that make me feel good? Does the music move me?
If the answer is “yes,” then I will give, if not, then I will keep my money for myself.
After all church is about what I can get out of it, right?
When we come to worship, we should be coming ready to give everything we have and everything we are to the God who saved us. He has given us more than we deserve. He has saved us from death and brought us life. He is the reason that we live. He has given us homes, families, food, jobs, and so much more. Nothing that we have is of our own making. This God of the universe loves us so much that He couldn’t stand to be separated from us. He sent His Son as a way to bridge the gap that the fall of Adam and Eve created.
Yes, churches are run by people, and yes, sometimes we don’t like decisions that people make, but that is not why we do or don’t give.
We give to the work of the Lord, as a token of our thanksgiving and joy for the life that we have been given.
It doesn’t matter if we don’t like the way the nursery is run.
It doesn’t matter if we think we give enough that we should get a free cup of coffee.
It doesn’t matter if your toes hurt after Sunday’s sermon.
It doesn’t matter if the music isn’t to your liking.
All that matters is you are alive because of the love of God and He says the appropriate response to Him is to give ALL of yourself – time, talents, and money – to His work in this world.
Giving generously is a right of the Kingdom. Free coffee is not.
This past weekend I had the honor of being part of the first event of The Shine Movement:
Every girl wants to shine. Little girls dream of singing, dancing, acting, or modeling. However, the world’s definition of shining can often lead to heartbreak, chaos, and broken lives. The stories of most Hollywood child stars demonstrate that.
The Shine Movement hopes to assist young girls with their dreams of shining by teaching them about inner beauty, purity, godliness, modesty, and confidence. The main avenue of teaching will be through a two-day conference.
It was a fabulous weekend of being able to speak TRUTH into the lives of these young girls. They got to SHINE as they danced, worshiped, learned, and created.
If you want to bring The Shine Movement to your community, visit their website to contact the leaders of the movement.
We want to spread the message that each of us is created uniquely to shine the light of God in all that we do!
Here is one of the songs we featured over the weekend. Enjoy and spread the word. You are worth more than Gold!
I haven’t worked out in over a month. The last workout I logged in DailyMile was a two mile walk and the Bikini Body Mommy workout for day 31 on October 2. The last time I ran was August 27 and it was a measly one mile. The last long run I did was eight miles on July 6.
Between football cheerleading season, getting sick, staying sick, sinus surgery and recovery, my life has been pretty sedentary the last couple of months.
And I don’t like it.
But I can’t change it.
I am still not up to exercise; I am barely making it through the days.
But I don’t like it. At all.
I feel lethargic. I feel down. I feel like it is going to take FOREVER to get back to where I was in July.
But I also know that I can’t push it at this point unless I really want to suffer an even longer setback.
So for now, I am focused on resting well, eating (mostly) well, and recovering well.
But December 1 is coming and with it comes another training schedule for my next half marathon – the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Florida in February.
And I will be back.
Because now that I have discovered how good I feel when I work out regularly, it feels pretty rotten to do nothing.
And I am not going to go backwards.
It’s an older song, one that I learned well when a new to the scene artist, Francesca Battistelli, came to our church to do a concert a number of years back.
It’s not a new idea, but one we need to be reminded of – sometimes hourly.
The tighter we hold to something, the more important it is for us to learn to let go of it completely.
It’s the idea of holding loosely that we need to get through our heads.
Our plans, our ideas of how life should look, our thoughts of the future – those are things that are not for us to decide on our own.
The Lord has in mind what is best for us. We can let go of our plans and listen, or we can hold on to our plans and be unhappy and outside of God’s perfect plan for our lives.
Sometimes we hold on tightly because we are just sure that God wants things to play out in a way that we see them playing out. Sometimes we hold on tightly because we know we are supposed to go in a different direction but that direction is scary and unknown. Sometimes we hold on tightly because we don’t know what else to hold on to.
But we have to let go. We have to allow God to work in His time and in His way.
And letting go is hard. There may need to be a time of grieving as you let go. There may be sadness as you give up that “thing” of which you were so sure. There may be fear as you fall into the unknown.
But that is okay, because He is there to catch you, wipe your tears, and lead you.
He is the only thing you need to hold on to. Because He is the only thing that is constant.
I’m Letting GoFrancesca Battistelli
My heart beats, standing on the edge
But my feet have finally left the ledge
Like an acrobat
There’s no turning back
I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams
I’m losing control
Of my destiny
It feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
So I’m letting go
This is a giant leap of faith
Trusting and trying to embrace
The fear of the unknown
Beyond my comfort zone
Giving in to your gravity
Knowing You are holding me
I’m not afraid
Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
Feels like I’m falling and this is the life for me
Every day we have so much for which to be thankful.
We woke up – we are alive another day!
We have food.
We have water.
We have shelter.
We have family.
We have friends.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
When you really start thinking about all the reasons you have to be thankful, and digging deep, it can be overwhelming and life-changing. Looking at our lives through the lens of thanksgiving changes our perspective.
And since my recovery has hit a brick wall this weekend and this morning, I need a change in perspective today. So here goes.
Take a few moments today and think specifically about the things you are most thankful for today. Believe me, it will change how you view your day.
In case you have had your head in a whole in the ground and aren’t aware, November starts in two days.
For the last couple of years, I have done some kind of Thanksgiving Challenge both for myself and on my blog.
This year is no different.
Here is the challenge that begins on Friday, November 1:
Instead of finding random things to be thankful for each day, how about finding something about each person in your family to be thankful for each day. For us, I am thinking that our wall of thanks will look a little different this year and we will put notes of thankfulness either in quadrants on the one door that we used last year, or put those notes specifically on the door to the room that each person sleeps in. That way, there is a reminder each time they enter their room that the rest of us are thankful for them and here are some reasons why.
Is this going to be harder than in years past? Absolutely!
But it will really make us look hard at one another and the things that make them who they are and why we are thankful that they are a part of our family.
Are you up for it? Let me know in the comments and let’s practice being thankful for those that we live with!!!!