I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for September, 2015

Necessary Change

I’ve been away for quite some time because explaining where I am in my own personal growth is challenging at present.  I am finding my personal paradigms blown to bits with new ones being rebuilt that look nothing like what I used to think faith was and how it worked.  This passage – from Ted Dekker’s newest publication, “Waking Up:  How I Found My Faith by Losing It” – slapped me right in the face with an intense level of personal conviction.  I have so failed letting love define me and that has to change.  Read and do with this what you will; it’s just the latest step in a new way of looking at faith and how it affects my daily behavior.

“If there is one elephant in the room among most of us who call ourselves Christian, it is that what we think and say we believe and what we actually experience are all too often two, radically different realities.  Ironically, we ourselves are often the last to see this disparity.
We think and say we believe in Jesus, but we are anxious for tomorrow and cringe with fear in the face of the storm.  We think and say we love our neighbor and our enemy, but we court jealousy of those who have what we want, and we secretly despise those who lash out against us.
We are Christians from different denominations with various emphases in doctrine, yet in our daily lives we seem to be the same, often stumbling in darkness and feeling lost and condemning ouselves and those around us.
The evidence of our lives does not match our rhetoric.
Paul’s teaching was utterly clear:  The primary evidence show by those who know the Father is this:  love.  Jesus was just as clear:  Not just any love, but an extravagant expression of love that is kind to those who are cruel to us, not only those who show us love in return.  
As Paul wrote, a love that is patient, showing no jealousy or arrogance, keeping no record or wrong, not seeking its own and not provoked by another’s behavior.  These are the evidences of true love which flows from those who know the Father and his limitless love for them.
But it seems that we show all manner of evidence but the one that matters most.  We call ourselves Christian but we are not known for the kind of love Jesus said would mark his followers.  Have we lost the tune?  Are singing the wrong song?
We show the evidence of profound words to others, speaking truth in the tongues of men and angels, but we rise up in anger at our brother and are therefore as guilty as any murderer, as Jesus said.
We show the evidence of informed doctrine and all knowledge, having studied the Scriptures, and yet we do not love the lowest person as Christ, so our knowledge is worthless.
We may give all of our possessions to the poor and surrender our bodies to be burned and have faith to move mountains and heal disease, calling Him Lord, yet these profit us nothing if love does not rule our hearts.
We call ourselves born again, baptized in water and the Spirit.  We are diligent in taking communion, singing in choirs, serving the church, paying tithes, reading the Scriptures, fasting when called to humble ourselves, gathering in Bible studies, attending conferences, going on missions, voting for the right bills, and rehearsing our doctrine.
And yet rivers of love, joy and peace do not flow from us like living waters, and so, as Paul said, all of these profit us nothing.
Can you relate?
What matters isn’t our stated belief and doctrine but how we live and what we experience in the story of our lives, as Jesus, John, James, and Paul all make so abundantly clear.  It’s our actual experience and expression of life that shows us and the world what we truly believe and to waht extent we truly love, not what we say we believe or who we say we love.  If we say we have faith, but the working of our life don’t reflect that faith, that faith is either asleep or dead.  
This brings us back to the elephant in the room, easily seen by all.  We are not being who we say we are.  And if what we say we believe and what we experience in life are in conflict, we end up in misery.  One of the two must eventually yield.”

  

Choices

I’m a 46 year old woman who needs to make some changes to live a healthier lifestyle.

Challenges – lots of weight to lose (could easily drop 100 lbs and not look emaciated) and achy joints as a result of the weight I’m carrying.

Choices – in January 2015 I cut out all caffeinated soda (still indulge in the occasional Sprite or iced tea) and I’ve been paying more attention to portion sizes.

I can’t do any really vigorous exercises right now cuz my body just can’t take it till I shed some weight, learn better hydration, etc.  And cutting out the soda had absolutely zero impact on my weight.  Didn’t lose an ounce.

The good news is the weight thing plateaued – wasn’t losing, but I wasn’t gaining.  But I still felt like there was something missing.  Like I said, I’m in my mid/late 40’s so I also started investigating vitamin/nutrition supplement options.  I wasn’t looking for a “magic pill” or quick fix.

Enter Thrive.  I spent about three months investigating nutritional supplements like Thrive, Advocare, and Plexus.  What I liked about Thrive was the fact that it is not promoted as primarily a weight loss product.  Weight loss is one of the possible “side effects” of using the product.  But the products themselves include vitamins – several B’s as a matter of fact – and other nutrients as well as things like probiotics, antioxidants, folic acid . . . you get the idea.

So a little over a week ago, I took the plunge.  I know what some of you are thinking – “there is no quick fix to weight loss”.  You are absolutely right and I’m not looking for one.  On Thrive, my energy level is better, I’m sleeping better, my brain stays clear through the afternoon – no more mid-afternoon fog or slump.  Yes, my clothes are fitting better.  But I have no delusions – I need to keep finding ways to “get up and move” and I need to keep making smart food choices.

But I am feeling healthier, no doubt.  And I’ve had a few people that know me well tell me that they are starting to see a difference.

The picture on the left is Monday night, August 24th, the night before I started Thrive, and the one on the right is Tuesday, Sept. 1st, mid-afternoon.

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For those of you worried that I might be trying to find a shortcut, I’m not.  I’ve started walking more and will continue to look for ways to make healthier choices in my eating and lifestyle.  Thrive is just one tool in my healthier living arsenal and it’s providing an extra touch of energy and mental clarity to make all the other stuff possible!

Blurting Out the Truth

From The Power of Uniqueness by Arthur F. Miller – “. . . gifted goes beyond a mere inventory of talents. It’s the lifeblood of a person , the song that his heart longs to sing, the race his legs long to run. It’s the fire in his belly. It’s his reason for being. So any time you tap into giftedness, you hit a nerve that runs right to the core of the individual.”

When you grow up loving the performing arts, it is mistakenly communicated to you that what you love is nice for a hobby, but is only a true calling for a select few.  Everyone loves to tell you how many wannabe pop stars or actresses there are that never make it as a big star.  And they would be right.  As the old saying goes, “there is a broken heart for every bright light on Broadway.”  Somewhere along the line, I got the distinct, unspoken message from many well-meaning adults that I should find something “real” to do with my life.  Loving the performing arts is still allowed as you get older, but you become a spectator.  Or someone who plays piano or provides special music at church.  And going into a classroom and teaching what you love to others is okay too.  Just as long as you . . . “grow up”.

So what does an impressionable teenager prone to people pleasing do?  She starts lying.  First to herself about what she wants to be when she grows up.  About her purpose.  About what really digs down deep and connects with the core of who she is.  Then she lies to others about what she LOVES.  When people ask her why she entered the career field she did, she makes up stories about loving some part of the job.  Something to prove that she has done what she was supposed to and has made a responsible, safe choice.

Let me stop right here and say that no one – not one single soul I ever encountered – set out with the express purpose of squashing my dreams, my drive, or my passions.  None of them wanted to dissuade me from being me.   They wanted me to have a plan and goals and work hard.  The interpretation of “grow up and be sensible” was more of a miscommunication or a misunderstanding than a sinister plot.

Fast forward to today – in my mid-40’s, I work multiple part-time/seasonal jobs.  It can be exhausting and I’ve gotten really good at “schedule juggling.”  Seriously, you would be impressed.  I teach part-time at the local community college, serve as the accompanist for the choirs at the local high school, work as the pit pianist and rehearsal accompanist (and sometimes vocal coach) for the Spring musical at the college, handle the theatrical directing and most of the choreography for the spring musical at the local high school, oversee two productions every summer as a part of a youth theater program (directing, producing, music directing, whatever!), help out on marching band staff at the local high school, and serve as the artistic director for Stage Door Productions which manages the aforementioned youth theater program and also stages small cast musicals.  You may have noticed that, with the exception of the college teaching gig, most of my work life revolves around the performing arts.  And nearly all of it involves working with young people from Kindergarten (summer youth theater kiddos) through college (theatrically, in the classroom, and with the theater company).  There are times my schedule is insane – trust me, people point it out to me repeatedly! – and I have, for the past few years, gone from January to August without a break between shows.  I love it.  I cannot imagine having any more fun doing anything else.

The other day, a friend asked if I’d be willing to help her with a dance team she coaches.  They have a big competition to get ready for (it’s in early December) and she’d like an extra pair of eyes, and extra adult to help supervise . . . maybe even someone to help her maintain her sanity, I don’t know!  But she asked me.  I was thrilled!  Details haven’t all been worked out yet, but I’m a little excited.  That’s not true.  I’m REALLY excited.  I was telling hubby about it and my excitement started to show.  As I gave him the information I DID know, I knew he would start asking questions I didn’t yet have the answer to so I tried to head a few of those off before he asked them.  As I wound up the conversation, I heard myself say “I don’t care if I get paid or not because the simple fact is that working with young people in the performing arts – believing in them, pushing them to be amazing – is my purpose on this planet so I’m going to take the opportunities available as often as I can to do just that.”  In the seconds after I blurted out that “my purpose on this planet” thing, I realized that I had never, not in my 46+ years of existence, uttered a more accurate statement.  In my heart, I knew my purpose; I’ve known it for awhile now.  In my work life, I am living it out.  But I finally allowed myself to say it.  Out loud.  Without apologizing or feeling like I had let anyone down.

And you know what?  It felt WONDERFUL.

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