Ridding Yourself of the Excess

getting-rid-of-the-excess

Friends,

I hope this blog finds you well. I wanted to share something with you that God has placed on my heart and I’m hoping it’ll help you (and me) free ourselves from some of the baggage we’ve been carrying around.

It all started about a week ago when I decided that I needed to clean out all of our closets.  I know it’s not Spring but I felt like we needed some Spring cleaning… maybe Winter cleaning, instead.  I felt like we needed to do this because we moved to South Carolina with all of our junk.  We literally boxed every single thing in our house in Ohio and moved it to South Carolina and a lot of it has been sitting in the same bins that it came off of the truck in.  We are carrying around so much junk! And as we think about what’s next for us, I refuse, REFUSE, to carry this junk back with us.

It’s sort of silly that we do this, isn’t it? We carry junk around with us.  We haven’t worn something in 3 years but we don’t get rid of it.  The kids aren’t playing with these toys anymore but we hold on to them.  We’ve changed the décor of our house completely but we’re still packing away the old frames we used before.  We just continue to move our junk from one place to another.

My husband works in Human Resources and we talk about poor performers quite often.  Sometimes a manager may get really tired of a poor performer but instead of coaching that person to do better or to get rid of them altogether, the manager asks if my husband could move that employee to another department.  My husband’s answer is always the same… “we don’t move problems.”  Sometimes, we do the same thing with our excess baggage.  Instead of just getting rid of it, we move it around and try to make it pretty again.  Or we try to move it and squeeze it into our new life.

Anyway, getting back to our winter cleaning… this process has taken about a week to get through.  I have 3 boys whose rooms I had to go through.  And then there was asking my husband to do his closet, and my poor husband finding the actual time to get it done.  Finally, my turn was up to clean out my clothes.  As I sat there in my closet, deciding what to get rid of, I had a total crazed moment.  I realized that I was afraid to get rid of my excess.

I realized that there were two reasons that I was having a hard time getting rid of things.  One reason was because I grew up appreciating every single thing that my parents gave me.  We knew that we weren’t rich and so my parents instilled in me a grateful attitude and with that, the idea that we don’t take anything for granted.  So to actually throw stuff away or donate it to Goodwill was sort of hard.

Secondly, and even the bigger issue, is that I didn’t want to get rid of the bigger clothes that I own just in case I gain all the weight back that I lost last year.  As I glanced over my clothes in my closet, I kept thinking “oh, I should keep this…just in case.” I have pants that can swallow me whole now but I felt that I needed to hold on to… just in case. Just at the moment that I was having this epiphany, my husband walked in the closet and asked if I was okay. I told him I needed an intervention and explained what was going on.  Immediately, he prayed for me.  He prayed for my mind and for this stronghold on my life about how I view myself, how I value myself, and what I think of myself. I’m so grateful to have him as my life partner.

I think that we do this in life a lot.  Maybe for you it’s not clothes but maybe it’s emotional baggage that you’re carrying around with you from relationship to relationship.  Maybe for you it is materialistic stuff that you keep carrying around from house to house.  Maybe for you it’s a need to be a people pleaser and you carry around that burden.

As I sat in the closet and my husband prayed, I had a vision of myself carrying around a garbage bag of 40lbs on my back.  That is essentially what I’m doing.  I’m carrying the excess with me and saying “nope! can’t get rid of that quite yet!” I’ve become so accustomed to it that it has become a part of me.  It’s hard to see me any differently, even with my clothes fitting differently and people telling me that I look great.  My mind hasn’t been transformed yet.

There are many of us that are carrying around the excess baggage because we haven’t figured out how to get rid of it.  We have been carrying it around for so long that we don’t even recognize it anymore.  We have become so accustomed to carrying it around that we can’t imagine life without it.

Well, I’m here to tell you (and myself) today: He whom the Son set free is free indeed (John 8:36)!  Shake of the excess.  Drop it off at Goodwill.  Throw it away on garbage day.  Burn it.  Whatever you need to do, do in order to free yourself from the excess.  Because let me tell you, God is not carrying that baggage and holding it against you.  You are doing that to yourself.  He has set you free so be FREE!

I dropped off about 20 bags at Goodwill this morning.  Guess what wasn’t in the bags?  A few pairs of pants that are way too big but that I couldn’t get rid of quite yet. It’s going to take some time.  I have work to do.  God has work to do in me.  But I look forward to the day that I drop off those things at Goodwill and drive away transformed.

 

One Word in 2017

runLet me be honest… I thought this whole “one word” idea was dumb.  I thought “oh, this is trendy… one word for the year that will get us focused.  okay, whatever.” I was a little cynical, to say the least. But then, I got it! I got my one word!  And if I’m being really honest, I’m still trying to make sense of it.  Let me tell you about it.

So my one word for this year is RUN. I can’t even tell you where it came from.  It was just there.  And, I’m not trying to sound like I’m all special, but I got the word before it was even a thing.

For whatever reason, I felt like God was giving me this word of “Run” and He also gave me the verse, Galations 6:9 that says “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” And, as I read the verse and I thought of my word, it made no sense to me.  So I did what every good Christian does that hears from the Holy Spirit… I ignored it.  And then, you wouldn’t believe what happened.

In my JuicePlus business, we had a call about focusing on one word for the year. And then I watched the Clemson/Alabama game and Coach Dado said in the post-game interview “our word for the year was love. We knew we would win with love.” And then, I go to my DGroup Bible Study and our assignment for the week is to pray about a word and verse that was going to focus our year.  At that point, I was like “OKAY, GOD! I GET IT!” and I couldn’t ignore my one word and verse any longer.

As I thought more about why I was ignoring the word, it became more apparent to me that I was scared of the word. The word RUN implies difficulty.  No one just runs without breaking a sweat.  Or no one runs without some commitment.  No one comes back from a run without some soreness.  No one runs without breathing harder, working harder.  Running is no joke.  And this is the word God gave me for this year.  It’s daunting!

And then God gave me the verse which also is a little scary.  I’ve always thought of the good in the verse – “reap a harvest” – but why is Paul giving us this encouragement? The verse implies that Paul was trying to encourage others to continue doing good because perhaps they were getting tired, or discouraged, or disheartened.

You guys… why couldn’t my word be “love”?

At the end of the day, I still don’t know what 2017 will bring.  I believe it will bring me to a point where I will need to make a commitment to continue to run.  In the good, the bad, and the ugly.  When it hurts, when it stinks, when it feels impossible.  I will run.  And I will continue to sow good seeds.  Even when it feels like there is no harvest. Because I have to believe that God didn’t just give me this word and this verse for no reason.  He isn’t an “oops!” God.  There’s purpose behind it and I’m ready to see what this year will bring.

So…what is your one word?

2016 was Amazing (a quick recap)!

goodbye-2016So I’m a month behind on saying goodbye to 2106 but looking at it from a different perspective… this is my first blog post in over a year so I’m winning right now!

Hello 2017 and everyone reading.  I hope this blog posts finds you well and healthy.

There are so many people who couldn’t wait to say goodbye to 2016 and it took me literally 29 days to finally move on.  The reason? Because 2016 was so amazing!  In SO many ways!

2016 gave me much needed time to focus on myself.  We moved to South Carolina in November of 2015 and although I dreaded it and cried for a good 2 months, once I pulled myself together, I realized that God was giving me a gift.  There were no more commitments of any kind.  I had the much undervalued gift of time. So what did I spend my time doing all last year?  Well, it sure wasn’t writing!

I spent time focused on myself – guilt free! I focused on getting healthy.  I lost nearly 40 lbs! Wowzers! I fell in love with eating whole foods.  Let me back up – I learned what whole food nutrition means. I started exercising.  I got up at 5am daily to spend time with God and then sweat really hard.  I cooked really good food for my family and we all became so much more active because I was willing to take a chance on myself again.  It was awesome!

What else did I do? I became an independent distributor with the JuicePlus Company.  “Oh no”, you’re thinking. “Please don’t try to sell me”.  Trust me, I won’t.  But I was so thankful to have a team of people that I could talk to whenever I did get really lonely.  And because of JuicePlus, we are a much healthier family.  But wait! Check this out… I actually got promoted.  And then promoted some more, and then promoted some more.  And I went to St. Louis for a conference and walked across a stage and it was awesome! I made money and the amount was always exactly what we needed when we needed it.  I have a team of people that work with me across the country.  I mean, JuicePlus ignited a fire in me again for working that I hadn’t had for a few years as a stay-at-home mom.  It was super fun!

What else did I do?  I fell in love with studying the Word of God.  I’ve always been in church, I’ve always read the Bible here and there but never consistently.  Thanks to some friends, I learned about Bible Study Fellowship where I joined nearly 600 other women every week to read Revelations (such an awesome book of the Bible.  Don’t be scurrrred!). And thanks to a friend I met here, she introduced me to DGroup.  Oh.my.word! One of the absolute best things that has come from South Carolina! And because of both bible study groups, I was in the Word more than ever before and it held me together.

What else? We had visitors! Because we moved, people actually came to see us.  It was so awesome! It was like a piece of home every time someone would come and it was always so good for my soul.  And when people didn’t come to visit, we went home to visit and that was always a good time.  It was nice to go home and just be engulfed in the smell of pollution and feel the coldness of gray skies and get honked at in traffic and just feel the absolute love of city life in Northeast Ohio.

You may be saying “good for you.  My 2016 was the worst!” and I’m sorry if that’s the case.  I kept my mouth shut for a long time not wanting to talk about my incredible 2016 but I’ve got to share because I want you to know that not everything sucks.  Were there hard times in 2016? ABSOLUTELY! We experienced death, we experienced loneliness, we experienced financial strain, we experienced trying to navigate our way into a culture that we just didn’t get (and we still don’t), we experienced…life! But man, when you can just get your mind focused for just a second on the goodness of God, there is so much more to be happy about than to be depressed about.

There are a ton of reasons to be depressed right now (have you watched the news? yikes!).  But if you could just step outside of the crazy in the world or in your life and just focus on the simple… Have you ever watched the day go from dark to light?  We live in the country now and when I would go running sometimes, the moon would be out and the stars were shining and as I would finish my run, the stars would fade and the sky would get lighter.  I couldn’t help to think of the majesty of God every.time! Something so simple as the night turning to day would fill my heart up with joy.  Sometimes, we just need to pause and focus on the good.

You guys – I don’t know what 2017 will bring.  The last 29 days have been pretty incredible already.  I have an expectation that 2017 will be even more amazing than 2016.  Why not? I serve an incredible God! I urge you to take time.  Take time this year to step back and focus on the simple and the good and the perfect.

 

 

 

What Are You Wearing?

What Are You Wearing_!_I’ve recently been thinking about how I went from blogging about motherhood and being a stay at home mom to just a more ministerial blogging.  I was actually considering changing the name of my blog but I still think there is value in “valuedmom”.  I’m not sure that there will ever come a time where there is not at least one mom out there wondering what her value is.  My prayer is that someone will always find encouragement here.

But as I was thinking about this week’s blog, I was reminded about a prayer that I pray on a daily occasion.  I think it’s a prayer that anyone and everyone should pray but as a stay-at-home mom, I just feel like it really encompasses what I’m striving to do daily.  I simply pray the words that are found in Colossians 3:12.  I pray “Lord, please help me to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient today” and then I’ll add “and help me to show your love to everyone I encounter.”

As a stay at home mom, it is so easy for the enemy to steal our joy.  It is so easy for the enemy to play with our minds and whisper things to us like “you’re not doing enough” or “you’re not good enough” or “look at this house! you’re so lazy!” or “you’re a horrible cook…why even bother?” etc, etc…  Frankly, I get sick and tired of the chatter going on in my mind.  I find that when I do laundry, it really stirs the chatter up.  I hear things like “you’re the only one doing laundry” or “no one helps around the house”.  And I know it’s the enemy because those are just flat-out lies.  But the enemy tries to get in our heads to steal our joy and stir up discontentment.  And if we don’t pay attention, before we know it, we are yelling at our children, we are bitter towards our husbands, and we fall into a cycle of depression.

So the one thing I make sure to do every day is pray this prayer.  In this verse, it says “Clothe yourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” It goes on to say in the verses that follow “Bear with each other and forgive one another…forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all of these virtues put on love… And be thankful… And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-15, 17).  So I will ask… what are you wearing?  Are you being kind and gentle with your children?  Are you being humble when you are cleaning the house or are you allowing your pride to get the best of you?  Are you being compassionate when your kids scrape their knees? Are you being loving above all? And are you doing it all for the glory of God?

These are challenging questions and truly a time to look at yourself in the mirror and reflect on your behavior and attitude.  And if you’re brave enough, ask your children and your husband if you’re clothed in those characteristics? From my experience, they love to tell you the truth when given the opportunity. 🙂

My attitude is not always the best.  I do run out of patience… often! With everyone! In my house and outside of my house! Lord, forgive me… But I pray this prayer knowing that through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord is transforming and renewing me daily to be more like Him.  And so every night, I take off my clothes.  I throw those away because they’re torn and pretty nasty from the day.  They’re filthy rags.  And every morning, I clothe myself with God’s help in kindness, compassion, gentleness, humility, patience, and above all, in love.  To God be the glory.

The Prayers of an Intercessor

The Prayers of an IntercessorExodus 32_14Hey friends-

I am in the middle of a fantastic Bible study through BSF International.  So awesome!  We are reading Revelations and the concept we are studying right now is about God’s justice and God’s mercy.  It is so good.  While we were studying about God’s justice and His mercy, one of our scriptural readings came from Exodus 32.  In this particular chapter, Moses is up on a mountain speaking to God.  He has left the Israelites to go spend time with God and he has left Aaron in charge.

As God and Moses are speaking, God says to Moses, “you need to go back down to the Israelites because while you’ve been away, they have made an idol god and are worshiping a golden calf.” So you read on and God basically tells Moses, I’m about to kill them all off (of course, God didn’t say those exact words!). But then Moses steps in on behalf of the Israelites. The Bible says in Exodus 32:11, “But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God.” And Moses goes on to plead for the sparing of the lives of the Israelites.  Skip down to Exodus 32:14, it says “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disasters he had threatened.” Whoa!!  So you are telling me that God Himself was about to kill the Israelites in one fell swoop but Moses changed God’s mind? Think about that for a moment.  And now think about your prayers.

There are people in your life that you have pity on.  You look at them say “oh man.  They are having a horrible season in their life.  I pray that things get better.”  Or someone calls you with a health crisis and you say “I’ll pray for you.” And perhaps you really do go to the throne of God and pray for that person.  Perhaps you really go all in and pray that their circumstances would change in the name of Jesus.  But so many times, I am guilty of sort of mentioning their name in my daily, routine prayers.  “Lord, heal so and so” or “Lord, have mercy on so and so” and I say it in passing.

But here, in this scripture, we read that we have the power to get God’s attention.  Moses interceded on behalf of the Israelites, questioning God and then reminding God of His promises.  And because of the relationship that Moses and God had, God listened to Moses and changed the circumstance.  There is so much to say here and a blog just won’t give me enough space or time…

Ultimately, this is the point: when you have a close, intimate relationship with God where you speak to Him openly and honestly and consistently, He has your attention.  You have His ear.  You can go before Him and ask for things supernaturally that seem impossible and yet, He can do it.

There are people in your life that are hurting.  They are in need of a supernatural miracle that only God can do.  And you, my friend, have God’s ear.  He knows you intimately.  He knows you in a way that no one else does.  He knows your behaviors, he knows your likes and dislikes, he knows what makes you smile.  He knows you…because you and He have spent time together, getting to know one another, communing with one another on a consistent basis.

It is time, intercessors, that YOU go before the throne of God for people that need you.  For those who can’t go on their own for various reasons.  YOU can grab God’s attention and change circumstances for the people in your life, for the community that you are a part of, for an entire nation. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Carrying the burdens of a nation is not easy.  But Jesus Christ carried the burdens of all of us and we are called to be like Him.

As you go into your war room to pray tonight, don’t do it haphazardly.  This is not to be taken lightly. You are speaking on behalf of many… and you have the attention of God.

 

Ministry within the Home

Ministry within the homeHey readers! I don’t really know what I want to say so just bear with me…

I’ve had this thought on my heart for a couple of weeks now and I wanted to share it with you.  I don’t even know where it’s coming from or who it’s for except that it must be the Holy Spirit laying it on my heart for you… my particular reader(s).

I believe that we, as women, are often in a hurry to do big things for others.  In ministry, especially, we have such a huge desire to glorify God and use our talents for Him.  It’s so awesome.  I think there are very little things that are more powerful than a group of Godly women coming together and praying for things.  I have seen miracles happen when women gather together and come under the name of Jesus and pray.  It is truly something incredible.

As much as we want to minister outside of our home, we are called to minister within our home first.  Our spouse, our children – they are our first ministry.  I believe that often times we put our first ministry on the back burner in order to fulfill a “bigger” ministry outside of our home.  And this is what I know – when we forget to minister within our home, our ministry outside of the home is worthless.  That’s a strong word, isn’t it?  But  truly, how can I go and serve others when I am not serving the ones that God gave me that are right in front of me? How can I preach about God’s love and compassion when I have zero patience for my children? How can I speak to God’s love for us when I can’t stand my spouse?

I know that ministry outside of the home is flashy.  I get it.  We all love to feed our egos.  And it’s just not the same at home.  No one says thank you, they don’t appreciate your sacrifice, they don’t “like” what you have to say, they aren’t applauding you for speaking life into them.  But ladies- our home is our first ministry and the impact that you have on your home lasts generations. I love Proverbs 14:1 that says “The wise woman builds her home, but with her same hands the foolish one tears hers down.” As wise as we think we are, we can be very foolish at times also.

With a disrespectful attitude or tone to our husbands, we tear our house down.  With keeping secrets from him, we tear our house down. With impatience for our children, we tear our house down.  With a lack of empathy and compassion for our family, we tear our house down.  When our husbands come home from work and they need us to build them up and we choose to do something else, we tear our house down.  When our kids need us to just love on them for a few moments but we choose to be busy with other things, we tear our house down.  Ladies-don’t be foolish.

There is work to do in our house.  Yes, the fields are empty and there is plenty of work to do for the kingdom of God outside of our home.  But if we have a nasty attitude at home and we’re not showing God’s love to the ones that He entrusted to us, then our kingdom work outside of the home smells like dog doo-doo to God. We can’t go outside of the home and praise God and then come home and curse out our children.  We can’t be so hungry for outside ministry that we starve our family members.  Some of us are asking God to show us what He wants us to do for His glory.  Some of us are begging to be used by God and yet He is giving you and me plenty of opportunity within our own home to glorify Him by the way we care for our family members.  Listen – we want to love our neighbors, I get it.  That is what God commanded after all.  But I don’t think that He asked us to do that in place of loving those that we share a roof with.

I know this is a little bit of a tough pill to swallow. It’s tough for me to even write.  But I hope you hear my desire for our life.  It is truly to have the best life that God has for us… and that starts at home.

God bless you!

 

Lean In: For When I am Weak, Then I am Strong

Lean InRecently, I’ve been praying for healing in many of my loved ones. It seems that almost daily now I hear about someone suffering through some sort of health concern or crisis.  My heart breaks a little each time that I hear these stories of people suffering and in pain.

Most recently, there was yet someone else telling me about a health crisis and I was just desperate for an answer.  Have you ever gotten to that place with God?  You just get tired.  You get tired of hearing sad stories, of reading about tragedies, of hearing about your loved ones hurting.  And you just sort of yell in your head at God “LORD! WHERE ARE YOU?”

In my moment of fatigue, I opened the Bible to these verses: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.” These verses almost bring me to tears every time I read them. It’s taken crisis after crisis to finally get to this point where I am telling God “I just can’t anymore.” I just can’t do this on my own anymore. I just can’t control the situation anymore.  God, it’s out of my hands and I just don’t know what else to do.

And just like God, when we get to this point where we just can’t anymore, God tells us that his power is made perfect in our weakness.  He tells us that when we are most desperate, that is when He is most perfect.  He reminds us that when we feel like we have nothing else to give, He can then become our everything we need. This verse that Paul writes reminds us that at our lowest points, it should give us joy knowing that God is at His best.

Ladies – we don’t need to do it in our own power.  I know we battle with that.  We think we need to.  We like to have control and we are problem-solvers.  But I am encouraging you (and me) and challenging us to lean in to God in those moments where we feel most desperate.  Instead of running to fear, anxiety, stress, anger, depression, or whatever else that the enemy tries to lure us into, let us lean in to God who tells us that when we are weak, He is strong.  And because He is our Father, when we are weak, then we are strong in Him.

I don’t know your struggle today.  But God does.  And He’s waiting for you to throw up your arms and tell Him “I just can’t anymore” so that He can then show Himself to you and to a watching world.  Lean in to God today and allow His strength to be made perfect in your weakness.

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