Friday, February 28, 2014

Walking in the Light



I read a wonderful devotion this morning on the difference between having faith and living faithfully due to a sense of duty or out of obedience (as the Bible calls us to do.) 1 John 1:7 call us to "walk in the light." I want to share a couple of different versions from different translations of the Bible.  I find it very helpful to do this.

-If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin. -The Message


-But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, andthe blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. -ESV


-But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. -NLT

There is a major difference between living faithfully out of duty and living faithfully out of obedience.  When we do something out of duty, and not because of joyful obedience, there is a good chance we may end up feeling resentment or frustration in our faith walk.  But when we wake up every single morning, and tune into the Joy and Mercy that having a relationship with Jesus offers, we will squash the frustration when it comes our way.

I believe that this same principle can be applied to anything we are dealing with in our lives.  For instance, our health and fitness.  If you wake up every day and see eating well and exercise as a "duty," I can almost guarantee you will burn out and resent it in the near future.  However, if you can pray, meditate, and truly spend time considering how God created our bodies to move, how He created healthy natural foods for us to enjoy and nourish ourselves, you will find yourself wanting to move and treat your body right.

This can take time for some of us.  I know for years, I thought I was "healthy." However, I would say words like "I earned this pie," or "I can eat this today, because it's my treat day." I remember years ago my husband would tell me that people gain wait when they worry about food and are not grateful for each bite.  I used to actually feel upset with him for saying such a thing to me, but mainly it was out of my own insecurity and envy that he seemingly could eat "whatever" he wanted without ever gaining a pound.  

I am not sure when exactly this truth clicked for me, but it was after having our daughter, and in my mid to late thirties.  Seriously just one day it clicked.  I think I did fake it until I made it, but I can tell you truly that now I do not worry about food.  Do I eat just whatever I want? No.  But when I want something I eat it in moderation, and enjoy every single bite.  I pray a prayer of gratitude, knowing that there are many in this world that live off of very little food.  I choose to eat the delicious foods that God created for us to eat.  I love cooking and experimenting.  I no longer look at food as a reward or punishment, which is not easy because it is very common in our society.

Exercise is a joy now.  I love going solo or meeting girlfriends to walk or run.  I love signing up for races that raise money for a good cause.  I do this not out of duty or a sense of responsibility.  I do it because God gave me this gift - the gift of a body that can walk, run, bike, swim, play, and dance.  I do it because I feel good when I do.  I do it because it is good for my mood, my stress level, my overall well being.  I do it because I can, and I never ever want to take that for granted.

I would love to hear from you now, why do you do what you do? What inspires your healthy lifestyle? What changes have you made, or want to make?

My prayer for you today, is that you choose to Walk in the Light.  Walk tall, and strong.  Know your purpose and why you do what you do.

Your Sole Searching Sister,
Julie



Monday, February 24, 2014

Confession Time!



I have a confession... I have been feeling overwhelmed lately.  It's just a culmination of all the responsibilities I have going on at this time in my life.

What I struggle with most is saying "no" to things that are very good things, great opportunities for my family to make a difference, in order to give me time to work on the things I "have" to do, like school work.  It's usually a mad scramble each weekend to get homework and quizzes done that I did not have time to complete during the week, due to working and other responsibilities.  Again, the guilt and stress overwhelm me, that yet again, something is taking me away from my family.

I also sometimes feel guilty for taking time out, even if it is at 5:00 or 6:00 am for a run or walk with my sisters in sweat (referred to from this point on as, SIS).  However, I know that it is truly the only time that I have during the day to do it, and also it is usually the only "me" time.  When I need it most, I seek comfort... Comfort to help me come through the times that overwhelm me.

The comfort I receive comes from two places.  First, it comes from in knowing I am not alone.  During the group walks I take with my SIS, we give each other license to share our struggles, and our triumphs.  It is a great time to laugh, cry, and seek advice and support.

Support and comfort also comes from my relationship with God.  As with any relationship, there is a block in place when one or both individuals involved is not being honest or forthcoming.  Even though God sees and knows all that I feel on a moment by moment basis.  The Bible tells us that there is healing in confessing our mistakes to our Father.  Great relief is immediately felt whenever I tell God what I have been feeling.  In Proverbs 28:13 we read,

"Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy."







You cannot hide from God, you cannot hide the feelings of stress, unworthiness, unforgiveness, from Him.  We may think we can, but we can't.  In "hiding" we are only holding ourselves hostage.  We need to come clean, and give Him the opportunity to take our feelings and grow and strengthen us - as it is says in Proverbs, He will give us mercy.




What feelings are you holding onto that you just cannot seem to let go of? Is there something that you need to examine more closely, some situation that you have allowed to cause you much grief and stress? Are you struggling with feeling motivation? Purpose? Forgiveness? 




Whatever it is, I encourage you to make time today to confess your feelings.  Write them down, say it out loud, say it in prayer. Yell it in the shower, talk to Him while you are driving alone in the car, pray silently as you run/walk....whatever time you carve out.. release the feelings you have and give God the opportunity to do a new thing in your heart today.





I am praying for you, because I have a feeling I am not the only one feeling overwhelmed.






Your Sole Searching Sister,




Julie

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Surviving Setbacks..


Let's face it: there are going to be times in our life where we find ourselves in the middle of a setback.  Many, many setbacks.  Personal, professional, health, and more.  Circumstances both beyond and within our control can cause these "bumps in the road" that can create doubt, fears, insecurities, and frustrations.

I personally have been struggling with some personal setbacks brought on by hurt feelings.  Now my brain knows darn well that I have complete control over what I let hurt me, what I let get to me, and what I let impact my daily attitude.  But for some reason, this setback.. I just couldn't shake it.

No matter how much I tried not to dwell on this situation and the feelings I was experiencing, it seemed it was always there, in the forefront of my mind.  I finally realized I need to intervene - get my heart and my mind back on track, doing what I know to be healthy and right: Pray over and over about this.

This led me to a devotional on Monday in Our Daily Bread.  The entire devo was about guarding your mouth, but deeper than that, it was about examining our heart before letting the words escape our lips.  Even though I was not really sharing my hurt with anyone other than my husband.  I knew that the "thoughts" that I was thinking was affecting me very negatively.

This got me wondering how many other out there were experiencing damaging thoughts this week as well? Are you struggling with a situation, a decision, or circumstance, and it is setting you back mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?

There is hope.  Listening to your heart, finding out the root cause of the feelings you are experiencing is important to healing.  It is important to forgiving yourself for the setback.  Because again, it is my belief that we have a say in who or what hurts us.  We allow it, or can ignore it.

My prayer for you today is that God will shine a light on the true feelings that are bubbling up over this situation, that you may experience peace and understanding.  That you can find forgiveness and joy again.

Setbacks are just mountains we need to climb so that we can experience the healing of the journey.  Embrace the lessons learned during your setback.  Make changes, and do not allow that same setback to control your thoughts and actions.  You can do this with God's help.

...but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm. -Proverbs 1:33

Quiet your mind, and listen to our Father in Heaven.  Let Him guide you and pull you up from the setback you are experiencing.  

Your Sole Searching Sister,
Julie

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Beginnings...

All around us we see new beginnings.  New jobs, new marriages, new friendships, new lessons in our children's classes.  When we really take the time to look, we see that change is happening all of the time.

Whether we want to admit it or not, many of us are fearful of too much change.  I believe that this is due to to the fear of the unfamiliar, it seems to take our security away.  Today,  I want to share one of God's precious promises to us:

In the book of Job, we read  "Although your former state was ordinary, your future will be extraordinary." Job 8:7

What is it that you are holding yourself back from starting today? Is it going back to school? Calling that friend that you need to reconnect with? Having that tough conversation with your family member? Making healthier choices for yourself?

Whatever it may be, we can rest in knowing that while change may not be easy... God has promised us that our newness will be extraordinary, if only we will take that first step.

Choose your new beginning today.  After all...





Friday, February 7, 2014

...And Action!



Things we tell our kids...

-Work hard
-Always do your best
-There is nothing you cannot do, with hard work
-Don't let your fears hold you back from trying something new
-Practice makes perfect
-You can do anything you set your mind to doing

Do any of these sound familiar? If you are a parent, do you ever say these promises to your kids?

Last night, my 10 year old daughter and I watched about 45 minutes of the first televised night of the Sochi Winter Olympics.  Together we marveled at the female snowboarders as they tackled the newest event in the Winter Games - the Slope style.  This event combined snowboarding feats and tricks that I can only dream of doing.  Both my daughter and I remarked how much hard work and practice each athlete must endure to get to this level.

As I put her to bed later in the evening, she asked me, "How do you become an Olympic athlete Mom?" This opened up dialogue, which included many of the lines you read earlier, about how it takes talent, dedication, perseverance, training, and much much practice on the part of the athlete.  I finished with this, "Honey it takes action backed up by passion."

This conversation was still on my mind when I woke up this morning.  I imagined what my daughter must have dreamed about last night.  Did she have dreams of winning the gold? I hope so.  I want her to dream big!

But, I think it is important to impart to our children that while dreaming is very important, a dream cannot become a reality until we put action behind it.

What I am curious about is, why do so many of us adults forget this too?

We say we want to get a better job.  We say we want to lose 20 pounds.  We say we want to run a 5K.  we say we want to join the gym.  We say we want to join a fitness group.  The list goes on and on.

Somewhere along the way we let ourselves down.  We dreamed big dreams, but chose not to put it into action backed by our passion.

What dream or goal are you holding yourself back from reaching? Take some time today or this weekend to really figure out the reasons why.  Find inspiration, have a chat with someone in your life who has reached his/her goal.  Ask them what it took for them to start towards reaching their goal.

For me, my passion for living a healthier lifestyle and including walking and running in my everyday life - created a passion that I live out through my action.  Each time I run or walk, either solo, with our dogs, my family or friends... my passion is reignited, as well as my commitment to this lifelong goal.  In other words, my action = passion.

I leave you now with Scripture from Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Whether you know it yet or not, God has big plans for you.  Today, make choices that will further the goal/dream that you have hidden in your heart.  Doing so will encourage and inspire your children and those around you to do so, without saying a word.  

...And ACTION!

Your Sole Searching Sister,
Julie

*I would love to hear how you took action today to further reach you to your dream/goal! Post back here!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Letting it go...



You know you are a parent (or Disney fan) if you are humming Frozen's "Let it Go," more often than you are not.  Welcome to my world lately.  Since we have been singing it so much in our home lately, I started really thinking about the meaning behind the lyrics.  I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone that may not have see it, so I will speak generally.

Letting Go is about releasing the expectations we often place on ourselves or perceive that others have for us.  This theme got me thinking about 1 Peter 5:7




Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.






All too often we try to carry burdens all alone.  We think we should be able to handle it, otherwise why would we be going through it?







I have learned that God can use these times in our lives to teach us to lean on Him, and not on our own strength.  What are you facing today that you need God's strength? Let me put it another way.. What are you facing today that you don't need God's strength to face? The truth is nothing.







Every single moment of our lives, we need Him, His guidance, His mercy, His forgiveness, His strength.  All we need to do is acknowledge this, and pray..






Oh God, how I need you.  I need you today, and every day.  I need your renewal in the morning.  I need your strength in the afternoon.  I need your mercy in the evening.  Guide my steps today.  Guide my words and thoughts.  Dwell within me.  You promise you never will forsake me, thank you.  May I remember I belong to you.  May I honor you with my life.  May I respect my body as Your unique creation.  May I respect others whom you have created.  







My prayer for you today, is that you will Let Go of anything that is weighing you down today; doubts, fears, laziness, indifference, low self esteem, self doubt, anger, or unforgiveness.  Let God carry this burden for you.  Be free my friends.  Don't waste another day.  It's a gift.







Your Sole Searching Sister