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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

All the "CAN'T-STOP-EATING" ladies...

Ever have days when you eat everything in your house? Left over chocolate chips? Check. Half a pack of pepperoni for making pizza? Check. All three bags of mini microwave popcorn? Triple check.

Such was last week.

So as my day to write a “Fit and Fabulous” email to my dear girlfriends approached, I was not feeling it. What I felt was that extra 8lbs I’m sure I added since the night before.

I woke up Sunday feeling horrible, disappointed and like an utter failure. Instead of working out to combat my feelings of fatness, I opened my bible to my scheduled reading for that day. Philippians 4. (I’m a professional procrastinator.)

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

I have read these verses so many times in my 20 year walk with Jesus, but this time, they had a new meaning all together.

Some days, we get it right. We work out. We eat healthy. We lose weight. And some days, some days we eat the entire $100 load of groceries we bought the day before.

Being content doesn’t necessarily mean happy. Paul doesn’t say he’s learned the secret of being happy. He’s says no matter the situation, he’s content. He’s satisfied. Satisfied in who he is as a person and satisfied in who he is in Christ.

That extra body fat, it doesn’t define me and it doesn’t define who I am in Christ. In Christ, I’m new. Brand spankin’ beautiful and new.

So just in case you need to actually read it to believe it: YOU CAN QUIT WITH THE GUILT TRIP. In the words of Aibileen, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” All the rest is just a bonus to the incredible woman you already are.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Promises


After spending a week living in fear, I woke up this morning to some pretty sweet promises from the Lord. Reading back through what I underlined, I am stunned that I would ever doubt His faithfulness and His guidance.  

From Ephesians 1-2

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world…"

"In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons…"

"In him we were also chosen…"

"Having believed, you were marked with a seal…"

"But because of his great love for us…"

"For it is by grace you have been saved through faith…"

"For we are God's workmanship…"

"For He himself is our peace…"

"You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens…"


As someone who gets in my own way a lot, I'm so thankful that I have a God who reminds me of His sweet promises for my life even when I make a mess of it. 

I am chosen. I am loved. I am covered by His peace. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello God, Is that you or my lunch talking?



I've been straining to hear the voice of God since I was in middle school. I jokingly say straining, because I'm always "trying" to hear yet I am never quite sure whose voice I'm actually hearing. Is it God's, mine, my mom's, my best friend's…

And so I strain.

I love to look back at miracles in my life and remember those straining moments. Five, ten, fifteen years later, I know exactly which voice was His. No question. That conversation I was supposed to have.  That relationship I needed to end. That trip I felt led to go on without the cash to pay for it. 

God's voice seems so easy to decipher AFTER you take that step of faith. (Not helpful God!)

This week, I had one of those "Aha it WAS You!" moments.

About a month ago I had asked God to make something abundantly clear to me. I wanted to know if I was walking down the right road. After a year of making poor choices, I was scared of making yet another one. 

I think that's what's irritating and wonderful about failure. You begin to question everything so that you don't repeat the mistake. You don't trust your gut. You don't trust common sense. You don't trust the voice inside that you have always relied on in the past.

I think it was Christmas Eve. I had one of those freak-out, don't-trust-my-gut, can't-hear-the-Lord moments. 

See, I have this idea. This big idea that I think came from God, but I'm not sure. And, it sounds CRAZY to me. I was talking to someone on the phone about it and I kept saying, "This is crazy!" And he kept saying, "Yes, but this is awesome!" followed by several more, "This is crazy!" and "This is awesome!"

Those two phrases may have been repeated about 20 times in the course of 2 minutes. (A very productive conversation!)

While we were going back and forth,  clear as day in my mind, I saw the word "JUMP."

God is that you? Are you SURE that's you? Am I going crazy talking about being crazy?

(Side note: this side conversation with God could have also been the reason I kept repeating myself over and over again in the "real life" phone conversation. Not a good multi-tasker.)

Yes. I think I heard Him clearly. God wants me to jump. Jump off this cliff and chase this idea. 

Okay. This is totally crazy.

But, that night, before I went to sleep, I told God I would jump. I told Him I thought He was nuts (or I was nuts) but that I would trust Him. Oh, and that He was going to have confirm this crazy, potentially awesome idea.

Fast forward 4 weeks. I've been praying over this idea every day. Trusting the Lord despite my human, failed heart, that God knows what He's doing more that I know what I'm doing. 

And, on an airplane to sin city, reading Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker, God spoke again. This time, it was that confirmation I had been praying for and you won't believe the words He used.
"As I sprinted toward the ten-thousand-foot drop-off, one thought kept repeating itself like a broken record: This is crazy, this is crazy, this is crazy! But it was quickly followed by, This is awesome, this is awesome, this is awesome!
We ran off the cliff and caught an updraft in our parachute. The next thing I knew we were sailing over the Sacred Valley at 14,000 feet. Despite the fact that I lost my lunch seven times in twenty minutes, paragliding ranks as one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I learned that if you aren't willing to put yourself in "this is crazy" situations, you'll never experience "this is awesome" moments. If you aren't willing to run off the cliff, you'll never learn to fly."

I couldn't believe my eyes. There was my answer and my charge.

The awesome thing about the voice of God is that you hear it when your heart is tuned to His. The sucky thing is that sometimes you don't hear it. Sometimes you try and try, you strain and strain, and even then… silence. I think in those moments God's giving you a choice. I think He's either saying, "You know exactly what to do" or He's saying, "You can't go wrong no matter what you do."

Through my failures and my victories, God's voice has been clear. I've either been too scared to trust it or too selfish to listen to it. Not this time. This time, I hear you loud and clear. 10-4 good buddy. I'm jumping, I'm trusting, I'm believing for the "this is awesome."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Way of Love

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

1 Corinthians 13

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Perspective Check: Take 2


The “check your perspective” reminder never felt more relevant than today.

I lost something that I was hoping for today.

(Don’t worry mom. This wasn’t anything life altering in case you’re concerned.)

It was just a little boost of hope that I had hoped would turn into something great. It didn’t. No big deal. Back to my point.

So when 2pm rolled around and I heard the beeping on my phone, I looked down to read: CHECK YOUR PERSPECTIVE. (A reminder that goes off every day at the same time.)

I’ve been thinking about perspective a lot lately. Job perspective. Friend perspective. Family perspective. Life perspective. Often, I get stuck in the trees in the middle of the forest. I worry too much about one tree (me) without looking to see how that one tree plays a role in the vastness of trees that surround it (the rest of the world).

I stop looking at the big picture. I focus on the minutia.

As I glanced down to my phone, I took a deep breath and reset my perspective.

1. I am so healthy.

Two years ago this week, I was on a liquid diet, on pain medication, nausea medicine and antibiotics. I had just had my colon removed. I had just learned I had cancerous tumor growing inside me that was caught “incidentally.” I was scared, emotionally exhausted, and oh, I had unbelievably stomach pain and my doctors didn’t know why.

This year—this year I’m so healthy.

2. I have a career beyond my wildest expectations.

Just when I start to feel stuck, a new opportunity opens right before me. I look back over the past ten years since I decided to leave home and chase my dreams and I’m overwhelmed by the people I’ve met and the doors that have been opened—from being Bob Costa’s personal chauffer to standing on the sidelines of a Sunday Night Football games. I’ve interviewed heads of nations and mass murderers and held little babies just moments before they died. I worked in newsrooms in the nation’s top markets. I’ve had beers with network executives. I’ve traveled the world. I’ve chased my dreams.

I’ve been so blessed.

3. I am loved. My life is full of friends and family. FULL.

And I am so thankful.

As I adjusted my perspective and listed all the amazing things in my life, I was reminded of the most important thing.

My life—this life—is not about me. It’s not about my health, my career, or even how much I’m loved.

I’ve been reading through Paul’s New Testament writings—about how he abandoned everything good in his life for the sake of the cross. He didn’t walk through life expecting blessings and throwing in the towel when he didn’t get it. No way. He suffered humiliation and excruciating pain for his convictions. His life was about being content and serving the Lord in any and every situation. Whether well-fed or hungry, healthy or sick, rich or poor, his life was not his own. His life was the Lord’s.

Just like Paul, this life is not my own. It’s not about me and it’s not about losing the things I hoped for. This life is about following Jesus every moment of every day. Giving up my hopes, my ambitions, my plans, my dreams and trusting that the story of the forest is much cooler than the story of the tree. (Thank you Donald Miller.)

Perspective: Reset.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Just as a PS to this piece: I do want to say that I truly believe that the death of the things hoped for always means resurrection of those hopes in an even greater way. And that is hope I will hold onto until the end.)



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Slave or Son?


I have a problem with giving things away. I used to think I was just a nice person. Turns out, I'm probably not. I'm probably just sick. It's more of a guilt complex. If I'm out to eat with someone, I always feel like I need to pay.


(For those of you whom I have bought a meal, I truly wanted to bless you. No really.)


I can have NOTHING in my bank account, and I still (trying to hide my cringed look for making a bad decision) pay for meals.


Paying for dinner isn't my only weakness. I have bought plane tickets, given away my favorite clothes, jewelry, even considered letting a friend keep my dog once because she truly, truly loved him. Am I crazy? Uh, yeah.


In the past few months, I've been presented with a multitude of new life options. Options concerning my job, my love life, and the city I want to live in. They've all been great offers. But every time one has been presented to me, I think of friends who would be much better suited for the position, the man, the apartment, the city.


Yes. I have been on dates, girls, and thought of some of you as I sat across from handsome men who were there to wine and dine me.


I sat in an interview with the hiring producer at Good Morning America and thought of my sweet friend Laura who deserved this shot way more than I did.


I interviewed with my dream network and considered all of my DC producer friends who could take the job much more easily than I could.


I'm telling you. I'm sick.


After a few months of introspection on my "illness," I came up with one conclusion. I don't value myself the way others value me or God values me. How many of us are in that place?


A few weeks ago, I was reading Romans 8. I've read it so many times before, but this time, I picked up something new.


"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his Glory."


It reminds me of the Prodigal Son. The kid who took off with his inheritance, spent it and all wound up living with pigs. When he finally sucked it up and returned to his father, the first words out of his mouth were "make me one of your servants." The father looked at him like he was insane and said, "You crazy kid. You're my son. You will live like my son not as a slave."


So often, I walk around with my slave mentality. I don't think I deserve, and therefore I give up the awesome gifts God drops in my lap. I forget that I am an heir of God. What is His, the creator of the universe, is also mine!


I'm clinging to a new verse these days. Romans 8:32


"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for all of us--how will he not also graciously give us all things."


God allowed his own son to die on a cross to inform me that I was valuable. That my life means something. That I'm not a slave. That I'm his child. His heir. And all that is His is mine.


How will he not also graciously give us ALL things. All things. That job. That salary. That hot man sitting across the table at dinner. God cares about the intricacies of our lives. He cares about what we care about. He knows the desires of our hearts. He values us. Maybe it's time we start valuing ourselves and expect it ALL.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Surrounded by a Great Cloud of Witnesses

Yesterday, I had the honor of toasting two of my heroes in the faith as they venture into the next phase of life... retirement. Dr. Dick and Millie Bransford have spent the last 35 years on the mission field in Kenya. They have taught me so much about loving others and giving myself away. As I watched them yesterday holding hands, laughing and crying over memories and photos, I couldn't help but think how thousands upon thousands of children in Africa would have never received help or heard about the Lord had these two not said yes to each other and yes to God. What an awesome picture of God's providence for our lives.


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2009 BethanyKids documentary trip (Kijabe, Kenya)



Dick and Millie-


It's hard to believe we're toasting to your retirement. To the "lazy" days ahead of you watching your grandchildren grow and play, reading books on your deck at sunset, and YES, Millie, even having your very own dishwasher who is not a Kenyan woman named Tata.


I was thinking about all that I could say to you. All that I could thank you for as you've invested in my life over the last almost 15 years now. I am overwhelmed with memories and life lessons you've taught me. So I thought I would narrow it down to three.



Life lesson number one: You've taught me humility.

Whether it was sweet Millie who was able to laugh at herself every day when she would go looking for her coffee cup only to find it in the microwave where she had left it three hours earlier. Or whether it was good ol' Dr. B who still greets me at the breakfast table every time I stay in their home with a "Glad you could finally join us…" as if I had slept the day away by waking up at 7:30am.


You two have been the definition of humble. Constantly giving. Never expecting applause. Always loving. Never asking for anything in return.


Life lesson number two: You've taught me how to love.

I spent a summer with Dick and Millie when I was sixteen. I don't think I was in Kijabe 24-hours when they started trying to set me up with Rift Valley Academy boys. And, I'm pretty sure they're still working on finding my future husband.


Although they could use a little help on their match-making skills, they do know how to love each other without ceasing. During some very formidable teenage years, I watched these two pray for each other, support each other, and raise their children with such incredible love and wisdom. I will never forget the first time I joined them for family devotions. What an example of what a God-fearing family could look like. Dick often tells me that choosing my spouse may be the most important decision of my life. He always says don't choose the wrong person. No pressure. I have learned the importance of being matched with someone who shares your passion, your vision, and God's calling on your life.


Life lesson number three: You've taught me how to give.

Some of my greatest memories in life come from following Dick around Kenya. Going to clinics and telling patients that he didn't think he could help them… but he would find someone who could. I used to love going with Millie to a Kenyan school called Matathia. She would teach those kids about Jesus. And sing such beautiful songs. And they loved her. I think about the babies that died and how it would have such an affect on Dick's spirit. It grieved him--like he lost his own child. And I think about the BethanyKids staff and how these folks have learned to give because they had such strong leaders who gave themselves away every day.



So Dick and Millie. Here's to "lazy days" that all of us know won't ever be lazy. Here's to all that God has for you in this brand new chapter. While there may be a little less swahili to speak, He's not done using you.


Thank you for the faithful example you've set for all of us. May we all strive to be more Jesus and in doing so be a little more like you.