Extreme Joy

Extreme Joy

Thursday, March 3, 2011

March . . . How did you get here so fast?

Wow is all I can say. Here it is March and I'm wondering where January and February are. Now, let me think. Oh, now I remember, those were the past two months that I have been on a 90 Day Fitness Challenge with Phil and Amy Parham.

The difference between Jan. 8th and today, Mar. 3rd, well, it's 12 lbs and 11 inches. The challenge has been just that, a challenge, but I am continuing day after day with making better choices in what I eat, exercising daily, and drinking more water.

I have tried to lose weight many times, just as others have, but for the first time I'm doing it the right way. If you are interested, check out Phil and Amy Parham's book, "The 90-Day Fitness Challenge" published by Harvest House Publishers.

Want to see what my life has been like since January 8th, visit my blog at http://fbcm90daychallenge.blogspot.com/ where I have been writing daily about my journey.

I will check back in soon at Extreme Joy to share all about what the Lord has taught me while going through this challenge. And it's just that . . . EXTREME JOY!!!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Who Would Have Thought

This time last year who would have thought. . .
  • that my daughter would spend this New Year's Eve in the bush of Africa - Turkana - watching God's starry light show in the skies instead of bought fireworks
  • that I would actually be a published writer, having published stories or articles in "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotions for Mothers," "In Touch Ministries," Focus on the Families "Thriving Family" Magazine, and have devotions published online at christiandevotion.us
  • that I would have attended my first Writers Conference and receive 2 awards
  • that I would have survived a very difficult year financially and by the end of the year my husband would have a new job he LOVES and is already excelling
  • that I would be getting up before the sun to row on a rowing machine 5 days out of the week and loving it
These are a few highlights that come to my mind as I reflect on 2010. Some people like to reflect on the previous year while others are ready to plow on through to the next year. For me and my family I would have to say it's been a rough year, but when I think of the accomplishments, the blessings, the changes, the pruning, the fruit, and the provisions I see that God IS FAITHFUL. This brief reflection reminds me that when I can't see His hand, I must trust His heart! And I must ALWAYS remember His Word that says, "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11 NKJV).

May the Lord bless you and your family.
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Spiritual Belt

I have a confession to make . . . I lose weight, then gain it back. Lose it again and gain it back again. I have a belt to prove it.

The belt has not one, but three notches that are well worn. Sometimes I come very close to throwing the belt away, but hold on to it because it's one of my favorites. When I am at my last notch I realize how close I am to losing the belt for good. When I am smaller and three notches into the belt, I smile as I remember I am not where I used to be  . . . larger.

If I had a spiritual belt, I wonder what it would look like? It think it would look the same as the belt I wear. Sometimes I am lazy, sluggish, and distracted. It is at these times I began to realize that I am getting near to losing something very special -- a close relationship with my Heavenly Father. When I am lean, focused and dedicated, I look at the last notch and realize I'm not where I used to be.

As the holiday season continues to march into my life to the tune of the March of the Toy Soldiers from The Nutcracker, I find myself looking at menus, marking the calendar with Christmas parties, and planning time in the kitchen to bake. I have to be very careful not to allow myself to get to the last notch of my belt, less I have to put it aside. The same with my spiritual belt, with the holidays, I don't need to get wrapped in food, fun, and parties but need to remember what the holiday season really means.

This year I am pulling my belt tighter -- "Only one piece of pie please. Yes, the small one will do" -- and spending quiet moments reflecting, praying, and thanking God for His love and most of all His gift to us, His Son Jesus.

What would your spiritual belt look like?

image courtesy of photobucket.com

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lessons from my Garden

I thought she was dying. Her leaves were turning yellow and dropping and the showy white flowers that once adorned her with beauty were thinning in the hot summer sun. Try as I did to supply her with food and water, she wasn't fairing well. I had heard she was one of the toughest in her category and had decided to give her a try in containers on my deck.  As a person who pulls for the underdog I didn't want to give up on my "Snow Princess" Alyssum when she stopped producing the snowing white flowers.  With all the talk about heat tolerance, beauty, and long lasting color from spring to fall, I had to give her every opportunity to live up to the billing.

Summer moved into fall, the hot temperatures gave way to cooler temps and I began to see a difference in my plant. Her leaves greened up and once again she was covered with snowy white blooms that gave her the descriptive name she carried. By October my "Snow Princess" was as beautiful as she was in the spring. I was so thankful that I didn't give up on her. . . she became the delight of my fall garden.

My name isn't "Snow Princess" and I don't grace a deck with lovely white flowers, but I do find myself going through hot, dry spells in which I don't feel like I am being productive or living up to my billing -- that God loves me, has a plan for me, and delights in me. The Holy Spirit faithfully continues to feed and water me through the drought times until once again I bloom and flower like God created me to do. I am so glad that He pulls for underdogs and never gives up on me. But most of all I take extreme joy in knowing I'm the delight of His garden. 


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Patch Photos

"I'll go with you, but I'm not going to get my picture taken this time." 

Year after year we we would take a family trip to the mountains to get apples, mountain cabbage and homemade jellies. The highlight of the trip was going to the pumpkin patch to pick out the pumpkin that would grace our front porch. I too wanted a pumpkin, but the real reason I planned this little excursion was to get some cute pictures of  my daughter. With camera in hand I would coax my daughter into the  middle of the pumpkins for a photo shoot. When she was small, it wasn't too difficult because she would gladly get in the middle of the patch searching for the perfect pumpkin. As she got older, it was more difficult and then came the year she was a freshman in college when she adamantly said, "I'll go with you, but I am not going to get my picture taken this time." As always, I made sure she did.

I loved going back over the years to see how much she had grown and changed. The bangs and pony-tail gave way to a more teenage look of long hair with no bangs. The braces came and went, and the glasses that were so adorable on her as a child disappeared soon after the braces. Each year was a noticeable change in the the appearance of my daughter as she grew into a lovely young woman.

I have often thought what changes God would see if He took a yearly picture of me -- same time, same place. Would He see a spiritual growth in me? Would I be growing in grace and knowledge, obedience and trust? Or would I try to get out of my spiritual evaluation by telling Him, "I'll go with you, but I'm not going to get my picture taken this time."

I want to go with Him and allow Him to search my heart and check my spiritual growth chart. But more than anything, I want Him to take my picture and be able to say "She's looking more and more like her Abba, Daddy every day."

Lord, thank you that You want me to go with You, spend time with You, and let You search my heart. I don't want to stay like I am, but I want to be more like You. So much like You that when others see me, they will see a reflection of You, my Father. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tetherball anyone?

The saying goes "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!" Obviously a person must have some sort of control of their situation if they can tie a knot and then hang on. But what if you are a ball attached to the end of the rope, tethered to a pole with no control of your situation at all?

Oh, I wish I could have tied a knot and held on these past couple of weeks. One minute I was peacefully hanging at the end of a rope swaying to the rhythm of life when all the sudden I was hit with a force that sent me flying in circles through the air.

At first I wished I hadn't been tethered at all. That way, the force of the punch could have sent me sailing through the air to an unknown destination leaving the circumstances of the punch well out of sight. It would have been much easier to bear the pain and assess the damage. 

No chance . . . I was tethered -- while circling at such speed I didn't even see the pole until I felt the pain of impact and the tight grip of the cord. Tie a knot and hold on, why I couldn't even move as the situation unfolded around me. Why couldn't I have just flown through the air and away from the pain? Why did I have to be tethered?

Why? Because I am tethered! I am tethered to Jesus Christ . . . the One who will "Never leave me nor forsake me." As I felt the pain and helplessness of the situation, I began to feel the tightness of the wrapped cord as an embrace that kept me stable. As the race of my heart begin to decrease, I realized the pole in which I was I tethered was my anchor. Seriously, where would I have landed if I hadn't been attached to my anchor? What arms would have been there to embrace me through the pain?

Today, by the glory and grace of God I am being unwound at a slow gentle pace as the hurts and disappointments are washed away by the wind of God's Spirit. Soon I will once again be swaying to the rhythms of life THANKFUL that I am tethered to my Saviour and Lord.

And the next time I am hit with life's painful circumstances, . . . I will count it all joy. Because once again I will "wind up" face to face with the ONE who is my tether.

images courtesy of photobucket.com

Friday, July 23, 2010


 "Let's take a good look at the way we're living and reorder our lives under God" (Lam. 3:40 - The Message).

Milestone birthdays need to be celebrated and we had two in one family. My brother was turning 50 and his wife, whose birthday was on the same day, was turning 40. Two birthdays that deserved a party.

I had offered my home for our family to meet and celebrate but there was so much that needed to be done to my neglected house. So the work began -- dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, cleaning bathrooms, rearranging the deck. Then the party plans --  pizza was on the menu but we still needed balloons, cakes, candles (lots of candles), and confetti.

The day after the party I was resting in my favorite recliner when I looked up and saw them. Cobwebs. They were gracefully woven between the corner and a beam in my den ceiling. I thought I had cleaned my house. How did I miss those? How? -- I never took the time to look up. It was only in my resting that I looked up and saw the evidence of a neglected place in my home.

It is the same way with our "spiritual homes." How many times do we stay so busy that we have our heads down taking care of what we think is important. In doing this we never take time to rest. Not just a physical rest, but a resting that takes place in our hearts as we spend time with the Lord. It is during these times that He can show us the places in our lives that need attention and cleaning. The cobwebs could be a bad habit, an attitude, an unhealthy mindset, or unforgiveness. If we always have our heads down and never rest and look up, we will miss those places that need attention.

Take time this weekend and next week to rest in the Lord. Take a good look at the way you are living and let God help you not only clean out the "cobwebs" but reorder your life.