Uncomfortably Honest

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.” (NCV)

I read these verses the other day and immediately my heart turned to someone in my life with whom I am currently struggling. “Oh Lord,” I prayed, “please speak to this person and let them humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways and return to you.”

But halfway through this prayer for this person to “turn from their wicked ways”, another thought popped into my head. Should I be focusing this prayer on myself instead?

In this situation where I believe I am being wronged, and I truly believe I am following God’s ways in this particular situation, shouldn’t I be praying for the other person’s eyes to be opened to the situation at hand? Shouldn’t I be praying for them to turn from their ways and turn towards God?

Maybe not.

Maybe what God is trying to tell me with this verse is that I need to not focus so hard on the other person, but instead turn that spotlight inward, towards myself. Matthew 7:3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (NIV) What wicked ways do I need to turn from? What are those black spots in my mind and on my heart that I need to confess to God and allow Him to clean me up from the inside out? What are the areas in my own life where I need to humble myself to God and pray and seek His face?

Anger/Resentment: my feelings of being wronged and feeling like I am the victim will not only turn to anger if I don’t confront and confess them, but eventually could turn to resentment, hurting nobody but myself

Doubt: doubting God’s plan for my life

Envy: I’ve struggled with various forms of envy my entire life

Fear: instead of trusting in God, I’ve found myself crippled with fear over all the things that COULD happen, instead of focusing on what GOD will make happen and trusting that whatever that is will be what’s best for me

Looks like I have enough of my own things to confess to God, to humble myself before Him, to seek His face and to pray and to turn from these wicked thoughts which are not from God.

Dear Lord, I come to you humbled and broken, a sinner in need of redemption. Please help me to turn from my sins and turn from the things that are not from you. Please forgive me and help me to remember that you are perfect and you are in control. Forgive me for my anger, my doubt, my envy and my fear. Please fill me with your peace and your love and help me to live as an example of you. Thank you for these words and this reminder. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

uncomfortably honest

Let’s (not) Compare

So the other day my husband and I were sitting on the couch and out of the blue my husband turns to me and says, “do you ever think that Facebook is just a place where people…” he started to trail off and so I helpfully inserted, “post only the good things about their lives and never any bad?” To which he responded very emphatically, “YES”.

Um…only all the time.

This isn’t to call anyone out, or to knock Facebook. Social media can be and usually is a good thing – you can catch up with people from your past you’d otherwise never see or talk to, you can get accurate information on a nearby restaurant recommendation, you can share pictures and videos with friends and family…heck, one of my friends used Facebook Live to stream a birthday party for her son! Which was great, considering she lives like twelve states away. There are lots of good applications. But my husband hit on one of the more negative sides of social media: jealousy. How easy is it to check out your old high school rival’s facebook page and compare yourself to everything you see? How many times have you scrolled through your newsfeed, picking out all the things you wish you were doing, or that baby you wish was growing inside your belly, or that wedding you wish you were planning, or that house you wish you could afford? How many times does it make you feel like your life doesn’t compare?

I do it. All the time.

To be honest – there was one point where I had to take a social media hiatus because I was working myself into a fit every time I got online. But as my husband puts it, “you are comparing someone else’s highlights reel to your blooper reel.” Isn’t that the truth? (FYI: my husband is wicked smart.)

What does God tell us about jealousy?

James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (ESV)

Adding to that, Proverbs 14:30 tells us that, “A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” (ESV)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in the midst of “disorder and every vile practice”, and I certainly don’t want to participate in anything that “makes bones rot”! Unfortunately, we know that jealous, envy, etc are bi-products of our sinful human nature. Fortunately, God loves us and forgives us when we ask for it, and if we live our lives for Him, He will helps us with these struggles.

When I start to feel jealousy, or when I begin to compare my life to other people’s, I fall back on the words of David in Psalms 139:

“You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me  were written in your book before I was one day old.” Psalm 139:13-16 (NCV)

God made me to be exactly who He wants me to be. He planned my days and He knows what I am going to do, when I am going to do it, and what I’m going to have. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, in His image. How could I compare myself then to anyone else?

I’m not saying it’s easy – some days are much harder than others. But it also helps me to think about all the blessings I have in my life – God has blessed me with a loving husband, a beautiful stepson, a house, a job, a car, a family. God crafted me to be exactly who He wants and needs me to be – and I can rest in the promises of His love.

And to God – we are all his highlights.

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Crossfit

For the past year or so (probably longer), the Husband and I have been struggling with our health. As much as I even hate admitting it out loud – or on paper – we needed help, and we knew it.

When we look back, it’s easy to see where things went south. We’ve both been pretty healthy people – when Kevin was living in California he worked out all the time. Health and fitness were a priority to him – both for his personal life and in his profession.

For me – I started working out fairly regularly when I first moved overseas. I’ve had ups and downs, but I always maintained a somewhat regular fitness routine. And I prided myself on how I ate. I’ve been on a mostly Paleo diet for a couple of years, I completed several Whole30s…it was a part of who I was. Even before I decided to go Paleo, I’ve always been the one in my family who chose vegetables over dessert.

However, a few months after we got married we hit a series of trials in our personal life that led to a lot of stress. When added to the extreme Virginia winters, all we wanted to do – all we did – was stay home and feel sorry for ourselves, or go out to eat and feel sorry for ourselves. We thought we were helping each other out by offering comfort food when the other was having a bad day, when before we would have suggested something active like a run, or a hike, or a walk around the neighborhood.

Little by little we started to feel worse. Our clothes weren’t fitting…we were unhappy all the time…and we knew something needed to change, sooner rather than later.

My husband was the first to take action. A few months ago, he approached me with a meal plan he got from a nutritionist friend of his. When I first it, I cringed and immediately started to think of a hundred reasons why it wouldn’t work or why I wasn’t going to do it. It was pretty restrictive, with very low carbs and almost no sugar at all. It also limited portion size which is something we both desperately needed. At first I wanted to say no. I told myself that all I needed to do was another Whole30 and I was confident I’d get back on track. But my husband needed this, and in support of him (and because I needed it too, whether or not I wanted to admit it or not), I agreed.

He also approached me with something I’ve been adamantly against for years.

I’ve done some crossfit type workouts in the past, although admittedly never any of the Olympic weightlifting stuff. Most of what I did was body weight exercises like squats and burpees and sprints, not that there is anything wrong with any of those exercises. It was the crossfit stereotype that I had no interest in – trying to push tractor tires around, working so hard you throw up (no, thank you!), pushing other people so hard they throw up, snubbing your nose at any other type of workout…it wasn’t a crowd I wanted to be a part of.

But then Kevin found a crossfit gym in our area that he was really interested in. The biggest sell was their mission statement, which includes a line on Faith: seeking to put other’s needs above ours as we live out our Christian values. He loved the fact that faith was so important to the coaches/owners that they wanted to be known for it and I agreed wholeheartedly, although I still didn’t want to go to a class. However, they also offer a free Saturday morning class for people who just want to come and try it out.

As previously mentioned, I was not one of those people.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) for me my husband was one of those people and so he signed us up. And when he approached me about it on the Friday night before, I agreed to go. When I woke up on Saturday morning I was singing a different tune.

Admittedly, I was cranky. And rude. And I’m surprised that he didn’t just throw his arms up in defeat (or disgust) and leave me at home, which is what I deserved. Instead he put up with my bad attitude, handed me a travel mug of coffee, and packed me into the car.

I was nervous when we pulled up in front of the gym – a nondescript office in a nondescript office park. I didn’t know what to expect and in my head all I could think about was the stereotype.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The Saturday morning classes are tailored to people who have never done crossfit but want to see what it’s all about. They don’t use any barbells or do any Olympic weightlifting – in fact, members must complete a mandatory two week “Basics Class” to learn all the proper techniques and moves prior to participating in any of the regular weekly classes. On Saturdays they do a group warm-up; then they review all the moves of that day’s workout, and then we go!

I was relieved when I saw the WOD (workout of the day) written on the whiteboard:

5 rounds of 1 minute each:

– Row or run (200 meters outside if running)

– Dumbbell push press

– Double unders

– Burpees

– Box jumps

All moves that I knew how to do – hooray! Not only was the workout a lot of fun but I pushed myself, felt great, AND met a lot of new and friendly people. By the time we left Saturday’s class, I was hooked.

We signed up for the two week Basics course that same day, and I quickly learned that this gym is not at all like the stereotype. For one thing (and probably the most important thing), the coaches are incredibly focused on good form and technique. Instead of pushing someone past their limits or forcing them to do more weight, they make gentle (or sometimes not so gentle, depending on the situation) corrections to form, and they always want to know if there’s something going on that might require you to take it easy during that day’s class. Don’t get me wrong, there have been more times than I can count where a coach (correctly) suggested I should add more weight, and I never once regretted it. That said, if I try something that’s too heavy and my form suffers, they are more than quick to tell me to decrease the weight. The other thing I like about our gym ties into their faith-based mission statement. Although our gym doesn’t have crossfit classes for children, it’s very family oriented and it’s not unusual to see a pack and play set up off to the side holding a bouncing toddler cheering us on. Also – this may be insignificant to some but to me it’s important – it’s a very positive, upbeat community. There’s no (okay, there’s limited) swearing, and instead of screaming at others to push harder or to add weight, everyone cheers each other on during the workouts, particularly if someone is having a rough time on it and needs some encouragement to finish their sets or reps. It creates a welcoming, friendly environment and Kevin and I have come to view the coaches and other members as family.

Needless to say, I am so glad Kevin dragged me to class that Saturday! It’s a decision I don’t think either of us will ever regret.