Let Us Remember

Note:  I originally posted this blog on October 26, 2008. 

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Many Churches throughout the Appalachian region and all over the Nation celebrate an “Old Fashion Sunday”. Ladies take out their bonnets and men their bibbed overhauls. Often a meal of Soup Beans or Old Fashion Drop Dumplins are a treat after the Sunday meal. Whether your church celebrates a similar day or not, we must take time to remember.

I. Remember the Change

How many years has it been since JESUS changed your life? Where were you when accepted the free gift of Salvation from JESUS? Recall the beauty of that day. Thank GOD for HIS redemptive work in your life, and perhaps share yor Faith Story with someone who has never heard it before. As you thank GOD for the change HE has made in your life, ask GOD to direct you in ways that you can help lead Sinners to a relationship with JESUS CHRIST.

II. Remember the Faithful

During my years growing up in the church, I have repeatly heard how GOD used individuals to shape the path to a relationship with JESUS CHRIST. Maybe it was a Sunday School Teacher, a deacon, pastor, song leader or the gentleman who handed out Testaments at Christmas. Think about how GOD has used one individual or many to pull you toward HIM. Thank GOD for those people who have encouraged and directed you. If the person or individuals are living, perhaps take the time to write them a quick note just to say thank you for the difference that they made in your life. Better yet, go thank them in person if you can.

III. Remember, this is just the introduction

It is good for us to pause and thank GOD for the many things that we remember. According to Blue Letter Bible, the word remember appears 148 times in the KJV translation. Psalm 77:11 states,

I will remember the works of The LORD: surely I will remember THY works of Old. (KJV)

We should remember the things that GOD has done in our lives often, not just for special services or one time a year. In remembering the past, we must also remember that this is just the introduction; The mercy and greatness of our LORD and Savior JESUS CHRIST extends on and on. Blessings of the past mere pebbles in comparison with the Blessing of being in JESUS’ presence.

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Out of Hiding

I stepped away from blogging for many years. For years, I have poured out on the ground the blessing GOD has poured out on me.

I cannot escape the fact that for whatever the reason, GOD put into me a love of writing.

And I write best when I write about my faith, my doubts- I write best when I write “as unto The LORD”

Because ultimately, isn’t that what really matters? This simple country girl will hardly influence thousands, but if I just place what I have at the alter of The LORD- I have done what I am to do.

So, here goes relaunch 2.0 of SimpleSpokn.

Growing Where I’m Planted, Part I

Childhood is teeming with dreams. I’ll be a fireman, or I’ll marry Prince Charming. All to quickly, the reality of life empties our dreams and refills us with Reality.

I wanted so much more for my life. I suppose I am the age that many women (or people for that matter) come to that realization. I had disillusions of a successful life. A more significant life. I wanted Happily-ever-after and independence and beauty.

I have writhed with this conflict for nearly three years now. The regrets become self-destructive laziness which ferments into feelings of anxiety which in turn transforms into depression.

Church folk don’t care for that word: Depression. It has been Hollywood-ized and turned into some demonic thing. I do not have the professional accolades to say that Depression cannot be somewhat contributed to sin. I can only speak for myself: My depression is real. As real as my faith in Jesus Christ is.

So what is a middle-aged Appalachian-American Woman to do? Rut around forever in these dark, gloppy feelings of worthlessness? No. There is no gain in such behavior. I can choose to grow where I am planted.

Which.. is not as easy as it sounds.

Surviving the Great Depths of Doubt

I doubt God sometimes. I’m sure that you never do. I’m sure that you never think to yourself, “God, this just doesn’t make sense to me”. I admit, though, I doubt God sometimes. Maybe that is a bold statement from a ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ & a someone who grew up inside a church house. After all, being in church means that you have it all together, right?? Being a Christian means that everything is FINE, right???

Wrong.

Know You are Drowning & How to Start Swimming Again

To fix a problem, admit there is one. The adiage is true of modern therapy as well as it is for the Christian. You need to admit that you are indeed beginning to sink (Or have already sunk & are drowning) neath the waves of doubt.

If you are questioning God’s Word, that is a #1 sign. This, of course, would be hard to know if you don’t read & know GOD’s Word. If you aren’t reading it, do it. Even when you don’t feel like it, read God’s Word. When your life is too busy that you have to schedule your breathes, take time to read God’s Word. There are many wonderful websites & Apps to help with this, some of which I will link at the end of this post. The main thing is, Read God’s Word. Not a verse here or there, but truly read it. Use your phone, use your ipad, use your computer, use your leather bound copy that your Uncle Johnny gave you. Find what works for you & do it.

My second piece of advice is to Keep going to Church. It is easy to stop going. We can excuse it with a thousand reasons: tiredness, business, busy-ness, or just plain laziness.  “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another;and all the more as you see the day drawing near,” states Hebrews 10:25 (NASB). When we are doubting, we need to HEAR the Word of God (“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”, Romans 10:17) We need to be with fellow believers that can encourage us, pray for us and with us.

Which Brings me to My Next Point: Don’t Isolate. There are moments of doubt for many Christians. There are 5 verses in the New Testament where Jesus chastises the disciples for being of “little faith” (Matthew 6:30, Matthew 8:26, Matthew 14:31, Matthew 16:8, & Luke 12:28). They Doubted, too. The Disciples doubted, yet they still gathered together because they knew they needed one another. We are no different. We need our sisters & brothers in Christ every day but perhaps more so when we are going through our valleys of doubt. Reach out to a Pastor, Church Leader, Christian Counselor, a member of your Small Group, or just anyone that you trust inside the church you attend.

Doubt vs. God

Your feelings of doubt do not mean that God has stopped loving you or that He has turned His back to you. This is why I strongly encourage you toward real Bible reading daily. Encouraging Verses are fantastic, but reading a chapter or more will renew you. God’s Word tells us that GOD is crazy in love with us & also that HE is always with us. Read it for yourself. Attend Church & Reach Out. You can survive the Depths of Doubt & walk out on drier ground.

Recommended LINKS:

Blue Letter Bible

One Place

RBC Ministries

Precepts Austin – Bible Study Tools

Identity Crisis

Who am I?

Before you notify my next of kin to have me committed, hear me out: Who am I, really?

I have long scoffed at hearing people talk about midlife crisis. I have thought, ‘how can a person become so confused about who they are’? I remain skeptical about the behaviors that some attribute to midlife crisis, but I do know what it is to be confused about who I am.

Little Lost Girl

Though ribbons of shimmering light wove through my childhood, most of my preteen years were filled with sooty ashes. Secret shames I carried, plastered over by silly showy behavior. I was all too entirely lost. As I shifted into puberty and the gates of High School enveloped me, I felt swallowed whole by a life that I didn’t truly want to live yet lived anyways. I stumbled into college with dreams of escaping the life I had lived until that point. College was miles away from those who might see the shame laced in my smile or might stumble upon some stash revealing my guilt.

China Doll

Perfect. Or at least, as perfect as I could get. I aspired to be the perfect student and person and for so long, that is what I thought I became. Yet there was a part of me that knew others who were closest to me could see the blackness of my heart through soot in my tears. I tossed myself into the workforce and church activities, hoping that if I kept on doing the right thing that somehow I would fix myself.

The Day the Wall Crashed: March 12, 2009

I kept up appearances. I got just close enough to people to not be lonely, yet far enough away from them so they couldn’t smell my heart rotting inside me. Deep into anxiety & depression I fell – even with medicine, yet I painted the good girl smile on & to everyone else, all seemed fine. Fine & dandy, indeed.

Until. THAT day.

March 12, 2009 holds little significance to most. As I laid in the big city hospital that morning, the doctor chanted to the the specifics of what would happen next. For that morning, I would look at my daughter, Delani Rose, for the last time. Her heart had stopped.

The next morning, I would go through the process to help remove her remains from my body. The china doll I had been for 12 yrs walked into that hospital & came out a corpse.

Alive & Yet Dead

Existed. That is what I did. My desire to pretend scrapped away, and the ashy existence I had always been shone through.

I wish I could say that I did all the right things following Delani’s death, but I can’t say that with honesty. I knew I needed to reenter counseling, but I just didn’t care about getting better.

People began to see the ugly pain that they couldn’t understand as some sort of rebellion against what I was suppose to be. 18 months of living with the living dead ended my first marriage, & I found myself where I didn’t want to be yet needed to be: ALONE.

Construction Zone

With help from my divorce, I found myself isolated from the earthly family I still had left. All the text books would flag such an occurrence as dangerous, yet it was what I needed – emotionally. Three weeks into the exile, I found Him. I found who I needed.

His name is JESUS.

Now that you have rolled your eyes & scoffed at me, let me share what happened.

When I began my new existence, I had a deep gut knowledge that I needed to be in a church. Church was an all-to-familiar thing to me having grown up as a PK (Preachers Kid), but I didn’t just want to find an ordinary church. I hungered to find something authentic.

I found so many white washed tombs filled with the zombies of legality, that I wondered if authentic church actually existed. A colleague suggested a young church startup in a neighboring town, so I decided to visit. It was there I found an authentic church.

There were no expectations of perfection. There was no pretense that all of life is flowers & teddy bears. It was a church that taught GOD’s Word straight up & talked openly about how when JESUS saves us, sometimes the process to being made whole doesn’t happen it an instant but is rather a process that will bring Glory to GOD & draw others to Christ.

So, on the three month anniversary of me being alone, I stepped into the waters & pronounced to the world that I was ready to find what GOD intended for me to be.

It has been 19 months since I first set foot into that church.

And now, I am ready. I needed time after Christ reclaimed me from the darkness to heal my wounds & to resolve many questions that I had about faith & love. Though my scars remain, I know I have waited long enough & it is time to find who I truly am. In Christ.

I still fight often with my past guilt & regrets, but I must trust them into the hands of Savior who will crumble them & reshape them into something useful in my life. There can be no more pretending for anyone. There can be no more redistributing my load so I can carry more regrets and shame. It is time to delve into greatest adventure of my life: finding out who I am (in Christ) & living that out in a flagrant way.

Starting Off Fighting Uphill

Yesterday began my second week in the journey to a healthier me. I started my day with a great amount of determination to work very hard this week toward a healthier week. I was glad that I had weighed in less than my starting weight, but I know that my overall health (more than just a temporary # on a scale) also matters.

I began my day with a healthy fruity smoothie. I managed my hunger well throughout the morning, and did well after eating a lower calorie sandwich than I had last week.

The HIll

In the midst of this huge health lifestyle change, I am also working through trying to plant myself into a permanent job. I have a decent job right now, but not one that could benefit me for long. For two weeks now, I have been searching & applying for various jobs that would not only meet my unique situation but also be the best for my family in the long term. I divulge this information due to the fact that I recieved a call yesterday afternoon to schedule an immediate interview.

Gasp.

Every fiber of my body went into “flight or fight” mode. I felt a temptation to eat. I was able to easily fight that off because of my fears of not looking my best (ie, food in teeth) for the interview.

The first part of the interview went very well. I felt confident in my answers to the questions asked but also was able to maintain my ethics. Following the second part of the interview, I felt defeated.

I came home & curled into the big brown chair in my livingroom. I “wanted” to go into my fridge & munch down a large portion of ice cream with fudge. My emotions were mixed and I felt as if I had done something wrong.

So I began to sing. Yip, sing. I found myself singing, “I sing because I’m happy. I sing because I’m free. His eye is on the Sparrow and I know He watches me” (song by Martin & Gabriel) I sang & I didn’t eat junk.

My fight for yesterday was won. I ended my day more than 100 calories under target. I don’t know what today may hold for me, but I do know that God does know. God isn’t just watching me as HE does that Sparrow. I know that His Holy Spirit dwells within me. I know that That Comforter will be with me, good or bad, come what may.

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I’d love to hear from more of my readers. I thank each of you for taking the time to read my blog. If you would, leave me a comment.

How did you face your Hill yesterday?

Walking in the Desert: End of Wk One & Looking Ahead at Wk Two

Give an inch & it will take a mile

I was determined more than ever to do better on Day 4 – & I did. For the first time during my journey, I ended a day Under my goal calories. Better yet, I wasn’t too hungry when I went to bed.

I managed to do so by cutting back on my carbs & increasing my protein a bit. The Carbs burned too quickly & left me feeling hungry. I knew that I needed Carbs, but I also knew that in able to give myself a little better balance of energy required foods that would keep me full longer.

Day 5: Under once again. I even allowed myself to splurge a bit by eating some chili from a local drive-in restaurant.

Day 6: Over 183 Calories. Argh!! I account this overage to giving into my hunger, which is a lack of self-discipline. I lazied around Saturday morning so by the time that I got on the road to run errands, I was incredibly hungry. I could have made various fast food choices that would have been some what healthy, but instead sunk into the comfortability of a fast food chain ham biscuit. Poof- nearly 400 calories gone for something that didn’t stick with me for all to long.

I would eat a nice salad for lunch & enjoy a bottle of water to go with it. ‘C’ & I would pack some veggies & chicken to meander out to a local park to grill some kabobs. Sounds healthy, right? Problem was that we didn’t plan all so well for the grilling of chicken & it took much longer than either of us had planned. By the time we did settle down to enjoy it, I had also consumed chips & guzzled an unhealthy soft drink. I ended the day feeling full, but completely frustrated at myself.

Day 7: One of my errands on Day 6 was to purchase some healthier food options. Sunday began with a delicious but healthy omelet & turkey bacon. I would go to church feeling quite satisfied. After church, ‘C’ & I would have a visit with the parents which meant meal time at their home. ‘C’ hadn’t spoken to the parents about our diet or why we were doing it. I began to wonder if I was forcing this upon him, but I didn’t dwell on the thought for too long. I would make careful selections & mind my portions for the meal.

Sunday evening, ‘C’ & I enjoyed baked chicken together. I cringed as I began to calculate food after food but smiled with a bit of self-pride as I ended the day at under my calorie goal

Week Two: Let’s GO, GO GO!

I’m ready for what week two brings. With an arsenal of healthier meal options in the pantry & a bit more determination than last Monday, I am ready for the challenges that this week will certainly bring. I take a deep breath & step on my scale: Lost 6.6 lbs!

I can do this! Last week was a struggle. It has been such an incredible blessing to get the encouraging messages on here as well of those in my day-to-day life that have encouraged me as well.

I’m ready. I can make smarter choices. I can walk 5 more minutes. I can drink my water, which is a necessity in my success. I can – because Christ is within me. He overcame my sins, & I know that Christ can help me as I overcome the weight (&health) challenges before me.

I’m ready.

The Great Escape: Day 2 & 3

Day 2: Grumbly in my Tumbly

127 Calories Over. Ugh

Why is this so hard?

Laziness.

It has been easy for so long to just eat what I want & not think about how many calories that I am consuming or how much weight that I am gaining. It has been easier to just “live the high life”.

I found that today the hardest part was feeling incredibly hungry.

I had eaten a healthy smoothie for breakfast, but it began to wear off by the time lunch rolled around. I limited to myself to a small lunch of rice which was very filling but since it was a white rice – the carbs soon led to me feeling increasingly hungry.

Dinner rolled around & I found myself in an angry mood. I was flat dab hungry. I had fixed sloppy joes. After eating only one & one meager scoop of veggies, I wanted more to eat because I was still hungry. I looked at my calories including exercise for the day & would find that I could have one more sloppy joe. I didn’t stop there though. I rounded off my hunger by having some hummas & chips. Hummas is fairly healthy…but combined with the salthy (unhealthy) type of corn chips that I had in my pantry, I had to have something to drink. Guzzling down two cups of juice, I found myself 127 calories over my limit.

Yes, I went to bed feeling “full” & I had walked nearly 20 minutes. As I laid my head down, I knew those 100+ calories equalled yet more lbs on the scale & sure failure for that day.

Day 3: Throwing myself under the bus

I awoke to day three not truly being in the mood to go through the torture of dieting another day. But I knew that I had to suck it up – not only to save my own life but because my weight loss partner ‘C’ was depending on me to do well.

I started the day with yet another smoothie, adding more ice to it this time to see if it would stick longer. The ice did help & I managed to be “okay” until 1/2 an hour before lunch. Lunch time came & I ate another portion of rice with a bit of steamed veggies mixed in.

I would have a snack mid afternoon. Before church ‘C’ & I would go to Subway to eat. Subway sandwiches are a great filling meal for me, but not-so-much healthy when I paired it with a fountain lemonade & baked chips. I’d leave church & feel fairly good about my diet for the day.

I would get in 10 minutes of cardio after dinner to add to the 8 minutes walking. I would “think” I was under my calorie goal as I snacked on a small bowl of frozen berries. I would check in my calorie/fitness counter (MyFitnessPal) & find..145 calories Over.

I felt defeated. I knew in my heart of hearts that my dinner beverage choice had played a huge part in that overage. I was losing the battle.

Then I did something stupid & smart: I stepped on my scale again. I rarely weight myself more than once a week, but was bound & determined to see how much damaged my overages in calories were doing to my body. I watched the numbers on the scale bounce up & down to land at 1.5 lbs gained in 3 days time.

I was angry at myself for failing. I was frustrated because I didn’t want to think about being miserably hungry again. I was upset that my diet buddy, ‘C’ was making it look all-to-easy. I was in a terrible rotten no good mood. So I did what I always do when I am in a terrible rotten no good mood: I reached into my secret stash of chocolate & popped another 60 calories into my mouth. I’d go to bed not feeling hungry, but completely defeated.

Lessons Learned:

I know that I must find ways to feel “full” without consuming empty calories. I know that to do that I am going to have to sacrifice some things in my food budget to be able to afford some healthier options.

I also know that I have to be okay with “being hungry”. My body has become a spoiled princess, which doesn’t like to be made to feel uncomfortable. I know that my spoiled princess body is uncomfortable because all it has know is 300-500 calories more a day on the low side. I need to refocus those urges to writing again, praying more, & having others pray for me too.

Thirdly, I need to learn to give myself some mercy. Dave Ramsey says it best by saying, “We need to give ourselves the grace to fall down sometimes”. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that this was going to take time. I knew those things but yet I am angry at myself because those things are true. Endure – that is what I must do.

 

The Great Escape: Day 1

Those who knew me in grade school or high school wouldn’t have called my a “fat kid”. I was always high active plus I had high metabolism to help keep me from becoming pudgy.

Motherhood, however, would take a great toll on me. I would have trouble with pre-term labor when I was expecting my oldest son “D”, so I receieved steroid shots to help his development. I would find myself 50 lbs overweight three months after I gave birth to him. I began to struggle with depression & would soon bubble to nearly 75 lbs overweight.

2 Yrs after my son was born, I decided to “get on board” & joined Weight Watchers. In 8 months, I lost those 70 lbs & was back at my goal weight/healthy weight. One month after reaching my goal weight, I would learn that I was pregnant with baby #2, my youngest son “B”.

I managed to stay at only 20 lbs over my healthy weight after my youngest son was born until he was 5. I had gone through two layoffs with two different companies & found myself without a job. The depression became great. I quickly bubbled up to 30 lbs overweight. & learned – I was pregnant again.

I would miscarry my “Miss D”. My weight would yo-yo from 30 lbs over to 50 lbs over for the year following losing her.

18 months after losing her, I would begin my efforts to lose weight again. I was surprised to find that it came off incredibly fast. In just 6 months, I had lost 30 lbs & was the healthiest I had been since my Weight Watchers days. The quick weight loss should have been a warning sign to me, though, for I would regain and even add to weight in just an eight month window of time.

Today, I sit at close to 35 lbs overweight

June 18th: Wake up, Chick-a-dee

I would start yesterday to log my calorie intake as well as my activity. 289 Calories OVER

Wowsers.

The worst of that was that I went to bed feeling hungry.

All I could think is “What am I doing so wrong?” I had made a healthy choice at breakfast, had strayed 230 calories at lunch & found myself “hungry” after having to say no to myself at dinner.

The problem, really, was two fold: lack of activity & smarter calories. I know that to honor GOD, I must be a useful vessel. I need to be caring for my body both in how I move it & what I put into it.

Going forward

As I trudge through day #2, I know there are two struggles I will fight today: (1) Being Hungry. A LOT (2)Not allowing that hunger to effect my mood. I know that I can fight those things by focusing on God’s Word. One step closer – to escaping this unhealthy lifestyle & truly living my best for GOD’s Glory.

Discovering My Destination

The Great Travel Agent

I have a Great travel agent. In my life, HE has taken me to over 17 of the States, & numberous Stages of my life. Christ JESUS, my Great Travel Agent, has helped me through many delays, baggage issues, and comforted me through many crashes. I know that He is not only able to guide me during this departure in my life – He is necessary.

“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. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

Good Morning, Lord. I thank You for helping me to see things that I was so blind to. I praise You that You are able to focus on the journey before me. Lord, prepare the Way.Amen.

Exiting Complacancy

To know where I am going, it might be wise to know where I am.

Physically, I am located in my home state of KY. That may or may not change in time. Physically, I am also close to the heaviest weight I have ever been in my life. More weight has compromised my ability to walk & has created a plethora of other physical problems.I have been too quick to eat junk that I don’t really enjoy most of the time instead of reaching for the healthier things that I do happen to like. Pure laziness.

“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,” (I Corinthians 6:19, NLT)

Goal: Be heathier than I currently am in the next 6 months.

Emotionally, I am empty. It’s hard to talk about this part, because society shuns talking about our problems openly. I won’t point fingers at people or circumstances to shovel my blame on. I am empty emotionally because of me. As a survivor of emotional abuse, depression, and divorce, I tend to throw up my walls when anyone gets too close. I have been protective to the point of isolation. Pure selfishness & self-centerdness. How can I reach others when I won’t let others reach me?

Goal: Be more active socially than I currently am in the next 6 months.

Spiritually, I am straining. My heart longs to grow, but I can’t seem to overcome temptation: the temptation to be afraid. This element spiritually goes with the one I listed emotionally. My past henders me. I lived a life where I thought I was being a Christian – but all I was doing was committing religious deeds. In February 2011, I realized that & in March 2011 surrender myself to Christ. The guilt & shame & fear of others judging my past often clog my heart from being blessed. I find myself praying, singing, & reading God’s Word, but being filled with such an overwheleming feeling of “brokenness”.

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corintians 5:17, NLT)

Goal: Have more faith.

Lord,It’s me again. Thank You, LORD, for illuminating things in Your light. It’s hard for me to know where I am to go if I do not know where I am. I thank You, God, for Your Word. Your Word charts out the things that I need to keep in mind. Lord, I ask You to help me as I step into this pivitoal terminal point of my life. Guide my journey. Teach me what You would have me do, & remove any part of the itternerary that is not of You. Thank You, Lord, for being good in all things all the time. Amen.