The Relief of the Fitbit Buzz

Relief – a de-burdening of sorts. A happiness that follows difficulty or worry.

I know it sounds silly, but this weight loss journey has been no easy thing thus far. The bad thing about that is it makes me want to give up – yes, already I want to give up some days.  The good thing about wanting to give up and knowing that I cannot, I just cannot, is that it draws me nearer to the Lord.

It’s no small thing that His word for me this year is persevere. Because lately every single day when it’s time to go for a walk, I have to push through this mental block.

I just don’t want to go for a walk today. My knees hurt, so I should rest. I don’t feel like it because I’m so tired. Maybe I can skip today and just work harder tomorrow. 

The thing is, I know that if I make excuses for one too many days, I’ll have fallen off of the healthy wagon again. And I can’t fall off again, at least not for good. This is the year, friends, that I persevere, that I rely on the Lord and His power to carry me through, no. matter. what.

There is no giving up this time around. 

And on most days when I’m walking harder and longer not because I want to, but because I need to, I’m just waiting. I’m waiting for my Fitbit (read “really cool pedometer”) to buzz.
I’m waiting for that sweet relief that says I’ve made it. I met my step goal for the day. I persevered through those 2 miles or 3 miles, or whatever mileage it takes to get me to that point.

It’s a relief.

And even though it seems silly, it means something to me!

I’m ten pounds in now, with a long, long way to go. But I’m learning more and more that He’s with me each step of the way. He provides the strength. He provides the nudge to get up and move. He provides the encouragement. He provides the will to persevere.

Relief of the Fitbit Buzz, follow me, persevere, weight-loss journey

And I just follow. It’s what we were born to do, really.

For His glory!

Jen :)

I’m joining my Five Minute Friday friends again this week (albeit a day late!). We gather at Kate’s place and free-write for five minutes with no planning, no over-thinking, no editing – just words. Come join us if you like!

Also sharing with: Grace and Truth

Disclosure: this post makes use of affiliate links. For more information about my affiliate status, please visit the About page. Thanks! :)

 

It Is Finished

“Yeah, tomorrow is Good Friday because you get a break from school,” our six-year-old daughter quips.

“No, sweetie, that’s not why we call it Good Friday. We call it Good Friday because that’s the day Jesus took our punishment by dying on the cross and paying for our sins,” I explain.

“Oh, that’s the day Jesus died?  That’s sad.” She grows solemn.

And we talk about it then, right there at the supper table, we talk about how He knew the suffering He would endure, yet He obeyed the Father anyways.

I think of them, His followers, the disciples, and how that day must have seemed anything but good to them. I think of the fear they must have experienced, the sorrow, the confusion. I wonder if they felt hopeless and helpless.

That’s what we humans do when the skies around us grow dark and suffering multiplies – we despair.

It’s our first response to most difficult situations. Like the disciples, we fail to look ahead, for we only see the present, the now.

Given the death and destruction of that day, some may wonder why we now call it Good Friday.  Certainly Jesus' followers wouldn't have called it a good day, yet today we call it Good Friday. Why? It Is Finished Thoughts on Good Friday

Yet on Good Friday we call the darkest day of their lives “good”  because we can see now what they could not then.

We have the broader perspective, the bigger picture. We understand that the pain, the suffering, the darkness and death that day brought were the beginnings of a bigger and brighter glory than any soul had ever known before!

But the death came first, before new life.

Isn’t it the same even now?

We must die to self in order to live for Him. And it’s scary and dark and painful, but it’s oh-so-necessary.

When we find ourselves on the other side, we can look back and call it “good.”

 

Given the death and destruction of that day, some may wonder why we now call it Good Friday.  Certainly Jesus' followers wouldn't have called it a good day, yet today we call it Good Friday. Why? It Is Finished Thoughts on Good Friday. Easter, Christianity, Faith, Christian Women, Christian posts, Christian encouragement, What's good about Good Friday?

“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” Jn 10:9-11

On the other side of the cross painted red, we who believe can call that darkest, death-filled day Good Friday because…

with one fell swoop, one simple yet agonizing act of obedience, sin and death were defeated once and for all!

Given the death and destruction of that day, some may wonder why we now call it Good Friday.  Certainly Jesus' followers wouldn't have called it a good day, yet today we call it Good Friday. Why? It Is Finished Thoughts on Good Friday

So that we might know Him!

“It is Finished.”

Jen :)

I’m joining the Five Minute Friday crew this week!  We all gather at Kate Motaung’s place and free-write for five crazy minutes – no planning, no editing, no stressing. :)  Come join us if you like!

Also sharing with: Grace and Truth

Moms Who Gather

I felt so lonely when we first moved.

New pastor’s wife to a new community, a small community.

None of my usual comforts nearby. No church friends. No work-out buddy. No library with an awesome children’s section. No new YMCA with its handy child-watch room. No Wal-mart for last-minute needs.

Hardest of all, no family.

And I needed a way to connect, to meet some like-minded women, to make friends, especially mama friends.

So, without really knowing what I was doing, I started a group for moms.  The first year was hardest. I felt so inadequate and out of my element, a leader who didn’t really trust she should be a leader just yet.  But the Father kept encouraging, keep at it.

The second year our group actually fizzled out. I didn’t know what to do, how to “fix” it. So, I cried out for help.

The loneliness returned and I despaired.

Moms Who Gather, simple fellowship, sweet fellowship, moving, loneliness, friendship

Then a neighbor invited me to join a group of women who were going to clean up the community parks.  We spent the summer scraping paint, picking up trash, using our shovels, and dreaming up grand plans.  With sweat on our brows, we chatted and laughed, stopping here and there to calm a needy child or give some correction.  They became friends to me, these volunteers, these giving women.

So that Fall, I decided to try once more for that space I wanted, a space to just be real with some mama friends – no need for makeup or jewelry, clean houses or nice clothes. Just some adult conversation in a comfortable place – an informal gathering for an informal crew.

Now we gather, almost every week.

We aren’t many, but the fellowship is sweet. We talk of babies and toddlers, problems at school and problems at home. We talk of husbands we love and house chores we hate. We even talk politics sometimes. No subject is off-limits.

And lately we talk an awful lot about Jesus, too.

It’s so simple, yet so much more than I planned from the start because it came from Him, these gifts -my friends, my people.

We gather,

and He blesses every time.

Jen :)

I’m joining back up with the Five Minute Friday group this week after a looooong absence, and boy do I feel rusty!  If you’re new around here, FMF is when a large group of us free-write on a one-word prompt for only five minutes (well, some of us are known to stretch the rules a little) – no planning, no editing, no stressing. :)  If you want, come join us over at Kate Motaung’s place!

Also sharing with:

Grace and Truth

Because ~ We’ve Been Falsely Accused

Today I was falsely accused.

And it stung.

It’s happened before but this wound pierced especially deep because I knew.  I knew I was innocent.

I knew the accusations had more to do with the other person’s heart condition than any imagined offense on my part.  In fact, I knew I had been gracious, kind, and patient in spite of the circumstances.

To do right…and be falsely accused.

Have you been there before, my sisters?  I’m certain you have because even when no one else is accusing us, our Enemy is!  That’s even one of his names, the accuser.

So often we find ourselves in need of a defender because we’ve been falsely accused, and we’re just hoping someone will stand in our defense.

Sometimes we look to friends or family members. Sometimes we look to brothers and sisters in Christ.

But only One can faithfully defend us.

I’m learning more and more to hear the Defender’s voice. I’m waiting more patiently for Him to fight on my behalf.  I can trust Him to go to battle for me rather than feeling the need to defend myself because

He has chosen me.

He has redeemed me.

He has declared, “No more condemnation” over me.

He says the same about you, too, my sisters. You, His beloved ones.

So, today I’m clinging to this promise:

 

Being falsely accused is one of the most difficult injustices to bear. However, as Christians we are guaranteed a Defender. Read on to find out how...

 

Yes, we’ve been falsely accused, but praise the Lord, we have a Defender!

His name is Jesus.

He speaks Truth over us.

The Enemy shudders at His name.

And nothing,

nothing can separate us from His love!

Jen :)

I’m joining in with my Five Minute Friday sisters again this week (albeit a little late).  We gather together at Kate’s blog and write on a one-word prompt for five frenzied minutes – no planning, no over-thinking, no editing.  It’s fun and frightening all at the same time.  This week’s word is “because.” Come join us!

And if you enjoyed what is written above, you’ll certainly enjoy this perspective from Jennifer Dukes Lee.

Also sharing with Grace and Truth

All the Words That Need Telling

“You’re the best Mom ever!” She proclaims, as she grins and squeezes me with her small arms, and my heart nearly bursts for the joy of hearing it.

“Well, you’re the best daughter ever!” I smile back down at her.

All the Words that need telling, tell kids you love them, tell people the gospel

And it’s true. She may be my only daughter at this time, but she is also the best. I know she needs to hear those words; I know she needs me to tell them to her.  I know because I need those words, too.  I need the “I love you”s, and the “you’re the best”s, and the “you’re the beautifulest mom ever”s, and the “I missed you”s.

So, if I, the grown up, need those words to be told, how much more does my little five-year-old bundle of sweetness crave those words?  So much more. So much more.

So I tell her all the words that need telling – the words about love, the words about like, the words about her character, and the words about her Savior – because she needs to hear all of those important words. She needs to hear them often.  She may only be five now, but soon enough she’ll be heading to high school just like her oldest brother. And then she’ll leave for college (Lord-willing), and who will tell her all the words that need telling then?

We’ve only a few years, sisters, a few short years to tell all the words that need telling.  Only a few years to tell of our love for them.  Only a few years to tell of the Savior’s love, too.  And they need to hear them because love is so central to the Gospel, so important.

Don’t be shy; don’t hesitate.

Even if the words don’t come naturally to you, tell the words today, all the words that need telling.  We are never guaranteed tomorrow.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on

your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,

when you lie down and when you get up.

Tell Love

and Truth

and Kindness

and Peace.

And do it today!

Jen :)

It’s Five Minute Friday and after taking a few months off, I’m so happy to be joining my sisters in Christ over at Kate Motaung’s blog.  We gather there ever Friday (some of us on Thursday evening) and write a fast and furious five minutes on a one-word prompt.  No planning, no editing, no second-guessing.  Just the written word.  Come join us!

I’m also sharing this post at:

Missional Call, Essential Thing DevotionsMissional WomenMom’s The WordA Mama’s Story, Monday Parenting Pin It PartyCornerstone Confessions

When Gratitude Comes Hard

 

Some days the gratefulness comes easy like those lazy days of summer when the sunlight lingers and the breeze flutters warm and balmy. No deadlines looming on the horizon. No crazy schedule.

Those are the days when the kids frolic outdoors like all of the Wild Things that they are. We’re happy and healthy and carefree.

On other days, the story isn’t quite so bright.

The winter lingered a little too long and leftover cabin fever rules the day. Laundry piles up in one messy mountain, and the littlest boy who’s been potty trained for more than a year now, wets himself not once, not twice, but three times in one day for some unknown reason.

Grateful, gratitude, hard times, motherhood

 

These are the days when children bicker and whine and complain, and we find ourselves unable to help them because the bickering and whining and complaining is going on in our hearts, too.

But in Lysa Terkeurst’s book, Unglued, I read about turning that attitude into gratitude, and I know it can be done.  Because who wouldn’t feel grateful for a healthy child, or food in the fridge, or soft beds to sleep in?

So even when the gratitude comes hard and we must dig deep to find the good in our day, it still comes. It still comes.

And I’m so grateful.

Grateful for grace and the promise of a God who will never give up on me, never quit working in my life (Phil. 1:6).

Grateful for the blessing of a Mom (and Dad) who love the Lord and taught me the truth of salvation.

Grateful for a house full of rowdy, messy children who simultaneously make my days exhausting and wonderful.

Grateful for 15 years wedded to a man who continues to seek the Lord and love me even when life gets a little crazy.

And for so many other things,

I give thanks.

No more attitude, just gratitude.

Because He is good.

All the time.

Jen :)

It’s Five Minute Friday once again, where we gather at Lisa-Jo Baker’s place and free-write for five(ish) minutes on a one word prompt. This week the word is Grateful. Join us if you like!

You may find me sharing at any of these lovely places or here:

Inspired Bloggers Network,

Christian Mommy Blogger, Missional Women, My Freshly Brewed Life,

Beauty Through Imperfection, Managing Your Blessings

 

Painted Red: The Significance of the Passover

Paint.

It covers whatever is beneath it, each brush stroke blotting out all that came before.

It covers nail holes and cracks in the walls, the scribbles of a toddler and the spills of a preschooler.  It covers poorly chosen colors and other such mistakes.  It even covers rust and mildew, evidences of time and neglect. Paint masks all imperfections.

Paint makes old things new again, clean again, perhaps even beautiful again.

Yet at that first Passover, the paint was hardly beautiful – fresh blood splashed red across door frames painted as a covering, a protection over what was to come.

The people of God believed, and so they painted, each household, the blood of an innocent lamb across their door frames.  They splashed ugly smears of musky red in faith that Yahweh would keep his promise to them.

Then they waited…

This is what it means to be painted red.  All of the mistakes, ugliness, and scars that were ours before are blotted out by bold, beautiful strokes in the hand of a Master who loves us enough to give a one and only Son. Painted Red What the first Passover means for us today.  Christianity, Easter, Passover, Passover Lamb, Jesus, Christian Women, Devotional, Bible

 

… as death passed over them, leaving their firstborns untouched, an act of mercy.

And again over a thousand years later, only days after the Passover celebration, a one and only Son painted a cross red with his own blood, spilled it willingly for a world full of undeserving sinners.

The bloody mess of his tortured, nail-driven flesh was gruesome, but the promise, the promise was a thing of beauty beyond comprehension.

Once again mankind would be passed over because of the blood of the Lamb.

Once again, salvation would be freely offered to those who chose to believe the promise.

This is what it means to be painted red.  All of the mistakes, ugliness, and scars that were ours before are blotted out by bold, beautiful strokes in the hand of a Master who loves us enough to give a one and only Son. Painted Red What the first Passover means for us today

Now we who believe are painted righteous by faith, passed over, wiped clean.

All of the mistakes, ugliness, and scars that were ours before are blotted out by bold, beautiful strokes in the hand of a Master who loves us enough to give a one and only Son.

Romans 5:8-10

 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been

reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Thus, the ugly red paint brings forth new life and along with it, joy and peace and beauty.

So those once black with sin

are now washed white as snow,

painted red

by the blood of the Lamb.

Jen :)

Do you understand the significance of the Passover? Jesus is our Passover Lamb!

I’m joining the brave and lovely Five Minute Friday writers again this week over at Lisa-Jo’s place.  She chooses a word prompt and we all write fast and furiously for five(ish) minutes, no planning, no editing, no over-thinking.  All are welcome, so come on over and join us!

Are You Hungry for Joy?

We hear people say it, “choose joy” as if it is a thing readily available for the taking.  Just reach out and grasp it and it’s yours to keep.

And some think they’ve found it in a nice house or pretty clothes or a fulfilling relationship, while others are just plain hungry for it.

We think we find joy in children’s laughter, walks on the beach, sunny days, a good book. We claim joy in date nights, a healthy bank account, a successful career or ministry, good health, full stomachs, any and all of those blessings we’ve counted up.

We look for joy always in all of the created things; we crave it.

Joy seems so fleeting in today's world. Some spend a lifetime searching for it.  But joy cannot be found in the temporary. What if I told you finding lasting Joy is easier than you think?

But all of these things, even these people, they are are fleeting, friends: here today, gone tomorrow.

Any joy based on these moments, on temporary possessions or circumstances, is destined to pass.

When that happens, we feel cheated somehow, don’t we?

We feel let down.  We may even wonder if something is wrong with us or question why the joy is gone.  Have you been there before? When the sunshine suddenly turns to rain, when laughter turns to pain?

I have.

I’ve walked through seasons where joy seemed scarce and even counting my blessings, though they are many, wasn’t enough to satisfy my soul.  I’ve found myself hungry for lasting joy, one not of this world.

joy, pain, suffering, sorrow

True joy, lasting joy, comes from one source and one source only – the Father God who created us purely for love’s sake.  His only Son took upon Himself the burden of the cross “for the joy set before him” so that we might have joy unspeakable.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

 Are you looking for it today, friend, the kind of joy that lasts through the hard times and back again, the kind that wells up from within, unstoppable?

Find joy in Jesus.

For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
Psalm 92:4
O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Psalm 95:1

Jen :)

It’s Five Minute Friday again, so I’m joining up with the lovely ladies over at Lisa Jo Baker’s place for a stress-free, five-minute, free-write on a one-word prompt.  Join us if you like!

 

Choosing the Struggle

Choose.

“Choose you this day whom you will serve…”

It’s the first thought that runs through my head.  And the obvious choice.  Yes, I choose Jesus.  I want to serve the Father.

I want to follow hard after Him.

But some days, the choosing is a struggle, isn’t it?

The choosing is easy enough when the sun shines and the warm breeze blows and the blessings flow and joy abounds.

But what about those days when the fiery darts strike in quick succession? And just as you rise, the wind gets knocked out of you once more? Those days the choosing feels near impossible.

And that’s exactly what our Enemy wants, my work-in-progress friends, for us to feel helpless!

Incapable!

Paralyzed!

Weary!

Defeated!

We just want to cry, “mercy” and throw in the towel, admit defeat.  We’re so overwhelmed by the struggle that we have little left to give.

In the deepest valleys, simple platitudes about finding "silver linings" and other such sayings fail to comfort.  What if we lay such glib words aside and embrace choosing the struggle instead?  We pick up our cross, never denying it's burden, and fight by faith!

Those lies about our failings will carry us right away if we let them, won’t they?  Carry us right away into a sea of despair, a void of apathy, a pit of depression.

What if we choose the struggle instead, friends?

In those times when we can’t find it in ourselves to choose joy, when we can’t count our blessings for the crashing waves before us, when we feel incapable of making a choice at all, maybe it’s enough just to choose the struggle.

Even though we may not be winning, we choose fighting the good fight.   We don’t give up, we don’t give in. Even though we fear defeat, even though we falter for a step or two, or even a mile or more, we choose to press on.

What if we throw off the chains of perfection and choose instead the road of imperfect progress?Maybe even some days that road looks less like progress and more like a struggle for simple survival.  

Those are the days we count it a victory just to finish out with our faith still intact.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

Hebrews 11:6

choosing the struggle, rough day, feeling defeated, struggle with discouragement, hope for the weary

So we fight by faith!

By faith, we wait on the Lord.

By faith, we cling to the promise of grace and we seek His face.

By faith, we choose the struggle, day after day after day.

And some days, that’s the best choice we can possibly make.

Let’s choose it together, friends.

It’s the choice that leads to victory!

Jen :)

Sharing with #TheLoft and Grace and Truth.

More Than a Visit

It’s Five Minute Friday, and the word for this week is “visit.”

Visit.

He came into the world squalling, screeching more like it – his cry so sharp and loud that it was unmistakable, our long-awaited, second-born boy.  When we brought him home, we quickly learned he would be nothing like his even-tempered older brother.  This one, this tiny red-faced infant, would make his demands known.  He would be a challenge to our previous parenting prowess.

Visit, New Baby, Motherhood, baby won't sleep

Sleepless nights turned into weeks, and eventually months, the worn carpet in the hallway testifying to the demands of our newest family member.  We loved him dearly, but sometimes we just wished for peace and quiet or that he would nap longer than thirty minutes.  He never slept “like a newborn” and even today, no matter how late he stays up, he wakes at the crack of dawn.  His Grandad affectionately nick-named him “The Raptor.”

At that time, Daddy had a second-shift job and little time off. He worked hard and long.  And we did, too, trying to just survive that long and lonely winter.

Aside from prayer, it was Grandma’s visits that got us through.  She’d often call at the end of her workday just to check in because she had a squalling, colicky baby once, too – me.  I was known as the baby who cried. all. the. time.  According to my aunt, she once came to visit us only to find my mother sitting on the front stoop crying while I lay peacefully in her arms, worn out by hours of fussing. My mother knew the frustration of the long nights and even longer days of mothering a cranky baby.

“How’s it going today, Jen?”

On the good days I answered, “Fine.” And then I told a story of something new one of the boys learned or something funny the oldest said that day.

On the bad days my silence betrayed me, a silence born of threatening tears.

Knowingly, she asked, “Want me to bring McDonald’s for supper?”

Gratefully I gulped out, “Yeah, that would be good.”

fussy baby, motherhood, colic

And so we waited, the five-year-old boy, and the fussy baby, and me.  We waited for the visit, for the promise of another set of hands and the comfort food they brought.  Her presence itself calmed me as the fear that so often comes with loneliness slowly ebbed away.  When it was time for her to leave, we wore smiles once again, determined to face the challenges of the evening with faith and hope for better days ahead.

brothers, cranky infant, baby

it gets better, new mommy, tired mommy, fussy baby

She always called when I needed it most, it seemed.  She often still does today.  I have no way to explain her uncanny awareness except to say that she’s close with the Lord, and I guess He must let her know when we’re in need. :)

I’ll never forget those supper visits, nor the time she gave willingly to be the hands and feet of Jesus to my weary-mama soul.

It was just a visit,

but to me it meant the world.

Matthew 25

34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me;I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

John 13

34 Anew commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jen :)

It’s Five Minute Friday, so I’m linking up with the brave and creative crew over at Lisa Jo Baker’s place.  She gives us a one-word prompt and we freewrite for five minutes (-ish). :)   No planning, no editing, no stressing.  Come on over and join us if you like!

You may also find me at any of these lovely places.