Saturday, September 6, 2014

Anxiety, Stress and Fears

Those of us in Eastern Iowa have been absolutely blessed with beautiful sunny, fall-like weather today. It gets me in the mood for football, chili, bonfires and my comfy warm sweaters. I have been thinking quite a bit this week on how I am doing on facing my anxiety and fears and handling my stress. Not being perfect, some days were definitely better than others.

As I sit watching Iowa State play (I bleed black and gold for the Hawkeyes, but they don't play until 2!), I realize that I need to tackle my anxiety head-on. God is the greatest coach anyone could ever have. He has surrounded me with wonderful teammates that help me work through my anxieties and fears. And then I have been given the gift of co-workers and friends who are right there cheering me on and picking me up with their prayers and encouraging words when I stumble. The playbook is God's Word and I am using it more to guide me as I live out each day.

Chili is one of my all-time favorite fall/winter meals and I use the leftovers to create other meals that I enjoy. I don't like mine spicy hot, but I do like it warm. The more time I spend in devotion and Bible study, the warmth inside of me gets hotter until I am on fire for God, thirsting for more.

 I get that same feeling with K-LOVE. The more I listen, the more on fire I am for God! I love to sing at our Praise worship service and that stokes the fire and the fire gets hotter and draws me closer to my Abba. When I feel uneasy, I pop in a Christian music CD, turn on the radio or start humming some of my favorite hymns. Just as the warmth of the bonfire draws me closer, so too, my love for music warms me, drawing me closer.

I can't wait for "The Best Yes" to start! Reading Lysa's books is like a warm comfy sweater. I love how I can relate to her and the message she is sharing. I seriously feel like we have some of the same struggles and it makes me feel warm because I know that others have the same struggles too. I am snug and warm in the Word .

On that note, it is a great day to curl up and take a warm, little nap while waiting for the Hawkeyes to play.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fear = Faith

What? Fear = faith? How is this possible? Let me explain...

Faith. Without faith, conquering our fears will be impossible.

 "Jesus said to him, 'If you believe, all things are possible to him who believes.'" Mark 9:23

Encourage. By participating in this Gap Study, sisters, we are able to support and encourage one another as we kick our fears to the curb. I have seen this going on as we comment in response to what is posted by our Gap Team and others. Keep it up! :)

"Therefore encourage on another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 
1 Thessalonians 5:11  

Accept. Be open to what God is saying to you as work through this study. Accept it - embrace it. Use the wisdom and insight you are gaining to force fear back when it starts creeping in.

"Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future." 
Proverbs 19:20 (ESV)

Refuge. When you find fear and anxiety weighing you down, seek God and take refuge in HIM. Rest. Refuel. Renew. Scripture and prayer provides all of this to us - use it! Psalm 46 is one of my favorites.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1

Saturday, August 23, 2014

It Wasn't "Just a Barn..."

This is what is left from my beloved barn that I played in while growing up. The barn was located on my mom's family farm 5 miles north from where I live now. Today, a bolt of lightning turned it into a pile of smoldering rubble. It wasn't just a barn.

This barn, over 100 years ago, housed cattle, hay and grain. It held straw and the combine, cats and mice when I was growing up. I played house in it, taught the cats school in it, got ticks in my hair in it. It was a great hiding place from my mom, until Duke-dog (the Saint Bernard) would give my mom the look so she knew where I was at. More recently it held machinery for my uncle who is farming the land and my dad.

Not so many years ago my dad and uncle spent hours tediously removing each stone in the wall and foundation and resetting them. Restoring the barn for future generations to enjoy and love just like I did. There was talk that it was time to get the "cat barn" repainted. It wasn't just a barn.

I can remember the cattle that used to come to drink on the south side of the barn and the salt blocks the barn stored. I can remember what I called the "closet" where we kept the cat food, shovels, buckets and brooms. I just remember.....

It was insured, there is talk of rebuilding, but it won't be the same. A piece of my childhood that I loved dearly is gone. I am so thankful for the DeWitt Volunteer Fire Department and the neighboring departments from Welton, Charlotte, Goose Lake  and Low Moor for their help in keeping the fire from spreading to another building just to the north. The ambulance from Genesis and the Clinton County Sheriff's Department also responded. I am thankful that no one was injured while saving the machinery or fighting the fire.

For those of you who say, "Oh, it was just barn.", no it wasn't. Not to me. It was my beloved cat barn that can never be replaced. It was like my second home while growing up. Tomorrow I will go and look at the rubble again and look for something, anything that I can keep at my home from my barn.

So as tears glide freely down my face, I wasn't just a barn.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Imperfect Mom

I am a professional full-time church worker. I live my life in a glass fish bowl (or at least I feel/think I do)! When we go to church I cringe when my children don't behave because of how I think others will think of my my mothering skills, or lack thereof.

I have no problem running an organized, fun learning environment at my congregation's preschool. Spend a day with me at home and it's a whole different story! Why is it I feel so out of control at home? Why do I expect my children' to behave just like that "one family" at church that seems to have it all together? Is it because I work outside the home? Or is it because I should home school my children? (That would require me to work at home!)

Reading through the first section of Am I Messing Up My Kids?on Sunday morning after church, I had an A-HA! moment! Lysa (the wonderful author of the book) struggles just like I do to keep my mouth and stress level under control! I am not a failure! I am just like every other mother in the world!

Instead of turning to my friends, Google, Facebook, self-help books to help me become a better mother, all I need to do is turn to God! Well, duh! That seems so logical when I read it, but I couldn't come up with that myself! I must start my day with God and then return to God throughout the day when I feel things going out of control and a sarcastic thought forming in my mind - bring out the muzzle please! 

"I have discovered that if I can change the way I think about something, I can change the way I react to it. If I change the way I react, I can change the way I define myself as a mother." (pg. 11, Am I Messing Up My Kids?) I don't expect this to happen overnight! It's a good thing I worship a loving God who is patient, gracious and full of forgiveness because I know I'm still going to make mistakes and it's going to take a lot of time to get used to this new way of mothering. 

I don't know if this will help my daughter's pre-teen attitude or the explosive way my son responds when things don't go his way, but if I can learn to keep calm, turn to God and remember key Scriptures, it will help me and improve the way I react to them and situations that happen.

I'm sure we all have days or weeks where we feel we could earn the Worst Mother of the Year Award, but by keeping God first, keeping my tongue quiet and doing the best I can maybe my kids will turn out alright after all! With that being said, I'm off to tackle the adventure of putting my kids to bed without World War III breaking out.

Dear Abba Father, give me patience beyond all measure and temper my words with gentleness and kindness. Amen.

A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. ~ Proverbs 25:11

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
 ~ Psalm 73:26

Friday, June 6, 2014

Orphaned to Adopted - In More Ways Than One

Those who know me know that I am not an orphan, but adopted. I was adopted by my parents when I was five days old. I have known no other parents than the ones I have been blessed with. People often ask if I want to find my birth mother/parents. My answer is always the same: I would like to have my health history, but I don't want to meet my real parents. I feel they loved me enough to give me to parents who could and have loved me, cared for me and probably, even spoiled me. (I'm an only child.) God has blessed my husband and I with two beautiful children who are loved beyond all measure, but if we weren't able to have children we would have adopted.

I am currently participating in Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study Limitless Life by Derwin Gray. The Bible verse we are marinating on this week comes from Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) - "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." I wrote this on the chalkboard in the entryway where my family goes in and out of at least 65,000 times a day (OK, that is an exaggeration. It just feels like that many!). My kids noticed it right away because the board no longer said "Happy Easter!" and reminded me we still have some Easter things out. I like this verse a lot and will probably verse map it over the weekend, but there was another verse that Pastor Gray used in Chapter Four that spoke volumes to me.

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.  Ephesians 1:5-6 
Wow! God knew in advance, before I was born or even a twinkling in my birth mother's eyes, that he wanted me! He adopted me into his family through Jesus! Without learning about Jesus from my adopted family (I consider them my REAL family.), going to church, going into ministry as a career path, I would be an orphan! Praise be to God that I am adopted twice over!!

Not only that, God wanted me to be a part of his family and it gave him great pleasure! I am sure there are times that the choices I make in my words and actions disappoint my Abba, but I know that I am forgiven! He takes the messes I make and turns them into masterpieces.

The best part is knowing I am loved by my family and by my heavenly Father. There is nothing better than the unconditional love I receive from them.

 See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children—think of it—and we reallyare! But since most people don’t know God, naturally they don’t understand that we are his children. 1 John 3:1 (TLB)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Community - A Shelter from Life's Storms

What does community mean to me? The first thing that comes to mind is the town that I grew up in and where I am raising my family, DeWitt, IA.  Love this place. It is bigger than when I was growing up, but it is still a small farm town with a nice shopping area downtown, plenty of places to eat (but a diner or small cafe would be nice!), great schools, a hospital and only 20 minutes in three directions to the nearest Wal-Mart and shopping. One definition of community is "a group of people who live in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common."

But the community that I have at OBS fits the following definition "a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals." I can be quiet and shy when in a new situation, but getting involved with a Facebook small group really helped me feel comfortable quickly. I have an awesome leader, Marlene, and the rest of my sisters in Group 51 are so accepting and loving that I no longer feel like the only child that I am! Where else can I find fellow sisters who love the Lord - actually OOZE their love for the Lord? I can share my thoughts and feelings without feeling judged or rejected. We may not live in the same town, state, or even country but when we are gathered in one place for the building of our faith through Scripture, study and prayer we are truly blessed!

What I need from a community is probably different from what you need and that is OK! I need a place where I am loved for who I am and what I am. I have a need to feel accepted by others and loved. Maybe you do too. I love that I learn from the leaders of the OBS studies and the other ladies who are participating. I need to know that what I am going through, experiencing or doubting is OK and may even be normal. I just need a safe place to be me!

My hope and prayer is that I can encourage and support my fellow OBS sisters. I want you to know that I pray for all of you. I will love you for who you are. I am only a Facebook message away if you need someone to pray for/with you. I will be your number one cheerleader when you get discouraged!

 "This will happen when we set aside our self-interests and work together to create true community instead of a culture consumed by provocation, pride, and envy." ~ Galatians 5:26 (The Voice)

"Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others." ~ James 3:13 (The Voice)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Living So That, Part 2

Chapter Two of "Living So That" focuses on God's Word. This, of course, refers to The Holy Bible or Scripture. God's Word can be used for so many things from teaching to showing us our sins. The Bible is 100% true. It is holy and sacred and demands the utmost respect. I hold it in reverence and awe.  The more I read it, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I treasure it! Every word inside of the Bible was inspired by God! God spoke through the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the men who wrote the very words we read! It is authentic and accurate because God is without sin - He is perfect!

The Bible equips us to face our challenges, struggles, joys and successes in whatever we do in life. Ministry isn't reserved for the pastors in our pulpits on Sunday morning or the Evangelism team at our churches. We are called and equipped to do ministry right where we are! God placed us where we are for a specific purpose. Answer the call today - what is God speaking to you through His Word? What is He calling you to do right where you are?

God's Word helps us establish our faith - we must commit to making time to read God's Word daily. There are several ways to do this. There are on-line sites with daily devotions that can be emailed to you, Proverbs 31 Ministries is one example. Other sites offer Bible reading plans to read through the entire Bible or just a book or on a certain topic. Visit a Christian bookstore in your area and you will find a plethora of choices! Check with your own church too. Many denominations publish daily devotions that are then sent or purchased by your local congregation for their members.

I wish I could say that I was in God's Word daily, but I'm not. I strive to be and I'm getting better. I am finding that the more time I spend with Him in prayer and devotion or through a Bible study, the better I am at hearing God speak to me. I will delve into prayer in another post. God's Word gives me a firm foundation on which to build my faith. I call it my faith journey. The final destination is heaven. Like any journey, I will probably get lost, make wrong turns, and hit dead ends but I am encouraged to continue because I know God is right there offering me forgiveness and grace. My journey will probably include many stops along the way, but I will keep on moving towards the ultimate goal of spending eternity with my Father in heaven. Where are you in your journey? Don't give up! I have started and stopped and started again many times, keep going!

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for
teaching, rebuking, correcting and training
in righteousness, so that the man of God
may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work.  ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Monday, April 21, 2014

Making the Choice to Live So That

It is a quiet day at home today. The busyness of the Easter weekend is over and today is a day for rest, relaxation and reflection. I am just starting week 3 of "Living So That" by Wendy Blight. This book is changing me from the inside out! I feel like the contestants do on "The Biggest Loser" when they reach make-over week. God is making me over from the inside out! I want to share with you what I have read so far. Today's post focuses specifically on Chapter 1.

Chapter One - My life should not be one that is self-centered! I should be active and be centered on others. God's Word is alive and living today, not just when it was written! It is for you and for me! Is your life messy? Mine is. The Bible was given to us so that we are equipped to live out our lives for Him! I am not perfect, but I strive to make faith-filled choices and not faith-less choices. Not always easy to accomplish because  am generally a reactive person and will often act on my emotions. This often leads to making the situation worse than it already was. The grace that God give me everyday is totally undeserved. It is a freebie that I am given.

It was in this chapter that I read about conviction. Wendy wrote that "Conviction, on the other hand, is about God. It's a productive emotion. God's Holy Spirit convicts us to know that we have not pleased Him. He then speaks truth into our hearts and empowers us to change so that we can do what is pleasing to Him (pg. 30 in "Living So That)." Did you know that the Bible is a love letter from God to us? Wow! What a thought that is! If you got a love letter in the mail, I bet you would read it over and over and over. That is exactly what God wants us to do with His Word! He wants us read and dig deeper into His Word over and over. Love letters give us warm fuzzies - God's Word does the same! There will be times when what I read will be a conviction of what I have done wrong, but it is said in love. God's love and forgiveness are there for me and you each and everyday.

What I am truly taking to heart, even though I have known it since I was a child, God's forgiveness is always there, I just need to ask! I need to pray more for me, for others, in thanksgiving for the blessings He showers upon me. I have tried several times to use a prayer journal, but I never keep at it. I am on the search for a new journal to use and I am going to start by praying Scripture and verse mapping verses He places upon my heart.

Will you join me on this journey? It won't be easy. There will be times that will seem like two steps forward and four steps back. But I am not going to give up this time! If you are looking to make a change and want to grow closer to God, I encourage you to read Living So That by Wendy Blight. Her style of writing is so easy to read and each chapter is divided into five parts so you can read and take it in a little at a time. If you are looking for support, you must (yes, MUST!) check out Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies! This is an online community of Jesus Girls who will love on you right where you are in your faith journey and encourage you to keep going! I hope to see you there!

Come back tomorrow as I will post about Chapter 2!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.   
John 3:16

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Studies and a Fabulous Recipe!

The Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Studies'  Gap Study that I have been involved with the past three weeks (actually three months) is over and I miss it already. To help fill the void, I joined Good Morning Girls' Why Easter Matters study. I am getting ready to dig into that study later this morning. Next up will be the P31 OBS "Living So That" by Wendy Blight study. This looks to be an excellent study and I am anxious for that to get going. I encourage you to go the website and click on the Online Bible Studies tab for more information and to sign up.

I am spending the day at home with my little guy. He has been running a fever so I kept him home from school. That gives me a little more time to do some around the house tasks that I never seem to get done! As a treat, I am finishing up my hubby's laundry. He generally washes his own clothes because they come home so dirty and greasy from work. I was going to wash my windows, but it looks like it is going to rain sooner than the weatherman predicted, so that will have to wait. I have finished planning our evening meal and am thinking about the rest of the week. We really need to butcher! I am just about out of beef! That never happens, so that means I have done a pretty good job of planning our meals out of the freezer the past year! Speaking of food, check out the newest Jensen family favorite - Mac & Cheese. No, not your normal everyday, run of the mill mac & cheese, but fabulous yummy melt in your mouth mac & cheese. The recipe is below:

Mac & Cheese

1/2 of a 1-pound package of penne pasta, cooked and drained
1 jar (14.5 oz) Prego flavored with savory bacon alfredo sauce
1/2 of a 1 oz package of ranch salad dressing mix (I used Hidden Valley Ranch.)
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir the pasta, sauce, dressing mix and half of the shredded cheese in a large bowl. Spoon into an 8x8 baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until the mixture is hot and bubbly.

We decided that this was an absolute must keep recipe. We are going to make it again and add left over cubed chicken from the freezer. Add a garden or fruit salad and some garlic bread and you have a complete meal.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

So Long, Fear!

See that Fear? All that underlining and notes and stuff? Did you notice where it says STOP? Did ya?

I am, once and for all, kicking my fear of rejection to the curb! One of the verses I am using to do that is Philippians 4:6-7. The picture above shows my verse mapping for it. No, I didn't do it in June of last year, I did it today. I used the camera at the preschool and we don't have the date set on it! ANYWAY....
I will take you through it a little at a time. "Do not" translates as STOP. (I actually wrote 'as in STOP!'). I need to stop letting fear grab me and lead me away from God.

When I got to "anxious" I looked at my study Bible (NIV) and the notes said self-centered, counter-productive worry (fear). I don't know about you, but I can certainly be self-centered at times, maybe more than I should be. Allowing my fear of rejection to be in control is certainly counter-productive to living a God-filled life.

"...anything" to me means big and/or small stuff, "everything" as in all were my next insights. This was followed by "prayer, and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  God hears my prayers, both said and unsaid. I went to the note section again and found that thanksgiving along with prayer and petition are the antidote to worry (or fear). The notes went on to say that "Anxiety and prayer are two great opposing forces in Christian experience." Wow! Anxiety can lead me away from God and my prayer life or I can use prayer to combat my anxiety! When we take all our cares, worries, etc. to God during our prayer time, we leave them with God and worry about them no more. Just dump them write there and walk away.

"And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Peace brings to mind contentment and tranquility. A quiet pond with lilies floating on top is what I think of when I hear the word "tranquility." There is so much about God that He doesn't want us to know and my understanding of Him is minute. Transcend is to go beyond my ability to understand, but even so, I trust Him and believe in Him. Around the word "guard" I drew what is supposed to be like a fortress or strong tower because that is the image that popped into my head. I didn't draw a sentry standing outside the door, but there was one of those in my image too.  God guards and protects me 24/7 my entire life. ADT can't even do that!

My hope is that you have been able to "kick fear to the curb" once and for all or are on the way there. Blessings as you continue down the path God has laid out before you!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Got Courage?

As I am writing this, the house is quiet. I am home alone, a rarity for sure. Abie is spending the night at her BFF's house and my husband took Wyatt out riding on the quads at Solon. It is a beautiful day. The sun is shining and melting away the last of the snow piles in my backyard. Thank you, God, for Spring!

Time to focus on the task at hand - do I see myself as a woman of good courage? Do I have the courage of Joshua? What a wonderful example he is! He fully believed in God,  trusted Him beyond all measure, did exactly what God asked of him and was successful! It was the power of God that delivered Jericho into the hands of the Israelites.

I can be courageous when it is something I am familiar with or comfortable with, but then is that really being courageous? Realistically, if I am faced with something that takes me outside my comfort zone, courage flees me at an alarming rate.

Why? Why do I let my courage falter? I am sure some of it is a control issue (Yep, I'm working on letting go and letting God!), but the majority of the blame falls on the "What ifs...". What if I mess up; what if people laugh or make fun of me; dear Lord, what if I'm successful, then what?!

I learned through the study this week that, just like everything else, it all come back to God, my loving and forgiving Father. I need to surround myself with prayer warriors (who said I have to do this on my own?), dig deeper into God's Word and let His presence fill me and pray, pray, pray! God is always with me (Psalm 23). He loves me (1 John 4:8) and He forgives me (1 John 1:9). Truths directly from the Bible that are applicable to my life and yours. Is it always going to be easy to "be of good courage?" NO! In my Concordia Self-Study Bible (NIV), the notes say for Matthew 4 that "God tests his people, but it's the devil how tempts us to evil (fears).

Without God we can accomplish nothing; we are nothing. God can accomplish many amazing things through us if we have courage to believe and trust in God above all things. Remember, sweet sisters, as we work to overcome our fears

  "I can do all things through him who gives me strength." ~ Philippians 4:13.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Kicking Fear to the Curb

Wow! What a first week of the "Kicking Fear to the Curb" Gap Study! I have enjoyed completing the assignments and reading the comments of my fellow sisters. Our 2nd assignment had us looking at six verses from God's Word:

Proverbs 3:5-6
Philippians 4:13
2 Timothy 1:7
Joshua 1:9
Isaiah 41:10
Deuteronomy 31:6

Some of the verses were ones I was familiar with, while others were new. I have decided through reading these verses that fear is a tool that Satan uses to separate us from God. He loves nothing more than watching us believe the fallacies and lies he whispers in our ears and marks on our hearts.

To overcome our fears, no matter what they may be, we must turn to our loving Father. The Bible is full of verses that encourage us to trust in and depend on Him. He gives us weapons to combat our fears. He will give us the strength and courage, if we only let Him. He will be with us every step of the way. He will remove obstacles in our way. Do not lack confidence fellow sisters.

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."  
 2 Timothy 1:7

Thursday, February 27, 2014

#Courageous or Not?

During the past six weeks of the Made to Crave journey, I've learned things about myself that were either new to me or were hidden away, compartmentalized for another day. Well today is the day to find out if I have the courage it takes to move forward or not! Here is my "Top 10 List" of what I've discovered about me:

10) Use God's Word to make healthy choices. Probably seems like an easy thing to do, but I struggle with this.

9)  I eat and then I eat some more. I am overindulgent when it comes to my food when I am stressed.

8)  I need God, healthy eating and exercise - a cord of 3 is not easily broken. Have I mentioned I would rather do just about anything than exercise?

7)  I struggled with this study because I thought I didn't have what I needed to make changes, but God was already there, waiting for me to call to Him for help.

6)  I need to remember, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."                 Philippians 4:8

5)  "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power." Ephesians 6:10

4)  I am ok with boundaries. They are like guardrails to keep me from slipping and falling.

3)  From my sermon notes last Sunday comes this jewel: There is no life apart from attaching your life to     Jesus. Choose Christ and you will always gain more than what you will lose.

2)  This journey was about me & God.

1)  It takes courage to be honest with yourself.

And part of being honest with myself is realizing that my journey isn't over. I need to continue to crave God and build up my spiritual life to create the deeper, more meaningful relationship I desire with God. So my journey isn't over, it's just begun. As I move forward I leave you with two of my favorite things...

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."  ~ Colossians 3:23,24

If you aren't familiar with "You Won't Relent" by Misty Edwards, I urge you to check it out on YouTube.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Determined to be at #Peace

I have struggled mightily the past week. I ate a McDonalds large value meal (Really? Did I need that?), found myself eating out of boredom, and wondering how can I get this all done in 24 hours/day. I used to be so organized and prided myself on getting things done! What has happened to get me to this point of pure craziness? If there is so much to do, how can I be bored?

The winter weather has me out of my daily routine. We have missed so much school that I am behind there. That leads to a little stress. Throw in some minor disagreements with loved ones and that's where McDonalds came in. I am trying to stay on top of 2 different Bible study groups (same study but off by one week) and have let a third one go by the wayside. So a little Twix bar here and a Snickers bar get the picture!

But I am determined that by God's grace and mercy I will be at peace during this weight loss journey. I have learned that I am not defined by the number on the scale. I was created by God, in His image. I am a masterpiece created by the master. I will overcome the winter weather, win out over temptations and when I am bored I will drink water and get moving! With God by my side I will create a daily schedule to get deadline items done and then add a few fluff items that should be done, but can wait if needed. Just typing this has filled me with peace! I HAVE A PLAN! I will be successful and be at #peace with myself and what God has blessed me with. At the same time I will eat healthier, exercise more and continue delving into God's Word. God gives me peace!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter Blahs

I just looked at the calendar. January is just about over and it feel like I have had more days out of school than in school thanks to the nasty cold weather. Tomorrow is pajama day at the preschool in celebration of National Lutheran Schools Week. Good thing I can wear my long underwear under my jammy bottoms!

I have been posting healthy recipes on an events page for the Made to Crave Bible study I am participating in. Yesterday I added an old favorite that my cousin, Jeanne, shared with me years ago. I decided to share it here too. It is called cheese potato soup.

                                         Cheese Potato Soup
8 cups warm water
8 chicken bouillon cubes
8 medium diced potatoes
2 bags shredded cabbage
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded carrots

Combine above and simmer 1 hour.  Add 3/4 pound of lite Velveeta (cubed). Stir frequently until cheese is melted.                (1 cup = 1 Weight Watchers point)

Another new favorite in our house is Cinnamon Roll Cake. Someone posted this on Facebook and I decided I had to try it out for a friend's birthday. Even my hubby who doesn't like cake said this was a keeper!

3 cups flour                                                 Topping:  1 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp salt                                                                  1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar                                                                 2 T flour
4 tsp baking powder                                                    1 T cinnamon
11/2 cups milk                                             Glaze:     2 cups powdered sugar
2 eggs                                                                        6-7 T milk
2 tsp vanilla                                                                 1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix everything together, except melted butter. Slower stir in the melted butter and pour into a greased 9x13 pan.  For the topping, mix altogether until well combined. Drop evenly over the batter and swirl with a knife. Put into a preheated 350 degree over for 28 - 32 minutes. While warm, make glaze and drizzle over the cake.  Serve warm. Excellent reheated in the microwave for about 15 seconds.

I hope these recipes help you get rid of your winter blahs!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Empowered is the WOW (Word of the Week) in the Proverbs 31 Ministries OBS “Made to Crave.” I am participating in this with 40,000+ sisters online and with 10 at my home church. I decided to look up the definition.  Empower- 1. To invest with power; to give power or authority to.  2. To equip or supply with an ability; enable.

The teacher in me was curious. I had to dig deeper! Synonyms include allow, entitle, grant, trust and permit. Among the antonyms are deny, disallow, disapprove, refuse and reject. How does this week’s word empower me on my weight loss journey?

E= Educate. I need to educate myself in healthy eating plans and exercises. I need to educate myself to rely on God and trust in Him in everything and for everything, including my weight issues.

M= Mustard. Really, it’s mustard seed. It reminds me of a song that goes, “Have a little faith in me, the size of a little mustard seed. Have a little faith in me and see what I can do for you.” Putting my faith in God, and again, trusting Him, I can reach my goals and the plans He has for me!
                “…I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed…Nothing will be                                            impossible for you.”  Matthew 17:20-21

P= Pray. Pray, pray, pray! Pray for myself, pray for my sisters on this “M2C” journey. Pray for strength, courage, trust and forgiveness.
                “Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”  I Peter 4:7

O= Overseer.  Everyone, including me, needs an overseer or accountability partner. An overseer is charged with responsibility over something. My accountability partner needs to be responsible to hold me accountable.
                “Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work…” Titus 1:7

W=Win. With God by my side I will win this war, although I know I will probably lose some battle along the way.
                “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…”
                                 Philippians 3:14

E= Encourage. I will use God’s Word to encourage myself and those around me.
                “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…” I Thessalonians 5:11

R= Refuse. Refuse to quit or give up. Just because I hit a rough patch, I will keep going!

E= Enjoy. I will enjoy the journey and all that God has given me.
                “Dear friend, I pray that you would enjoy good health and that all may go well with you…”
                           3 John :2

D= Desire.
                “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”  Psalm 20:4

#Empowered in a nutshell! Put God first in your journey, be faithful to Him, pray about and entrust your plans to the Lord and He will be with you and guide you every step of the way!

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Brand New Year

As I look out my window and see patches of dead, brown grass among the snowdrifts created by past storms, I am rattled to the core...maybe overwhelmed...

2014 a year of new beginnings (This is take 2 on this blog.) and fresh starts for many of us. We set resolutions, make plans and goals. Some we succeed at, others fade away over time like the morning fog as the sun appears. I have two goals this year, both pretty straight forward: lose weight and become closer to God. And they go hand in hand!

If you know me, this may surprise you. Not so much the weight loss, but my desire to become closer to God. I want to be honest with you, just because I went to a Lutheran university to become trained to teach in Lutheran schools doesn't mean I don't struggle with my faith! We all have peaks and valleys, plateaus and mountain top experiences when it comes to our faith and relationship with God. I believe this is just part of our human nature.

Why am I rattled to the core you ask? While looking out my window this morning, it was as if God literally was standing beside me and whispered in my ear, "Deje, I love how you are working on your desire to grow closer to me and how you are FINALLY linking together your weight loss journey with your faith journey. See what happens when we work together? I have plans for you that are just a spark in your mind right now." The next thing that popped into my head was...what if? Now this, if spoken aloud in front of my hubby would make him look at me, with the 'uh-oh, she has an idea' look.

I paused, grabbed my hot tea and sat back down at the kitchen table. WHAT IF? What if what through the things I am doing now to become closer to God and lose weight like being apart of the 40,000+ women who are taking part in Proverbs 31's "Made to Crave" study and leading it at church is part of God's plan for something bigger for me? What if He is preparing me through the Good Morning Girls "Intentionally Focused" study and going through Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" to do something else?

WHAT IF...women's ministry...encouraging other women in their faith walk...what if this is the next chapter God has planned for me....maybe not right at this exact moment, but slowly through small steps, a little at a time? What if ...? How, when, what, where, and why are questions that I will have to pray over and turn over to God to answer in His time. I truly believe that if this is His will for me it will become clear over time. My hope and prayer would be for this next chapter to become a blessing to me, my family, to others.

But, for now, I am content with doing all the things I am doing now while listening for God in my quiet time with Him.