Wednesday, November 23, 2011

If Not Now, When? A Note of Gratitude!

I walked into Sue’s house, expecting that she, our friend Lynne and I would pray together for our kids as we do most every week. But the only prayer that happened was when I prayed for Lynne, who was obviously sick. Hives covered her arms and Sue gave her a Benadryl. Lynne started seeing spots and she felt heaviness on her chest. Just as Sue and I decided to take her to a hospital, Lynne said she was going to faint.

And then, as she sat in a chair, Lynne blanked out completely with her eyes wide open. I called 911 and Sue started trying to wake her up by calling her and gently slapping her cheeks. (Later we all joked that Lynne would never recover from the bruises.) For a good five minutes, Lynne was gone. Breathing, but unconscious with very little pulse.

The firemen and paramedics arrived and Lynne “woke up.” A cute fireman helped the process. :0)

At the hospital, the doctors declared Lynne had gone into anaphylactic shock due to a severe allergic reaction. To what, she is still not sure. It might have been the pizza she had earlier that day that could have had shrimp on it. Lynne is allergic to shellfish. It could have been something during the long walk she took on her way to Sue’s. We don’t know.

Yesterday, when I had tea with her, Lynne told me God used this brush with death to give her an assignment.

If not now, when?

Lynne has taken this message seriously and has called several non Christian friends to have coffee this week. During these chats, she doesn’t preach or bully or give a slide show of hell with X’s that say You could be HERE. She simply tells them that Jesus loves them and died for them and that she wants them to know. Now.

It was scary to watch her go through what she did last week; yesterday it was simply thrilling to feel her passion and hear about her purpose to do what God told her to do. Today.

Lynne happens to be my accountability partner in my journey to get off sugar and get healthy. When we switched topics to my world she said, “So I have one question for you, Robbie. If not now, when?”

I started crying. Denying myself the comfort of food is excruciatingly difficult. So I make good choices often, but I often justify and rationalize running to food I don’t need. This week is Thanksgiving. A week we set aside to speak our gratitude for all the great blessings we have.

But we do it with food. Lots of food. Nothing wrong with that, but when you are on a journey to put God first always and not food, this is well…a tough week.

Lynne, glowing as if she’d had a personal meeting with Jesus, told me, “Robbie, when you look at the Thanksgiving table this year, don’t just see dishes of food. Imagine it is a table of beautiful plates of what you want. What you REALLY want.”

So I am going to eat Thanksgiving dinner and enjoy my family and friends. But I’m also going to take a moment, imagine and scoot up to the banquet table that God has for me.

A bowl of dreams fulfilled.

A pan simmering with deep purpose and potential.

A platter full of every day joy, with no ounce of guilt on it.

A glass of good health.

A plate of unrestricted relationship with the Father, devoid of any addiction blocking my heart.

And of course, the dessert. Oh, the dessert! It’s a buffet filled with the simple things that have already come from this path and will come later. A sweater two sizes smaller than last year, blood tests with numbers in the normal range, the theatre seats with room on both sides of me, energy, energy and more energy, less pain in my knee, and of course, the sweet burst of confidence that flavors every day.


So why not, Robbie? Why not, each of you? What’s He asking you to do? And if not today, when?

THANK YOU for reading these devotions and for reading my blog. Your comments and your encouragement mean the world to me. Knowing that God uses my scribbling thrills me. So thank you!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Son Needs Me to Control Things, Right?

The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.
Psalm 145:13

I have a big ‘ole ladle of control freak mixed up in the recipe that is my personality. I used to have a gallon, but after surrendering often to Jesus, it’s much less. My dream is to someday only have a pinch. It’s a fantasy, but with God anything is possible.

God is often teaching me lessons about living for Him through that part of myself that says, “I got this.” Most of the time, I do not “got” it. At all.

The object of my control is often my son, Noah. 7th grade has been a challenge for him, not because he is unintelligent, he is smart as a whip. But because is he is disorganization personified. I read somewhere that at his age, the frontal lobe is not developed yet. The part that connects cause with effect and the part that develops short term memory. When I read this, I said, “YES” as if I’d just found a great sale or if I’d won the lottery. This scientific report validated that maybe, just maybe, Noah’s constant need for reminder is not due to me eating too many chocolate brownies during pregnancy.

Noah and I went to his parent/teacher conferences this past week. He was apathetic about the whole thing, but I was terrified. Two fears consumed me. 1) That each teacher would look at me and say, “Why aren’t you the kind of mother that Noah really needs?” and 2) That I would start bawling and point an angry finger at each teacher and blubber, “Why aren’t you the kind of teacher that can fix my son?”

Just trying to control the situation. It’s about me, right?

Well, no. It’s about Noah. This observation came from John, the voice of reason in our home. (I’m not always thrilled about that.) So John prayed for me before we went.

The science teacher was first and he spoke words that would be echoed by Noah’s other teachers. “Noah is a great student. Hard working and well liked. A leader that doesn’t know it yet. He could get all A’s but he is disorganized. But he knows the material and asks great questions.”

I was caught between asking “Seriously?” and crying in gratitude. Both would have horrified my boy so I kept silent, nodding politely. I confessed that Noah’s locker, which is ridiculously messy, and my purse are quite similar. I cannot teach him organization. The teachers all suggested an elective course at the school that teaches organization and study skills that Noah would be perfect for. I jumped for joy. Noah wasn’t so thrilled. He didn’t want to give up P.E.

We had a discussion at home that came down to me saying, “You are going to do this!” and Noah saying, “I don’t want to do this!” The voice of reason came in and asked if one of the requirements was Noah’s enthusiasm about taking the class. Unfortunately, we were told that yes, Noah had to WANT to be in the course.

John looked at his wife and son, who were both extremely upset, and said this. “Noah, do me a favor. Tonight, ask God what He wants you to do. And if you believe that He doesn’t mind if you don’t enroll, then you don’t have to.”

I glared at my husband. In one remark, he’d taken control and given it to our twelve-year-old boy who cares more about video games than eating, more about playing with his friends than going to church and more about P.E. than a new class! I remained silent, while asking God to kick John in the behind. Would Noah ask God? Would Noah hear God’s reply?

Letting go is terrifying and I am horrible at it and Noah needs me to control his world. Right?

Wrong. The next day, John asked Noah if he prayed and Noah said yes and that he was going to enroll in the class and drop P.E. I was shocked. Something good happened without me being in charge of it.

If you are like me, and many of you are, I hope that you can join me in surrendering control. It’s a desperate attempt to make us the center of the universe. It is also a way to say, “God, I don’t trust You to handle this.”

And God can handle it. He is trustworthy. He’s got Noah and I can let go.

A little at a time. :0)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

He Still Has to Hide the Knives! (My Battle in Quitting Sugar)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

James 1:2-4

As of today, I have not had any sugar – for me this means no desserts of any kind and no sugary soda – for 3 months and 1 week.

It has not been easy.

Week one was 7 days in which my husband feared for his life. Before we went to bed at night, he hid anything he thought I might see as a weapon in my sugar-hungry mind.

After the first week, I had a few days of “Hey, this won’t be so bad.” That ended abruptly when my beloved son had the audacity to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup in front of me. I fled, knowing that if I stayed and watched him enjoy my FAVORITE CANDY OF ALL TIME, I would later only have memories of my boy as a chalk outline.

I got encouragement from other folks, mostly on Facebook, who have also given up sugar. I was told time and time again that after the first two months, my desire for sugar would subside substantially. With a grin on my face I persevered. I couldn’t wait for October 1st.

October 1st came and I woke up with visions of candy corn dancing in my mind. Maybe they meant October 2nd and I just got the date wrong.


October was a living nightmare. Every trip to the store, the small orange and yellow triangles cried out to me from their bags.

Some called, “Robbie, come on over.” Sort of like that urge you get at 2 a.m. when you see an TV infomercial for a closet organization system that you know will solve every problem you’ve ever had.

Some mocked me. “Robbie, why are you doing this? It won’t last. So just have a few of us.”

But most often all I heard was, “Robbie, life without us, Sweet Candy Corn, is life denied!!”

I didn’t pick any of them up. I still miss those moments. The what ifs…Sigh.

Halloween. Well…let’s just skip that. Suffice to say Noah was on his own. :0)

But here is the deal. Sugar has abused me and been my bridge to obesity and a life of unused potential. No more. Maybe I’ll have sugar some day. But not anytime soon.

In the book, Made to Crave by Lysa TurKeurst, (which happens to be the best book I’ve ever read about my habit of putting food before God,) Lysa writes:

It is good for God’s people to be put in a place of longing so they feel a slight desperation.

(I laugh at the word slight.)

She goes on to say:

Only then can we be empty enough and open enough to discover the holiness we were made for. When we are stuffed full of other things and never allow ourselves to be in a place of longing, we don’t recognize the deeper spiritual battle going on.

After 3 months and 1 week, I am JUST NOW beginning to get an inkling of the spiritual battle going on in my heart and soul. A battle for my purpose. A battle for my identity.

Yes, I’ve lost weight and I feel good and my numbers after blood tests are much, much better.

And though that all feels great, God is showing me that in order to let perseverance finish its work in my life, I have a long way to go. That’s fine with me. I am on a wild ride and it’s exciting and scary and fun.

And my husband somehow knows when he needs to hide the knives!  :0)