Friday, December 18, 2009

Sweet Celebration

My family had the privilege of celebrating my dad's 60th Birthday with him last month. We had such a sweet celebration honoring my dad. He was so surprised! Here are some of the pics from that blessed night. Double click on the pics if you would like to enlarge them.

The Grand Entrance
Oh My!
I can't believe it!
He was ecstatic when he saw family from out of state.
Thanks to my dear wife!
Daughter-Son Welcome
The Adorable Couple
The Cake Cutting
A teary eyed Son to Father Tribute
All Praises to God!!!
Praise Dancers perform to one of my dad's favorite praise songs -
"Glorious" by Martha Munizzi
Grandpa's little sweetie pie
Grandpa's big boy
My brother -Curt & sis-in-love -Shelly
Me & my sweetie
The Ladies of the Family
The Family

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Skinny Jeans...Does It Really Matter?

My Skinny Jeans - Before
My Skinny Jeans - Now

Whenever I would see those weight loss before & after pics in magazines, I longed to be one of those people. Now that I've been on this journey, I'm starting to ask myself, "Does size really matter?" What is the ideal size? Is it a 4 or a 6? Maybe it's an 8 or a 12? The world has many opinions about size, but what does the Bible say?
Well, there are many references to a person's physical appearance in the Bible. For example, Sarai, Rebekah, and Rachel were all said to be, "beautiful in appearance" (Genesis 12:11, 24:16, 29:17). Likewise, Joseph, Saul, and David were described as, "handsome" (Genesis 39:6, I Sam 9:2, 16:12). However, the Word does not say how much any of them weighed. Obviously, the specific number is not important. On the contrary, God is very clear on what is important. When Samuel was searching for a king for Israel, God told him, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart" (1 Sam 16:7).
Therefore, it's all a matter of the heart. When I've been asked what my goal weight or size is, I always respond with, "I don't have one." My goal on this journey is to glorify God with my eating and my view of food. It's not about being skinny or fat. I guess I can say that my goal size is whatever size I end up as a result of glorifying God with my eating and being satisfied in Him alone. God is concerned with whether I'm loving Him with all my heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37).
On my journey, here are a few heart questions that I have to often ask myself. They help me to focus on glorifying God as oppose to focusing on weight.
1) Do I feel comfortably satisfied or terribly stuffed when I finish eating? See 1 Cor 10:31.
2) Do I immediately turn to God in times of despair, anxiety, guilt, or boredom OR Do I turn to food? See 1 Peter 5:7 & Phil 4:6-7.
3) Do I allow myself to eat certain "off my diet" foods for the sake of showing love to others? For example, a neighbor prepares cinnamon rolls for your visit. This actually happened to me at the start of my journey. Even though cinnamon rolls weren't part of my daily diet, I ate one for the sake of kindness towards my neighbor. See 1 Cor 10:23-30.
4) Does my daily way of eating promote health, strength, and energy in order to care for my family, manage my home, serve the church, and help others? I learned from the start that certain foods serve as fuel so that I can be energized to serve while other foods weigh me down and cause me to feel sluggish, tired, and irritable. Now I know that McDonald's extra value meals for lunch definitely do not serve as fuel:-). See 1 Peter 4:10-11.
5) Am I willing to give up eating a meal each week or fasting for an entire day in order to have a weekly reminder that "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4)? What greater way to show that Christ solely satisfies your soul than by denying yourself daily bread in order to feast on the Bread of life! See John 6:26-27.

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Blind Side

Last week, Kempton and I went to see, The Blind Side.
This movie depicts the true story of the pro football player, Michael Oher.
From the start, it's quite obvious to see that the mom (Sandra Bullock's role) was seriously out of control. Inspite of her extremely domineering personality, we thought that the movie was uniquely interesting.
Has anyone else seen it? What did you think about it?

Monday, November 30, 2009

True Confessions: I give myself a "C"!

On Saturday, my family returned from an enjoyable week in Illinois. During that week, we celebrated my dad's 60th Birthday and Thanksgiving with my parents and extended family. We had such a great time!

However, in grading my eating habits last week, I have to give myself a "C". Whenever I've gone on trips in the past, I definitely would have given myself a "F" and wouldn't care a bit. On this trip, I did not eat as disciplined as I should, but I was more conscious of my choices overall. In the past, I would eat whatever, whenever, & however I wanted, let myself go all out, and excuse my overeating for the holidays. This time, I basically played what I would call the "Cancel out" game. Maybe these carrot sticks for snack will cancel out the third day of birthday cake for dessert. Maybe this yogurt for breakfast will cancel out the second helping of sweet potato casserole at dinner. I felt better about some of my choices but I still ended up eating a lot more than I'm used to.

Have you ever read the children's book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle? Well, for those of you who remember how the caterpillar's Saturday went, I also had a similar day while on my trip. Yes, I too had a stomachache that night. After taking some Pepto-Bismol, I laid in bed pondering the fact that I hadn't felt that way in over a year. I felt terrible! I certainly did not want to go back to my old habits. I hated that I allowed myself to end up in that condition. So, were all the efforts to change my eating habits over this past year in vain? No way! Were the 25 pounds that I've lost in vain? No way! God is still at work in me (Phil 2:13)! All believers will struggle with sin; even Apostle Paul did. Check out what he said in Romans 7:15-25 -

"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Thank you Jesus! It's all by His grace that we can continue on in righteousness. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Even though God forgives us and is still at work in us, we do have a part to play. Several months ago I read Romans 13:14, and immediately posted it in my kitchen so I could see it on a daily basis. I would suggest everyone memorize this verse and meditate on it often, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires."
I'm planning to talk more specifically about ways to not make provision for the flesh in a later post.
By the way, like the hungry caterpillar, I ate a nice green salad the next day and felt much better :-).

Monday, November 16, 2009

Freedom Journal - Section 3

The third section of my journal is full of freedom verses. I constantly have to go back to the cross and be reminded of the freedom that I was granted because of the death & resurrection of my Savior, Jesus Christ. The focus verse that I memorized was John 8:36 - "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." I like how the puritan, Samuel Bolton, explains this verse in his book, The True Bounds of Christian Freedom.
"First, We have a benefit expressed--freedom: 'If the Son shall make you free'.
Second, We have the qualities of this freedom--it is a true and real freedom: 'free indeed'.
Thirdly, We have the subjects of this freedom--believers: 'If the Son shall make you free'.
Fourthly, We have the author of it--Christ: 'If the Son shall make you free'." (p. 18)

Therefore, as a believer of Jesus Christ, I am set free from the bonds of slavery to sin. Christ died for ALL my sins. He paid the penalty for ALL my sins - past, present, & future. His gift of grace towards me allows me to rest in Him and rejoice in the freedom that He has given me. This truth is so foundational in being set free from a sin pattern. Before a believer can be delivered from a habitual sin, you must believe the fact that Christ died for your sins and He has the power to give you victory over EVERY sin area in your life including gluttony. This is basically what Romans 6 is all about. For a whole month, I read that chapter every morning during my quiet time. I needed to be constantly reminded of those truths. You may want to do the same. Romans 8 & Galatians 5 are also good chapters to read pertaining to freedom in Christ. I want to end with a few of my favorite verses from those chapters. I hope they encourage you as well.

* But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18

* There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

* For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Be EXTREME For Jesus!

It is ironic that the devil gives the world all of its extremists in every realm--entertainment, politics, society, education, anarchy, intrigue--you name it! Yet it is the same devil that frightens believers about the great danger of becoming "extreme."
~A.W. Tozer
(The Quotable Tozer II compiled by Harry Verploegh p.55)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Freedom Journal - Section 2

In a previous post, I wrote about the first section of my freedom journal which consisted of verses about Christ being my satisfaction, Christ being my provider of all good things, and Christ being my portion.

The second section of my journal has verses pertaining to God's sanctifying power at work in me. Here are four of those verses.

* God "began a good work in you [and] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6).

* God sanctifies me and He alone can keep me blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thess 5:23, paraphrased)

* "...Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil 2:12-13).

* Jesus prayed, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth" (John 17:17-19).

These verses really encourage me! When I meditate on them, I'm reminded that I'm not alone in this struggle. Christ is with me and working in me. That truth is so freeing to me! My part is to submit my will to His and allow Him to do His sanctifying work in me through His Word. I used to think that I could never be free from gluttony because I wasn't strong enough or I didn't have enough will power. I've learned that it's not about my strength, but Christ's. He will help me and he also "will not let [me] be tempted beyond [my] ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape" (1 Cor 10:13). Therefore, I can stand confident in Him by the strength He provides.

God's "divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire" (2 Peter 1:3-4).
Praise the Lord that we believers have all that we need to live a godly life and be free from gluttony!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stay Close To The Shepherd!

The best way to keep the enemy out is to keep Christ in. The sheep need not be terrified by the wolf; they have but to stay close to the shepherd. It is not the praying sheep Satan fears but the presence of the Shepherd.
~A.W. Tozer
(The Quotable Tozer II compiled by Harry Verploegh p.55)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Freedom Journal - Section 1

My freedom journal, as I mentioned in a previous post, is simply a 2 ring notecard keeper with 4 color coded sections. Today I'll talk about the first section. In this section, I wrote 3 different types of verses. Here's a description -

1) Verses pertaining to Christ satisfying me; such as Psalm 90:14, Matthew 5:6, Psalm 103:2,5.

2) Verses pertaining to Christ being the provider of good things; such as Psalm 34:8-10, Psalm 84:11, 85:12, Psalm 31:19.

3) Verses pertaining to God's Word being my food and God being my portion; such as John 6:35, Job 23:12, Matthew 4:4, Psalm 16:5-6, Romans 14:17.
We are to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship. We are not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by a renewal of our mind, that by testing we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:1-2). Basically, in order for an ex-glutton to be holy and acceptable to God, we must allow the Lord to transform our mind. It's like having a spiritual surgery on our minds; think of it as a brain transplant. God has to remove our old ways of thinking and responding to food and fill us with His truth. This is certainly not an easy process! It's painful and gruesome! You may even shed some tears (I have!); but if you press through; it's SO worth it or should I say, Christ is worth it! Only then, can we discern God's good, acceptable, and perfect will.

Therefore, I had to start my journal with the previously mentioned verses. I had to learn that food has never and will never give me lasting satisfaction. Only Christ can! On another note, if you've been a glutton as long as I was, you've most likely fell for the same lies as I have. The lies like - "I can't say no; it's too good!" or "If I don't eat it, I'll be missing out on something good!" For example, I'd feel like I was missing out on something good if I didn't...
1) Get a candy bar at the grocery store register.
2) Eat every food sample that was offered to me at Sam's or Costco.
3) Try every food that was available at a get together or church event.

So, I desperately needed to record and memorize verses about God giving me good things and being my portion. Now when I encounter one of these tempting situations, I strive to recall these verses. I certainly haven't been perfect in this area, but God's strength through His Word has empowered me to please Him more consistently.

"Let us thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things" (Psalm 107:8-9). Praise the Lord for His truth!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Little Piggy...

While the kids were taking a bath, Carysse continued to pour water on herself and Christian. As she did this, she would say, "Wash Christian back, wash Christian arm, wash Carysse leg, wash Carysse feet", and so forth. Then I heard her say, "Wash Carysse piggies." I looked up and said, "Piggies?" She looked at me with a look on her face like, "Don't you know what my piggies are!" I then asked, "Where are your piggies, Carysse?" Without any hesitation, she pointed to her toes. I then said, "Those are your piggies?" She confidently nodded her head.

As you can tell, I have sung one too many nursery rhymes to my kids. "This Little Piggy" was one of Carysse's favorites; now my 2 yr old thinks her toes are called piggies. Looks like we'll have a lesson on body parts tomorrow :-).

Carysse's 4 month old "piggies"

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Stopped Playing the Blame Game!

Today's topic of the freedom journey could be a subcategory of "Seeing your sin as God sees it and Confessing your sin to God".

My sin of gluttony was not a result of my childhood or my family. It’s not because I’m black, I’m a woman, or that I’m American. It’s not because I’m a pastor’s wife or that I’m a mom to a child with multiple disabilities. I can go on & on with my personal descriptions, titles, & issues. No matter how long my list would be, the true answer to why I was a slave to food was because of the sin in my heart. Basically I was similar to the children of Israel. Here’s what God told them -

"But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." (Psalm 81:11-13, 16)
I cannot blame my sin of gluttony on anyone else but myself. I chose not to listen to God’s voice, submit to Him, or walk in His ways regarding this area of my life. In other words, I turned from God “the fountain of living water and dug broken cisterns for myself that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

If you can relate, talk to God about this part of your life and confess to Him, be real & specific about it. I like what C.J. Mahaney said about confessing his sin of pride to God.

“So rather than just confessing to God that “I was proud in that situation” and appealing for His forgiveness, I learned to say instead, “Lord, in that moment, with that attitude and that action, I was contending for supremacy with You. That’s what it was all about. Forgive me.” (Humility: True Greatness p. 31-32).

Following Mahaney’s example, I wrote a statement pertaining to gluttony. Rather than confessing that, “I ate too much.” I say instead, “Lord, in that moment, with that action, I turned from You and instead turned to food. You alone can satisfy the longings of my soul. Forgive me.” So, as you drop all of the excuses that you may have for why you turn to food and not God, you are now free to go hard after Him and His truth.

The song - "You alone can satisfy" by Ross King is the theme song of my journey. I play it most mornings. Listen to it (the 9th song). Pay close attention to the words. After the song, as the Lord leads, say your own personal prayer to God.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Running to the Savior

Back to the Freedom Journey Series.

The first thing I want to mention is that "Running to the Savior" is a sanctification process. It's a process of God working in us as we strive for more of Him and it won't be complete until the return of our Savior (I Thess 5:23-24). I like how Elyse Fitzpatrick puts it, "Sanctification is that slow process of growth from our old ways of thinking and living to new, godly ones. Sanctification doesn't occur overnight--in fact, it's never fully completed until we reach heaven. At heart, it's the change that God is accomplishing through us: change into the image and character of His Son (Romans 8:29)" (Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety p. 90).

With that said, I want to talk about the three things that I've held onto throughout this journey.

The Word of God, Journal, & Pen
Diet programs and books teach you what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. However, most of them do not succeed in the area of explaining why you eat the way you do. They fail in this area because their reasoning only focuses on outer change instead of heart change. I was one that used to run to all the latest diet fads and they all gave me temporal results but my heart never changed. God is changing my heart from focusing on "the fruit" of behavior change which only causes me to be satisfied with results. Instead He wants me to focus on "the Vine" in which I strive to be solely satisfied with the Savior as I abide in Him (John 15:4-5).
I have to stand on the truth of God's Word and the faithfulness of His character. He has to be the focus and foundation of any lasting change and deliverance from sin. As John 8:36 so beautifully says it,
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."
That was the main verse that encouraged me to press on in faith as I started my journey. It was also one of the 1st verses that I wrote in my journal. I'll talk more about the journal in later posts.

"Yes, Jesus Loves Me!"

Here's my baby girl praising God even through a cold (excuse the nose wiping :-)

Evidence of God’s Grace in Affliction

“I can’t do that!”, “What are they thinking?”, “Don’t they know what I go through?”, “My life is hard enough!”, “How can I serve others with a child like this?”

I’ve said all of these statements before. I’m sure I’m not alone. Many times parents of children with special needs feel that their circumstances or afflictions give them a valid excuse from doing many things. Logically speaking, they’re right! Families affected by disability tend to have less time and energy to do anything extra besides caring for the immediate needs of their family. However, whether your trials and afflictions are pertaining to disability or not, the Bible says that all believers will be afflicted in some way. Psalm 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” So, as we wait & hope for Christ’s deliverance, how are we to live? How can we serve others and glorify God in our afflictions?

Paul’s encouragement to the church of the Thessalonians shows us how this can be done. Take a look at his words in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4. Paul praised God for 3 evidences of His grace in their lives. They were abundantly growing in their faith, increasing in their love for one another, and remaining steadfast as they endured all of their afflictions. Because of the hope of the gospel and God at work in us, we can pattern our actions according to their Christ-like example.

A. The Thessalonians’ “faith was growing abundantly”.
The Greek word for faith in this passage is pistis (Strong's G4102). It means the conviction that is based upon hearing God’s Word and not on sight. It is the firm confidence in what we hear from God in His Word (Short Definitions, New Testament. ©2008 Greek Bible Study).
A person growing abundantly in their faith…
1. Puts their trust in God & His Word. (Mark 11:22).
2. Hopes in things unseen. They look to Jesus and do not get sidetracked by the things that they see. (Heb 11:1)
3. Believes God’s promises no matter what their circumstances look like. (Romans 4:19-20)

B. The Thessalonians’ “love for one another was increasing”.
The Greek word for love in this passage is agape (Strong's G26). This is love in its fullest conceivable form. It gives a self-denying and compassionate devotion to its object (Short Definitions, New Testament. ©2008 Greek Bible Study).
A person increasing in their love…
1. Serves others. (Galatians 5:13-14)
2. Considers others before themselves. They do not have a self-centered “What about me!” attitude. (John 15:13)
3. Understands that without love for others, all their actions are in vain (even if they're using their spiritual gifts). (1 Cor.13:1-3)

C. The Thessalonians remained “steadfast”.
The Greek word for steadfast in this passage is hupomonÄ“ (Strong's G5281). It means a patient endurance, a remaining under; a bearing-up under (Short Definitions, New Testament. ©2008 Greek Bible Study).
A person who remains steadfast…
1. Rejoices in their sufferings because they know that their trials are producing character and hope and making them mature in Christ. (Romans 5:1-5, James 1:2-4)
2. Lays aside every weight and sin which clings so closely to them. They strive to look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of their faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
3. Believes that their present sufferings cannot be compared to the glory that is to be revealed to them when Christ returns. (Romans 8:18-25)

Praise God for His truth! Only by God’s grace and through His power can any of us walk according to these truths in our lives. May God cause our faith to abundantly grow, our love for one another to increase, and help us remain steadfast as we endure all of our present afflictions and the ones to come for our good and His glory. Amen!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jesus Died For It!

Most people would say that they occasionally eat too much. You might hear someone say, “Oh, I’m too stuffed!” or “I shouldn’t have eaten seconds!” I assume that all of us know what that's like. However, a person that occasionally eats too much is not necessarily a glutton. Here’s my definition of a glutton -

A person who continuously (regularly) eats an abundance of food beyond their fill in order to satisfy a longing of the soul.
Gluttony is an addiction to food. It is an idol. It is a god. It has a place in your heart that only God should fill. My freedom journey started when I saw the sin of gluttony as one would view a …
- Drug addict taking another snort.
- Porn addict clicking on another site.
- Alcoholic having another sip.

Even though the world accepts it and the church excuses it, gluttony is still a sin. I was addicted to a sin that nailed my Savior to the cross. Jesus agonized, suffered, and died in obedience to the Father for the sake of my sin (Colossians 1:19-23).

This realization is foundational for a person wanting freedom from the sin of gluttony. You must:
1) See your sin as God sees it. (Proverbs 23:19-21, Proverbs 28:6-7)
2) Confess it to Him. (1 John 1:9)
3) Run to the Savior! (Jeremiah 29:13)

In my next post, I plan to describe the steps I took in running to the Savior.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I died a year ago!

"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11)

Last year when I wrote this post during the week of my 33rd birthday, I had no idea that it would become true (spiritually speaking) pertaining to a specific sin in my life. You see, I turned 34 on Tuesday and this birthday marked a lot of “firsts” for me. This was the 1st birthday that…

*I was 2 sizes smaller than I’ve ever been as an adult.
*I went shopping for a whole new wardrobe.
*I didn’t look in the mirror and feel guilt or shame.
*I prayed so hard that I wouldn’t return to the bondage of the sin of gluttony.

This blog post comes with much hesitation. I hesitate for many reasons but the root of them all is FEAR. I fear that I will fall back into the sin that I’ve struggled with for most of my life and gain the weight back and then look foolish. So, this post comes with a big risk but I’m willing to risk for the sake of glorifying God as I recount His goodness, faithfulness, and compassion towards me. Also, going public with this area of my life via internet allows me to have countless accountability partners :-).

I'm involved in the MOMS ministry at my church. This Tuesday's speaker coincidently spoke about nutrition. She showed us a replica of 5 lbs of fat. Since it was my birthday, I just had to take a picture holding that thing. It's hard to believe that I have lost a total of 5 of them...glory to God alone!
How My Journey BeganDuring Fall ’08, I participated in the bible study How People Change by Timothy S. Lane and Paul D. Tripp. From the very 1st lesson, that study was life changing for me. Even though I’ve been a believer for quite a while, this class helped me to come face to face with the reality of the Cross, my position before God, Christ’s power in me, and the hope to come (2 Peter 1:3-9, Phil 1:3-11, Rev 7:9-17). From the start, God was pointing to my sin of gluttony and it was like He was saying, “This is it! It’s your time to give me this area of your life.” This is definitely the #1 area of struggle that has kept me from wholeheartedly loving God. Midway through the study, we had to plan a personal growth project. On the night of October 23rd, I was working on my project and I had a time of coming clean before God. I confessed out loud and wrote all my confessions down on paper. I made lists for 3 specific areas: 1) “Confessions to my sin of gluttony”, 2) “Why I’m enslaved to gluttony”, 3) “Why I want to be free from gluttony”. The Holy Spirit helped me to be very specific about my confessions. Here are a few of them -
* I am a glutton!
* I turn to food for comfort and relief instead of God.
* I get a satisfaction “high” from food. Even though I know it’s temporary, I constantly crave that feeling.
* I turn to food for a sense of control in my life.
The list went on and on. Later that evening, I also confessed this sin to Kempton. He knew that I struggled with food, but he didn’t know to this degree. As I sobbed, he prayed for me. He has been my #1 accountability partner ever since.

For the next several blog posts, I plan to continue the trek through my journey.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Part 2: In Sickness and In Health...of your child

Here are the things that Kempton & I strive to do to preserve our marriage.

Only by God's strength, We say “YES” to…
1) Praying together. As soon as we wake up, we ask the Lord for strength for the day and for the grace to walk in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18)

2) Daily getting in the Word together. We have to juggle in this area since we have young children. Most of the time it's before the kids get up. Lately it's been after the kids go to bed. There are some days that it doesn't happen, but this is our regular goal that we strive for. (Psalm 1:2)

3) Overflowing at all times! We love to share with each other what God is teaching us individually through His Word. We do this as we're getting ready for the day, playing with the kids, eating a meal, etc. This has been such a pillar as we strive to have a Christ-centered, God-exalting home. Most of our times in the Word together are full of overflowing onto one another. The grace & goodness of our Lord and the new insight that we receive from Him calls for much excitement in our conversations. (Col 3:16-17)

4) Confessing sins to one another. This area is definitely the hardest, but it produces the most beautiful results. Each time we confess our sins to one another, the Lord blesses our marriage to grow closer in oneness and unity. We both know what each other struggles in the most and we try to pray for those specific areas regularly. Only God knows ALL the sins that we have committed. However, the times when we were both transparent and confessed some of our ugly & filthy sins, God has met us in a powerful way and strengthened our marriage through it. (James 5:16)

5) DATE NIGHTS!!! When Christian was a baby and had more medical issues, we often could not have others care for him. So, Kempton & I would have "In house"date nights. We would put Christian to bed and then order take-out from our favorite restaurant. We enjoyed our relaxing yet romantic evenings at home. Over the years, the Lord has blessed us to be able to go out for date nights and have either grandparents or friends care for the kids. Because it still can be a handful caring for both Christian & Carysse, we tend to put Christian to bed 1st & then go out for a later date night. Christian goes to bed at 7:30 so we have a babysitter come over and she just has to care for Carysse. I know date nights may be difficult for some of you because of your child's needs, but pray for the Lord to give you creative ideas to make it happen. Set aside the time whether it's weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly...JUST DO IT!!! (Song of Solomon 2:16, 7:10)

6) Not neglecting the Body of Christ. God has called His children to love one another, serve one another, & encourage one another. We are not exempt from these commands just because we have a child with special needs. However, with Christian's needs, we are not able to attend many of the church events as a family. Praise the Lord that we are at a church that serves Christian on Sunday mornings so that Kempton & I can worship together. Because we love to be with God's people, we decided to host many events in our home. This gives us an opportunity to serve the body as a family unit and not have to be concerned about trying to find care for our children. This has been a huge blessing and a source of joy for our family. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

I know this is a long & wordy list, but it's certainly not exhaustive. I hope it helps & encourages someone. Kempton & I are definitely not perfect in any of these areas. God has been so faithful in taking our little insufficient efforts and producing good, spiritual fruit for His glory and the benefit of our marriage & family.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

In Sickness and In Health...of your child

It is said that the divorce rate is about 80-90% for parents of children with special needs. Even though there is not much data to support that statistic, it is a fact that parenting a child with special needs is most often more challenging and complex than parenting a typical child.

By the grace of God, Kempton and I celebrated 10 joyous years of marriage in June. No, life has not been easy since Christian has been born. Yes, we have to fight discontentment with the daily, mundane tasks of caring for his needs. Yes, we have our stressful seasons & gut-wrenching moments. But God! He has been so rich in mercy towards us. Recalling Psalm 68:19 is the only way I can describe these past 6½ years…“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”

We are not experts in marriage, nor do we have it all together. However, I wanted to share some tips that are helping Kempton & I strive to remain focused on our Lord Jesus and put much effort into our marriage.

Only by God's strength, We say “NO” to…
1) Our family revolving around disability. We are the Turner Team and we’re made up of 4 members. Christian is a blessed part of the family, but his disabilities do not characterize our family. Each of us has unique strengths & weaknesses. God gives us the grace to strive to serve one another and not focus solely on one individual. Keeping this central, has been the key in many of the choices we’ve made as you will see in the following points.

2) Tons of therapy services. God is sovereign over Christian’s disabilities. If He chooses, He can “heal” Christian in a millisecond. So, why would we stress ourselves in trying to “fix” Christian with tons of services??? We are not against therapy, Christian has actually had several therapy services. However, putting all our energy, time, & focus there is not beneficial for Christian, our family, our marriage, or our ministries.

3) The demands of disability consuming our 1st calling as husband & wife. God called husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and wash them in the Word. Wives are called to help, submit, and respect their husbands. Read Genesis 2:18 and Eph 5:22-33. If we strive to honor & obey God in what He has called us to do and keep this priority, He will take care of the rest. If you are too exhausted or too stressed to follow God’s desire, you may need to reevaluate your priorities. Ask the Lord for the grace and strength for you to keep 1st things 1st! The best way you can actually love your children is to love one another.

I know that there are some seasons that your child with special needs may need more attention, time, and focus. We’ve had several of those seasons with Christian. However, I listed here what we strive to do under "normal" circumstances.

God willing, the next blog post will be about what we said “YES” to.

Monday, September 21, 2009

We're all products!

"...we're all a product of how we've responded to the specific life God has marked out for us. Some of our responses may have occurred in a spirit of faith, while others flowed out of unbelief. ...our relationship with the Lord, particularly our understanding of who He is and the significance of His Word, will make all the difference in how we handle life's situations and our fears."
(Elyse Fitzpatrick - Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Veggie Monthly

The Hidden Valley Ranch Company has decided to do a digital magazine about veggies. They feature a different veggie each month. They started in May with Asparagus and this month's veggie is Carrots. Each month they feature tips, easy recipes and fun things to do with your kids to grow their love of veggies. Many adults, including myself, could use a veggie push as well. So, check out the veggie monthly!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Fearfully & Wonderfully Made"

Our church does a Scripture Memory Program. As a church body, we memorize a "fighter verse" each week. This week's verses are Psalm 139:13-14. Kempton and I talked about these verses this morning during our time together in the Word. We shared how this is one of the most common verses used after the birth of a baby. Even non-believers quote it. It seems quite normal to rejoice for this new gift of life in such a way. However, what if the precious newborn doesn't look so precious? What if the baby doesn't look at all "fearfully & wonderfully made"? Do those verses still apply???

YES, INDEED! As Isaiah 55:8-9 says, God's thoughts and ways are not like mans. Therefore His definition of wonderfully and fearfully is different than mans. God creates all things the way that He deems best for them to display His glory (Romans 11:36). That is the meaning of fearfully & wonderfully made.

* God chooses whether your child has eyes to see a beautiful sunrise or blind eyes to display His glory.
* God chooses whether your child will run marathons or be confined to a wheelchair to display His glory.
* God chooses whether your child will be the valedictorian of his graduating class or have mental retardation to display His glory.
(Exodus 4:11, John 9:3, 2 Cor 12:8-10)

As Christian meets another milestone in starting 1st grade today, I sit and ponder this moment. I think about all the ways he's definitely not like a typical 1st grader. He can't talk as they do. He can't write as they do. He can't feed, dress, or bathe himself as they do. But there is one thing that he has in common with each of the other 1st graders around this world -
My handsome big boy

Christian has the same aide that he had last year. What a blessing...we love Ms. Jill!
He gave her a big smile when he saw her.

He couldn't wait to go into the school!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Treasuring Him - DWYL Sermon Jam Video

Check out this video! The music was produced by and the video was produced by one of the guys in our youth ministry named Seth.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Retreat Recap Part 4: Caryn's Unforgettable Moment

The moment I met my #1 (living) Hero of the Faith - Joni Eareckson Tada!

She is so friendly and loving. The same Joni I've read about and heard through various speaking events, is the same sweet, funny, God-glorifying, God-exalting woman that I met. That was so refreshing. She is the type of person you could sit and talk with for hours and walk away so encouraged, enlightened, and energized to keep going in the faith. Here's one of my favorite quotes from her.

"For me, suffering is still that jackhammer breaking apart my rocks of resistance every day. It's still the chisel that God is using to chip away at my self-sufficiency and my self-motivation and my self-consumption. Suffering is still that sheepdog snapping and barking at my heels, driving me down the road to Calvary where otherwise I do not want to go. It is at Calvary, at the cross, where I meet suffering on God's terms." (Hope...the Best of Things, p. 15)

She knows suffering. She knows pain. But more important than that, she knows the God of hope, the God of peace, the God of all comfort. Joni, God has given you the grace to shine your light before others, "so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). I praise God for you! May you finish this race strong and look forward to the day when you see your Savior & hear Him say, "Well done, good & faithful servant!"

One afternoon, I had the privilege of catching her when few people were around. After chatting, I wanted to get a pic. She told me to wrap my arms around her and get close. What a sweet moment! Here's that pic and others.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sweet video

Noel Piper was the retreat photographer & videographer. She wrote this blog post about Christian & Elisa.

Too sweet; thanks friend! :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Retreat Recap Part 3: Christian's Favorite Friend

She's a 17 yr old girl named, Elisa. She has loved on our Christian ever since we moved to MN. She serves him as a 1:1 aide at church. She babysits him on a monthly basis. She has been Christian's helper at the family retreat for the past 2 years.

Christian treats her differently than anyone who has ever cared for him. He's very calm and peaceful with her. When he ever gets upset, she has a sweet way of calming him down with gentleness and patience. I love seeing them together.

Elisa, we're going to sorely miss you as you plan to go to college in a year. I'm getting teary eyed just thinking about it :-(. We want you to know that we've felt Jesus' compassion towards us every time we see the way you look at Christian. We've felt Jesus' faithfulness towards us every time you are joyfully willing to serve Christian. We've felt Jesus' love towards us every time you embrace Christian in your arms. You are a precious gift to our family. We Love You!

Here are a few pics of Elisa & Christian at the retreat.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Retreat Recap Part 2: Kempton's Role

Kempton had the honor of being the Retreat Pastor again this year. He spoke 5 times which included an introduction, 3 sessions, and a wrap-up. He also helped lead the men’s small group and counseled several parents. The sessions that he taught were based on Isaiah 43 with verse 19a being the theme verse of the retreat.

Welcome Night: Introduction

Session 1: God’s Glorious Promise – “Fear not, I AM with you!”
Key points from this session
*We suffer for our good & God’s glory.
*God ultimately controls the suffering thermostat; not Satan (e.g. Job).
*We're not being punished; We're being made perfect.
(Rom. 8:28, Acts 14:22, Phil 1:29, I Peter 4:12, James 1:2-4)

Session 2: God’s Glorious Purpose – “I have created you for My glory!”
Key points from this session
*We were all created to display God's glorious design.
*God is the sovereign womb knitter (Ps. 139:13,15) of everyone including those with disabilities. *God was ultimately responsible – NOT fate, doctor’s mistake, accident, genetic/chromosome, etc. (Exodus 4:11). It's not about a freak accident, but a Faithful Architect.

Illustrating Ps. 139: 13,15 using knitting tools
Session 3: God’s Glorious Plan – “I am doing a NEW thing!”
Key points from this session
*Look forward; not back. We must take our eyes off the past and look to God who holds our glorious future. (Phil. 3:12-14)
*Don’t live in the past of the “What ifs” or “If only”.
*When disability entered into our lives, it wasn’t a bad thing; it was a new thing. God wants to do a new thing in your heart and life. Our only hope is Jesus! (2 Cor 5:17)

Closing Session

Men's Group

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Retreat Recap Part 1: Carysse's Highlights

Art Project - Jesus is the Lamb of God! Talitha was one of Carysse's great helpers. Carysse's Big Debut (right before she walked off the stage in the middle of the song:-)

Carysse was able to spend lots of time with her favorite friend, Luisa.

Another milestone - She had her very 1st "eat over". One evening, Luisa's parents invited Carysse to eat dinner with Luisa.

Like her daddy, she really likes dogs. I like them too, but can do without one. Sorry to all my dog lovin' friends :-).

Move over Bob the Builder - Carysse is in the house!
First DIY project: Putting In Closet Rods.

She enjoyed walking the campgrounds with her helper friends.
Thanks for serving our family Talitha & Mariah.

She had so much fun that she didn't want to go home. When it was time to go, she thought that running away & sitting on the grass would change our minds :-).