Monday, May 20, 2019

Dumbells and Smart Belles

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, 
if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me" (Acts 20:24 NIV).

I'm not an exercise guru, not even close. But, I keep going physically, mentally, and spiritually. Yes, there are days I want to just give it all up––the writing, the classes, even the ministry. Did I just admit that? Haven't you been there a time or two, honestly? I'm guessing, yes. Admitting it is a way of facing the reality that things change and sometimes God does want to move us into a new task. But, just maybe, He wants to renew us for the task at hand. Maybe, we are burned out or just weary. Either way, He doesn't want us to give up, just keep moving. When I reach that point, I ask myself if I want to give up or, do I want to keep going and do more? A reality check that shakes my soul because deep down, I don't want to give up. I want to finish the race––on the path I walk or another path waiting for me directed by my God.

You don't have to enter the senior years to feel like giving it all up to go sit on the beach. Seasons in our lives cause us to want to give up on our dreams, give up on our marriage, our family or our job. We can lose our drive, our purpose, and our way if we lose sight of why we are in the race. The finish line has vanished from our view, and we lose sight of the task the Lord gives us. 

In my book, Shape Your Soul, I write about resistance training in one chapter.  Resistance training increases stamina. As you grow stronger, you don't tire as easily. The more weight you bear, the more you resist giving up. Likewise, the more we resist the devil, the more our faith muscles straighten and our faith increases. Each victory over sin builds our faith. We resist the temptation to give up, and we don't give in to the devil. "Therefore, submit to God. But, resist the devil, and He will flee from you" (James 4:7 HCSB).

I push myself in many ways––although not through exercise per se. But, physically, yes, I do push myself. I love to scrub floors, go figure. We have many on our mission base so I can't get away from my floor scrubbing exercise. I look for ways to exercise in my daily routine. I put things away where I'll have to bend––yep bending exercises. I keep moving, physically, mentally, and spiritually. If not, the body withers, our minds get lazy, and the soul dies.

A few years ago I developed carpel tunnel because I worked on the computer daily. Then last year, my right arm developed golf elbow and tennis elbow from completing five book contracts. Both times, I had physical therapy for months on end and part of that was lifting dumbbells to straighten my wrists and arm. Grueling can't accurately describe the pain of the therapy. But, without it, my shoulder could be frozen, possible surgery for my wrists and one of my dream jobs (writing) coming to and end. Not to mention, my day job as a missionary and teacher to young girls in jeopardy also. I saw the end result and worked towards it without hesitation. I wanted to get to the final therapy session and enjoy my work again.

Reaching the end of the race and accomplishing God's tasks for me keeps me going. Daily working out my faith straightens my soul to keep going in the race. There may be setbacks and rest periods along the journey, but I keep going to reach the finish line.

Resistance training with God moves our mountain of defeat. If we resit the devil, we gain strength, and complete our task for the Lord––never giving up and never defeated.

Let's be smart belles using our preverbial dumbbells to strengthen our souls so we never give up.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Lighten Your Load

"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30 NIV).

Did you know, if a burro is overloaded he will sit down and refuse to move? It's true, we see it happen on the road in front of our house. The burros in our village still carry a load of corn or alfalfa from the fields to their homes. They return home alone––they know the way.

How do the owners know the limit of their burros? It must be that they live and work with these animals day in and day out for many years. Burros can live 30 years or more; they will work hard for many years. But, if they are abused their life-span will be shorter.

What can we learn from the burro? Do we know when to sit down if the burden is too much, the way the burro does? Like the burro, we have a Master who knows us, He walks with us day in and day out. If we are overburdened, whose fault is it? Matthew 11:30 says, " burden is light."

Maybe we have put the burden on ourselves, and it is time to review our priorities. We can delegate––let go. We are about to start a young couples' workshop here in Rumi Rancho. God has worked it out perfectly, but we had to seek help––we couldn't do it all. Six of us will do the necessary things to make it come together. Chuck will lead the study, Juan and Amelia will help with the setting up, and Pablo and Nathaly will lead the singing. I will show up with the snack, and of course, add some laughs when things start to get dull. By delegating, we can do more ministry and be more effective. We can reach and teach more children and adults because God has provided a way, so we won't be overburdened.

If we think we can't do one more thing, maybe we can't. Time to sit down so we don't overburden ourselves.

The burro's master knows his animal's limit––our Master knows our limit.

Let's seek God's priorities for us and lighten our load. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Happy Mother's Day

 "I will remember the works of the Lord;" (Psalm 77:11 KJV)

Many of us have mothers who are gone––some to heaven, and some separated by many miles. I'm far away from my kids and grandkids this Mother's Day, but they are tucked in my heart where they are forever close to me.

For me, Mother's Day doesn't have to be a sad day because of separation, but a day of wonderful memories. I'm thankful God gives us memories and the ability to recall them. Some of my memories are funny ones, but others bring tears spilling over my face, and some do both. I love them all because I can see God's hand in every one.

I can both cry and laugh out loud every time I think of this memory––the birth of our granddaughter, Kayla. It is a testimony of how God gives us everything we need while going through hard situations in life. He even gives us humor to release tension.

We were privileged to be home on furlough when Kayla was born. After her entrance into our lives and arms, we headed back to the house with our son-in-law. We were all ecstatically happy but exhausted and ready for a comfy bed. That wasn't to be.

An hour later, a phone call broke the silence of the calm night and our elated state. Our son-in-law rushed out the door telling us to call our daughter––she would explain. We heard our daughter's frantic voice on the other end. Kayla had stopped breathing. They had her on machines to keep her breathing and to monitor her. It was a nightmare situation for our daughter. While waiting for the nurses to bring the baby to her, she became impatient waiting. Hours had passed, and there was no explanation for why she couldn't see her baby. As any new mother would do, she got out of bed at midnight and went searching for her baby. She found Kayla in a corner of the nursery, isolated and on the machines. I can only imagine the fear that must have paralyzed my daughter as she looked through that nursery window.

The next day, the baby was stabilized, but there was no explanation for why she couldn't breathe on her own. The doctors began running a multitude of tests. My husband and I left for the hospital early that morning. We were exhausted from a sleepless night but trying to stay calm for our daughter and son-in-law's sake. That wasn't easy––especially for me.

I headed to our daughter's room while my husband tried to get information about the baby at the nurses' station. Standing at the door of my daughter's room, I froze in my steps. I couldn't enter the room. What was wrong with my daughter? She didn't look like herself. Her face seemed changed. Her hair was the same, the room was the same, but who was the strange man sitting by her bed holding her hand? Already panicky about my granddaughter, now I feared my daughter also had a problem.

The man sitting by her side asked in a sweet soft voice, "Can we help you?"

Stunned, I looked them both up and down. Oh my! This was the birthing room from the day before. This wasn't my daughter but another young mother-to-be waiting for her baby to be born. She looked so much like my daughter they could have been sisters. Embarrassed, yes! Relieved beyond words, yes! Apologizing over and over, yes! Funny––not at the time!

I found my daughter's room. Our whole family was there by this time. Reluctantly, I told them about my misadventure. The whole hospital must have heard the howling coming out of that room on that morning. But that wasn't the end of their fun.

The following morning, we returned to the hospital. We were allowed to visit Kayla. As I put on the gown and looked at the helpless baby with tubes in her little body in that incubator, I completely lost it! I sobbed while a nurse comforted me and explained Kayla's condition. Finally, I held that sweet little thing in my arms and thanked God she was in a hospital prepared to handle her problems. After visiting the baby, we headed to my daughter's room. I was sure more jokes would be on the horizon that day, but I wasn't at all prepared for what came next.

Entering the room, I felt relieved that this time, it was my daughter in the bed. Kisses and hugs were exchanged. Then my son-in-law stood up and flung open the curtain that separated the next bed over from our sight. During the night, my daughter gained a roommate––I'm guessing you already know–the new mother from the birthing room the day before. She smiled and said, "Hi, Mom!" Her whole family had been sitting behind the curtain waiting for the unveiling. I'm sure the roar of laughter from that room on that day is one for the hospital's records.

The two young mothers confessed they were going to switch beds and confuse me again, but then decided my grandmother heart had enough excitement in the past few days. We enjoyed getting to know this sweet young mom who looked so much like my daughter, and her wonderful family. It was a time of laughter, rejoicing and sharing our faith.

The next day, we had the results of the tests. Kayla was born with pneumonia, but she was on her way to a full recovery. It is one of the Lord's works that we will always remember. Our prayers were answered.

I thought a mother, daughter, granddaughter story would be appropriate for Mother's Day! Hope the corners of your mouth turned upward a few times.

I am blessed to be a mom and a grandmother, and I'm thankful for all the wonderful memories of my kids and grandkids! Let's remember all of the Lord's wonderful works this Mother's Day!

Proverbs 31: 10-31

Happy Mother's Day!

This story is an excerpt from my new devotional book for women. A great Mother's Day gift. Find it here on Amazon: