Faithinflipflops

Living simply, loving deeply!

Archive for the tag “freedom”

Whack-A-Mole Living

This blog has been about six months in the making. It began percolating last fall. The Women’s Bible study I teach fueled it further. The tipping point was a couple of weeks ago.

A couple of weeks ago I was having lunch with a good friend. We were talking about some serious stuff…struggles, sins, victories…it was an incredibly real and raw conversation. She, too, is getting her physical health under control. She said what I have thought, said, and written many times over the past nine months, “It seems as I get one area of my life under control, three other areas that need attention pop up.”

I call this Whack-a-Mole freedom. You know the game at a carnival or Dave and Busters where you have a mallet and you have to hit the mole in the head? And once you hit one mole, two more pop up and pretty soon those stupid moles are popping up everywhere! And by the time the game is over, you are exhausted.

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Everybody is fighitng some “mole” in their life. This game frustrates me. I am not coordinated enough

That is exactly how many of us view following Jesus. This is how I have felt for years. We are constantly trying to fix ourselves, to make ourselves presentable to God and to the world.

It is similar to pulling weeds. We pull one out and notice five more that need to be pulled instead of focusing on the beautiful rose bush that is in full bloom with vibrant reds and a fragrance no perfume could ever match. We focus on our stuff instead of the really beautiful work Jesus is doing in and through us as we simply follow Him.

 

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My mom’s rose bush. It is over 30 years old and survived many weeds and transplants. Still blooming beautifully.

 

We try to be better, to do better, look better and it is simply EXHAUSTING.

I have been discouraged, exhausted, frustrated, and angry all in the name of trying to be and do better. And we Christians know how to spiritualize it. We call it becoming holy. Or constantly remind ourselves that we are Jesus’ representatives in the world. The pressure can be overwhelming.

But when do we enjoy Jesus? And the abundant life He called us too? When do we live with joy and peace? When do we stop worrying whether we are good enough? One of my favorite books, How People Grow by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend says, “Imagine that: Doing good, enjoying good, and not even thinking that we were “good”. Instead of being concerned with “Am I good enough?” we just lived and experienced life?” God simply wanted us to live life, not worry about whether we were good enough. Not worry about whether we were enough. I am tired of not being enough. Sin screwed that up for us, but Jesus fixed it. That’s the beauty of the cross.

I am not saying we do not have to continue to grow. I am the most introspective person you will meet. One of my life mottos is, “If you are not growing, you are dying.” I am on a quest to be physically and financially fit by 50. I have to address some demons in my closet. But I’m not doing it for someone else…to get their acceptance, respect, affection. I am doing it because I want to live this life fully, with joy and peace. And these areas will hinder me.  Jesus shows us how to live like that. Free. Unhindered. Arms wide open. Soaking up and enjoying every moment.

When do we stop trying to fix ourselves?

When do we stop trying harder?

When do we stop always looking at what’s wrong with us and start looking at what’s right with us?

When do we stop looking at the weeds and gaze at the beautiful rose?

 

What if I simply enjoyed my relationship with Jesus?

What if I stopped worrying about whether I was good enough and just accept Jesus’ love, acceptance, and forgiveness?

What if I simply relaxed and stopped trying to improve every part of my life, every second of the day?

What if I simply learned to appreciate and love who God has made me to be?

Weeds need to be pulled. Moles need to be whacked on the head. I get it. But we don’t have to go looking for them. When they come our way, God will show us. And we deal with it. And in the meantime, we simply enjoy our relationship with Jesus and His people. Jesus really did mean it when He said that He came to give us abundant life.

I have realized that I will never, ever have it all together here on Earth. No one will. Striving for perfection kills. I am 47 years old. I love Jesus. I have made some horrific mistakes and committed some heinous sins. I am tired of trying to whack the guilt down. I am tired of trying to fix myself. I am tired of thinking that I am too much. I am tired of toning down my personality and who God made me. I am forgiven and I choose and am choosing to enjoy my relationship with Jesus and the people in my life. I am choosing not to punish myself by closing myself off to certain areas of life because I feel like I don’t deserve it.

I choose freedom. I choose life. I choose love. I choose Jesus. I choose to follow Him wherever He leads.

 

Beach Adventures.

This is the third installment of a blog I began a couple of weeks ago. In the first blog, I wrote about my summer and all the things I learned. I realized one blog would not be enough. A couple of the stories would need their own space. Last week I continued with my experience getting a spray tan. I still cringe/laugh when I think about it.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love the beach, thunderstorms and water. My favorite experience of the whole summer happened in early August and included all three. It was a Sunday evening and I was sitting in my favorite chair after a long day. I looked at the weather forecast and noticed a huge storm was rolling in off of Lake Erie. The clouds on the radar were yellow and red. I had this strong desire to go down to the beach and watch it roll in. It was about 11 p.m. and I texted my nieces and asked them if they wanted to go with me to watch the storm come in off the lake. Their response was “When?”.  “Now” was my reply. They were in. A friend of ours also joined us once we got to the beach.

We went down and sat on the boardwalk and watched the incredible light show! No fireworks could ever compare to what the heavens displayed that evening. Of course, we tried to capture some of it with our phones!

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I love this. I am going to try to paint it!

I love this. I am going to try to paint it!

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This was taken about 1 in the morning.

This was taken about 1 in the morning.

Love it

Love it

Amazing light show!

Amazing light show!

As the storm grew in intensity, the wind began to blow hard. I have no idea why but we ran down to the water’s edge! I think we were going to make sand angels in the sand. The wind was whipping the sand so fast and furious it felt like it was cutting our skin! At one point the wind emptied a nearby garbage can and we were being hit with garbage. Finally, rain drops began to fall. We got in the car and drove to another beach that has a cliff that overlooks the lake. Once we got out of the car we ran down the hill. It felt like we were part of the storm.  We literally danced in the rain. My nieces were running up and down the hill competing with the noise of the thunder. I know this sounds so crazy and weird but it was so in the moment and so freeing. And it made me feel so ALIVE. A couple of weeks later when we went back to the beach to watch the meteor showers and for a midnight pizza picnic the girls said the night we watched the storm roll in was one of the best moments of their whole lives. I would agree.

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I crawled into bed about 2:30 in the morning. As I laid in bed thinking about what we had just experienced, this thought came to mind “I had my nieces and a friend running around on top of a cliff in a lightning storm! They could have been struck by lightning.” 🙂 (I guess I was living “Jesus first, others second, safety third” 😉 )

A few weeks after the storm incident, the annual Perseid meteor shower was happening. I ordered pizza, took blankets and  headed back to the beach with my nieces.  My nephews and some friends joined us for a bit. We laid on the beach from 10p.m. until about 1:30 in the morning. The high school science teacher was at the beach as well and pointed out the International Space station as it passed over the horizon of the lake. Very cool.

As we laid on the blankets, watching the sky, we talked about life. The best moments of their lives (which both said was watching the storm come in), the worst moments, Jesus, school, family. We laughed a lot. We also finally made sand angels! And I added something to my bucket list. Before the summer was done, I wanted to sleep under the stars, on a beach and watch the sunrise. And we did that, too! Over Labor Day weekend, we took our blankets and a tiki torch and slept under the stars on a friend’s beach. We swam at midnight and watched schools of fish jump out of the water when we shined the flashlight on the water. And watched the sunrise in the morning before going to breakfast!

So fun...and sandy

So fun…and sandy

Making sand angels

Making sand angels

Making sand angels

Making sand angels

Nieces and nephew at our midnight pizza picnic.

Nieces and nephew at our midnight pizza picnic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did I learn from all of this? I learned if you really want to make a difference in the lives of the people you love, you spend time with them. I learned if you really want to disciple people and help them become more like Jesus, you spend time with them. We spend our time looking for short cuts and programs to help people grow in their faith. We need to get back to the basics. How did Jesus do it? He spent time with them. We have to get back to the ministry of hanging out. The apostle Paul said to follow him as he followed Jesus. In order for people to follow us, we need to stay close.

Whose life are you impacting?

Beautiful sunrise.

Beautiful sunrise.

Laptops came with us.

Laptops came with us.

Our little camp on the beach in dawn's light.

Our little camp on the beach in dawn’s light.

The sunrise after sleeping on the beach.

The sunrise after sleeping on the beach.

 

 

Break Through: Summer of Freedom

Faith in flip-flops. There is a reason I chose that name for my blog. It captures who I am. And who am I? I am a woman who is trying to walk out her faith in Jesus Christ and follow Him with passion, humility, integrity, and wild, child-like abandon in every area of my life. It is not always easy.

 

The month of April was a pivotal month in my walk with Jesus. In the middle of the month, our youth group went to Baltimore for Summit, which was a youth conference for the teens of our district. It was a good weekend. During the evening service on Saturday, God did something in me. I still cannot fully put it into words. Every time I try to articulate it, I cry. It’s kind of annoying.

 

I came home and a few days later left for an 8-day vacation to Virginia. Every year my best friend from college and I get together for a long weekend of eating, shopping, praying, talking, and resting. We take turns coming to each other’s house. This year, we decided to go to where we went to Bible College. Our denomination has a Center for Spiritual Renewal on the grounds now. I tacked some days on before and after to have some solitary reflective/prayer time. It was a great time. A powerful time. A refocusing time.

Jodi and me enjoying some time up on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Jodi and me enjoying some time up on the Blue Ridge Parkway!

 

One of the things I really have felt that God has spoken to me over the past few months is the urgency of time. I am 43. I have one life to spend. That’s it. And mine is half over. In Bible study a question was posed, “We have one turn around this planet – when will we decide we want this one life to count?” Now is the time. I want to make this one life He has given me count for things that matter. Things that are eternal. Things that bring joy and pleasure to my Creator. The question I have been asking God is what is keeping me from being all that He has called me to be? What are the hindrances in my life that trip me up? I talked some of them over with Jodi. And we prayed. After she left to go home, I spent time in reflection and study…and I felt there were two areas. These two areas are different but grow from the same root. And the areas are physical health and financial health. I have issues in both. But I am going to talk about the physical.

 

If you were to look in my closet, you would find clothing sized from 6 to 16. And I have been those sizes and everything in between. You can tell how I am doing emotionally and spiritually by the size that I am wearing. I have struggled with my weight as long as I can remember. In seventh grade I remember going on the apple diet (I made it up myself…for some reason this diet never did take off 🙂 ). I would only eat an apple a day (an apple a day keeps the doctor away…twisted thinking…I was only 12 for crying out loud!). I got really sick and my mom made me eat when she discovered what I was up to. I have tried the cabbage diet (gag), Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, the Color Diet, and others that I have invented myself…in my life-time I have probably gained and lost 300 pounds. I keep gaining and losing the same 50 pounds over and over and over again…

HAHAHA!!!! This is so true on so many of the fad diets!!

HAHAHA!!!! This is so true on so many of the fad diets!!

 

My mom passed away at the age of 46. She had awful health habits. She smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day, had diabetes and did not do much to take care of herself. I am three years away from turning 46. I do not smoke and am not a diabetic but I have inherited some of her genes. I don’t want my body to give out before my mind and spirit. Like King David, I want to “serve the purpose of God in my own generation” (Acts 13:36).

 

A couple of weeks ago we had a guest speaker at church. He said something to Pastor Jim that struck me. He said that a lot of pastors do not want to deal with hurting people. When PJ told me this, I asked “What other kind of people are there?” I have never met anyone who has not had some kind of hurt or wound. You don’t live very long without stuff happening. We all have wounds in our lives that we either try to heal ourselves – or we run from through self-medication…We all use different coping mechanisms — some turn to alcohol and drugs and gambling, others turn to pornography and sex and a life of promiscuity, some seek fortune and fame to fill the wound….my drug of choice is food. Jesus has healed me from so much and set me free in so many areas yet this is the one area that I cannot seem to get sustained victory over.

Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. (Luke 4:18 - 19)

Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. (Luke 4:18 – 19)

 

And I feel now is the time. Time to face the root cause of it. Because we all know that it is not about the food. I have taken steps. I have joined Weight Watchers again (balanced approach to eating). I am checking in every Monday with Jodi…not just about the pounds being lost but also the struggle. And this week I have started Beth Moore’s Breaking Free Bible study. I claim freedom in this area. But I know I need the help of my Savior.

According to the Bible, I am to bear much fruit which means I am meant to be effective. And throughout my following of Jesus, I need to allow Him to prune the areas of my life that are prohibiting me from being all that He has called me to be. We were not meant to just get by in life. We were meant to live a full life, an abundant life. Once we commit to Jesus, we just don’t sit by, twiddling our thumbs waiting to go to Heaven. We are to get busy living. We are to get busy enjoying this one life He has given us. I claim this to be a summer of freedom.

 

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

Take the Long Way Home

In my previous blog, I wrote about the book, One Thousand Giftsthat our women’s Bible study is currently reading and how I am keeping a journal of 1,000 gifts that God gives me throughout the year. I have made a conscious decision to slow down and look daily for gifts that God has given me. I do not want to rush through life. I want to live this one life well!

This past Saturday, I was driving home from doing some errands for the church. I was incredibly tired and sore  from a youth function we had  the night before. I just wanted to get back to the church, unload, and go home and take a nap. But  I decided to take the scenic (and longer) route home in order to not be in such a rush. It was a beautiful, sunny, mild January afternoon. As I was driving along Route 6 which winds along the Lake Erie waterfront enjoying the view, I felt the tiredness ebb away. I came along a stretch of the road that I have driven hundreds if not thousands of times before and saw something I had never noticed before…a Cross soaring high above the lake!

The Cross

The Cross

I drove past and contemplated whether or not to turn around. I had a car to unload and things to do but I felt this urgency to turn the car around and go back. So I did.

I put the picture of the Cross on my Facebook page with the caption “This captures freedom to me.” And it does. Seeing the Cross soaring above the Lake evoked in me such a feeling of freedom in my soul. Words cannot express why…it just did.

The Bible teaches how God has revealed Himself  through His creation that He has made and through His Son Jesus Who died on the Cross for us. And here along Route 6 in the small town of Vermilion on Lake Erie on a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon, the Cross and creation collided for me. The two ways God has revealed Himself to mankind. The ways God has revealed Himself to me.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus stands up in the Temple and reads from the book of Isaiah proclaiming His purpose in coming:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18 -19)

Jesus came to set me  free. Apostle Paul says “It is for freedom that He has set me free.” The apostle Peter admonishes us to “live as people who are free…” Freedom comes through the Cross.

And as I stood on the edge of the cliff looking at the Cross and Lake Erie…the two things that symbolize freedom to me…I was so overwhelmed with love and gratitude for the life God has given me. It has not always been easy or perfect. But I have this one life and I want to make it count and appreciate every moment.

I am so glad I took the long way home!!!

The Cross and Creation (Lake Erie)

The Cross and Creation (Lake Erie)

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