Sunday, July 24, 2016

Which Can is Corn and Which is Peas....

 Labels can be really helpful and important.  And they can also be harmful and misleading. Have you ever thought about the labels we give to things, places and people? I sometimes wonder why Adam called a giraffe a giraffe.  And how did he come up with a name for everything? And did he seek God's approval for each thing and place that he titled?  Maybe I spend too much time pondering on this reality.  However, recently this label thing has left me feeling a bit perplexed.

 Yes, labels can be very important at times. For just a minute I want you to imagine you are getting ready to head over to the grocery store.  You have a list of items that you need to purchase.  Lettuce, avocados, red onion, ground turkey, cumin, coriander, a can of black beans, a can of corn, and shredded cheese.  Guess what you're m aking?  Anyway, you arrive at the market and you walk in the door.  All of the produce is thrown on a table like a pot of vegetable soup.  And the shelves are packed with boxes, bags and cans.  Nothing is labeled.  The boxes are all tan with nothing written on them.  Each can is missing it's paper wrapper.  And all the dry good bags are made of an aluminum non transparent type material.  It may be easy to identify the Lettuce, avocados, red onion and maybe even the ground turkey.  But be careful.  Looks can be deceiving.  You find yourself feeling frustrated because you cannot figure out which can is corn and which is peas.  You arrive at the meat counter and they have ground pork, turkey, chicken and veal all side by side without any label indicating which is which. They look alike but the recipe strictly calls for ground turkey.  Just then you realize that the prices aren't  on the shelves or the items you need to purchase.  Yes in this situation labels are absolutely necessary.

So what is the deal with me feeling so perplexed.  Well it's the labels we give each other.  I am not talking about the positive labels.  I am talking about the mean, horrible, disgusting and judgmental labels we place on the people we don't particularly care for or even know.  We are all guilty of shunning someone at one point in our life.

This morning I sat and read Ezekiel 16.  I had to read it a few times to let it sink in.  My understanding of this scripture is that, even when our circumstances take us to places where our friends, family and strangers will label us with a, not so appealing, name, our Heavenly Father still lavishes us with grace.

Nothing will prevent God from using what we would classify as "unusable" people. You see we are all addicted to sin.  If you look throughout the old testament you will find that God uses liars, adulterers, harlots and even people, like the ones we have shunned, to change the world. "God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things-and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him." 1 Corinthians 1:28-29 

I am pretty sure that Abraham, David, Solomon, and the woman of Ezekiel 16, along with others from both the old and new testament, would be escorted out of our churches if they showed up today. And I often wonder if Jesus showed up to a church service what label would we give Him? Would we run to Him?  Would our heart skip a beat?  Or would we label Him a street bum and request that He sit in the back to be less of a distraction?  Perhaps, we might find a reason to judge Him by His clothing or the color of his skin too.

When the world rejects us God search and finds us in the dumpster and showers us with His mercy and love. Then He pours His essence on us.  Clothes us in the finest garments.  Puts the most comfortable and fashionable shoes on our feet.  Initially, we are drawn to His side.  We wake up each morning and greet Him with a prayer.  We sip on that cup of fresh brewed grace and head out into the world.  Eventually the world seems to appeal more to us than the alone time we have with our Lord and Heavenly Father.  So, we gradually spend less and less time at His feet and more and more time in the world.  Only to wind up feeling judged, beat up, hated and confused. The world will take and take some more.  And when you are down and out it will beat you until you have nothing left to give.  The woman in Ezekiel 16 cared more for the things of this world.  She started out abandoned, rejected and alone.  But then in an instant was found and transformed into a princess.  Everything she needed her adopted father provided.  However, her desires for what the world had to offer became greater.  Her attitude was that of entitlement.  And she no longer wanted what her father, the one who found her abandoned in her filth as an infant, had to offer her. She left his side and went out to discover "herself".  She gave her money, jewelry, clothing and all her possessions away to anyone who would give her attention.  She even gave herself away.  And as time went on her life, along with her reputation, was ruined.  Every time she walked into a room she was labeled by the others. She was called a harlot, even worse than a harlot.  Prostitutes were even slinging labels her way.  There she was naked, cold, empty and alone.  The scars were too many for her to bear.  And just when she was ready to give up she hears a familiar voice.  His hand reaches out to her.  She hesitates.  How could he have known where to find her?  Why did he come to rescue her? She reaches for his hand and he pulls her to him and holds her so tight she can't breath.  Overwhelmed she cries and says, "Father, I am not worthy of your love.  I am a disgrace to your name."  Her father looks adoringly at her and kisses her muddy face.  He says to her, "You are a princess.  And those who know me will see that you are the source of my joy.  I have never stopped loving you."  He took her home bathed her, lavished her with love, and nursed her back to health.

Unfortunately the world will continue to be a harsh place to live.  We love to define and label people by the sin in their lives whether it be from their past or if they are knee deep in it currently.   If we are all made in His image why do we spend so much time pulling each other apart.  We should be blinded by God's unrelenting grace and His unconditional love. We need to stop defining each other by our skin color, hair, clothing, shoes, jobs and financial status.  And we must learn to forgive and reflect on God's mercies.  They are new every morning (Lamination 3: 22-23)   I  pray that the God of mercy and grace will renew our mercy for each other every day.  Not only do I pray the He renew mercy, but I pray that He'll make us tenderhearted.  God's grace has a divine never ending supply.  So, when the world gives you an unfavorable label just remember that your creator's name for you is the only label that matters.  God will come in and sweep you up and embrace what the world once labeled as an unworthy, broken, hot mess of a child and lavish us with mercy, love and never ending grace.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Are you ready for a makeover?  I know I am.  I want to be the best me I can be.  I want to be faithfully seeking God on a daily basis.  I want to see His truths more vividly.  And as I prayerfully seek these truths I hope that the lies that I have listened to over the years will fade.

Image is big deal.  And the more women I talk to the more I realize that I am not alone in believing that I am just not "all that".  And just like a lot of other women I have a tendency of picking out every flaw in my body.  And it just makes me feel horrible about myself.  So, what am I going to do about it?

The past few months I have gotten into the routine of reminding myself that I am a princess.  And that my Heavenly Father created me in His image.  Each time I find a flaw in my image I am decreasing the beauty of His image.  I am Made Alluring as God Envisioned I.M.A.G.E. And with that being said I have been waking up and having a sweet conversation with God.  Before my feet hit the floor I say, "Kathleen, you are created in God's image.  Yes I am made alluring, adorable, appealing, and amazing just the way God envisioned me to be. I.M.A.G.E.

I have been on many diet roller coasters and beauty regimens over the years.  I once did a costly wellness diet and was quite successful. But it emptied my pockets. I tried a few other things like the 7 day diet, The Master's Cleanse, and many others.  At first the pounds rapidly fell off.  The only down side was that once I went back to eating normal foods, that I liked, I gain the pounds back.  And I think those pounds brought a few extra ounces along with them. Needless to say I wasn't too successful. Like I said the one "diet" that did seem to work was too costly.  And let's face it I am cheap.  I needed to do something that didn't cost me extra money.  And I thought to myself, "what would happen if I gave up the cow?"   I was never much of a milk drinker or beef eater.  So, the thought of being completely cow free wasn't too alarming.  I went "cold turkey" so to speak.  And for almost two years I read labels, asked how meals were prepared, and the cow was never to be found on my plate or in my cup.  I lost a lot of weight.  My body was toned.  And I felt great about me.

Well, the trend was broken.  I started working at a desk job.  And along with the sedentary job I formed some pretty bad eating and other rotten habits.  I sit for 99% of my work day.  I walk about 100 steps to the lunch room, chat and chew for 30 - 40 minutes and head back to the desk.  My diet consisted of easy and on the go foods and that is how I reignited my passion for cheese.  And here I am today almost one thousand bricks of cheese later (enjoyed one delicious creamy brick at a time).  And now there are few pounds more of me to love.  

Let's start at the very beginning.  A very good place to start (hope you are singing).  The question is, "Where is the beginning"? Well, for me I thought it was going to be this past January.  I was getting ready to leave for vacation and I needed to weigh my luggage. I stepped on the scale and almost passed out.  In total disbelief I stepped off and back on again.  No change.  I was 143.6 lbs.  OUCH!!!!!  I cried and decided that once I returned home I was going to change my eating habits.  I absolutely need  to make that change.  Change is good!! Right?!?   Well not so fast.  Bad habits are hard to break.

In the past weight was never an issue for me.  I didn't need to exercise.  I could eat my weight in food every day and not gain an ounce.  But now that I am older my metabolism has slowed down greatly. And I find myself on the roller coaster of weight gain and loss.  After our vacation I got home and started walking every day.  By the end of February I was diagnosed with Shingles and Kidney stones.  I found myself pacing the floors to help alleviate the intensity of the pain.  This wasn't the exercise program I had in mind.  But it did get me moving.  I made some dietary changes and by April 1st I was a feeling thinner. So, I stepped on the scale and I was 138.6 lbs. I started doing the 21 day fix with my daughters and my body was changing too. By May 27th (Alyssa's wedding day) I was 127 lbs.  Yeah me!!  Hold on.  hold on.  It didn't last long.  I hopped right back on that roller coaster.  And started eating whatever and whenever I wanted. Yep, as of this morning I am back up to 132 lbs. You might be thinking that I am nuts right about now.  But hold on for a second.  On March 11th 2013 I weighed 112.4 lbs. In three years I gained a toddler (figuratively). That one thousand pounds of cheese turned into a 26 pound barnacle around my stomach, butt and thighs. This was not a change for the good. 

No better time like the present for me to make some better choices and make a good change. Yep, pick a date and stick to it. No matter what!!!  My start date is today! July 10th is the first day of the rest of my life.  It's not going to be easy. But, I will consume a lot less cow products over the next few weeks.  And hopefully I will kick the cheese and cracker snacker habit for good. I pray that I finally picked a date that I would truly commit to making the change.  And I am not doing this alone.  Praise God that I am part of a challenge.  Yes, a group of nonjudgmental, healthy lifestyle seeking individuals are taking this journey with me. And more important than those people I have asked the Holy Spirit to be my 24 hour a day coach.   Accountability, along with a plan, is the key to success.

Failure to plan is the plan to fail. So my plan is simple.  I will start each morning prayerfully seeking God.  I will remind myself, before looking in the mirror, I.M.A.G.E I am Made Alluring as God Envisioned.  Yes, I am made in His perfect image.  I will prep and measure my foods for the day (meals and snacks included) And stick to what I prepared. I will exercise each day for 10-30 minutes.  I plan to weigh myself every Wednesday and Sunday morning.  I will cheer myself on in all the ups and forgive myself in the downs. I will prayerfully slow down and eat only until I am full.  After-all my body is a temple.  I will hydrate and take supplements to maintain the inside of this temple too. 

You might be asking why I decided to share this with all of you.  Well, it's simple. We all took a journey together recently.  We discovered together how God relentlessly pursues us.  I pray, if you are riding that same roller coaster that I am, that you will make a decision to take this next ride with me as well.  There are going to be a lot of ups and downs.  But I know that by God's grace and His amazing love we will be able to accomplish our goals. It is for His glory, His honor and His praise that I want to make this temple, my body, the healthiest and strongest it has ever been.  And if you want to do this together let's lift each other in prayer and remind each other daily the we are made in His IMAGE.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Time To Grab the Lasso

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing." ~Zephaniah 3:17

This has been quite an eventful week for my family.  Our daughter, Ashley and her other half, Brian along with our niece, Laura were all traveling from Istanbul to spend the summer back home.  Laura was scheduled to depart on Tuesday and Ashley and Brian Wednesday. Laura got on her flight and safely arrived home on Tuesday evening.  And unbeknownst to her, shortly after her departure, there was an attack at the airport that she flew out of that morning. Ashley and Brian's flight home was cancelled.  They were safe.  Praise God! They both managed to get on another flight and arrived at JFK a day later than they planned.

My emotions seemed to be all over the place.  And my sleep pattern looked more like the the scribbles of a toddler than what "the sandman" planned.  This wasn't the first time fear for one of my children pour through my veins.  But this time seemed a little more intense. I played through some pretty terrible scenarios in my mind.  And my heart raced.  The world seemed too big for this mom to grasp.  All of our kids are out of the house and some live close while others are distant. I get little glimpses into their lives every now and then. And I absolutely love the little morsels they give me on a daily basis with phone calls, text messages, FaceTime calls and Facebook posts.  But this week I felt I needed more.  I wanted to hug each one of them and never let them go.  I came home from work on Friday and seeing Ashley warmed my heart and the hug wasn't just for her it was for me too.

Time to grab the lasso.  Yes, my thoughts needed to be gathered and brought to the place that I know they would be addressed properly; God's feet.  As I sat there praying for my husband, my children, my grands, my family and my friends I was lead to Zephaniah 3: 17.  God wanted me to rest in the knowledge that He is not only in my midst but in the midst of my loved ones as well.  He is a mighty God.  And even though this world is feeling too vast for me it isn't too vast for the One who spoke it to existence.  He is rejoicing over me and with me with deep gladness.  Things won't always go the way I want them to go.  There may even come a day that this world will break my heart.  But I know that I can seek rest in the palm of God's hand.  He will quiet me by His love and exult over me with loud singing.  Yes, He will drown out the sounds of this crazy mad world by singing His melody of unconditional love and abounding grace.