Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Is Here

Christmas is typically my favorite time of year. I love the lights. I love the tree. I love the movies. I love the carols.
I love the Reason for this season.
This year I've had a tough time getting into the groove of things.
It really didn't hit me until this morning when we were singing in church.
I got this sudden 'goosebumps' feeling and it hit me like a wave.
It's Christmas.
I've been so focused on everything that needed to be done. There were so many presents to be bought. I needed to decorate. I needed to make this the best Christmas ever. I needed the perfect Christmas picture.

Perfect. In a year that was not.

2012 has been a roller coaster year. It seems like one thing after another has happened. Three surgeries - countless er visits - deaths - loss - pain - change.
There have been more tears shed in this year than in any year I can remember (by me at least).

But it is also the year that the second greatest moment of my life occurred. Second only to my salvation, is my wedding to Al.
How do you fully caption a year that has included such great joy in the midst of so many trials?


My pastor described it so well this morning. Anyone can find happiness. Temporary things bring lots of happiness. But there is something that is so much further beyond that.


And this year I found a depth of joy that I did not know existed. It's the joy that can only really been felt and understood in the midst of pain.

Joy that is unexplainable.

This year, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I will remember 2012 for all that it has held.
And I will remember the joy that I have discovered.

Oh - and I am pretty sure I have settled on my One Word for 2013. I'm both excited and nervous about it.  :)  Expect to be hearing about that soon.

Merry Christmas to you all.
Be loved.
Find joy.

Luke 2
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.
 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Does God See? Does God Hear?

Ever go through one of those phases where you are just not sure that He is paying attention?
Surely if He was paying attention these things would not be happening?
There are some situations that persist for so long that we cannot help but wonder.
I think about the people who lived in the 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
After thousands of years of God speaking, represented by the OT, God was silent.

Can you imagine?
Can you imagine 400 years of waiting silence while Heaven anticipated and Earth groaned?
400 years passed without a hopeful message. 400 years passed with only the hope that Isaiah was right and a Messiah would come. 400 years of sacrifices, deaths, births, and life.

4 Hundred Years.

It seems hopeless. It had to seem hopeless at the time.

Looking back we know that something so great was about to happen. But those living in the silence had no idea.

Think about day 399. Hope was coming. But day 399 had to be just as hopeless as day 20 or 268.
Can you imagine?

Then Hope came. It didn't come as many expected. The Messiah didn't ride into Bethlehem on a big white charger.
He came via a teenage girl in a stable.

My point?
You may be on day 268. But you may be on day 399.
Do not give up hope.
Hope is always worth it. It may seem painful. But it is worth it.
When He comes, it will definitely be worth it.

Live in hope. Live today and tomorrow like it is day 399.
Oh - and don't be surprised if what you've been waiting for comes in an unexpected package. :O)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Post That is Not my 6 Month Surgery Post...

So I really wanted to do a 6 month post on how things have been going since surgery.
But I'm having one of those "difficult to process" mental weeks.  So I think I shall come back next week with my update and some pictures.
In the meantime, let's do a list.  :O)

0 - The number of times that I can look at a can of Pringles without eating at least one.
1 - (:00 am)The number on the clock when I finally laid down to sleep this morning.
2 - Number of times that I hit "snooze" this morning before my Dad called and woke me up.
3 - Number of fun people who ate lunch with me today (Dad, Gem, Kristy)
4 - Number of times that I considered exercising tonight before opting to look at tax forms.
5 - Number of times that I considered burning said tax forms.  :O)
6 - First number on our thermostat (64 degrees currently)
7 - Days in this week... even though it feels more like 14
8 - Number of numbers that it took before the word "number" started looking weird. :o)
9 - First number of total weight loss at 6 months out 93 pounds (WOOT!)
10 - Number of times I will probably look at this post for typos and stupid things being said and still manage to miss something.

Night folks.
Happy Friday-eve!!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Listening in the Silence

This morning was a powerful morning for me in church.
So many of you have walked with me through a journey of obedience from way back.
I can sing. I love to sing. My most powerful worship moments have almost always been either leading in worship or private worship with the piano.

Ok - that's maybe a bit off topic here but important to note.  :O)
I got the privilege to help lead worship this morning at my new church. It's a huge deal for me in so many ways. If you've "done life" with me for long you understand that. If you haven't... well it's a long story.
Anyhoo - also off my topic a little bit there.

I love being a part of a worship team. It was never something I saw for myself because of my issues with being up in front of people. But it is something I have worked hard to overcome and be obedient when the chance is put before me.

This morning was one of those mornings when God very clearly and distinctly spoke something straight to me that I would have missed if I hadn't been in just that place.
Then tonight in youth it was confirmed to me again. I love it when God repeats Himself for those of us who are slow. :)

One of my all-time favorite passages in the Bible is in 1 Kings 19:11-12 (HCSB)

Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”
At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquakeAfter the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.

So often in life, the challenge to hearing God's voice is to be truly quiet. Have you noticed how much noise surrounds us in this world? There seem to be fewer and fewer places that we can count on for solitude. Most often, we have to really seek a quiet place to find one.

The problem is that God rarely screams at us through the mighty wind and fire. He does that sometimes... but that's a whole other story. :O)
Usually we have to wade through those things to hear the soft whisper of His Spirit.

This morning, in the midst of my own whirlwind, there was a soft whisper.

It was a gentle reminder that I can trust Him. It was a firm promise that He is still working. It was an assurance that, in giving over a troubling situation to His control, I can also give over the thought that I can still control it.

And it was smack in the middle of something I could easily have missed if I was not paying attention.

I am thankful for the places that God has put me at this stage in my life.

If I am being honest, and I'm a fan of that, most of these situations are not what I would have chosen if you had asked me 10 years ago.

But I am so very thankful that God directs us to places that will make us into who He wants us to be and doesn't leave us in places that would just make us happy or comfortable all the time.


Friday, December 07, 2012

Things To Remember - Christmas Edition

So Al and I have spent several Christmases together but this will be our first Christmas together as a married couple.
When we got married our friend Joel got us these sweet little frog ornaments that are a bride and groom.
I could not wait to put them on the tree.
Our poor tree is a little tipsy. Every time I try to move it, or just because it feels like it, it starts to lean.
The other day I noticed that our frog bride has shifted as well. 
This is what she is now doing:
Isn't she cute? I love the way she just seems to be gazing at her man.  :0)

Tonight it made me think of how the way we see the people we love can shift.  When you first meet your "person" it's almost like they can do no wrong. You've got love blinders on. "Oh he smacks when he chews his food... isn't that cute?" But years later it can turn into homicidal thoughts. "Can't he close his mouth?"  :)

I've been reading this great book called "Love & War." One of the points that they make several times is that we can chose what we react to in our marriage. So he can't seem to get his socks in the hamper. So she can't seem to wipe the toothpaste out of the sink. These are only big issues if we make them big issues.
If we are in this together, if we are in this for life, then we will not major on the minor things in any of our relationships.

As for me, I hope I always remember to gaze at  my man with love in my eyes. He's a stud. I know realistically that there will be times when that is more of a choice than a feeling.
So when  that happens I want to make sure that I remember the right choice.


PS - thanks so much for those of you who have been praying for a job for me. I have one in the pipes now that I should start next week.  Keep praying for my brother, Gem, and so many others who need to find that same thing.

Monday, December 03, 2012

I'm Outta Control

Well we all know that I have spent the last few months trying to find a job right?
You want to know what kind of situations drive a control freak absolutely insane?

If you guessed "not being in control," you are absolutely correct.
Last night I mentioned to the husband that I felt like "waiting" was my lifelong topic.

I really think the main reason for that is because God knows the lesson that I will most likely always have some element of struggle with.


I spent a bit of time tonight wondering why that might be.
Why does the mountain I keep circling in my wilderness experiences always seem to have "Waiting" etched in stone on it?

I believe it is because waiting on others to do something causes me to realize my lack of control in the situation.

That's not just one situation in my life friends. That includes multiple situations.

Will they hire me? Not in my control.
Will I ever get married? Not in my control. I did FYI... but this was on my waiting list for many years!
Will I ever be a mother? Not entirely in my control.
Will I ever be fully healed? Not in my control.
Will I ever _____ (insert new waiting situation here)? Not. In. My. Control.

It's enough to make the control freak in me insane.
But I think I may be (I will not say this next sentence definitively... I know better) getting the hang of this lesson.

Proverbs 16:9
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.

I don't determine what happens next in these situations. But I am intimately involved with the One who does. 

Most importantly though, I can trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths

And you can trust Him too.

Trusting and Waiting

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Dancing like Shaun the Sheep

So last night Al and I had the chance to have dinner and go to a concert with our sweet friends Rex and Becky.  Couple friends - who just happened to have been instrumental in Al and I meeting and dating. 
What a blessing to have couple friends!
But I am getting off of my topic.
Wait what was I talking about?
Oh yes, nothing yet.  :O)
Yesterday as I was getting ready I realized that it was the first time in this whole journey that I physically saw a major difference in myself.
Honestly after almost 6 months it is a little frustrating to not "see" these things for myself.
So I found it really encouraging that there was a "wow" moment for me last night.
There are a lot of things that I want to make sure I share here because they are shared moments that I see in reading other WLS blogs or checking message boards.
One big one that seems to be common is the inability to see these changes even when they are so dramatic to other people.
I think a big part of that is because we see ourselves in the mirror every day. Also the people who are around us every day - work, home, etc. are in the same boat in some respects because they see us every day.
But when you take a picture like this one:

And put it next to a picture like this one:

You really can't help but do a little happy dance.
Insert mental picture of Gina's Shaun the Sheep happy dance... here let me help you:

I'm going to try to be a little nicer to myself this week. I'm going to try to get some exercising back in my regimen.
Hopefully when I wake up in the morning that magical 1 lb will be gone and I'll finally be able to say I've lost 90 pounds instead of 89.

Also - hoping also to have a job soon.
I sure thing a schedule would help things greatly.  :O)
That's all I wanted to say really.
Plus wanted to show off a little teeny bit.