Romans 1-12 (in a tiny nutshell)

Sometimes words start coursing through my brain, pleading to be released. As I sat down to chapter 12 of my Romans bible study, this “summary according to Spring’s brain” started writing itself. In order to be left alone, I am typing it here. 🙂

ROMANS 1-12 Spring’s Brain’s Summary Version

You are a mess.
Stop pointing to other people’s messes and ignoring your own. That’s an even worse mess.
You do not get to decide what is a mess and what isn’t. God does.
You cannot stop being a mess on your own.
There is hope for your mess in Jesus.
As Jesus cleans up your mess, don’t judge people who are still in their mess, the ones who didn’t find Jesus yet. It’s not because YOU are awesome; it’s because HE is.
Jesus has made you a part of something bigger, something God has been doing since the beginning.
When you realize all that Jesus has done for you, what will be your response?
Live differently. Love differently. Do good.
Let God handle the rest.

Not what you expected?

Have you ever wondered, if you were an Israelite at the time of Christ’s coming, if you would have “missed it?” I have. I wonder if I would have missed the fact that the Messiah I had been taught to hope and wait for had come, because he had come in a way I was not expecting. I have surely made assumptions about what God’s goodness, and “good gifts” look like in the past!

I am studying the book of Romans with a group of friends via FB-group, and today’s reading was chapter 10. Paul is writing about the fact that many Israelites rejected Jesus as the Messiah. And I as pondered it, I wondered how likely I would have been to make the same mistake. They were actually taught to expect a certain outcome from his arrival. They  had misinterpreted what the promised deliverance was from. They assumed it was from Roman rule. But it was in reality deliverance from themselves.

And then I wondered, how likely is it that the way I talk about God to others, to friends, to my kids, gives people a false picture of what to expect from God?The only truly safe point of view is to simply remind ourselves and others of what scripture says.

 

 

 

 

God is in the Bathroom

As I was working on my Bible study homework today, I suddenly remembered the days when the only place I read my Bible was in the bathroom.

Now I enjoy a cup of coffee , propped up in my comfy bed. But back when I had 2 and 3 small kids, I often felt guilty for how my spiritual discipline seemed to have gone to the wayside. (The Bible apps we have now would have been amazing back then! A quick screen shot even lets me share a passage I’m reading with a friend or on social media. I love the Bible Gateway app!)

Then one day, when chatting about this with a mom further along on the motherhood path about this guilt,  she quoted a verse to me:

Isaiah 40:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
          and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.

So you know what I did back then?

I started leaving a Bible in the bathroom. Perhaps not a very holy place to set it, but it meant I read it a lot more often! If God looked gently on those with littles, I was going to be a little more gentle with  myself. And you know what I found?

God could speak to me, even in the bathroom.

So today, I wanted to say especially to young moms, but really to anyone: if your spiritual practice is not what you wish it was, find moments to read the Bible, to pray. Grab an app to make it easier.  Find any moments. Short moments.

God is in those too.  ~xo

Hard

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how we don’t always know if something is good or bad when it happens. But you know what we DO know?

We know when something is HARD. 

Like you, I’ve walked through some hard things. And without trying to label them as bad, or “good in the end,” here is what I’ve been reminding myself about the Hard Things.

Hard isn’t evil. (Although evil is hard.)

Hard doesn’t mean you did something wrong.

Hard doesn’t mean God is angry with you, or displeased with you.

Sometimes Hard is transition. Sometimes Hard is birthing something new.

Sometimes Hard is about conquering yourself.

Sometimes Hard is about trusting God.

Sometimes Hard is just about letting yourself feel how hard it is.

And, HARD doesn’t mean “it’s over.” It’s just right now.

When it’s Hard, I try to:

feel my feelings, eat some greens, maybe followed by chocolate, go for a walk, take a nap, laugh with my kids, clean something, take a long bath, roll on the peace and console oil, meditate, read scripture, journal, pray, talk to a good friend…

How do YOU get through the hard?

(No pics in this post… “Hard” is so very individual and personal. Don’t compare what feels hard to you, to what feels hard to someone else. Hard just is.                  xo -Spring)

Anne Frank (Can I be honest?)

There have been a lot of articles going around the last couple weeks with headlines something like “Anne Frank may not have been betrayed.”The idea being that the people who knew where they were hiding may NOT have sold them out.

Well, EXCUSE ME!?!?!?

Anne Frank’s family was killed in the holocaust. She was betrayed by her government, her country, her fellow countrymen. It doesn’t matter if someone ratted them out in the end, or they were found on accident. The family, and more than a MILLION other Jews were killed in that holocaust.

Image result for anne frank free photo

So please, can we stop all the headlines about them “not being betrayed.” My heart just aches at that language. They WERE betrayed. And unto death. Surely they can find a better way to say there may be new info about how the Frank family was found. I fear for how little the knowledge of the holocaust is spoken of, taught, how easily it is forgotten.

May we never forget.

 

What if… {Choosing}

I was recently working with a coach for my business/personal development, and one exercise he gave us was to notice what we choose. The exercise was a powerful reminder:

We have way more power than we  ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶ ̶w̶e̶ ̶d̶o̶  admit.

Immediately, as I got ready to say “I have to run” at the end of that meeting, I realized “I’m choosing to go now… because I want to keep my promise to be somewhere else at a certain time.” So I changed my language: I’m going to go now. And it felt weird, and good at the same time.

What if we took ownership of our choices? How many times a day do we claim to “have to” but really choose to do something?

As the coach mentioned, even taking care of our kids is TECHNICALLY optional. All choices have consequences, but we do, in fact, CHOOSE. And it’s sort of a freeing feeling to  ̶f̶e̶e̶l̶ ̶l̶i̶k̶e̶  realize, I have more power over my time, and my day than I ̶t̶h̶o̶u̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶I̶ ̶d̶i̶d̶  admit.

I keep striking through “thought”, and changing it to admit, because I think that believing we have no power over much of our time, frees us from responsibility for the way we spend our time. I want to remind myself, that even believing we have no choice, is a choice.

I don’t really want to admit I chose to burn myself out. Who does?!

But the reality is, in an attempt to feel valuable, important, meet others’ needs (“later” always seemed soon enough for my own), make people happy, or even get people to like me, I chose it.

I have mentioned StrengthsFinder before.  In my top 11 strengths,  10 of them feel sort of forward moving to me, they have a drive to them. I kept seeing this image in my head, and finally had to make a graphic for it.

I may be wired this way, but I still get to choose. And being aware that I am, in fact, choosing, creates a pause if I choose to take it, and consider why am I making this choice.

What if, even for one day, we all acknowledged the myriad choices we make. We choose to oversleep, to be late, to eat the crappy food instead of the healthy food (probably due to choosing not to plan/prep for the right food), we choose to take time to pray and meditate, or we choose to rush off into the day choosing to believe we don’t have time. We choose to worry instead. We choose to be tired, by staying up too late, and leaning on things like caffeine.

Wait a minute… I choose to be tired?! Yup. Sometimes, I do.

There are things I don’t  have control over. Health issues, life stressors.  We can’t control the choices others make.

But there are so many more things I DO have control over. Especially all those things pertaining to Spring, and how she responds to those out-of-control things, and what she does with the time that has been given to her.

 

#Blessed (Can I be honest with you?)

I am tempted to apologize for what feels like a rant brewing in my fingertips. But the lesson learned behind this rant came at a great cost to my heart. So, I don’t apologize. I will do instead what the psalmists do: journal their faith journey to help others find words for the journey they are on.

You probably know, we are “an adoptive family” as it is sometimes called. God led us to adopt from an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, in the months after their horrendous earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people. Located only 25 miles from the epicenter, P-a-P was wrecked. (They don’t do building codes like we do here, either).

Image may contain: outdoorThis adoption journey was a serious faith-tester for me. The adoption that was supposed to be quick, due to urgency in getting the kids out of there, turned out to be nearly 5 years in length for us (and some kids still haven’t made it home). We visited nearly every year for those 5 years. We stayed at the orphanage (now referred to as “The O”), visited the school, attended church. We lived the weekly life of the kids there. No running water, rare electricity unless the generator was able to be filled, which means no fans… and tropical island heat.

It was a physical endurance test for me every time. But it was even harder on the heart. It was so hard to leave my kids at home, the youngest always in tears. It was hard to leave Wesley (then Wisly) behind in Haiti, when I had to come home. I blogged some of those things back in the day. What I want to tell you about today, is something that haunted me one Christmas nearer to the end of our adoption journey.

You see… as I prepared for Christmas here at home, I knew the life that my other little boy was living. I knew the people who were feeding him, and caring for him. I knew that without some big donation, there would not be a special Christmas meal for them. And yet…. they were celebrating Christmas.

No gifts. No gorgeous decor. ( Wesley says that one year, someone gave them some lights to hang up). They DO have some pretty amazing music at church! Not only do they  not have all the bells and whistles of Christmas, but they barely scrape enough money together to eat. They live in the poorest location in the western hemisphere. Let that sink in.

They live in the poorest location in the western hemisphere.  They barely survive at times; sometimes they don’t survive. And yet… they celebrate Christmas.

This was haunting me. They celebrate Jesus’ birth with as much (if not greater, to be he honest!) joy than we do. And it’s just because they are so grateful Jesus came. Yet how much do we associate ease in life with “God’s goodness.?”

We live in the #blessed world. Where is their blessing? I started to ponder… what does it TRULY mean to be “blessed” by God. If being blessed by God means we never go hungry, we have enough money to pay our bills, our cars work, we don’t lose our jobs, we are safe, we are healthy… then most of the world is not benefiting from God’s blessing.  Where is God’s “goodness” to all of the believers who do not live the life we live here?

I realize that none of us would say “to walk in God’s blessing means my life is perfect.” We expect there to be hard things. But we don’t usually consider the hard things a blessing. We consider the easy things, the fun things, the happy things… as blessings.

I heard an allegory once, that I will attempt to retell in my own words, that sums up so well, what all my months of pondering and struggle on this issue led me to….

There was a man in the Asian countryside, who one day found some horses had wandered into his yard. His friends all said “wow, you are so blessed to have these horses sent to you!” The man replied “we’ll see.”

Then one day, one of the horses kicked his son in the leg, and his son’s leg was broken. And his friends said “what curse has befallen you, that these horses have come?!” The man replied “we’ll see.”

A few days later, a violent group came into the village, looking to recruit young men to their cause. They passed over the man’s son, because his leg was broken. And his friends said “what a blessing these horses came to you!” The man replied “we’ll see.”

We do not really know what is a blessing and what is a “curse.” What if we were less focused on what these tangible things “mean?” What if we didn’t look to those things as proof that God is good?  Because if that is proof… there are a lot of believers on this planet who don’t have any proof that God is good.

To make it modern… we find a car at an amazing price we can’t believe. We post to social media: Just found our car! #blessed

The car turns out to have major transmission issues.

What do you post now: The car was a lemon. #blessed ?

I do know that God meets my needs. I do believe that every good and perfect gift comes from above.  But like the old man in the story, we don’t know what is the “good gift.”   I live in gratitude for all I have. But I don’t want to say THAT is why I am blessed. I don’t want to freak out when the car is a lemon. I don’t want to lose my peace of mind when a job loss happens. Or when health issues happen. Those things all going smoothly are not “proof” that my God is good.

The proof of His goodness is usually most visible in how He walks with me through those hard things. Those are the times when I know, most confidently, that He is truly by my side.

And that is where I want to spend my hashtags. That is where I know I am #blessed. That is the kind of blessing our brothers and sisters in Christ experience around the globe. Why they celebrate Christmas despite poverty, sickness, and loss.

Semantics? I don’t think so. Because the words we use have power. What we repeat, we believe.

God is good, even through the heartbreak of a miscarriage.

God is good, even when my little son was stuck in poverty and danger for years due to a corrupt system. God is good, even if He didn’t subvert the system and get my son miraculously home sooner.

God is good, even when my husband loses his job. Even when we have to give up our house. (Turns out, He sent us somewhere better!)

God is good in chronic illness. He grows me, and changes me deeply, while He has me sitting still enough to let Him work.

People ask “how can God be good, when these horrible things are happening?” He is good IN them. THROUGH them. DESPITE them. BECAUSE of them…

God is good, all the time. All the time God is good.

 

What if…. {Monday}

Every Monday, on Facebook, it begins… the Monday memes.

Sure, they are amusing. But I also realized they are all so negative.

And I thought to myself today…                                                                                                                    what if we decided to LIKE Mondays???

So, in my #input* style, I googled to see if I could find any POSITIVE Monday memes. And on the first hit here was only one. ONE.

My #achiever, #responsibility and #communicator then decided it was on me to start the positive Monday mindset myself!                                                                                       Here are some reasons I choose to like Mondays:

 

*a new week is full of new possibilities

*all my favorite parts of the week (my chorus class, no-school-Fridays) are ahead of me to look forward to

*another chance to accomplish the things I didn’t get to on the previous week

*this is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24)

What if, we tried to help each feel GOOD about mondays? What if, on purpose, we put something into Mondays that made it easier to look forward to? For me, it could be as simple as planning some weekly after-school-fun, a special breakfast item, a phone chat with a friend…

What would YOU put into your Monday?

 

*I am a HUGE fan of the gallup strengthsfinder approach to understanding your talents/wiring. We use it a lot in  my business, but also have used it in my family. Not an affiliate, just a fan! 🙂

 

It’s green.

It’s green.

That was my first thought when green smoothies and juices became all the rage a decade or so ago. I could not imagine that **I** would ever drink a green juice. Yet here I am! Funny, it’s true that your taste buds will change when you switch over to eating natural, whole foods.

I first tried this juice at a restaurant where I was teaching an essential oils class. Yup. You’ve come a long way when you’ll PAY to drink green juice!  It has kale, cucumber and apple. ( Use green at home. I think the restaurant uses gala apples, that have been peeled).

I use about 2 cups of baby kale (big curly kale is hard on the gut) with the stems removed, half a cucumber, and a green apple. I add a second apple if I am offering inviting bribing  a kid to have some too.

We bought this juicer about 14 years ago, in the very beginning of my natural health journey. I took up juicing, dehydrating, and soaking nuts/seeds as hobbies that would help me feel better.  My recent health issues have led me back to my natural-eating roots I guess you could say. Green juice was not on my radar back then; we primarily did carrot juice and some fruits. The Captain had to order one part, and it ran beautifully,  just like I hadn’t given up juicing 5 years ago!

After I run all the produce through the juicer, I pour it through a filter to catch any chance pulp that lingered. I have done smoothies for several years because I wanted the fiber for keeping my colon healthy, and also to keep my blood sugar from spiking. But right now, getting nutrition absorbed more quickly is important, so juice it is!

I have to say though, this is deliciously delightful, and I do not feel bad for myself that I need to drink this. I plan to slowly decrease the apple/up the greens in order to get more healing nutrients into my body.

Because of my hyperinsulinemia, I was a little unsure of juicing, even if it were mostly greens. But I have a handful of nuts with it, and my blood sugar does fine! No sugar crashes mid-morning at all. It is, of course, work. To get out the product and cut it all up, and run it through the juicer, and then clean the machine etc. But like with most things we could procrastinate, if I just set my mind to it, and decide it’s important, it is all done much more quickly than I’d expect.

I learned that little trick from the Flylady. If there is something you are avoiding with an “I don’t have time” excuse, use a timer to see how long it actually takes. You’ll be surprised usually! And then you’ll feel less overwhelmed at the idea of doing it. I did this for things like mopping the kitchen, putting away the clean dishes etc. It worked for me!

Do you drink green juice or green smoothies? What are your favorite combos?