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Archive for March, 2010

Last Friday night, I found myself both appalled and inspired as I watched two hours of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” If you’re not familiar with the show, check out this link: http://www.jamieoliver.com/campaigns/jamies-food-revolution.

One of the most shocking parts of the show was when Jamie visited a local family and collected all the food they ate for a week. Their diet consisted of fried donuts for breakfast, pizza for snacks, hot dogs and a whole bunch of other processed junk-type food. As I watched, I swelled with pride. At least I don’t feed my family that, I thought. We don’t always eat the best stuff, but we at least cook from scratch as much as we can and eat fruits and vegetables.

Fast forward to today. I was reading about childhood obesity in my most recent Parenting magazine. The article provided a Web address for a BMI (body mass index) calculator on the CDC site (http://www.cdc.gov/). Our 2-year-old daughter had just been to the doctor, so I thought I’d check it out.

According to the CDC, she’s obese. Obese??? And so are the rest of us. Now, I know that none of us are at our ideal weight points, but “obese” isn’t the word I’d use to describe us. “Obese” is reserved for “The Biggest Loser” types, right?

One of the aspects of “Food Revolution” that surprised me was the unwillingness of the people to listen to what Oliver had to say. Watching from the outside, it was easy to see that what he said had merit. But less than a week after judging their attitudes, I found myself in the same state: denial. As if I don’t have enough parenting worries, now I have the nagging thought in the back of my mind that I might be killing my children.

The validity of BMI as a diagnostic tool  seems to be in question. Perhaps it’s better as a guideline than a rule. For me, at least, it was a wake-up call. Spring is here, and even though it’s a chore to get three people — me, a 2-year-old and a 4-month-old — ready to go outside, we need to make the effort because we need the exercise.

And, it was another opportunity for God to show me an area where I could be more humble. As I thought about my reaction to the family on the TV show, this story from Scripture came to mind:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14, NIV)

Obese or not, I need to remember that I’m no better than anyone else, and all of us need God’s mercy.

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Kind words

Grocery shopping with a talkative 2-year-old is never dull, to say the least. Yesterday, we did our usual rounds to three stores, and in every one, she talked to anyone within listening distance. In the deli line at one store, she told the woman ahead of us, “We getting turkey.” At the second store, it was “I need this” to anything she could see. Usually it’s “I need ogurt” as we approach the yogurt aisle.

Wal-Mart, though, is where she shines. I’ll confess that I’m not always excited to go to Wal-Mart. Long lines. Unhappy people in front of and behind the register. Screaming kids. And more often than not, I can’t find what I need because it’s out of stock temporarily. That said, my daughter has a way of making the experience better. As we cruised the aisles, she would zero in on a person and say, loudly, “Hi.” Some were people who might have noticed her in the first place, but most were people I normally would have passed in my quest to get in and get out as quickly as possible. She brought smiles to the faces of elderly women who were trying to navigate Wal-Mart’s wide open spaces and to a gentleman who seemed as if he was hoping to go unnoticed. She even out-greeted the greeter as we left the store.

“Hi! We going to the car,” she said before he even saw we were leaving.

Her introverted mother doesn’t always know what to do or say, so I find myself displaying that awkward, “Isn’t she cute?” smile and pressing on to the next aisle.

I struggle to find the right words to say to people in conversation, so I often say nothing when I feel I should say something. Isabelle doesn’t have a filter yet to make her question whether she should say something. She says it, and it makes people smile.

At church on Sunday, she looked at a woman sitting behind — a woman we didn’t know and hadn’t seen in our church before — and said, “You pretty.” Everyone who heard her had a shared “oh how cute” moment. I was sort of embarrassed, but more challenged than anything.

The book of Proverbs says this:

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (25:11)

And,

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” (12:25)

I’ve swallowed more kind words than I’ve spoken, and I’ve let the moment for an apt word pass far too many times.

May I take a cue from a little child and speak from the heart whenever I can.

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Welcome to the new blog. There was nothing necessarily wrong with the old blog, but I was challenged at a writing seminar today to take the next step. This is part of that process. Before any of the sessions even started, I was blessed by the music. Karen Knight, of Heartsongs Ministries and a Sight and Sound actress, performed a song about Moses and his insecurities. I was moved by her take on the conversation Moses had with God when God called him to go to Pharaoh. She challenged us to let go of whatever security we have, like Moses had to throw down his staff, to show God’s glory. Later this evening, as I was reading through my Bible study lesson for today, I felt God confirming this. The author, Beth Moore, references the parable of the 10 minas in Luke 19 and the vine and the branches metaphor in John 15. From those two passages I gleaned this: God wants to multiply what He gives us, and He wants the glory when we bear much fruit.

So, I’m starting a new journey. “Restarting” might be a better way to describe it. I have no idea where God will take me, but all I know is it’s time to go. I can’t say you’ll see a book with my name on it. I can’t say if I’ll be able to report that I’ve been paid for something I wrote. But I hope to be able to say that I’m spending less time on Facebook and more time putting words on the screen, throwing down what I’ve been clinging to, releasing the power of God to do for my writing what he did with a staff … changing it in a way only He can, bringing Him glory.

I hope to see you on the road.

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Like a child

I was sitting on the couch trying to soothe Corban to sleep when Isabelle crawled up next to us, laid down on her stomach, looked me in the eye and said, “I’m my meeting. I’m praying.” Then she put her head down and said something that sounded like, “Dear God, you love you.” Recently, she’s been dancing around the house singing her version of a song that has the word “Hallelujah” in it. And just about every time we leave the house, she thinks we’re going to church or Sunday school.

This humbles me. Having not been raised in this way, I’m continually amazed by her absorption of our faith practices, and I’m thankful that in some way, I must be doing something right. On those days when I don’t feel like a very good Christian (whatever that’s supposed to mean), the whispered prayers of a 2-year-old encourage me.

I thought about how Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,” and how He didn’t have to coerce, bribe or in any way entice the children to come to Him. They were on their way. It was the adults who hesitated. It’s still us adults who take our time coming to Jesus, whether it’s for the first time for salvation or with our everyday troubles or for whatever reason. I see how easily Isabelle accepts Jesus as part of her life and I wonder, “Why is it so hard for me?”

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus told a group of disciples when they wanted to know who was the greatest.

Some days, I ask the same question.

A friend recently shared that her 4-year-old daughter disappeared upstairs for a while, and when she came back down, told her mother that she’d been praying to Jesus.

The kingdom belongs to such as these. Amen and amen.

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Specks and logs

I’m mildly obsessive about my teeth, at least when it comes to food particles being stuck between them. Usually, I’ll smile wide at Phil and ask him if there’s anything between my teeth after a meal, especially if I know I’m going to be meeting new people or talking in a group or seeing anyone who isn’t a family member. If he’s not there to tell me, I make a beeline for a mirror. Sometimes he tells me when I don’t ask, and while that’s not always easy to take, I know he’s telling me out of love.

Last week, while talking with a woman I didn’t know well after a meal, I noticed some food remnants in her teeth. I quickly averted my eyes and pretended I hadn’t seen them. When our conversation was over and she had left, I mentally kicked myself for not saying something. I imagined the embarrassment she might face if she was headed to class and talked to others with noticeable black spots between her teeth. Would it have been awkward to tell her? Yes, but I know I’d want someone to tell me.

We had a similar opportunity spiritually this week. Phil and I were confronted with someone who behaves according to the world’s standards while proclaiming to be a Christian. Neither of us said anything in the moment, but we were both burdened by the situation afterwards. We have yet to come up with a loving way to broach the subject. For the benefit of this person, whom we love dearly, we know it’s like the food-in-teeth issue — it might be awkward, even perceived as offensive, at the time, but in the long run, it’s for this person’s benefit.

I think about Jesus’ words — “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) — and I wonder if I’m seeing a speck without noticing a log in my own life. I know Scripture supports lovingly confronting people about sin, but I don’t know how to do it, and most of the time, I even wonder if I should.

Any insights out there to help me along? I’d love to hear any experiences you’ve had with this issue.

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What’s inside

I’m a colossal failure at hard-boiled eggs. While I’m no gourmet chef, I’m certainly not worthy of being on “Worst Cooks in America,” so admitting I’m so terrible at something seemingly so simple is not easy.

We had a potluck at church today. I hadn’t been to the grocery store all week, so I was trying to pick something to make from ingredients I already had in the house. I came across a deviled egg recipe that sounded good, so I boiled my eggs. Knowing I have trouble with this task, I consulted a cookbook and followed the instructions for boiling eggs to a “T.” After they cooled and I began the peeling process, I discovered the usual soft, runny white underneath the shell surrounding a cooked yoke. As I threw egg white after egg white into the trash, I became frustrated at the realization that deviled eggs was not going to be on the menu at church.

Later, I prepared another dish as my plan B, but the hard-boiled egg failures still irk me. I wish there was a way to tell before I start peeling them whether they’re cooked well or not. It’s an act of faith, in a way, not unlike our own spiritual development.

Do you ever wonder what you look like on the inside to God? Are we soft, runny and underdone, not worth much toward our intended purpose? Are we overdone, hard and tainted, still good for that which we’re meant but not too appealing to look at? Or are we perfectly prepared for what God has in mind? God only knows.

Nobody likes to go through unpleasant circumstances, but like the eggs have to be boiled to be of use when I intend to serve them as deviled eggs, God uses the tough times, the “hot water” of life to prepare us for what’s ahead. If we seek to get out of it too soon, we become useless. If we’re in too long, sometimes we can become bitter.

James says this: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (verses 2-4)

Are you facing trials of many kinds? Know that God sees the growth happening inside and will bring you to maturity because of it.

And if anyone knows how to make a perfect hard-boiled egg, I’m all ears.

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