Thursday, January 26, 2012

Real Beauty

I love Shai Linne and his [pregnant!] wife Blair Linne. God has greatly blessed this couple with the gift of music and poetry. When it comes to 'speaking' the truth about God, this pretty much sums it up. When we think our identity is found in the way that we look - think otherwise. Watch and be amazed.

A Dose of Encouragement

Although I consider myself an "encourager" I often fall into the trap of emphasizing law over grace. Today, I want to offer up a healthy serving of hope as it pertains to our victory in Christ.

"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace." -Romans 6:11-14

When people talk about their 'struggles' in life, they often refer to a moment in time when they had 'victory' over their struggle. I have used this language too, only to find out later that I really didn't have complete victory over whatever struggle it was. For example, I've said before that I've had "victory" over my struggle with overexercising... which is true, but at the same time not. As I grow in sanctification and my relationship with the Lord, I find that I am more sensitive to certain areas of life - perhaps ones that I haven't completely surrendered to the Lord and need to. And as I continue to 'struggle' on in this life, with what issues still hold me captive, I realize that I will not [in this life] have complete and total victory. I think that this is a hard pill to swallow. Yes, I recognize that there are those stories of people who have all their life battled addictions and have come to know the Lord, and no longer battle them - they are just gone; they are free from the addiction. But for the majority of us, we will continue as long as we are in flesh to wage war against our flesh.. feeling oftentimes like we aren't getting anywhere.

Here is the hope though. If you are in Christ, a born-again Christian, and you have new life in the Spirit, then you indeed do have complete victory in Jesus Christ. Though you still fail to 'conquer' areas in your life, your status is completely changed: forever. You are no longer considered a slave to sin, but you are "alive to God in Christ Jesus". On the cross, Jesus Christ, bore own sin and shame, and won the victory for us over death. "Oh death where is your victory? Oh death where is your sting?... But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. " (1 Cor. 15:55, 57) I find great encouragement in that. I am one who tends to condemn myself for not conquering the areas in my life that need conquering. When I fail, I hang my head and sulk in my own inability. Instead, let us take a cue from the apostle Paul who says with excitement, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" !!! [exclamation points added for emphasis]

If that is not encouraging, motivating, exhilarating, and monumental - then I don't know what is! Today, if you are 'tempted' to think the thought: "I can never do this.. I will never have victory over _____" , please remember that our ultimate victory is won in Christ. In Him we are conquerors--not only in this life, but also in the life to come!

May the Lord bless you as your contemplate these great truths.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Compassion (v.)

A few days ago, I was thinking [randomly] about a ministry that I had never gotten involved in, but has always been intrigued and encouraged by. So, naturally, I decided to visit their website. I told Chance about it later that day.. to which he said: "Great, let's sponsor one!"

The ministry that I am referring to is Compassion International. I had heard on another blog (Parchment & Pen) that one of the men who runs The Credo House was currently in Africa with Compassion! I read his updates and found out that Compassion is moving in huge ways to disciple children, teach them the Word, and help them out of poverty. They are deeply concerned that these children have adequate physical resources and deep theological training. I was super excited! Yesterday, we chose a 15-year-old boy who is from Burkina Faso, whose name is Soumaila. He has 8 kids in his family and one of his favorite activites is soccer! The best part about it is that we get to write him letters, and he can write us back.. all for only $38.00 a month! THAT'S IT!

If you would like to prayerfully consider sponsoring a child as well - please do. I urge anyone who has $40 extra dollars a month to think deeply about the impact you could make in one child's life forever. God is moving in the hearts of so many to do the same and we are so thrilled that we get to participate in the journey! Please pray for Soumaila and his family as they come to mind :)

Can you really resist these dear, sweet faces?


Friday, January 20, 2012

Food on Friday: Grocery Store Seduction

How May We Tempt You?

In an attempt to entice the reader I have used the above alliteration "Food on Friday" to introduce a new spin on what I think I might write about each Friday! Although the theme will be related to food, it won't always be the same type of writing. Some days I will post recipes, some days thoughts on eating habits, some days I'll write about Biblical passages pertaining to - you guessed it - food!

Today I will tackle the idea of what our culture portrays in regards to eating, but specifically how restaurants and grocery stores lure their shoppers. Every week at work, we order out from a nearby restaurant, so naturally I look at the menu before I place my order. At one restaurant in particular the heading of their menu reads as follows "How May We Tempt You?" (see above). Now this may seem harmless considering that it refers to their delectable menu offerings and is their attempt to make their customers' mouths water once they view the descriptions of each perfectly apportioned dish. However, from a Christian perspective the word "temptation" doesn't exactly stir up in our minds 'positive' thinking, now does it? No! We are to avoid temptation at all costs! What does James 1:13-15 say?

"Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death."

So we find here that temptation lurks in our hearts, and that when we are enticed by our temptation that our desires become sin. Let me ask a simple question: Is food a temptation? Do you desire it in a way that may cause you to sin? Let's explore that.

Image DetailI love Whole Foods. Whenever you walk into a Whole Foods Market you see mountains of colorful fruits, vegetables, fresh seafood, and fine cheeses. Mostly organic and so yummy. Chance and I love the fresh salad and food bar there. But one thing I notice about myself when I walk into a Whole Foods (other than shock at the price tags) is that I am enticed by the foods there. Whether it be because they look delicious, they're made from healthy ingredients, they're fresh and juicy, or whatever - I have a hard time not spending money in a Whole Foods. Restaurants, clearly, use the same tactics. They make their menu offerings look mouth-watering, scrumptuous, flavorful, and irresistable all for the purpose of convincing you to eat them. As a business major, I realize that this is great advertising, a marketing scheme that convinces consumers to buy your product - success! But as a Christian, I also realize that my heart is deceitful above all things and is easily tempted by ads such as these.

We need to think twice before we indulge in our next Venti Caramel Frappucino to make sure that are hearts are not being enticed to sin. I do not think that enjoying a tasty meal is wrong (by no means!) nor do I think that loving anything sweet to the taste is wrong - that would be way too farfetched. What I am saying is that we often overlook our heart's desires or disregard them as 'pure' when in actuality they may not be. I know for myself that the temptation to be satisfied in the temporal pleasures of this world is all too captivating. Indeed, after reading a book on this subject, I began talking to my husband about his relationship (thought life, desires, lusts, etc.) regarding food. After a couple of weeks he began telling me that he noticed an unhealthy, unholy thought pattern in regards to his desire for coffee in the morning. I have been there and still battle with these thoughts, and it is something to take into consideration because we are commanded "you shall be holy, for I AM holy" (1 Pet. 1:16).

Are we tempted to enjoy above God the temporal satisfaction of something sweet to the taste, rather than tasting and seeing that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8)? Or can we say with the psalmist: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you" (Ps. 73:25). Join me in considering these profound truths and what our culture (and our hearts) attempt to do to steer us otherwise.

{as always-feel free to comment or write me with your thoughts:}

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Running to Persevere

On Saturday, I ran a long-ish run with my great friend and fellow sem-wife, who is training with me for the half-marathon in April. As we began our run we started talking about running (go figure!), racing, competition, and what motivates us. She mentioned to me that before choosing to set her sights on a race she seeks the Lord diligently in order to determine whether this is a goal worth setting. I was humbled. Whenever I want to race, I pick one that is not too expensive, fits with my schedule, and is far enough off in the future to train for. I didn't really ask the Lord for permission nor did I think about what I could accomplish (besides a faster PR) during my training. Needless to say, I needed a heart check.

These past two days while on a couple of solo runs, I have thought about that very question: what can I accomplish during my training for this race? 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God." Sounds simple enough, right? Well does running fall under the category of "whatever you do"? In short - of course it does. So how can I glorify God through my running? How can I make hours of training out on a pavement path worthwhile? How can I bring honor to God through logging miles? The answers to these questions would likely vary from person to person, but let me share a few thoughts of mine with you in regards to how I can bring glory to God in all things:

1) "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" - (Matthew 6:33) I have a responsibility to put God first practically in my life, through the thoughts that I think and the activities I engage in. For me, I need to carve out time to spend with the Lord, over and above carving out time to run. If the Lord chooses to let both happen, then that's great, but my priority is disciplined time with Him in His word.

2) "Pray without ceasing" - (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Self-explanatory. When I run, I can pray. I like to take advantage of the time alone in order to think and meditate on scripture, and also to intercede for others, confess my sin, and petition God.

3) "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2) - Since I read Hebrews a month or so ago, I have been thinking about this passage. I know that it may sound a little bit ridiculous to compare our 'race' of sanctification with a half-marathon or any other running race, but I think that the imagery is applicable. For those of you who have run before (especially in races) you know that it takes effort, endurance, and persevere to get to the finish line! As I've been running I have been contemplating the parallel that the author of Hebrews makes between an actual athletic race and our race in sanctification: it's a perfect parallel. Paul also puts it well when he uses a similarly "athletic" word to exhort Timothy saying "train yourself" - we must not only train ourselves physically, but train our minds and hearts spiritually.

So the next time you hit the gym, sign up for a race, or compete in some a sporting competition, remember to ask yourself why you are doing it and what can you learn from it to then apply to your life.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Eating, Exercise, and Endurance

Yesterday, my husband mentioned to me an article that he found on one of our favorite blogs - The Gospel Coalition - that had to do with a subject I am most intrigued by: dieting. I was obviously excited because as you know, if you have read anything else on here, my desire is to equip and encourage others to root out their motives in eating, exercise, and self-image.

In this article, the author and pastor, Mike Cosper (whom I had never heard of before), hits it home with some excellently edifying words for those of us who have the desire to lose weight, maintain a healthier lifestyle, or start eating 'right'. He boils it down to our "motivations" and what is really driving our desires for those things. In one of the sections of the article entitled "Seeking Wisdom" he says:

"Crash diets and exercise obsessions only make sense when they serve an idol in response to motivation like shame. We'll gladly risk long-term injuries and damages to our health, sacrificing them on the altar of youth or self-image, if we think the ends justify the means."

That is so profound! He continues on in that paragraph to talk about how we need to be patient when adopting a new change in our lifestyles, such as an exercise routine or a diet change. We need to seek counsel from others and check our heart's motives before progressing on a potentially dangerous path that could lead to long-term effects on both our physical and psychological (and of course spiritual) health.

Please read the article and let me know your thoughts!

"Grace Motivated Dieting" -

Sunday, January 15, 2012


This morning in Sunday school we did a little activity with our sixth grade class. In their workbooks for this week's lesson, the acronym "PROVIDENCE" was written, with blank boxes to the right of each letter. The activity was for the students to write next to each letter (for example "P") a word that began with that letter, something in which God had providence over. I did the lesson the night before while Chance was preparing, and so I came up with a long list that included things like: people, running, occupation, vacations, death, evil, napping, cars, and election. We did the activity in class and had the students read their responses & explain why they thought that God had providence over those certain things. 

Well, later on in the afternoon I learned a lesson in God's providence. I went out for a run on the hilly trail on White Rock Lake, near our apartment. It was an exceptionally windy day so in certain directions I was running against the wind. As I turned around to head back toward home, on a particular spot of the path with overhanging trees, I felt something hit my skin - SPLAT SPLAT SPLAT. Oh no, I thought... no, no not again*.

Oh yes, God is even providential over: bird poop. Do I believe that God planned for that to happen? If I believe in the absolute sovereignty of a good, gracious, loving, and powerful God - then my answer is a resounding yes. God has providence over bird poop. I hope my sixth graders get a kick out of this story when I tell them next week. 

(*This was the 4th time in my life when I have been pooped on by a bird while running or walking)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Big D

Yesterday, I signed up for the Big D Dallas Half Marathon to be run at April 15th. This time I am running with a great friend Mallory Dougherty - my Dallas running buddy! If you want to sign up click here . Sign up before January 15th and it's only $65 to run the half! I wish you the best & please do let me know if you're going to run this one too!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An Eater's Testimony : Kathryn

I have been an athlete ever since I can remember. I started playing volleyball competitively in 2nd grade, and from there my interest in sports expanded: soccer, baseball, basketball, softball, and running. I played them all and loved every second - but soccer, volleyball, and running were my passion. In high school, I played both soccer and volleyball on club teams (travel) and for freshman, JV, and Varsity teams throughout my four years. I loved games, but practices were where I really thrived, pushing myself and motivating my teammates. In my junior year of high school, I was elected to be co-captain of our Varsity volleyball team which was a thrilling and humbling experience for me. I worked very hard as a 'libero'/defensive specialist and even earned a mention in the region that winter season. I went into high school soccer season that spring pumped and ready for some competition. Unfortunately, my high school coach did not notice my work ethic and looked down on me for my small stature - I did not start for most of the season. In my senior year, I again pushed very hard in volleyball and travel soccer, excelling as a player and as an athlete, but when spring soccer rolled around I was hit with more disappointment. As a senior, I still got little playing time in my position as goalkeeper due to my size. It was very disheartening, but I tried to keep a positive attitude and motivate my teammates.

Throughout the last two years of high school, I began a new 'diet' of sorts. It consisted of TONS of fruits and vegetables, rarely if any meat, and organic food galore. I was kind of on a health-nut craze and used my love for sports as a motivator to eat very healthy. Though I didn't know it at the time (for the Lord had not saved me yet) eating had become an idol. I always watched what I ate and how much. Rarely would I even eat after long, hard volleyball practices and games that lasted until 10 & 11pm.  In my senior year, I was confronted by a dear friend who said that I looked way too thin and she was very concerned about me. I have always been short and on the smaller side, so it was hard for me to notice a dramatic change in my weight or body size. I thanked her and told her that I would definitely tell her or someone else if I was seriously struggling. 'I have never starved myself or thrown up', I thought. Little did I know there are other kinds of eating struggles.

Later that semester, in the last soccer game of my high school career against our rivals (Grosse Pointe North) I was taken out of the game by my coach who put in a junior in my place. I was devastated - and parents were shocked. We lost the game, and I left feeling deflated. I went to the gym at the local park and ran... hard. It wasn't until later that I would see that kind of outlet as a problem: I exercised excessively because of my frustration and to prove something, both to myself and others.

My eating habits have always been fairly steady throughout my lifetime, but my obsession with exercising and healthy eating climaxed my freshman year of college. My first semester, in the fall of 2007, I found myself without a regular sport schedule for the first time since 4th grade. I missed competition and teamwork, so I decided to take up running. I loved it because I could constantly push myself, it was another sport to learn, and I could always recruit friends to join me. In December when I went home for Christmas, at least a handful of friends noticed something about me: my weight. I was thin.. too thin. My diet at school consisted of salads in the "Caf" and peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat. I didn't eat meat. And I exercised almost every day. Though my heart had had a dramatic inward change (The Lord saved me and gave me His Spirit!), my body was what people noticed first. I still continued to exercise, work out, and run consistently and was involved in many activites including intramural sports that freshman year. I was always appreciative whenever people confronted me with their concerns, but I never really thought I had a problem. I always just attributed my weight to my healthy eating and high mileage. Again the thought of an 'ED' (eating disorder) was CRAZY to me!

Until the fall of 2008. After coming back to college for sophomore year, the chaos and busyness of school, work, ministry, a social life and other activities took their toll and I became very overwhelmed. I stopped exercising and I turned to eating as an outlet. For the first time I binge ate to cover up my emotions and to "protect" myself from stress. My problem was not anorexia or bulimia. My problem was a rollercoaster ride of emotional eating and obsession with healthy foods, and exercise. The reason I was so depressed that semester is because I couldn't seem to get control on my eating. I didn't talk about it with anyone for months, and when I finally did I felt ashamed and disgusted. I was depressed and coming to the end of myself... I was calling on the Lord, crying out to Him, but living in disobedience because I was clinging to other things rather than confessing my sin and being cleansed. The Lord convicted me and changed my mindset, I needed people, I needed community, I needed to be vulnerable with my sin to God--I couldn't hide from Him.

Since the spring of 2009, I have found much freedom from the idolatry of eating in the treasures of Scripture. Along with a close friend who struggles with many of the same issues, we created notecards listing verses that we would refer to when we were battling thoughts about our weight, our identity, our self-image, and our eating. I've learned a major lesson: God hates idolatry, and our hearts can make something as necessary and seemingly uncomplicated as eating, into an idol. But there is such hope when we entrust to the Lord our excesses: whether that be exercise (as it was and is for me), eating, or our self-image. God grants us liberty and freedom in the journey of our struggles and teaches us to trust in Christ and to identify ourselves with Him, more than with our weaknesses and sin.

Two of my favorite passages that I refer to often in the midst of my "food battle" (as Chance calls it) are found in first Corinthians.

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." -1 Corinthians 6:9-11

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." -1 Corinthians 6:19-20

As I continue to learn the depths of my heart, I find the more I need God's grace to persevere. For someone who knows how prone she is to struggles with food, exercise, and vanity, this life is a constant battleground. My hope and prayer is that I can use my awareness to help, encourage, educate, and embolden others to fight this same battle with me.

(P.s. I still struggle with overexercising and unhealthy eating habits, but the only difference is that I know my struggle, the root, and some steps toward the real solution)


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012


To be honest, I have never been a huge fan of New Year's Resolutions because it always seems that by February most of those "resolutions" seem to have gone down the drain. Whether it be a commitment to eat healthier, or exercise more, or lose weight, or be nicer.. all of those things are great but do we ever really think about staying faithful to those commitments? When you make one - whether you write it down or not - are you really determined to follow through for the entire year? What about the year after that? 

Well, although I don't think NYR's are that beneficial, I do think that the beginning of a new calendar year is an excellent time to reflect on the past 365 days and consider some changes you might make in the coming year. For me, 2011 was a year full of change: transitioning out of school, graduating, moving to a new state, starting a new full-time job, starting a new church, finding some friends, moving to a new apartment, and being a full-time seminary wife :) Needless to say, I am glad that 2012 has come and it can begin with a breath of fresh air. I've been reflecting mostly on my spiritual life and what areas that God wants me to grow in - things that I can intentionally do to learn more about the Lord & get to know Him better. Specifically, God has been laying on my heart two things: 1) Faithfulness in all things (1 Tim. 3:11) and 2) Spiritual disciplines/training in godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8). The first, is regarding my faithfulness to my word, following through with commitments, and building trustworthiness within relationships. The second, refers to a greater commitment I want to put on my prayer life and personal Bible study, over and against the amount of time I spend exercising and working out. I know that a "godliness is a means of great gain when accompanied with contentment" and thus I an endeavoring to be more content in the Lord in 2012.

Also adding to the whole Resolutions kick is the fact that Chance has been talking non-stop about how he wants to read some work of Jonathan Edwards (greatest American theologian ever). So we have "resolved" (pun most definitely intended) to read through John Piper's work God's Passion For His Glory which combines Piper's and Edward's journeys to conviction in the sovereignty and absoluteness of God. We are thoroughly excited.

So what'll it be? What are you "resolving" to do in the new year?

(Note: Jonathan Edwards, at age 19, compiled a list of 70 'resolutions' that he used throughout his lifetime to direct his attention, focus, and energies on God and His glory)