Thursday, April 25, 2013

Obsess Much?

One of my latest obsessions is Pandora-- because I cannot afford to purchase all the music I enjoy and the radio stations here in New Jersey are borderline terrible. So, Pandora Radio it is!

And through my newly developed Pandora obsession, I was introduced to this gem by Kim Walker-Smith. The song came through my headphones as I sat in the student center at Rutgers working on my training and new staff development. Immediately I was wooed. God drew me in with this song. The power in it is indescribable. I have been playing it non-stop... to the point where Tyler asked me tonight, "Do you want to buy the song or CD?" =]

So, why wouldn't I share it with you?! Enjoy!

Do you have a current "obsession?" What has God recently used in your life to captivate your heart?

"Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!" - Psalm 47:1

Monday, April 22, 2013

Worth Admiring

Last week, I was challenged to think of a wife whom I admire. This was no challenge for me, however. The woman who came to mind, I have known for almost ten years. She is someone who let me into her home, took me under her wing, passed on her lessons learned and wisdom to me, and let me witness her loving her husband and her daughters.

As I think through why I admire her, I am brought to Proverbs 31:10-31. No matter the circumstances, she can be trusted by her husband, she enriches his life and stands by him always! In each day, she seeks to bring good to those around her. She eagerly seeks to take care of her home and family. She helps those beyond her family, always there to lend a helping hand or comforting word. She lives in a place of no fear, trusting in the Lord. She uses her creativity throughout her home and integrates it into her life, and mothering. Her demeanor is strong yet gentle. And I especially believe verse 26 is true of her, "When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness." Time and time again, I have seen her demonstrate wisdom and kindness towards her husband and daughters. Laziness does not grab hold of her, she is hardworking and perseveres (with much coffee!). Her husband absolutely praises her, and her daughters adore her! 

Aside from the wonderful wife and mother that she is, she seeks to bless other young women, like myself. She lives up to this command, "and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." - Titus 2:4-5. Her heart is rooted in the Word of God, evident in her life, and therefore she is equipped to train up younger women in this way. 

Although this wife, whom I admire so much, and I have recently lost touch, I will always hold tight to the lessons she taught me--whether they were actively taught by her or I learned through observation. She is someone I wholeheartedly admire and consider myself blessed to have known. And I can only hope and pray that someday I will be a wife worth admiring, such as she.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Art of Discipline

We are faced with choices every day, several times throughout every day. And our choices can have lasting effects on our lives. When you are faced with choices, do you consider those lasting effects or do you choose based on what seems best in the moment?

My word for the year 2013 is discipline. And I absolutely loved the quote/definition above for the word. I am so easily tempted to give into what I want in the moment to temporarily satisfy. It certainly takes great discipline and self-control to make the decision that will lead me down the path of what I want most.

What I want in the moment is often a sweet treat or a second helping, to skip the gym, watch TV, scroll social media, or postpone household duties.

What I want most is to be healthy and confident in the skin God put me in & to ultimately see myself as He sees me, reach my goal of running 5 miles straight by the end of the year, read more books and spend more time in the presence of God, enjoy laughter and love with my husband, connect deeply and meaningfully with friends and family (both near and far!), to serve others wholeheartedly and grow in my role as wife in our home.

Those are the choices I am faced with daily. Unfortunately, I do not always choose what I want most. But that's what I will be striving for! How much more rewarding will it be to accomplish what I want most, instead of what tempts me in the now (which I often regret later)?

What tempts you in the now? Are you willing to give up what temporarily satisfies for what you want most? Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to put self-control into practice. And extend yourself grace when you fail... God does. And He loves you regardless of your performance. He simply longs to fulfill your needs and deepest longings, all for His glory.

"And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire." - Isaiah 58:11

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

He Isn't Mine After All

On December 11, 2010 I exchanged rings with the man of my dreams. Our rings symbolize our commitment to one another, as well as to God, and serve as a symbol and reminder of our love for one another. 

But even with the exchanging of rings, the signing of a marriage license, and for me, taking his last name... God reminded me of something this week. Although Tyler is indeed my husband, and I am his wife, we do not belong to one another. Tyler belongs [first] to God! God created Tyler, first loved Tyler, and alone redeemed him. Then, He blessed me with the opportunity to know, serve, honor, and love him. And my main charge as his wife, is to glorify the Lord... to make God more known to Tyler, more evident to him (in how I love him, treat him, respect him, forgive him). I am simply a steward of Tyler and our relationship.

This may sound depressing and like I am minimizing my role as Tyler's wife. But I consider this realization a blessing! God will indeed hold me accountable for my marriage, but merely as a steward of what is His. And what an honor it is to simply love Tyler like Jesus. 

How do you make God known to those you love?

"God to whom I belong and whom I worship." 
- Acts 25:23

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Kindergarten & Rutgers Basketball

Recently, Rutgers University (where my husband and I currently serve with Athletes in Action) has been highlighted on sports, local, and national news. Unfortunately, the noteworthy news wasn't so good. Rutgers head men's basketball coach, Mike Rice, has been accused of both verbally and physically abusing his players. How did the news catch wind of this? 

A former Director of Player Operations, Eric Murdock, spoke up to athletic administration and eventually the media. Eric is getting a lot of heat for being a whistle blower, a tattletale, and I've even heard the thought that maybe our society is getting "too soft" if we can't tolerate this kind of behavior [in sport]. And this hit close to home for me.

During my senior year at the University of South Florida, I spent every Monday through Friday of my Spring semester in a kindergarten classroom.... or at least that was the plan. I was assigned a kindergarten class at a Hillsborough County Public School. In order to graduate, I was required to spend ten weeks teaching full-time in the classroom. I remember my first day was a no student day, so I spent the day getting to know my teacher and helping set up the classroom. Little did I know my experience was about to go downhill and fast. My supervising teacher (the classroom teacher) had been a teacher in Hillsborough County for many many years. So when I began seeing him use physical discipline in his classroom -- holding kids heads to their desks, screaming at them while grabbing their cheeks, and dragging students across the room by their wrists -- I was disturbed. [I am shaking just putting it into words...] When I shared what I had witnessed to my professor, I was told that I could report it to the school principal, leave the internship, and cross my fingers to be replaced in a new internship situation in order to graduate on time. As I processed through my options -- graduate on time and remain witnessing inappropriate physical discipline in a public school or follow what God asked of me and stand up for the children who didn't have a voice -- I knew I had to do what was right, what God was leading me to do. So, I left my placement after just a few weeks, sat in the principals office with my professor and relayed the details of the teacher's style of discipline, and then waited for a new placement. I ended up getting replaced in time to graduate in May and by the grace of God spent the remainder of my internship with a teacher who loved her children, loved her job, and loved the Lord! Unfortunately, my original supervising teacher continued teaching and I was later informed at the end of the school year he even received performance pay. Not an overall happy ending.

So what's the connection? I feel for Eric Murdock. I firmly believe he will, unfortunately, suffer condemnation for doing the right thing. And no, I don't want to debate whether Mike Rice's actions were right, wrong, or acceptable in college athletics. But from what I've seen, Eric did what he believed he HAD to do. He HAD to speak up for the players who weren't in a position to do so. I think it was probably eating him alive inside... and I know that feeling. During my few weeks in my initial internship placement I was getting physically sick and tearing up repeatedly throughout the school day. I commend Eric for standing up for what he believed to be right. It takes great strength to do that. Again, I know from my experience. I had to fully depend on the Lord for strength, courage, and guidance throughout that process. All in all, I am grateful to see men like Eric Murdock in the realm of athletics, men with integrity and courage. And I would venture to say, parents of Rutgers basketball players agree.

As Rutgers athletics moves forward in the wake of this, Athletes in Action specifically, will be doing so prayerfully. I trust that God is good and that He can choose to use this awful and messy situation for His glory. And similarly to Eric in this situation, God defends the defenseless! "His name is the LordA father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." - Psalm 68:4-5

Have you ever been in a situation where you knew something was being done wrong? Did you stand up for what was right? Did you not? How did your response leave you feeling? Was your boldness accepted? Was your integrity praised? Were you laughed at for going against the grain?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Check-Up

It has been about 3 months since I shared with you my goals, desires, and hopes for the year 2013. I thought I'd share with you (as well as analyze for myself) how I am doing in those areas! Ya know, a fun update to keep the momentum going and not lose sight of what I set out to do at the beginning of the year.

In regards to discipline, my word for the year, I have made strides to become more disciplined in the area of workout/fitness. How? Well, I am working my way through the Couch to 5k running plan. I have successfully made it through this plan once before, about a year ago. And I was so excited! I hadn't run a 5k since high school! I celebrated my completion by running a super fun race with my best friend through Disney World!

Currently, I am over halfway through the Couch to 5k running plan and feeling great! It's been a challenge some days, but I am seeing results and loving having a plan to stick to. Unfortunately, my plans to celebrate with a fun 5k run here at Rutgers called the "Color Me RU" was full by the time I went to sign-up. However, I am on the waiting list and hoping to be able to join the fun on April 12! This month, in addition to our regular workout routine, Tyler and I are putting ourselves up to a challenge of 1,000 (for me) and 2,000 (for him) push-ups in the month of April. In any given month, I may do 50-100 push-ups when I happen to think of it at the gym. So, this will be a big accomplishment if I make it!!

I have also decided to grow in discipline by trying new things regularly. This has been a fun challenge! I have tried new home ideas, crafts, recipes, and holiday ideas. It has surely stretched me in new ways but I would say I have surely grown thus far in my fear of trying new things. (Follow me on this jouney more closely here.)

In regards to time with the Lord/reading of the Word (with discipline) I am way behind on my Bible in a year reading plan, but still persevering... although I am so tempted to give up because I am behind. I have however been reading more and enjoyed going through my first Beth Moore Bible study, Breaking Free! God has been teaching me so so much about Himself and who I am in Him. It has been a very freeing three months. And I believe it is because of applied discipline I have experienced all that God has for me through Breaking Free and even through the other books I've read recently. 

Now, an update on the passages I chose to pray through this year for myself and Tyler. I've already seen Him begin to answer my prayers as I pray through my verse(s) for the year (Ephesians 4:23-24). I am understanding more and more the new self that I am in Christ - His bride, His beloved, His beautiful daughter and I am choosing to see myself as He sees me. And I would say God is answering prayers for Tyler too, as I pray Colossians 1:9-10 over him. God is doing some exciting things in his life and making him more aware of who He is, giving him the boldness to do all that He has planned!

All in all, it's been a great first quarter of the year and I look forward to all that God has in store for me in the coming months. How are you doing in persevering through your New Years plans, goals, and resolutions? 

"Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth..." - Isaiah 43:19