The Book of Rationalizations

So… What’s your favorite book of the Bible?

If you have been a Christian longer than a day, more than likely someone has asked you this question… (Or maybe that’s just what my nerdy Jesus self talks to my friends about…)

Regardless… Have you thought about it lately? What IS your favorite book?

Some might say any of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John) because it tells the epic story of our Lord and Savior. Other’s might really dig on Psalms or Proverbs, because it is ancient wisdom/encouragement/songs that apply to us even today in 2013. Yet others could mention Philippians, Galatians, 1 Thessalonians and the like due to the super cool insight that Paul is throwing down.


My favorite book?

First and Second Rationalizations.

Wait a second…

Good catch there. “Rationalizations” aren’t books of the Bible– but friends, you better believe it, I sure find myself turning to them more often than not.

Now, this is not an original Sharita idea… Bret Pyle of Blackaby Ministries International mentioned this as an illustration at a conference I was attending– but the concept of a “Book of Rationalizations” in our Christian walk has stuck with me ever since.

Webster’s definition of rationalization is as follows:

Rationalization~ to ascribe (one’s acts, opinions, etc.) to causes that superficially seem reasonable and valid but that actually are unrelated to the true, possibly unconscious and often less creditable or agreeable causes.

In plain English, to rationalize is to make excuses that kinda sorta seem to be related to the issue/topic at hand… but really aren’t.

If you think about it, we probably rationalize in many areas of our lives, not just our walk with Christ. We say that since we parked a little farther away from the Wal-Mart door, that we can have an extra big slice of chocolate cake for dessert that night. Uh, nice try. Or we rationalize why we yelled at our husband/kids/the innocent check-out person by deciding that we were just having a bad day and they provoked us/deserved it. Again, no bueno.

When it comes to walking with Jesus, our “Book of Rationalizations” is probably referenced more than we think. We decide to sleep in on Sunday instead of getting up and going to church by telling ourselves that “One Sunday won’t matter” or that “Sunday is the day of rest, Jesus would want us to sleep.” (Kind of a stretch, don’t you think?)

We skip out on our quiet time saying that we are too busy and that we plan to do our “Jesus duty” by commenting on someone’s Facebook status “praying for you!” Or we say that because we are participating in a church event tomorrow, that is like spending time with God so we don’t need quiet time.

Or we cut our tithe short, saying that “This month I ‘need’ <you fill in the blank with the ‘need’ here> … God wants me to be happy/knows I ‘need’ it, so it won’t matter this time, right?”

Sigh.  Oh our rationalizing brains. Gah.

Today’s post is not to condemn or make you feel guilty– not at all. But just to bring awareness. I still do it sometimes… or at least I catch myself trying to rationalize my action until I hear God clearing His throat…. “Ahem… Sharita… yeah, how bout you try that again?”

Mmmkkk, God. Sorry. My bad.

Instead of spending our time in the Book of Rationalizations, we can spend our time in the REAL word of God. The more we do that, the better we come to know Him, and the less we desire to rationalize our way through walk with Christ.

In what areas of your life do you find you rationalize the most? How can we as Christ-followers avoid the enemy’s trap of rationalizing our way through life? If you are feeling bold… comment below!

Be encouraged, my friends. Most (if not all) of us struggle with this issue of rationalizing our actions. It’s human nature. But we can cling to the truth that if Christ is in us and we seek Him with all our heart, our actions are sure to follow.

And THAT my friends, is a book you will never want to put down.

Reading between the lines,

“We justify our actions by appearances; God examines our motives.” ~Proverbs 21:2 MSG

Categories: attitude | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ultra-Sound-Off for Jesus

It’s always encouraging when God takes us in our ugliest, yuckiest, grumpiest moments and uses us for His glory.

That happened to me last week. In a big way.

Last Friday, I was scheduled for what I was *hoping* to be my last baby doctor appointment before our Little Patriot’s arrival. I was about 39 and a half weeks along… and unfortunately, the doc’s predictions of me delivering “ahead of schedule” hadn’t come true. (SIGH.)

Unfortunately for me (actually, unfortunately for everyone I encountered) I was in a MOOD. It really wasn’t the fact that I was very largely pregnant and had been contracting for nearly a month… But it was because it has been quite a trying week in our life as an army family. One thing after another seemed to pile up and mess with our hopes and plans. Although I was scheduled for a final ultrasound that day, things had spun out of control with my beloved husband’s job as a drill sergeant– so there was no way he was going to make it to join me in what I hoped was a joyous experience on our path to parenthood.

He was disappointed. I was lonely. Hormonal. And pissed. (Not at him… just the circumstances that had continued to beat up my heart for the last week or so.) Nothing about me that morning said “I love Jesus, please talk to me and let me share the love of Christ with you.” (Additional sidenote: Can you say “pissed” in a Christian blog?)

Anywho, I was mad, frustrated, exhausted. It was early by doctor standards as I was the first appointment out of that gate that morning. I was sitting in the chairs, waiting for the ultrasound tech to call me in… When SHE walked by. Yep, it was the ultrasound tech who had a rep for being grumpy (and had been a lil bit grumbly during our previous visits.) I looked up from my iPad and our eyes locked.

She scowled at me... <Oh no she didn’t!> Oh yes, she did, just like I was about to be a huge inconvenience to her day.

Let’s just say~ that didn’t help my mood.

As I continued to wait, I was texting my sweet mother-in-love, Lex. And by texting, I really mean complaining/whining/venting. Real classy, I know. She tried to encourage me and told me to pray for the scowling tech of doom.

My snarky non-Jesusy reply? “After this week, my prayer tank is running on empty. I want to be joyful, but I don’t feel joy anywhere.”

I’m not proud of my response… but it’s the truth. I did manage to pray for God to give the strength to make it through the appointment without venting to a stranger about how upset I was that my beloved husband couldn’t come or how uncomfortable I was or blah blah blah. I squeezed out a feeble prayer for Him to help me rediscover my joy and be an example for this scowling ultrasound tech.

They finally called me back to the room and I hoisted (waddled? lumbered?) my extremely large self  onto the table. The scowling tech remained silent and the gal running the show started asking questions as they went to work, checking baby’s size/position, etc.

Somehow, within about 15 seconds into the conversation, they asked if I was an army wife. (How they knew, I will never know…)

I responded yes and explained (briefly and vaguely) that my husband wasn’t deployed but his job was incredibly demanding so he couldn’t make this big appointment today.

Their response? They both scrunched up their faces and said, “Ug, I don’t know how you do it.”

Enter stage left: Jesus moment.

I took the opportunity to share with them my faith– how Jesus is the reason I get up in the morning, He’s the one who gives us strength, He is the rock on which our marriage is built. Both of the techs kind of stared at me… Unable to respond. I continued and told them that things were challenging with the army, especially this last week with some individuals specifically… but we prayed for them daily.

The scowling tech scoffed (in the joking-but-still-serious-way) and said, “Yeah, pray for them like that one country song… Pray that their brakes go out coming down the hill or a flower-pot hits them in the head from a window sill.”

They both chuckled at the notion… But I stayed serious– “No, ma’am… we pray for the grace and love of Jesus Christ to shine into their lives so they can experience what we do everyday.”

As we continued to talk about army life (aka our family was at least 1000 miles away, hubs works about 13-20 hrs per day on a normal basis, oh PS we are moving 2800 miles about 3 months after this kid is on the ground), the tech flipped a switch… and the screen transitioned to a 4D image.

My husband and I had decided early on that we couldn’t (ok, didn’t really want to) fork out the cash for a 4D ultrasound… They aren’t cheap, but for some reason, on that morning, I got a glimpse of our little one’s face.

Yeah. Lil Patriot looked about how I felt... Grumpy and smooshed and uncomfortable... But a lil Jesus encounter changed all that!

Yeah. Lil Patriot looked about how I felt… Grumpy and smooshed and uncomfortable… But a lil Jesus encounter changed all that!

Between the quick witness to these ladies and the sight of our baby’s scrunched up face… My joy was restored.

Talk about your not-so-classic-ultra-sound-off for Jesus.

Thankful He shows up and shows out,

“I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” ~Psalm 18:3

Categories: attitude | Tags: , , , , , , | 19 Comments

P.A.R.K it!

(Insert obnoxious/festive cell phone ring here) 

“Hey beloved! How are ya? When will you be home tonight?  Oh… So… You won’t be coming home at all? A private did WHAT?!? Sigh… (Gulp.) Ok, honey. Yeah, I miss you too… Love you… See you when I see you.” 

As a drill sergeant spouse, this phone (and/or text) conversation happens more often than I would like.

In life, things happen. Plans change. Circumstances shift.  This doesn’t just apply to drill sergeant spouses. All of us are faced with life experiences that shake up our daily plans, from changes of schedule to a flat tire to a kid who just won’t take a nap.

We ALL have a choice on how to react… And reacting appropriately can be HARD.

For me, there is a fine line on how to react when I get news that totally jacks up my plans and/or hurts my heart. On one hand, I could go off the deep end, tears abundant, spewing words I don’t mean, tearing up a box of kleenex. (See: Last year when we first started our duty as drill sergeant.) OR I can just be complacent and not care. (See: When I am in a “mood” or when Satan has a grasp on me.)

Neither of these are healthy. SIGH.

A couple of months ago, I was again struggling with this. I had a lot of emotions churning in my heart during the aftermath of our miscarriage, and the army life/schedule wasn’t helping much. I bounced back and forth between the crazy-lady-off-the-deep-end reaction and the blatant, mean “I-don’t-give-a-poo” bad attitude.

Satan loved it. But God didn’t. And it broke my heart. I was desperate and turned to God, begging for guidance to help me find a “happy medium” of reacting lovingly with compassion, but not being a spineless, complacent jellyfish.

He told me to P.A.R.K it… Literally…

P~ Pause and take a deep breath (or twelve… whatever it takes.) Then close your eyes (easier to keep the tears at bay) and begin to Pray.

A~  Ask the Lord what He wants you to do in this situation, what He wants you to learn and how He wants you to react.

R~ Respond and React appropriately. This step is important… following through with what He has told you to do is vital for rectifying the situation.

K~  Keep praying and Keep in touch with God. Reacting in the moment isn’t the only part of this process. For me, I must keep asking God for guidance and strength as well as continuous reminders that my sweet husband and the army are two separate entities… 

Then repeat as necessary.

I have held this acronym close to my heart for the last couple of months, and as we prepare to pick up another basic training cycle in a matter of days, I am ready to engage it again. Even after we are off the trail as a drill sergeant couple, I know that we will continually be faced with life decisions and changes that require a reaction. P.A.R.K has proven successful for us and I would encourage you to try it out!

What circumstances do you struggle to react appropriately to? How do you cope? Would “Parking it” work  or do you have your own method in place? I would love to hear from you– don’t be shy, leave a comment below.

Today, let’s be encouraged that God is the One who instigates the changes and circumstances in our lives. And we have a choice: We can drive on, plowing through it without a second thought and reacting out of raw emotion… or we can PARK IT. Which will you choose?

Parking it and setting the emergency brake,

“When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.” ~Lamentations 3:28-30 MSG

Categories: attitude, God | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

Working Overtime

Sundays are said to be a day of rest. I fully believe this. However, it can be a little challenging if you are in ministry.

Oh, and before you count yourself out of this, ALL of us are ministers. If you go to church, serve at church (on Sunday or any other day of the week), serve in your community, or are an active Christian listen up.

Most Sundays, I am up by 6am to get ready for my day. I might serve/work anywhere from 3 to 14 hours at church on any given Sunday. (True story.) But here’s the confession: Sometimes I don’t wanna.

I will give you a second to pick your jaw up off the ground.

Don’t get me wrong– I love my Lord and I love my job. But it can be HARD and EXHAUSTING job sometimes. (Side note: It’s super important to take a Sabbath another day of the week to recover and prevent burn out.)

It’s also important to know that His followers aren’t the only ones working overtime… The Enemy is clocked in, working against us, trying to keep us from bringing glory to God.

I think that is why it is such a battle for so many to roll out of bed and actually GO to church, regardless if it is to serve or worship. See, we not only have our flesh working against us thinking “Just five more minutes” which soon turns into “It’s OK if I skip church today– I will pray extra hard this week,” Satan is helping that process along as well.

This isn’t a post to condemn or cause guilt. I mean seriously, there have been more days than I would like to admit when I have to literally say out loud on a Sunday morning “Get behind me Satan! Help me Jesus to get motivated to serve YOU!”

I really just want to make you aware that Satan is working overtime, trying to prevent the great work that God has in store for us to accomplish for Him.

Unfortunately, The Enemy is pretty stinkin’ good at his job. Sigh. (Won’t somebody fire that guy, already?)

Sometimes, that jerkface starts working overtime on me the night before. Saturday evening can bring ridiculous thoughts of “Oh man, I have to get up at _ o’clock tomorrow” or “I really don’t want to meet with _____, I want to just chill.”

Ludicrous thoughts, I tell you. Fortunately, God always comes through for me. And once I get to church and “clock in” (figuratively speaking of course– we are all on duty, all the time of course!) the power, love and motivation I feel are simply unexplainable.

When we take a step of faith, whether it is volunteering at church or sharing our faith, we have a big, fat, red target on our back. And Satan takes aim. However, if we listen to The One, He is ALWAYS victorious. He gives us the weapons and tools we need to fight. To serve. To win.

Time Card

Source: M Sullivan via Flickr

When do you struggle most to find motivation? What gets you going? How does God equip you to work overtime when Satan is in hot pursuit? I would love to hear about it… Leave a comment below, my sweet reader!

It’s a new week. Time to start fresh. Keep in mind that being a Christian isn’t easy. But it’s worth it. Satan isn’t the only one working overtime. So is Christ. And I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t ask for a better boss, defender and lover.

Be faithful and our eternal paycheck will reflect our efforts of working overtime in the name of Christ.

Clocking In,

“My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.” ~Galatians 5:16 MSG

Categories: attitude | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Think “Fast” (7 Experiment, Week 2 Update)

Half. Way. DONE.

That’s right, peeps– my darling husband and I are halfway through our 7 foods for 30 days fast. (Click here to get caught up to speed on this crazy journey. Oh, and here is last week’s update. )

For fifteen days, I have consumed nothing but eggs, chicken, bread, sweet potatoes, apples, avocado, spinach and water.

Can I have a Diet Dr. Pepper yet? Just kidding. We are still holding strong. Ish.

It has been challenging. And intense. And rewarding.  We have had a few revelations since last week:

~My current go-to meal: deluxe spinach salad, that includes chicken, apples, hard boiled egg, salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of olive oil. Oh. And sweet potato chicken soup. I just finished my second batch of it last night and will be making another batch momentarily.  My husbands current go to meal? Anything that involves meat. Like chicken. Or beef (yes, beef made his list.) And tater tots. (I fought this point, saying he needed to eat “real” potatoes, but finally let him have this one… mainly because I was running out of ways to cook his potatoes.)

~I am developing quite the taste for pepper. I never used to use it hardly at all, but when it is one of your two choices for seasonings, beggars can’t be choosers, right?

~We. Miss. Cheese. The end.

Our latest invention: My hubby’s deluxe frittata, complete with eggs, steak, and potatoes. His thoughts? “It’s good, wife… But would be better with cheese.” Sigh. Isn’t everything, sweetheart?

~Traveling and fasting is HARD, especially with these dietary restrictions. I *almost* cried last week during our time at Chili’s when I was faced with another chicken avocado sandwich. But God turned it into a HUGE blessing through our latest Factor of 7. 

~Huge kudos to my hubby for sticking to his fast even after he hadn’t eaten for more than 18 hours last week after he got out of eye surgery. I had brought a partial loaf of french bread with me to snack on, so he chose to eat it, the provided peanut butter and apple juice post surgery. I was impressed, not gonna lie.

~Have I mentioned that we miss cheese? 😉

~My time with God has been rich, rich, RICH. I am obsessed with my new Bible.

~It’s been challenging not to get distracted on thinking about how positive this is for our physical bodies and our budget. While those are definitely great, that’s not the point. The purpose of this month is for God to cultivate grateful hearts in us for all of our incredible blessings and to seek His will for our lives, not focus on the numbers on the scale or how our checking account is faring.

~We haven’t cheated. At all. Which kind of blows my mind. It’s been super tempting to say “I quit” or “Screw it, bring me the frozen yogurt/Dr. Pepper/somethingcoveredincheese/justonebiteofchocolate” but we have held strong. Thanks, Jesus.

~We are still eating a lot of eggs. (I am so glad it is a semi-cheap food! And so diverse. Reminds me of those old commercials “the incredible, edible egg.”)

Oh, on that note and in case you missed the memo– we are doing a contest to guess how many eggs my hubby and I consume in a month. To enter, just leave a comment with your guess. (If you posted last week, you can enter again with a different number by leaving your feedback and a comment below!)

The prize? A gift card to your favorite breakfast restaurant (Winner will determine what restaurant the card is for- perhaps Ihop, Waffle House, Starbucks, Cracker Barrel, Huddle House etc.) That way you can go get yourself a big ol’ plate of eggs for breakfast.

Or a heaping, steaming stack of fresh chocolate chip pancakes smothered and covered in syrup, strawberries and maple syrup with a side of bacon, fresh fruit and a Diet Dr. Pepper. (Typing that was a bad idea. I should go eat an apple. Sigh.) Again, leave your comment below of your “egg guess” to win your breakfast gift card of choice!

So that’s where we are– God is moving and we are continuing to seek Him with our heart, soul, mind and strength. (And stomach. Let’s not forget stomach.)

Now if you will excuse me… I am going to go pretend that my apple is a stack of chocolate chip pancakes.

Hungry for More Jesus,

 “Appetite is an incentive to work; hunger makes you work all the harder.” ~Proverbs 16:26 (MSG) 

My breakfast frittata– eggs, chicken, spinach and sweet potatoes. (And for a dash of feisty, spread some smashed avocado on the top.) But yes, it would be better with cheese

Categories: attitude, blessing, food, God | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

Think “Fast”

The sand was warm underfoot. The water flowed gently, the current making a gentle swishing sound. Puppy Justus was exploring, sniffing, digging and splashing. I was reading the first chapter of a book out loud to my husband.

It’s amazing how simple, serene moments can change your life so quickly.

My beloved and I were enjoying a sliver of time last Saturday, relaxing in our mushroom chairs on the pseudo “beach” area near a small river on Fort Benning. I had recently gotten a copy of Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny against Excess. The general premise of the book deals with the fact that we live in a society obsessed with stuff. The book documents Jen’s month-by-month experiment to eliminate the “junk” in life. Each month, the author chose a different area of her life to focus on.  Month #1? Food.

For 30 days, Jen ate only 7 different types of food. I was intrigued by this book right away, mainly because there has been quite a buzz in the writing community– plus we all already know how magnetic the number 7 has become to this ministry.

Wanna join the party? Click the image to get yourself a copy of this remarkable book!

As I finished reading the first chapter out loud to Brandon on the “beach,” he turned to me and said: “Ok, wife. I say chicken, eggs, bread…”

Wait. WHAT? I was floored. If I wasn’t sitting down, I certainly would have fallen over. My husband actually wanted to DO this?!? I mean, I had considered briefly and sort of pitched it to him a couple of weeks ago, but he looked at me like I was crazy.  I continued to pray about it, the whole idea weighing on my heart… But when he started naming and numbering foods indicating that he wanted to participate, I couldn’t help but be shocked. (The book was very convincing. Thanks, Jen.)

Oh. Plus he’s a man. An army man at that. Food is in his top 3 most important needs. Seriously.

So yes. My beloved and I started the first month of this “experiment” yesterday. It has already opened my eyes to just HOW MANY food choices we really do have and our fingertips and can easily afford. Honestly, its kind of blowing my mind. (If you want more info, get a copy of the book. It will change your life. Or at least your perspective.)

From June 4th to July 4th, my husband is only permitting himself to eat chicken, eggs, bread, beef, apples, peanut butter and potatoes. My menu choices are similar: chicken, eggs, bread, apples, sweet potatoes, avocado and spinach.

That’s it. We are only permitted to season with salt, pepper, olive oil and use cooking spray.

This is gonna get crazy, folks. I’ve barely started and am already seeking God more deeply than I could imagine. (Not to mention rejoicing at the free time of trying to decide what to cook for supper– chicken or… chicken?)

I am so excited (ok, and really nervous) at the potential spiritual growth that will result. Challenging but worth it. Oh, and let ‘s not forget how kind this will be to our time and budget. (I am anticipating some productive physical changes too.) I will be periodically keeping you all updated as we go.

Yes, there are a few things I already miss. Cheese. Diet Dr. Pepper. Chocolate. Salsa. My beloved protein bars. But I am so grateful that I still have PLENTY of food in my fridge, even if it is in “limited” varieties.

Brandon and I would appreciate your prayers as we work through this experience the next month or so. My sweet mother-in-love has joined us on this journey and if you feel so led, pick up a copy of Jen’s book and come with us as we seek the Lord.

Have you ever fasted before? What was it like? What do you think about our quest? Wanna join in? Leave a comment below!

To paraphrase Jen: “Jesus, may there be less of us and our junk and more of You and Your Kingdom.” 

It’s scary. It’s awesome. It’s hunger-inducing. But we are grateful for this opportunity to think “fast.”


“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.” –Matthew 5:6 (MSG) 

Categories: adventure, attitude, challenge, changes, Christ, food, gratitude | Tags: , , , , , , | 27 Comments

A Lifestyle Fashion Statement

Hmmm… Ok… Should I wear my favorite blue shirt? Or maybe the one with pink stripes? If I do, maybe I could go with the hoop earrings? Or should I be dressier? Ok, let’s do the blue shirt with silver dangly earrings and my cross necklace. There. Decision made.

Oh wait. My blue shirt is in the dirty laundry. Sigh. Let’s try this again.

I am certainly not the most fashionable person on the planet—far from it, actually. I dress decent enough to get by, and if I really need to, can groom and clean up reasonably well. I’m not a girl who has to wear make up every time I leave the house and if you see me at the gym wearing mascara, you can assume that it is leftover from an event earlier in the day.

 We all have different tastes, needs and functions for our wardrobe, fashion and appearance. But there is one thing we can always wear, every day.


Yeah, I said it. Wear Jesus. It says in Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG) “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”

But here’s the thing about wearing our Jesus wardrobe. It might not always be the most fashionable. Sometimes it doesn’t seem to fit very well. Our Jesus outfit might even be uncomfortable on occasion.

However, when we wear it, we sure do look purty. (Or pretty for all of my non-southern readers.)

Note: As hard as you try, duct tape accessories will never be a legitimate fashion statement. Jesus, on the other hand, is a whole different story.

Putting on Christ should be the first thing we do in the morning, right after our trip to el bano and brushing our teeth. I am sure each and every one of you have a different method to “wearing” Christ— perhaps you wear it formally or in a low-key casual or some combination of the two.

It will probably look a little different for compared to anyone else around you.  However, Jesus is one accessory we should all put on.

Here’s the best part: this incredible fashion statement goes with everything, never shrinks or tears, doesn’t fade and can be the most expensive and remarkable thing we wear in our entire lives.

If you looked at yourself in the mirror right now, would you say that you are “wearing” Jesus? What does that look like to you? I would love to hear your thoughts– leave a comment below! 🙂

So as you stare at your closet, accessories, and shoes, take one moment to think about The One “accessory” you can’t live without. Put Him on every single day and wear Christ with pride. Who knows—He might just be the next big thing. And what a way to make a permanent lifestyle fashion statement!

Making a daily fashion statement with Jesus,

“Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!”–Romans 13:14 (MSG)

Categories: attitude, Christ, fashion, fresh start, God, life, Love | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Vanilla-Flavored Living

I’ve always heard that one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. However, due to the fact that I rarely purchase a whole “bunch” of apples, I have yet to experience this phenomenon. (Although I have dealt with this issue in the area of potatoes. One stinky potato can make the whole bunch yucky in a hurry. But I digress.)

This idea of one part ruining it all apparently pertains to vanilla flavoring.

I have recently learned (the hard way) that old or spoiled vanilla flavoring is rather, um, “ungoodly” for cooking stuff. I bake on occasion. I don’t bake a lot, only for other people. If I bake for myself, I end up eating whatever tasty, sugary delicacy I make. By myself. Which is really counter productive for my getting-into-shape-running-a-5k-while-enjoying-it mission.

Since I bake so infrequently, it takes me a while to use up baking supplies. In this case: vanilla flavoring.  My Mama was in town a couple weeks ago, and we were trying to whip up some cupcakes for my husband’s company of drill sergeants. (It’s a morale booster called Foxtrot Friday.) We thought we would be overachievers and make FILLED cupcakes.

Everything was going great until Mom tried to make the filling… She added the vanilla. And it refused to mix it with the other ingredients. She wrinkled her brow and sniffed the bowl. “Uh, Sharita… How long have you had this vanilla?”

I had no clue. That little container of flavoring had been in my possession for what we in the army family like to call “a hot minute.” As in, I couldn’t remember the last time I bought it. And based on how frequently I use it to bake… Probably a couple of years.

My bad. No wonder my vanilla-flavored protein shakes always tasted so… funky.

Needless to say, we trashed that batch and purchased a brand-spanking new container of vanilla within a few days. I cracked open the seal and it smelled… heavenly.  (And like magic, my shakes no longer tasted funky. Who knew, right?)

I couldn’t help but think about how just one tiny amount of an ingredient, aka a teaspoon of spoiled vanilla, can have such a profound impact on my recipe. I thought about how this holds true to our lives.

All it takes is one little “ingredient” in our heart, life or attitude to spoil the whole journey. Seriously, think about it. Consider those days when you are just in a “funk” because one little thing went wrong right when you hopped out of bed. Or if you are annoyed by something exceptionally small. Or you are holding onto a tiny seed of bitterness towards something or someone.

If you don’t ask God to correct the problem ASAP, that “spoiled ingredient” will spread throughout your day… then your week… then your life.

Do you have any parts of your attitude or heart that are spoiled? Have you ever experienced a “bad ingredient” in life? How did you deal with it? How did God help you through it? Be courageous and leave a comment below.

Today, I challenge you to take a good “whiff” of your life… Does it smell spoiled or funky? Or is in fact heavenly and beautiful-smelling? Some people say we need to live “colorful” lives… But in this case, I am all about fresh vanilla-flavored living.

From funky to fresh,

“God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.” –Psalm 145:14 (MSG)

Categories: attitude, challenge, faith, God, growth, Jesus, lessons, life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Comfortably Close

Loose-fitting T-shirt? Check. Comfy black stretchy yoga pants? Check. Barefeet? Check. Perfect temperature? Check. Diet Dr. Pepper within reach? Check. Recliner engaged? Check.

Uh, yes please. Epitome of comfort. I want to go to there.

 Ahhhh… I love to be comfortable.  I am gonna take a guess that you do too. Take a moment to think about when you are most comfortable… Where are you? What are you wearing? What makes you comfortable? It is an INCREDIBLE feeling. What more could we ask for?

Believe it or not, we CAN ask for more… We can ask for God to make us uncomfortable. But that is really, really hard for us (ok, me) to swallow. Seriously, just the THOUGHT of being uncomfortable on purpose makes my stomach flop. Every inch of my flesh screams… Bu..Bu…But… Nooooo!!! I don’t wanna! (Insert two-year-old stomping tantrum here.) If I am comfortable, I would love nothing more than to stay like that—for as long as possible.

But staying comfortable sometimes leads to complacency. If we are comfortable and we don’t NEED anything else, why would we seek the Lord? We have it all handled and we feel fine right where we are. Pshaw. TOO. EASY.

A while back, I blogged about praying for faith like Abraham.  (Read the post “No More Cornflakes here for the full story.) This concept of praying to be uncomfortable is just as challenging as requesting faith as strong as Abraham. But when we are uncomfortable, whether that be physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritual… THAT then when we have the greatest opportunity to be closest to God.

 When we are uncomfortable… we realize our weaknesses.

When we are uncomfortable… we seek the Lord more than before.

When we are uncomfortable… we understand God’s goodness and faithfulness at a deeper level.

When we are uncomfortable… we have an opportunity to glorify God.

Think about folks you might know who have answered an uncomfortable call to be obedient to Christ. I am sure that most missionaries, ministers or Christians don’t go where the Lord has called them expecting to be comfortable. (Although that would be a pretty sweet perk. And motivating.) But when we become uncomfortable—we discover that we can be oh-so-comfortably close to Christ.

Confession:  Sometimes, (ok, a lot of the time) I am uncomfortable in my role as a minister. As a writer. As an army wife. As a speaker. But it is in those moments when I feel closest to God.

When was the last time you were uncomfortable? What did God do for you in that season? I would LOVE to hear about it. Share your experiences by leaving a comment below.

Do you have the courage to pray for God to make you uncomfortable? Drop what you are doing right now and pray: “Lord… Please overcome my flesh-goal of maintaining comfort, and if it is Your Will, make me uncomfortable for Your Glory.” 

You don’t have to sell everything you own and move overseas. (Unless of course He tells you to.)  Comfort levels differ for everyone. Perhaps your level of comfort will simply be asking the cashier how you can pray for them today. Or maybe it is helping out a neighbor who is, uh, less than cooperative. Consider any opportunities that God might be calling you to step out and be uncomfortable.

One thing is for certain—no matter how uncomfortable The Call might make us or how far it takes us from our recliner, yoga pants and Diet Dr. Pepper… If we answer our call, it can make us more comfortably close to Christ than ever before.

Comforted by being uncomfortable,

“For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” –Matthew 11:30 (AMP)

Categories: adventure, attitude, call, Christ, Comfort, dependence, glory, God, life, Live | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

He Forgave You– Now Forgive Yourself Too.

“If only I hadn’t… I wish I didn’t… Why can’t I go back… It’s all my fault.”

Regrets. Mistakes. We all have ’em. We’ve all made ’em.

So what are we supposed to do?

This week,  we have been working through reasons why our hearts can be blocked and how we grow apart from Christ. (Click to read the original post here.) Yesterday was all about forgiving others… a hard but necessary topic.

Today we touch on a subject that I feel is sometimes overlooked in our Christian world. Forgiving ourselves.

Our hearts are really complicated. When you add our brains and flesh to our heart mixture, things can get super confusing… And kinda messy. Fortunately, God can clear things up for us.

See, here’s the deal. God forgives us WAY more than we deserve it. Yes, we screw up. Yes, we repent and apologize to Him. Then He forgives us… And thanks to our human nature, that cycle repeats. (And thanks to God’s love, He continues to forgive us. WHEW.)

We can get stuck when we refuse to let it go  and let God do His thang. When we hang onto our past sins, hurts, regrets and don’t allow God to take them… It is like we are saying that The Cross was not enough.

Let me say it again… When we hang onto our junk (blockages), we are essentially saying “Thanks so much for sending your beloved Son to die on The Cross, God… but that’s not quite good enough for me. I need something more.”

Uh. Yikes? I think a mindset like that might be offensive to The Big Man! I sure wouldn’t be happy if I made the biggest sacrifice of my entire existence and somebody said it wasn’t “good enough” for them. Sheesh.

So what do we do? We need to get over ourselves. Seriously. (Yeah, I said it.) Yes, we are God’s loving creation, but we aren’t better than The Cross. And we don’t have the power to mess up more than Jesus’ sacrifice can cover.  We must GENUINELY believe with our heart, soul, mind and strength that The Cross WAS enough. God made a promise to us through His Son. The action of Jesus’ death on the cross FORGAVE us of ALL of our transgressions. Not just the little ones. Not the easy or simple ones.

ALL. OF. THEM. Every last lousy sin, from stealing a pack a gum, to hurting someone else to… well, you get the picture. After all– a sin is a sin is a sin. (But that’s another blog post 🙂 )

So today’s challenge for unblocking your heart is to FORGIVE yourself of any past hurts or hang ups. If you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior* then YOU. ARE. FORGIVEN.

Period. The End. IT IS FINISHED. (Does that sound familiar?)

Do you struggle with forgiving yourself? Have you forgiven yourself in the past? What did you experience? Please comment here… I would love to pray and/or rejoice with you!

Let God do the work. Give Him your hurts and regrets. He loves you more than you can imagine. Let it go and let God do His thang, covering you with mercy, grace and forgiveness.

He has got it covered. The Cross did that for us. He Forgave you– Now go ahead and forgive yourself too.

Thankful for forgiveness,

“…If we admit our sins…he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.” 1 John 1:9 (MSG)

Forgive Yourself

(*If you haven’t accepted Christ and aren’t sure what  all that involves,  shoot me an email via sharita{dot} knobloch{at} gmail{dot} com. I would love to talk with you about it.)

Categories: attitude, Christ, cross, faith, forgiveness, freedom, God, health, heart, Love, peace, promises, release | Tags: , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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