sacrifice

Think “Fast” Finale!

Oh how I missed you, my sweet tomato condiment. Welcome back.

Break out the ketchup and the frozen yogurt people! (Not together, please.) We made 30 days with only eating 7 foods.

Lemme tell you what. It was a long month. But a blessed one.

(To recap, check out last week’s update post here.)

Anywho, I am glad to say peace out to my only menu items of chicken, eggs, bread, apples, sweet potatoes, avocados, and spinach. I am excited to welcome back things like ketchup, dairy products and seasonings other than simply salt and pepper.

But even more so, I am excited for the incredible work God did in our lives in a mere 30 days. Honestly, I could probably write a week’s worth of blog posts regarding my reflections of this experiment against the mutiny of excess. However, I am going to try and spare you a 5,000 word response and hit some of the very, VERY high spots. (There were a lot of medium and low spots too.)

  • Eating only 7 foods for 30 days is hard. It limits your ability to be social since eating out is plus/minus taken out of the picture.
  • That said, our budget REALLY benefited. We are talking a few hundred bucks, people. (Probably because we didn’t spend so much time/money at the grocery store, the option to eat out was nearly non-existent, and we couldn’t buy ANYTHING from convenience stores other than water, gum or gas.)
  • I know many of you are wondering about the physical part of this challenge… Well, first of all, I slept better than I have in months. (Possibly due to the lack of caffeine and sugar in my life?) Secondly, in 30 days I lost 8 pounds. Seriously. I’m not kidding. I have been praying about breaking through a plateau I had been sitting at for months. God delivered. Oh, and this wasn’t  “I’m dropping weight but I feel like crap” like some crash diets. I think it was “Peace out sugar, my body thanks you for it.” I feel AH-MAZ-ING.
  • I have developed a new appreciation for creative and resourceful cooking. And for pepper.
  •  I love 15 minute grocery store trips.
  • We both REALLY appreciate the incredible amount of choices that we have in our life when it comes to food. (Seriously, have you BEEN down the cereal aisle lately? 379 versions of cornflakes.)
  •  We ate 198 eggs in 30 days. (That’s over 16 dozen! Glad I haven’t sprouted feathers yet.) Congratulations, Lori Lockwood! She guessed 200 and has won herself a breakfast gift card. (I will be in touch with you asap.)

Now for the “big rocks,” AKA the spiritual breakthroughs in our life:

  • I developed a hunger (literally) for the word of God. I have never spent so much time just reading the word, letting it soak in.
  • Remember my challenge for lent when I was called to give up worrying? And how my “word” for 2012 is “Dependence?” Well, guess what? This fast tied both of those things together. I have never had such a peaceful heart! The worries that used to consume me have gradually shifted into a real submission and dependence on the Lord. Don’t get me wrong, I know my battle isn’t over– I’m sure it will be lifelong– but when it comes to being faced with so many unknown factors of our future, I found TRUE comfort in the Lord. I no longer just submit with my mouth– but my heart is following suit. I couldn’t be more excited. Praise Jesus!
  • I no longer turn to food for a comfort. Instead, I pray.
  • We feel spiritually renewed, alive and more hopeful about the future than ever. It’s incredible. I wish I could describe it.

I could go on. I really could. Words really can’t describe this experience. It has been a powerful witnessing tool when we describe to other what we were doing and why. Also, it was great to watch God’s provision show up when we least expected it. (Seriously, June was avocado month at Subway. What are the chances of THAT?)

So this was a super cool experiment and all, but I don’t want it to end here… There’s a few things we have learned and want to instigate into our “normal” lives:

  • Sticking to a food/grocery/eating out budget IS possible. So we will be striving for that here on out.
  • I am going to conscious not only of calories, fat and protein in my foods, but also sugar. I never realized HOW MUCH stuff has processed sugar in it til I went cold turkey for a month. (Plus maybe this will help me continue on the path to my goal weight.)
  • Dependence on God is a lifestyle change, not just a diet. Consider it a part of my lifestyle now.
  • I am going to continue to read the word as much as possible.
  • Caffeine, cheese, ketchup, beer etc are ALL luxuries, NOT necessities. We can live without them. So we know we can cut them from our life if we have too.

Thanks so much for hanging in there with me, dear readers. It has been a challenging but enlightening month– your prayers certainly helped. We are going to continue praying about the other chapters in Jen Hatmaker’s book “7” and let you know where God takes us from here…

Now if you will excuse me… I must go plan out my first non-fasting meal. Sushi and frozen yogurt, anyone?

Fasted and Found Him,
SGK

After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” ~Matthew 4:2-4 (NIV) 

Categories: food, sacrifice | Tags: , , , , , , | 22 Comments

God Only Knows Where We’d Be

I was never a crier. I was the tough girl. I once went through an entire semester at college without crying.

And then I fell in love. With a soldier. And with Jesus.

At one point in my life, my heart was hardened. I was not compassionate and completely confident that I could make “it” on my own. Tears were not an issue. I had it together.

And then I feel in love. With a soldier. And with Jesus.

Today is Memorial Day. A day of tribute. A day of remembrance. I am forever thankful for our soldiers– and for Jesus.

Many people post tributes and touching pictures on Facebook in support of our troops. That’s great. But I have quite a different perspective. See, I am married to one of those soldiers. And not just married to him, but deeply in love with him.

My beloved has served overseas three times. He’s been shot at. He’s watched his battle buddies fall. All the while– he clung tight to Jesus. And led me into a relationship with Christ much deeper than I could have ever imagined.

As my relationship with my soldier and my Christ has deepened, my heart as been softened. I try to avoid “tearjerker” videos because I still don’t like to cry. But it is hard not to be overcome with emotion– primarily in the form of gratitude- when I stop to really consider what my beloved husband AND what Christ has done for us.

They both have willingly offered to DIE for me. Simply the thought of this type of love moves my heart.

The song “Soldiers and Jesus” by James Otto sums it up pretty well.

(If you couldn’t view the video in your email, click HERE to watch.)

Have you EVER really stopped to think about the sacrifice from Christ and our soldiers? How does it make you feel? How have you experienced life from another’s sacrificial love? Please don’t be shy… Share your comments below.

So today, lets take a moment to give thanks for those who have given us a hope and a future by laying down their lives. There’s only two people who have ever died for me… Soldiers and Jesus. Without them… God only knows where we’d be.

Thankful beyond measure,
SGK

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” –John 15:13

Categories: army, blessing, Christ, cross, death, fight, freedom, glory, God, Jesus, life, sacrifice, soldier, Tribute | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments

Thirst No More (Factor of 7)

Ever been thirsty?

I don’t mean a smidge thirsty like “Yeah, I could use a drink (of water.)” I mean, “Holy cow, I am so thirsty my throat feels like the Sahara desert.”

We’ve probably all been there. At least a little bit. (I experience this phenomenon anytime I do a long run without a Camelbak water pack strapped on myself. Or when I talk too much. Either way.)

When you get that thirsty, soda pop (oh, I mean Coke for my southern readers) won’t suffice. Water. H2o. That’s the remedy.

Jesus is the living water… So my beloved husband and I tried to sprinkle around some Jesus water through our latest “Factor of 7.”

On Sunday after church, Brandon and I set out on a mission for Jesus– not only to give literal water to those who might be thirsty, but  to plant (and water!) a little seed of Jesus love. We were going on a walk of epic proportions.

Unlike our previous Factor of 7 experiences, this one was a little different. Instead of taking $107, God called us to get a little creative. (And get fit, apparently.) Here’s what we did: We bought two cases of water (that’s 48 bottles.) We loaded up Brandon’s army assault pack and set out to walk, hand out FREE bottles of water  and pray… for SEVEN miles.

As usual… God blessed our journey.

This Factor of 7 experience was by far the most challenging to date. Not only was it physically challenging to haul full (and cold) bottles of water around for seven miles walking in the Georgia heat (See: sweet sunburns and sore muscles), but it was also the most spiritually challenging. I was concerned about God’s logistics.

When you are walking on paved trails, you really don’t encounter many other folks on foot in the middle of the day. Bikers are on a mission (and usually already equipped with water) and runners are also in their zone, not wanting to stop or carry a water bottle for any distance. (Hey, I totally feel them– it’s hard enough for ME to keep my feet moving on a run without worrying about where the next trash can is.)

About three miles in, we had only given away 5 bottles of water from our first 24 pack that was in Brandon’s bag. I was starting to panic. “God, did you really tell us to do this? Or am I making this up? I know that One is Enough, but I just need some affirmation that this is from you.” 

Right after I finished my prayer (and as a drop of sweat dripped into my eye) I looked to the left of the trail. We had walked into a lower income section of town and there was a run down hotel… With several people sitting outside in the heat, listening to music on a Sunday afternoon.

I asked Brandon if we should venture off the trail and hand out water… His answer, of course was yes… So we branched off our path… and became ridiculously blessed.

The folks sitting there were so excited to receive what we were offering. We passed out water and took down prayer requests. Just as I thought my heart couldn’t experience any more joy, we turned around. Behind us, a single file line of children had formed… ready to receive their free bottle of water.

We passed out all but three of our remaining bottles in under a minute. Each child was incredibly grateful– some of them so much so, they came back asking for another bottle for a sibling or parent. We told each child that Jesus loves them. Their smiles about melted my heart.

Whew… 7.17 miles is a long way to walk on a Sunday– but so worth it.

Brandon and started the trek back to the car to refill our depleted supplies. After restocking, we finished out our final mile. In total, we walked for 2 hours and 30 minutes for 7.17 miles. We took down 22 different prayer requests and gave out over 34 bottles of water.

Our bodies were sweaty. My hair was fuzzy. Our skin was sunburnt pink. But our hearts were full.

And 34 people were less thirsty (for water AND Jesus) than when we started.

Here’s to being thirsty no more,
SGK

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” –John 4:13-14

PS: Have you ever given anyone a drink of “Jesus water?” How did it go? Leave a comment below to share you experience! 🙂

Categories: accomplishment, adventure, Factor of 7, fitness, generosity, God, Jesus, kingdom, prayer, sacrifice, serving | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A Family Tradition

“Pass the green bean casserole.”

“White or dark meat?”

“Bahhaaahaa! Look at Dad… He’s snoring on the couch!!”

“Hey, who took a bite out of my pumpkin pie?!?”

“Let’s pray…”

In case you didn’t get the memo, it’s Thanksgiving. I know that folks have been blogging, talking and preparing for this festive holiday for days, ready to discuss of overeating, conversation, football, worship and in my family’s case, activities that involve shooting rifles and/or hunting.

Just like the quotes above, families throughout the world have a variety of traditions. Some do the turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes route. Others order a pizza and watch football until their eyes go googly. Others are busy mapping out their Black Friday shopping domination strategy. Some gatherings have dozens of people present (high blood pressure anyone?) and others might just have a wife and husband with their new baby, or some due to circumstances or choice, fly solo.  My family here in Kansas has a few traditions as well…

We usually have the staple Thanksgiving foods listed above, but add things like cornbread stuffing (Grandma Neva’s recipe) and fried okra. We usually dine early afternoon and then our tryptophan-induced activities post-gorge include lounging, TV (maybe football… eh) and maybe even doing some target practice in the front yard. Then, after a light supper of leftovers (since we are typically still reeling from the afternoon feasting activities) we bundle up, strap on our headlamps and head to the trees for a round of coon hunting with our hounds. (But that’s whole ‘nother post…)

Regardless of your personal family traditions, there is one that we all can share together. If you are member in the family of Christ, we can worship Him for the sacrifice of The Son. No matter how you slice it, I firmly believe He is the reason we are here, with the ability to give thanks today.

I’m thankful for my faith. And that, my darling family of Christ, is a family tradition we can all share.

Thankful for Jesus,

SGK

“These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.” -Psalm 42:4

Categories: Christ, Family, food, sacrifice, thanks, tradition | Leave a comment

True love is…

I can think of a variety of descriptions for “True Love,” specifically within marriage. Some of these ideas include rewarding, challenging, refreshing, educational, hilarious, frustrating, growth-oriented, blessed… Oh, and we can’t forget that true love in marriage is precious (both truly precious and also sometimes a little sarcastically precious.)

We’ve already talked about the aspects of the first year of marriage that Brandon and I have experienced in a previous post entitled A Butterfly Year. But I was reminded today (and for the last year or so) how truly precious true love can be, especially within our marriage.

Some might say that true love is small acts of kindness, roses, chocolates, hugs and kisses. While all of those things are great (and I love them all) here are a few different ideas about what true love is for us.

True love is… a husband and wife constantly debating the appropriate temperature  on which to set the thermostat, and still being able to suck it up when the “other” temperature wins out for the day.

True love is… not completely freaking out to the point of hysteria and/or silence when a wife realizes that her husband has used her toothbrush simply because his bathroom was “too far away.”

True love is… a husband that remembers to roll the garbage out to curb on Thursday nights without being asked.

True love is… a wife “babysitting” her husband’s brewing/fermenting batch of beer that has to be kept cool and adding ice to it while he has overnight staff duty without being asked.

True love is… receiving a text from a husband asking you to ice his fermenting beer and the wife has already completed the task 10 minutes before.

True love is… a husband grilling a steak willingly and hesitantly steaming some veggies for supper while a stressed out wife works on homework/church stuff.

True love is… a wife submitting to weekly trips to Buffalo Wild Wings.

True love is… a husband supporting a wife’s fitness goals, while at the same time reminding her that she is beautiful just as she is.

True love is… a husband trying new foods cooked by his wife, even though he initially said he wouldn’t like it– then being humble enough to admit it was awesome.

True love is… going to church together whenever the army schedule allows it.

True love is… doing each other’s laundry and dishes, no matter who’s turn it is.

True love is… an army wife remembering to be frustrated with the army and not her husband when schedules are jacked up and less than productive decisions are made.

True love is…. a husband patiently holding his wife while she cries for a reason that cannot specifically be determined.

True love is… a husband and wife willing to lose valuable sleep to talk out issues just to avoid going to bed angry.

True love is… praying together for others and remembering to turn to God in prayer in the middle of an argument.

True love is… awesome to experience, blessed by Christ and an opportunity to grow together.

This list might be a little bit unorthodox… but for us, it’s all true (and precious.) Another sign of true love is sacrifice. The greatest form of sacrifice that I can think of was the body of Jesus Christ– what an incredible representation of true love! I am not only thankful to be in a marriage that is based on true love, but also in a relationship with Christ that is the epitome of True Love.

So what IS true love? True love is sacrifice. True love is Christ.

Truly, Madly, Deeply,

SGK

 

“God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin.” — Exodus 34:4 (MSG)


Categories: Christ, funny, Love, precious, sacrifice | Leave a comment

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