Posts Tagged With: gratitude

Stale Bread or Cinnamon “Roles” (Anxiety-Free Monday, Wk #5)

Have you thought lately about your roles in life?

I’m not talking about those fresh cinnamon rolls in the oven (although if that is the case, I would appreciate an invite over to your house… or you can mail them to me.) I also don’t mean the little rolls of “fluff” that might accumulate around your waistline after too many of the aforementioned pastry snacks.

Today’s post is all about the roles in life that God has called us to fill.

Take just a moment to spiritstorm your roles… Got ‘em? Here’s some of mine:

Army wife. Mama-in-progress. Minister. Writer. Speaker. Puppy mama. Friend. Sister. Daughter. Encourager. Leader. Cinnamon-roll eater.

(Ok, just kidding on that last one.)

But seriously—the roles in our life can be a primary source of contentment—or discontentment, depending on how we choose to fill them.

I personally am a huge fan of being married. Well, not just being married, but specifically my role to be the wife of my beloved Brandon. We have been married two years, and I am <still> crazy about him.

However, my role is not just to be his wife—I am an ARMY wife. That adds a whole new dimension to the role that I have been called to by God. I could choose to dwell on the army part of that role and wish for other circumstances, or I can rejoice in the wife part– loving my husband with everything I have, second to Jesus.

It doesn’t matter if you are married, single, widowed, divorced, whatever… we all have the opportunity to choose if we will embrace the role God has given us… or not.

When it comes to calming our anxious heart and finding contentment, rejoicing in the here and now is key. We can anticipate tomorrow and all the great things to come, but when we spend too much time dreaming about  the moment when our role will change from “mama of preschooler”  to “empty nester” or for “single” to change to “married,” we miss the joy and contentment that God has provided in the moment.

Linda Dillow, author of the book “Calm my Anxious Heart,” shares some powerful truths when it comes to being content in our roles.  She says that we must see our life and roles from God’s perspective. We should THANK God for the role He has given us and embrace it as an overflowing cup instead of a cross to bear.

Fulfilling our roles in life with a content heart is not going to be easy. We will all struggle. But we can trust that God knew what He was doing when He gave us our particular roles.

What roles have you been called to fill in life? Do you struggle with them, sometimes wishing they were different? Are you rejoicing in the here and now with your role or spending your time thinking about tomorrow?  Discussion and feedback brings such a new dimension to this blog—leave your comments below.

Sometimes our “roles” might taste like stale bread as in, kind of hard to swallow at the moment. Other times our roles are going to be pretty sweet, like those warm, fresh cinnamon rolls right out of the oven…

Either way, we can cling to the fact that Jesus is the bread of life—He is the one who walks with us to fulfill our roles on a daily basis on our journey to contentment.

Let’s be content with our “roles,” cinnamon or otherwise. When we embrace them from God’s perspective, all our roles have the potential of being sweet.

Hungry for Christ,
SGK

“Stolen bread tastes sweet, but soon your mouth is full of gravel.” ~Proverbs 20:17 MSG

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If you are “officially” participating in the online Bible Study “Calm My Anxious Heart,” here is the homework for the upcoming week, chapter 5.

Day 1–Study Guide: Question 1, Memorize Colossians 3: 12 – 14.  Questions 2, 3, 4

Day 2–Study Guide: Questions 5,6,7

Day 3–Study Guide: Questions 8, 9

Day 4–Study Guide: Question 10

Day 5–Study Guide: Questions 11, 12

***Extra***

Word Study:  Colossians 3: 12 – 14

Chosen; Holy; Beloved; Kindness; Humility; Patience; Bear (forbear); Forgive; Love; Perfect unity

Categories: Anxiety Free Monday | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Our Cup Filled Up (Anxiety-Free Monday, Wk 2)

Few things in life make me happier than a smooth, warm beverage.

From peppermint tea to hot chocolate to my favorite doctored-up cup of coffee, drinking a warm beverage out of one of my favorite mugs makes my heart sing with joy.

It’s not just a taste thing for me– it’s a total body experience. On those cool fall mornings or perhaps right before bed as I wind down from a long day, my whole being is just moved by my cup filled with liquid awesome.

There’s really only one warm beverage that not only fails to bring me joy, but it is something I avoid at all costs… Theraflu.

When I was younger, I would, as most kids do, tend to get sick on occasion. My loving Mama would doctor me up. I would be snuggled down on the couch, kleenexes within reach, Vicks Vapor rub smeared on my chest… then suddenly, it happened.

The microwave beeped. I knew what was coming.

Theraflu. I tell you what– I just couldn’t do it. If upset stomach wasn’t one of my symptoms when I started, it sure was by the time I finished choking it down.

Psalm 16:5 says Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup…”

And lets be honest. Sometimes the portion in our cup is glorious peppermint tea… and other times it’s closer to the likes of  Theraflu (or whatever beverage you aren’t such a big fan of.)

But God expects us to drink it. He gave it to us– and He knows what is good for us.

Even if it makes us gag. (Or cry. Or rebel. Or whatever your choice reaction/emotion happens to be.)

This concept of gratefully drinking the portion God dumps in my cup was really brought to light as I worked through our current Bible Study “Calm My Anxious Heart.” I was really moved by the thought of being grateful and content no matter what.

And then I was convicted. Kind of a lot.

Because I have to admit– there are some days that God gives me a Theraflu-like portion, and instead of saying thanks and choking it down because I trust Him, I throw a tantrum.

Enter stage left: The ungrateful, discontented heifer. (SIGH.)

When something that I don’t want to drink what is put in front of me by God, I cop an attitude. My heiferish self slaps the cup away, I cross my arms and start back talking. “God, I don’t WANT this! It is too hard to swallow! Why can I have something better?!” 

Linda Dillow reminded me that “Contentment is a state of the heart, not a state of affairs.”

Touche.

So I have been literally visualizing my current “cup” that God has given me: I see a big sturdy mug with the words “Army, Georgia, Ministry, Drill Sergeant, Pregnancy” written on it. Then my portion depends on what God gives me each day.

One way that I have really been focusing on this journey to contentment is taking to heart, memorizing and living “Ella’s Prescription for Contentment” in our study. It says:

*Never allow yourself to complain about anything – not even the weather
*Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else
*Never compare your lot with another’s
*Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise
*Never dwell on tomorrow –remember that [tomorrow] is God’s, not ours

Profound, huh?

Here’s a couple of questions to ponder (and perhaps answer/leave a comment below!):
1. Which one of Ella’s Prescription steps do you struggle with the most?
2. What does your “cup” and “portion” look like right now? Is it like peppermint tea? Or more like Theraflu (or whatever other beverage you aren’t a huge fan of?) How can you drink it more gratefully?

Sweet friends… I’m so thankful to be sharing this journey with you. For my heart today, the bottom line is that GOD GIVES US OUR PORTION… As in, it’s FROM HIM.  Our cup has been filled up. So we need to drink up.

Bottoms Up,
SGK

“Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” ~Matthew 26:27-28

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For those of you doing the online bible study “Calm My Anxious Heart,” here is the homework for week #2. Happy learning!!

Day 1: Read Chapter Two of “Calm My Anxious Heart”
Write Philippians 4: 6 -8 on a card and go over it every day.  Pray it.  Praise God with it!  Memorize it.  You can do it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Day 2: Study Guide (back of book)
Questions 2, 3

Day 3: Study Guide
Questions 4, 5, 6

Day 4: Study Guide
Questions 7, 8a and 8b

Day 5: Study Guide
Question 9

Write in your journal what you learned about God this week, what you learned about yourself this week.  Write a prayer to remember what God has taught you.

The following stuff is “extra.” As in, if you have time and like this kinda thing, great. Otherwise, don’t worry bout it!

Word Study:  Phil. 4: 6
Prayer
Supplication (Petition)
Thanksgiving
Requests

 Word Study:  Phil. 4:7
Peace
Understanding

Word Study:  Phil. 4: 8
True
Noble (Honest)
Right (Just)
Pure
Lovely
Admirable (Good Report)
Excellent (Virtue)
Think

Helpful Study Tools:
Strong Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Zondervan.  (around $20.00)
The  Complete Word Study New Testament, edited by Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., AMG Publishers. (around $40.00)
A Good Study Bible – NIV has a great study bible
Crosswalk.com  search engine

Categories: Anxiety Free Monday | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Kiss Big Buts Goodbye

I like big buts and I cannot lie.

Before you think I am about to burst into the chorus of a rather scandalous hip hop song from the 90’s, let me clarify: this post has absolutely nothing to do with fitness or what size of pants you wear. (If I had the magic formula to make those kind of butts shrink, I would probably be hosting an entirely different ministry page.)

However, the big buts I’m talking about always show up in my relationship with God.

And it’s not that I necessarily LIKE them– but I default to them.

Sigh. Old habits die hard.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m the only one. But here’s how things usually go down.

There I am, doing my thang, “patiently” (ha?) waiting for the Lord to reveal the next steps or provide clarity in some area in my life. I have a pretty good idea of what I expect (hope) to happen. Finally, an answer comes. My first default response?

“Thanks God… BUT…”

Enter stage left: THE BIG BUT.

When God has other plans that differ from MY ideas of what I wanted, I sadly don’t default to gratitude. I stick a big “but” back in His face.

“Hey God, I appreciate this answer… BUT what about…??”

“Lord, I know you know what you are doing and all, BUT are you SURE?!?”

“Father, I thanks for this… BUT what if…?”

Or my panicky, 2-year-old reactionary favorite… (Imagine with huge watery eyes and a quivery lip…)

“Buuu…Buu… BUT GODDDDDDD!”

I have to say I kind of doubt the Lord appreciates my “big but” responses. I honestly can’t imagine that my “Big But” responses ever evoke this “positive” reaction from Him:

“GASP!!! You are so right, my daughter!! I totally forgot about that… Let me go ahead and tweak my plan to fit what you had in mind.”

(Side note: Let’s rejoice we don’t worship a sarcastic or snarky God.)

Instead, with each big but that I toss back at the Lord, I am sure He lets out a loving sigh and smiles gently, saying softly, “Oh sweet daughter… TRUST ME.”

Getting rid of our “big buts” in life takes a little bit of work and a lotta bit of grace. It’s gonna take practice, but we can start today. First, instead of defaulting back to our temper tantrum fleshy selves, we can take a second and breath… Then, we can approach the throne with open hands of submission, fully trusting that WHATEVER God has planned for us is for our good, knowing our limited sight doesn’t allow us to see the entire picture.

Then, every time our “big but” tries to show back up, we repeat the above process, asking God to help us kiss big buts goodbye forever.

What areas of your life do you struggle with “big buts” the most? Is it your marriage? Family? Kids? Career? Your plans vs. His plans? I know I struggle… Please leave a comment below!

Remember, we are all in this together, battling the “big buts” of life. Let’s start today… and kiss the big buts goodbye… Forever.

Puckerin’ Up to kiss buts goodbye,
SGK

“He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?” ~Luke 24:38

Categories: God, gratitude | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

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

Think “Fast” (7 Experiment, Week 1)

It has been one week of eating only eggs, chicken, bread, apples, sweet potatoes, avocado, and spinach. That’s right folks. I’m eating only 7 foods for thirty days.

If you missed last week’s entry about this fast, let me catch you up. (Or you can click here to read the entire post.) My beloved hubby and I are fasting for 30 days by only eating 7 different foods. Only water to drink. No seasonings other than salt, pepper, olive oil (sparingly) and cooking spray.  This concept is inspired by Jen Hatmaker’s book “7: The Experimental Mutiny Against Excess.” In short, it has two main purposes: to seek after God at a deeper level and to restore a heart of gratitude for all the incredible choices we have in this world.

We started on June 4, so we are one week into our experience. In two words: EPIC. CHALLENGING.

The first two days kinda sucked. Like, a lot. My beloved and I both had a headache, which honestly was to be expected. We were no longer drinking any caffeine. Plus, I was probably going through sugar withdrawal.

But once we made it through Monday and Tuesday? It has been epic. We are using the extra time that we would have normally spent grocery shopping/cooking/discussing what’s for supper to spend time in prayer and in the word.

Additionally, this has been awesome for our food budget. Great for our heart. And our physical bodies feel pretty incredible.

PLUS (yes, it goes on) God has brought out my hidden gift for creative and resourceful cooking. Seriously, I have created more shockingly tasty meals with limited foods than I have in my entire adult life. Here’s a brief glimpse of some of my creations:

Breakfast:

  • Power breakfast sandwich– egg, avocado, shredded chicken on toast
  • Eggs & toast
  • French toast with unsweetened applesauce
  • Scromlet– scrambled eggs, spinach, shredded chicken
  • Fritatta– eggs baked with shredded chicken & spinach with avocado on top

Lunch/Supper:

  • Spinach salad including any/all of the following– shredded chicken, avocado, spinach, apple, hard boiled egg, salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Sweet Potato Chicken soup– chicken stock, chicken, sweet potatoes, salt/pepper (BEST. INVENTION. EVER.)
  • Baked Chicken dredged in egg and coated in bread crumbs
  • Egg/chicken/avocado salad sandwich (It looks a little funny  but tastes fine)

Snacks:

  • Dried apple chips (homemade)
  • Toast with unsweetened applesauce
  • Hard Boiled egg
  • Croutons (homemade)
  • Apple Leather (it’s like a fruit roll up, homemade out of applesauce put in the dehydrator)

My sweet potato chicken soup and spinach salad… with homemade croutons. Nutritious, colorful AND tasty. Thanks, Jesus!

God has really brought about a new, refreshed and grateful heart in the both of us. He has also revealed how I turn to food when I am stressed– but now I am turning to Him first. Here’s to returning to our First Love!

So in short, it’s going great. Definitely still challenging every time I pass by a Starbucks or see free oranges for the taking at the gym. (And don’t get me started on the Diet Dr. Pepper situation.) But guess what… I have one more surprise for you.

I am doing a giveaway at the end of this experience. The prize will be… well, a surprise. (But it won’t be lame. I promise.)

To enter, you can share this post via Facebook, Twitter, email etc. You can like my Facebook page if you haven’t already done so. But to make it an “official” entry, leave a comment below with your guess of how many eggs my husband and I will consume by the end of this fast. (Hint: We like eggs.)

Random, I know. But hey, don’t judge me– I haven’t had any sugar or caffeine for a week. 🙂 Plus, I think it is going to be eggstremely entertaining.

What do you think so far? We would love your feedback–leave a comment (and your eggsact guess) below.

Loving this Jesus eggsperience,
SGK

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” –John 6:35

Categories: blessing, budget, challenge, Christ, food, God, gratitude, life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Lord, Thank You for the Socks (Five Minute Friday: Expectation)

Come one, come all!
The time is here once again,
To bust out a Five Minute Friday post,
With all our online friends!

Linking up with The Gypsy Mama,
We get only five minutes to write,
Our urge to over think and edit,
We must honestly fight.

She has given us a prompt,
So without further ado,
Let’s get to crack-a-lacking,
What are we waiting for, hop to!

Today’s prompt: EXPECTATION

GO!

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It’s covered in beautiful paper and decorated with a bow. I shake it. It doesn’t rattle, but hey, that doesn’t mean much. Maybe it’s padded really well. The time has come– my heart pounds as I rip open my gift with great anticipation and expectation. Maybe it’s that new book I wanted. Or a sweet pair of shoes. Or maybe even something shiny…

Socks. It’s socks. Talk about your all time expectation let down. Siggggghhhh.

I force a smile and blink my eyes, trying with all I can to be grateful. I had expected such big things only to get socks.

Isn’t that how it goes sometimes? We dream up all sorts of ideas and plans of what the ideal gift or circumstance may look like, and sometimes God gives us proverbial socks.

It certainly isn’t wrong to have high expectations. But just because those “socks” we received from the Lord aren’t shiny or have a great plot-line, doesn’t mean they don’t serve a purpose.

Sometimes what we see as socks from God can really be the initial pathway to His incredible plan for us. That seemingly let down expectation of a gift is in fact very useful and necessary.

Through those less than perfect circumstances and gifts from God, aka the “sock gifts of life,” we have an opportunity to seek Him out at a deeper level. If it is a trial or period of uncertainty in life we didn’t expect, we can rest in His protection.  We are kept warm. And our feet are covered and prepared for the journey ahead.

The outcome of that gift, while initially might seem like a let down, can result in an experience that changes our life and surpasses all of our wildest expectations.

So in that case… Lord, thank you for the socks. 

STOP!

******

Always such a fun rush,
For my brain and my fingers,
But hey it’s almost the weekend,
No reason to hang around and linger!

Jesus pumps me up,
SGK

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” –Romans 8:19

PS: What did you think of today’s quick-fast (and slightly goofy) rhyming post? I always love hearing from folks… feel free to leave a comment below!

Categories: blessing, Christ, excited, Five Minute Friday, gifts, God, gratitude, perspective, plans | Tags: , , , , , | 23 Comments

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