Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Weight Loss Journey - Update 2

I'm still doing pretty well on this weight loss journey. I have to admit - I haven't been as tired as I usually am - and I am more focused. That is good. I was to the point where I wanted to take a nap every day and those naps would be for a couple of hours. NOT GOOD.

I have stuck MOSTLY to the food plan -- I let myself have a Extra Dark Chocolate miniature once in a while - but it hasn't seem to hurt anything (before, I would have eaten half a bag of them!)

Anyway - I have lost 14 pounds!!! Yay!!!

It's so funny - this plan tells you that you should reward yourself when you meet your goals . . . and my first thought of a reward is . . . FOOD. ::sighs:: How did we become a culture that is so caught up in FOOD??? I really have to rework my brain.

I know that food is an addiction for me. I got so upset with my husband the other night. You see, he quit smoking in January of last year. It was VERY difficult for him (and he had tried quitting numerous times). But he did it -- it has been a year and a half since he had a cigarette. He is on this food plan with me - but men, of course, can lose weight so much easier than women. So, he can cheat now and then and it won't affect him. Well, he decided he wanted popcorn the other night. The mere mention of it made me drool. I told him it was as if I had waved a cigarette in his face when he was trying to quit. BUT - I resisted the urge. And . . . so did he, for my sake, I think.

I'm on my way to a healthier me!!!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Communication & Growing up

Last night we got to have some really good family time before bed. We always pray as a family before bed, and sometimes we watch a movie, sing songs, or read a book - it just depends on how busy the day has been. Last night, the kids came downstairs to pray with us before bed. The youngest was sitting on my lap while the other two were on the couch with Daddy.

The girls' birthdays are both in August - so we were talking to them about what kind of cake they wanted and what they might want for a present. As they both talked, I realized how much they are growing up - but how much fun they are as they grow. We were all just sitting in the living room laughing at what was being said, and there was a moment where I looked at my husband and thought -- "this is one of those moments that you are so thankful to have, and that you don't want to end." I let them stay up a little later because it was so nice.

When children are younger, most of what you have to tell them is either "I love you" or "No!!! . . . I'm telling you this because I love you." As they are getting older, you get to have conversations about what they are thinking and feeling and the kinds of things they like and dislike. It is amazing to me the things they remember and the things that they come up with on their own. Although I am so excited about it being easier to communicate with my children - I am also sad because they are growing up so fast.

Because our children do grow up so fast, we have to be sure that we are communicating the right things to them when they are young, so that they will stick with them as they get older. A teacher friend of mine talks about how she always talked "over her kids' heads" when they were younger - but they grew up with a great vocabulary. I agree with that. Many times, parents wait to talk to their children about important things, because they don't think they are old enough to understand . . . but we often give our children too LITTLE credit. I have learned that sometimes they understand better than we do.

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (The Message Translation) says, "Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities so that you'll live a long time, and your children with you, on the soil that God promised to give your ancestors for as long as there is a sky over the Earth."

Every time we are with our children - it is a learning opportunity, for them . . . and for us. So we need to seek out these 'teachable moments', especially when they are younger and more willing to listen to what we have to say. Use a walk outside to talk about the glory of God and his creation, use a celebratory dinner to talk about the things that we have and why we should be thankful for them, use night time prayers to pray for those who may not have a family or a home, and use those beautiful long kid hugs (that parents LIVE for) to talk about how much they are loved, and that God loves us infinitely more than that!

So yes - time is flying as my kids are growing way too fast . . . and it gives me a sense of urgency to ensure that they know how much they are loved . . . how much we all are loved . . . and because of that, how much we need to love.

Don't wait . . . believe me . . . they will understand.

Have a great weekend,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Weight Loss Journey - Update 1

I just wanted to update that I've lost 12 pounds total and 5 inches off my body (2 of that in my waist.) I've been exercising for at least 30 minutes each day (nothing strenuous, just keeping my heart rate up.) I've already got more energy and I'm starting to feel better. :-)

In other news, I've been very busy with work and school and have not had time to write a new blog entry of any consequence. I am hoping to do that sometime before Friday.

Hope everyone is doing well.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Weight Loss Journey!!!

Well - yesterday, my husband and I started a weight loss journey together. We want to be healthy and around longer for our children.

Please pray for us to STICK WITH IT and be an encouragement to each other.

More later . . .


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Happy Birthday Hunkahubby!

Today is my wonderful husband's 45th birthday. I thought I would take the time to tell you a little bit about him. My husband is not like most other men. Sometimes, I wonder how I got so lucky. Hunkahubby is a stay-at-home Daddy. He cooks, cleans, and works in the yard. He has made our house very beautiful and is constantly working to make the yard and the house more homey for all of us. He is an interior designer, he loves animals, and he LOOOOOVES Christmas. He is passionate and kind, funny and ornery, and one of the biggest blessings God has ever given me. I am so thankful for my wonderful husband.

He and I had a whirlwind romance. We met during a theatre production and fell in love before we had time to think about it. We met in March and were married in August. When we first met, he didn't really want to have children. He didn't have many fond memories of his own childhood, and I think he was afraid. However, after spending time with my family and my best friend's little girl - it was clear to me that this man was meant for fatherhood.

Two years after we got married, we started talking about having children and went through the process of becoming foster parents and adopted 3 beautiful children. I have never seen someone who loves his children as much as Hunkahubby loves these kids. He makes sure that they mind, and he teaches them "life responsibilities" (a nice way of saying CHORES) - but they think he hung the moon. I don't know that he even realizes how much these kids want him to be proud of them. They love their Daddy so, so much. And he LOVES being with them and spending time with them. He thinks of really creative ways to get them involved in things, to divert them from having 'kid fits', and just to let them have fun. Sometimes, he just amazes me.

Just recently - he has been teaching the kids to swim. They trust him so much that now he is able to throw our oldest in the deep end and she can swim to the top and over to the ladder. I was amazed. (I can't even do that!!!)

So today - I just want to thank God for my husband. He lets me be me. We can be silly together. We can be sad together. We can sing together. We can pray together. We have been through so much, and we have only grown stronger because of it . . . because we know Who to lean on . . . together.

So here is a poem I wrote for his birthday, to honor him, and to let him know how much he is loved.

There was a time
When I never thought
I would find someone who
Would understand me
For who I am

Love me
When I wasn’t sure who I was
Or who I wanted to be

And help me find a way
To become whoever
I wanted to be.

Then I met you . . .

I met you and my world changed
I felt beautiful

I felt like I could do anything
As long as you were right beside me

I felt blessed
Because I had your love

And I knew
That God had ordained you
To be my husband.

Isn’t it amazing
That Forty-Five years ago
God created you
To be the person you are
Knowing that thirteen years later
He would create me
To Love Only You.

I am so thankful
That you were born

That we made it through
Those lonely years
Scarred but not broken
Hurt but not unlovable
Hoping for something good
Something better
Something RIGHT

That we met
As if by chance
(yet we know better)

I thank God each day
For you, my husband
And I am especially thankful
Your birthday
That you were created
For me to love.

I LOVE YOU!!!! Happy Birthday!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007


"Teach us to delight in simple things;
And mirth that has no bitter springs;
Forgiveness free of evil done,
And love to all men 'neath the sun."

- Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Story of Rufus

Oops, I missed a blog day. I was occupied. I got to spend a night away with my husband. It was very nice and relaxing. :-)

Today I feel like writing about my kitty cat. I have always loved cats, but it wasn't until I got married and my husband and I started acquiring more and more kitties, that I became attached to them and interested in why they do what they do. Cat behavior became even more of a passion for me after my 30th birthday. (As a side note, most all of our kitty cats are rescues, they are spayed/neutered, and they STILL HAVE THEIR CLAWS! If you don't know why I'm against declawing, check out this site . . . The Truth About Declawing .)

For my birthday, my husband got me a new gray kitten. When he came home, he was barely a ball of fur, but he could purr SO loud. (I love purry kitties.) We knew that he'd end up being a big kitty, though, because his paws were HUGE.

Hunkahubby brought him in to me and my heart melted. I carried him with me all around the house all the time. I think part of the reason I became so attached to this cat was because of all that had happened that year. My grandma had died, I'd gotten a new job, and we'd moved to a different city away from any support system we used to have. I believe God had a hand in bringing this kitty to me at a time when I needed something tangible (and fuzzy) to hold on to.

We struggled with a name for this kitty for several days - when Hunkahubby suggested "Rufus" - and it just FIT. He was SO a Rufus. He showed us his artistic talents very early on - and would sometimes freak us out in the middle of the night by playing 'haunting' melodies on the piano. ;-)

The funny part about this is, even though I LOVE cats, they only seem to tolerate me. My Dad even has a cat that hisses at me when she sees me through the window. But cats LOVE my husband. And everytime we got a cat that was meant for me, it would turn traitor on me and become Hunkahubby's lap cat instead. But Rufus was mine from the very beginning. He tolerates everyone else, but loves on me.

My birthday is in December, so Rufus came right before Christmas. Hunkahubby got me a fuzzy blanket for our bed. It became Rufus' blanket very quickly. It was a faux fur blanket and I think Rufus thought it was his mother. He would knead it and suck on the fur whenever he laid on the bed with me. It was SO cute.

As he got bigger, he started doing funnier things. For some reason - he loves oven mitts. He would stretch up and OPEN THE KITCHEN DRAWER and pull out the oven mitt and carry it around in his mouth! We thought we were going to have to babyproof the house for our cat!!

We also developed a morning ritual, I would get up in the morning and go into the bathroom. I'd sit down and he would meow at me and then stretch up until his paws were on my knee. He'd then stretch one paw up and pat me on the cheek until I leaned down and he would give me a kiss. He is so cool . . .

The next year, we rescued another kitten and named him Max. Rufus was our first boy kitty in the house, so we decided he needed another boy to balance things out. I think Rufus thought that Max was his child. From the beginning he would bathe him and love on him. I had never seen cats who weren't biologically related act the way these two did.

I bought a few books on cat behavior and was very enlightened. I thought I would share a few things that I've learned.

When a cat walks up to you (or another cat) with its tail raised, that is cat language for "hello!"

If a cat lays its ears back or flat to its head it does NOT like what you are doing. WATCH OUT!

And for those NON-cat lovers that wonder why cats always come to you when you don't want them near you . . . cats do not like people to stare directly in their eyes. Many people who don't like cats will avoid looking at them. When you aren't looking directly at a cat, it does not see you as a threat, so it comes over to check you out! So - if you want the cat to go away, get up in its face and have a staring contest . . . if you dare. :-)

Some people think I'm crazy because we have five cats and consider them part of our family. I feel like it is something I am supposed to do. Proverbs 12:10 (NLT) says "The Godly care for their animals . . ." And I truly believe that God gave us animals for many different reasons - but we have been entrusted to care for them while we are here on this earth. I know that many a dreary day has been turned around by a cat that would not allow me to feel sorry for myself.

So today, let's thank God for our pets. (And especially ones who let us dress them up without clawing out our eyes.)

"God is good to one and all;
everything he does is suffused with grace.
Creation and creatures applaud you, God;
your holy people bless you.
They talk about the glories of your rule,
they exclaim over your splendor . . ."

- Psalm 145:9-11 (The Message)

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Today I took my Dad and SuperStepMOM out to dinner. I was overdue for Mothers Day/Fathers Day. I sent cards for the actual days, but we had not had time to actually get together. So because he's on my mind, I'm going to write about my Daddy. Yes, I'm 31 years old and I still call him Daddy. I probably always will. If you've got a problem with it . . . well THPPPPP. :-)

I love my Dad. I have always been Daddy's little girl. We always just 'got' each other. When I was young, my Dad was very into Amateur Radio - so I learned Morse Code and studied and got my Amateur Radio License when I was 11 years old. He made sure that I knew how to do things like change a tire and drive a stick shift. He taught me how to laugh at myself and not let people push me around. I learned a lot from my Dad.

This 4th of July, we were sitting in the driveway with the kids watching fireworks all over the neighborhood. I remembered sitting on my front porch growing up and watching Dad shoot off fireworks. He always made everything fun. I remembered sitting in the garage watching thunderstorms and not being afraid, because he was there. I remembered when he used to drive into the middle of town and then have me tell him how to get home. (I never did get very good at that . . . we would drive around for an hour and he would finally have to tell me the right directions . . .) I remember knowing that he loved me and being secure in that.

I have to say, my Dad is not perfect. He made mistakes, as all parents do (I've already made my share of them!). However, there is one thing he has almost always done -- if he screwed up, he apologized. If he hurt my feelings, he tried to make it right. And he has always been honest with me. Dad and I used to have "debates" all the time. We would get on a topic where we didn't agree and we would discuss it and yell and scream and disagree, and at the end of the discussion, we were still friends. We didn't always end up agreeing - but we respected each other. I think that is important. In any relationship, you don't have to agree, but it is important that you respect the other person's opinion and be willing to listen to what they have to say. Without even knowing it, he was teaching me very important life lessons by being himself.

As I've grown up, I have realized how much Dad let me make my own mistakes and learn from them. He learned to let go of me little by little so I could start learning things on my own. I knew he was always there if I needed him, but he pushed me out of the nest so I could learn to fly. Now that I'm married and have a family of my own, he doesn't tell me how to live my life. Every now and then, he gives me little tidbits of advice, but he stays out of my 'business' unless I ask him for his opinion. Even though he says, "Why are you asking? You'll do what you want anyway." He doesn't know how much I appreciate what he thinks and what he has to say, even though I try to tell him.

Several years ago, I made a video for my Dad, as a way to express how much he meant to me. I took pictures and music he loved to tell the story of his life . . . and then I sang a song for him at the end. I'm going to put the words to that song here (I am unsure of the writer's name) as a tribute to my Daddy who I've learned so much from.

"I would ride on your shoulders
And look out on the world
Pretending I was big and tall like you
When you were there to hold me
I never was afraid
You made me feel there's nothing I can't do

If I'd spread my wings to fly
When I was very small
I knew that you'd be standing by
To catch me if I fall

You're my hero
Chasing the monsters from my room
Going on trips around the moon
The one who's always been there faithfully
You're my hero
And 'cause you're my Dad...
I'm twice as blessed and lucky to be me

As I kept on growing
We often disagreed
But you let me find myself in my own way
And it's funny, how just lately
I've come to recognize
How wise you are becoming every day

There's so much you've given me
I hope I've made you proud
You're everything a Dad should be
And it's time to tell you now

You're my hero
You didn't have to say a word
Your love was the message that I heard
Inspiring me to be all I can be
You're my hero
And 'cause you're my Dad...
I'm twice as blessed and lucky to be me"

Thanks Dad.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Playing the Procrastination Game

My goal is to post something every day - but becauses my homework has been suffering due to the beautiful weather and my ability to procrastinate so well . . . this is a short one so that I can go back to working on my Business Case for my Masters Degree.

Here are a few images that involve procrastination . . .

I always tell people this story. . . I was supposed to be born on November 15th . . . but I didn't grace the world with my presence until December 13th . . . I've had a problem with procrastination ever since.

Anyone have any great ANTI-procrastination tips??

Friday, July 6, 2007

I can't believe it has been two years . . .

July 6, 2005 . . . the day my beloved Grandma went home to meet her Savior.

It was a day she strove for, her entire life. I never really realized it until that last week. We were all together, and my youngest cousin was having a hard time with letting her go. She knew that Grandma would soon be in a better place, but she felt bad because it seemed weird that we were all there together, just waiting for her to die. At that moment, it occurred to me how ready Grandma was to go Home and how long she had waited for that day.

Grandma's favorite songs all dealt with going Home and meeting Jesus. Some of her favorites are below . . .

"I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold"

I am sure she is enjoying her mansion now. :-)

"You may ask me how I know my Lord is real
You may doubt the things I say and doubt the way I feel
But I know he's real today he'll always be
I can feel his hand in mine and that's enough for me

I will never walk alone he holds my hand
He will guide each step I take
And if I fall I know he'll understand
Till the day he tells me why he loves me so
I can feel his hand in mine
That's all I need to know"

This was so true of her -- she knew Jesus was with her and that she would someday go Home to meet him -- that's all she really needed to know.

"My heart can sing when I pause to remember
A heartache here is but a stepping stone
Along a path that's winding always upward
This troubled world is not my final home.

But until then my heart will go on singing
Until then with joy I'll carry on
Until the day my eyes behold my Saviour
Until the day God calls me home.

The things of earth will dim and lose their value
If we recall they're borrowed for a while
And things of earth that cause this heart to tremble
Remember there will only bring a smile.

But until then my heart will go on singing
Until then with joy I'll carry on
Until the day my eyes behold my Saviour
Until the day God calls me home..."

This one is my favorite. I can remember her and my Auntie Linda standing at the kitchen sink singing this song. I always loved the harmonies of the song, but I never really thought about the words until that day we were standing around waiting for her Home-going. It was then that I thought about this song and how much it fit my Grandma.

No matter what happened in her life, she was always singing. I think that singing is what got her through the rough times. She definitely had a melody in her heart that made the love of her Savior shine through. She knew that this world was not her final home and she clung to that with all of her might. But she was still stubborn . . . the day we really thought she was going to leave us - the whole family was there, standing around her bed and singing. After a while - she started mouthing the words along with us. She was NOT going to miss her final concert.

Oh how I miss her . . .

After she died, I found a strength I didn't know I had. For the first time in my life, I wasn't really afraid of dying. Because I knew that when I died, I would get to see her again. Heaven wasn't really real to me until I knew that she was there.

I felt like she had willed some of her strength to me when she left this world -- and it was a good thing, because these last two years were not easy . . . but I got through them.

Lately - I've felt myself falling back into the old pattern of fear I used to live in. When I realized it, I wanted to kick myself for losing that strength I had found. A part of me felt sad, because it was almost as if Grandma had left me . . . but maybe she is just telling me that I'm capable of doing it on my own now. Well - not on my own . . .

I'm sure that I will write many more things that I learned from my Grandma. But for now - I'm just going to remember how much she loved . . . and how she taught us to love . . . and let myself be homesick . . .

"You're in a better place, I've heard a thousand times
And at least a thousand times I've rejoiced for you
But the reason why I'm broken, the reason why I cry
Is how long must I wait to be with you

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don't understand your ways
The reason why I wonder if I'll ever know
But, even if you showed me, the hurt would be the same
Cause I'm still here so far away from home

I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
I've never been more homesick than now

In Christ, there are no goodbye
And in Christ, there is no end
So I'll hold onto Jesus with all that I have
To see you again
To see you again

And I close my eyes and I see your face
If home's where my heart is then I'm out of place
Lord, won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow
Won't you give me strength to make it through somehow

I've never been more homesick than now"

I miss you Grandma . . . save a place for me, okay?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Grace vs. The Sin of the Month

I had a very enlightening conversation with a friend of mine today. We talked a lot about grace.

If you look up grace in the dictionary - you'll find many definitions . . . but I found two of them very interesting . . .

Grace - elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.

- mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.

Mercy is defined as compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one's power; compassion, pity, or benevolence.

Grace, to me, is the ability to forgive, to REALLY forgive, someone who has wronged you. Grace means not holding something over someone's head, but moving on from it. And then (here's the kicker) loving that person, not in spite of their wrong, but because of it.

Has anyone ever shown you grace? Can you think of a time when you did something terrible to someone and you felt so bad that you didn't want forgiveness because you didn't think you deserved it? And then that person not only forgave you anyway - but kept on loving you, perhaps even more than they did before your offense? That is grace . . . something I am learning that I really need to work on.

However, the first definition really stood out to me. When you think of the word 'graceful' you might think of a ballet dancer, or a piece of music that soothes you, a polite little girl in a pretty dress, or something so beautiful that it makes you cry . . . but I also think of that person who forgave me when I didn't deserve it.

True grace is really beautiful.

My friend and I also discussed how many Christians exhibit judgment when they should be exhibiting grace.

It seems like churches go in spurts over what the current BIG SIN is; what sin is most offensive at the time. Divorce, homosexuality, adultery, chocolate . . . (Okay, so chocolate probably isn't often listed, but as much as I think about it, it could be . . .) It doesn't seem to matter that sin is sin is sin. For some reason, people tend to believe that some sins are so much worse than others -- and they make sure everyone knows about it.

Instead of pointing out the 'sin of the month' and how awful and terrible it is . . . why don't we spend our time giving grace to those who are entrenched in that sin? God taught us to love each other - not look down as judge from a self-imposed pulpit screaming SINNER!!!

If there is someone we know that is involved in something that really turns our stomach and we can't even begin to fathom why they do this thing that we don't even like to discuss . . . maybe we need to pray for God to help us show grace to this person. I guarantee that our sincere love and grace will go a lot further than a disproving stare over our glasses or the disgust we whisper about when we think they aren't listening.

Remember that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23) Notice that said ALL. Not SOME. But ALL. We all have sinned. We all sin. And our sins are no worse or better than someone else's. So before we jump on the judgment wagon for the sin of the month - why not try grace? It's a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


It is the Fourth of July. Independence Day. The day that the United States of America celebrates the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Two-hundred and thirty-one years later . . . do people still find meaning in these words? I find it interesting that the United States is so determined to remove God from the country - when the belief in Him and His sovereignty is what formed this country to begin with.

I urge you to take a look at this website: The Christian Anthem Lee Behnken, a Christian artist and a close personal friend of the family wrote this song and created this video that speaks to the removal of prayer in schools. The song quotes from famous historical documents that tell us the importance of keeping God as authority in our lives.

I think that many people have come to believe that the Independence that Americans are so proud of, is an independence from any sort of rules. People are starting to believe that freedom means we are allowed to do whatever we want, whenever we want, for whatever reason we want to do it. And as the country moves more and more toward self-gratification and 'selfish freedom', the original model for this country goes up in smoke.

I truly believe that God's greatest commandment is LOVE. "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" - Matthew 22:36-39

He loves us so much - we cannot even fathom how much and all he wants for us is to believe and to LOVE. Through belief in Jesus and living your life for Him - you can find the greatest freedom you've ever known. I know. I have lived on both sides of the bars.

On this Independence Day - I hope that everyone can experience this same freedom that I have found. Freedom from the chains of this world that bring us down and peace that passes all understanding.

Ring the Bells of Freedom
by Bon Jovi

I have walked all alone
On these streets I call home;
Streets of hope, streets of fear
Through the sidewalk cracks, time disappears.
I was lost on my knees
On the eve of defeat
As I choked back the tears,
There's a silent scream no one could hear

So far away from everything, you know it's true
Something inside that makes you do what you got to do

Ring them bells, ring them loud
Let them ring here and now
Just reach out and ring the bells of freedom
When your world's crashing down like you've lost every round
Stand your ground
And ring the bells of freedom

Up the steps of the church
Through the fields in the dirt
In the dark I have seen
That the sun still shines for the one who believes

So far away, so full of doubt, you needed proof
Just close your eyes and hear the sound inside of you

Ring them bells, ring them loud
Let them ring here and now
Just reach out and ring the bells of freedom
When your world comes crashing down like you've lost every round
Stand the ground
And ring the bells of freedom


Ring them bells, ring them loud
Let'em ring here and now
Just reach out and ring the bells of freedom, yea
When your world's crashing down like you've lost every round
Stand your ground
And ring the bells of freedom

Ring them bells, ring them loud
Let them ring here and now
Just reach out and ring the bells of freedom

Be Free,

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Do I make you proud?

I think it is amazing that no matter how old we get . . . inside, we are still that small child seeking approval and applause from our parents, and from those we look up to and respect. Even if we are absolutely sure that our parents love us, there is that human part inside of us that needs to hear "Good job" and "I'm so proud of you."

I often admit that I am a feedback junkie. I'm currently in the last 3 classes of my Masters degree, and every time I turn in an assignment, I check the online gradebook every hour to see if my grade has been posted. I have to know how I'm doing. It isn't that I want to hear someone praise me if I've done a good job (not that I don't appreciate that) - but I want to keep checking to make sure I'm 'on the right track.' I want the constructive criticism so that I can do a better job the next time.

What I've come to realize lately is that I am not looking for approval, acceptance and feedback in the proper places. Yes, I think it is important for parents to tell their children that they're proud of their accomplishments and it is equally important for employers to praise their employees for jobs well done. However, when I am seeking feedback and approval . . . am I considering whether my Heavenly Father is proud of me? Is he going to say "Well done, good and faithful servant"?

This week, something happened where I felt unloved. It is probably a silly thing for a child of God to ever truly feel unloved - but again, that is the human part of us. I was very sad and feeling down because I tried so hard to make someone proud of me, and I felt (and often feel) like I've fallen short. I felt a nudge around my heart that day, as if God was saying, "Have you done something today to make ME proud of you? Are you living the way you should? Are you feeding my sheep?" It really made me stop and think. And even though I know that I will never completely stop seeking the approval of others - I can learn to better put things into perspective.

When I want to check to see if I'm on the right track, I need to take a moment and pray for God to show me the way. I need to continually study to learn God's will for my life. I know that I am not perfect. I never will be. I am human. But there is one thing I am sure of -- I am loved, more than I could ever imagine possible. The words to this Michael W. Smith song speak to me as I write this - and I hope it speaks to you too.

Never Been Unloved
by M.W. Smith

I have been unfaithful
I have been unworthy
I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful

I have been unreachable
I have been unteachable
I have been unwilling
And I have been undesirable

And sometimes I have been unwise
I've been undone by what I'm unsure of
But because of You
And all that You went through
I know that I have never been unloved

I have been unbroken
I have been unmended
I have been uneasy
And I've been unapproachable

I've been unemotional
I've been unexceptional
I've been undecided
And I have been unqualified

I have been unfair
I've been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see
The sacrifice You made for me
To show that I have never been unloved

It's because of You
And all that You went through
I know that I have never been unloved