Don't Quit Now

Don't Quit Now
The life metaphor was already looming large in my mind. What if we had quit just 100 feet from the top? What if we had allowed the growing difficulty of the trail to defeat our desire to reach the top? What if the lack of our ability to even see the top had discouraged us from pressing onward? What if we hadn't met those folks along the way?

Truth Has Stumbled in the Streets

Truth Has Stumbled in the Streets
From my Bible study with Ted this morning (complete with coffee sans sweetener, for my fellow sugar detoxers!), the passage below stood out to me. We have been doing an in-depth study of the book of Isaiah, and now more than ever it seems to reflect the reality of what is happening in our own time and place. Truly the Word of God is timeless!

For those who call themselves followers of Christ, I urge you to pray for our country. This is not a red or blue matter: this is literally a life-or-death issue, a matter of where we will spend eternity. Repentance is at the heart of change. And it MUST begin in our own hearts--not pointing at folks across the aisle and shouting for THEM to change. No, we must look inward, find and acknowledge the depths of the sin in our own hearts, confess, and turn away from that sin. 

Repentance and revival: this is the cry of our hearts. I rest in God's sovereignty even as I have strong opinions about government's role in our society. "Truth has stumbled in the streets," as the verse says, and THAT, my friends, is the REASON our nation is unrecognizable as the United States of America.

ISAIAH 59:12-15a
For our offenses are many in your sight,
    and our sins testify against us.
Our offenses are ever with us,
    and we acknowledge our iniquities:
 rebellion and treachery against the Lord,
    turning our backs on our God,
inciting revolt and oppression,
    uttering lies our hearts have conceived.
So justice is driven back,
    and righteousness stands at a distance;
truth has stumbled in the streets,
    honesty cannot enter.
Truth is nowhere to be found,
    and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
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What I Learned from the Presidential Debate

What I Learned from the Presidential Debate
If you watched the debate last week, you likely came away feeling anything but positive about the state of politics no matter which side of the fence you're on. And if you read articles or listened to commentary on said debate, you may have felt your blood pressure rise just a wee bit. (Or maybe it was just me?! No, probably not...)

I'm not here to debate policies or defend either of the candidates, but since I've been pondering a few thoughts related to the latest theatrics from Washington, I figured I'd share.

1. Where does your hope lie? My friend, if you're placing your hope and trust in whether [insert candidate's name here] gets elected, I'm afraid you will be severely disenchanted. I have no insight into which candidate will claim victory—but I do know that no matter which party has the White House come November 4, 5, or 6 (or whatever date all the votes are finally counted), that individual will always disappoint. He's human, after all (as are all of his advisors), and history shows even the best leaders make mistakes—whether purposefully or unintentionally.

2. With whose purposes do you align? If your plans and dreams hinge on whether a certain political platform receives a "mandate," again...I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. For those who call themselves Christians, we are to be about our Father's business. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33). Policies may change; executive orders can be overturned. But right and wrong will NOT be changed, no matter how would-be wordsmiths try to change definitions. In unsettled times, it's comforting to know that "the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations" (Psalm 33:11). God's purposes are the only ones that will never be thwarted—and since He is sovereign, we can trust that He will make all things right in His perfect timing.

3. Where do YOU stand on the REAL issue? Ultimately, this world is passing away...and not because of climate change! The real issue is, do you have a relationship with Jesus? Where will you spend eternity? It's tempting to think we're better than [insert politician we aren't voting for here] because we believe this, or we would "never" do or say that, but when all is stripped away—we've all sinned. We are all in desperate need of a Savior. Are we willing to admit we've gone against a holy God? Do we see our transgressions for what they are—the reason Jesus suffered and died on the cross?

Our country is facing desperate times. Wildfires and wild behavior rage out of control. Media outlets by and large opt for click-bait headlines over the hard work of investigative journalism. Civil discourse has been trampled and forgotten. We can shake our heads. We can shake our fists. Or we can fall on our knees, praying first of all for our own hearts to be made pure before the God who holds all people accountable.

And then we can pray, pray, pray for our nation—its people AND its leaders.

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Run for Recovery

Run for Recovery
Six years ago I ran 26.2 miles in Greece. It was 2 weeks before my 40th birthday, and though I didn't know it at the time, I was pregnant with our 8th baby. 

How? And WHY?? About a dozen of us who were living in Naples, Italy, had made a commitment to train and run the marathon not only for the personal satisfaction of traveling along THE original marathon course but also to raise awareness for the issue of human trafficking. Our goal also included raising donations intended to go toward building a safe house for victims of human trafficking in the region.

Most people are now aware that sexual slavery is a global pandemic. It has been a "hot button" issue for quite some time now. But are people actively doing something about it? 

When we lived in Italy during a military tour, I came face to face with a reality I couldn't ignore. Prostituted women lined the streets, having traveled (most often unwittingly) from Africa, eastern Europe, Slavic countries, and even Brazil. Italy, with all its glorious beauty, ancient history, and exquisite cuisine, is a top destination in the world for commercial sex trafficking. The burden on my heart grew daily, and I was grateful to meet others with the same concern and passion I had. I joined with a local ministry, Missione di Luce (Mission of Light), to serve the women on the streets, to show love and grace to them, to offer them prayers and hope.

The need was great, our efforts seemed small, and yet the ministry witnessed changed hearts and lives. More and more, anti-trafficking ministries and organizations have begun to network throughout Italy--indeed, all throughout Europe. My dear friend Joyce Zick, co-founder of Missione di Luce, now works with her husband in full-time mission work in a different Italian city, while continuing to be involved in Naples and other Italian locations, spreading awareness, educating in classrooms, and advocating for change on every level.

And now...IT'S TIME! There is an opportunity to purchase land WITH BUILDINGS ALREADY ON IT suitable for a safe house and recovery center! The roughly $10,000 our Athens marathon team raised back in 2014 has swelled to $50,000 with other contributions over the years. Now, we seek to raise AT LEAST another $50,000 so that Alba, the safe house ministry, can officially make a purchase offer and put a down payment of $100,000 on this property.

Will you help? 

I'll be running a 10K the weekend of October 17-18 as many of us join for the 2020 RUN FOR RECOVERY. I would be grateful for any support/donations you would like to give in recognition of the worthiness of this cause!

To learn more about the ministry of Alba, their philosophy of safe house ministry and after-care for victims of sex trafficking, visit their web site here.

If you'd like to be a runner and raise funds...or if you'd like to donate to the cause, click the button for all the information you'll need!

Please share this post and/or the race information!
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Mother of the Bride

Mother of the Bride
On June 13, 2020, my firstborn, my baby girl, got married.

Nineteen years ago she was in my womb.

Today she's a wife, happily serving her husband in their tiny, love-filled apartment as she juggles online classes and babysitting jobs.

I teach moms how to be fit for life in all areas, and I especially like to focus on mental and emotional health. But can I be honest for a moment? I was completely unprepared for the emotional journey this blessed event would be.

Now, almost 3 months after the big day, it seems less momentous and more...I don't know, NORMAL, I guess. Charis and Isaac were made for each other. When they talked with us only a couple of months into their official dating relationship, saying they thought they were ready to be married in the summer of 2020, Ted and I had to agree. They WOULD indeed be ready. But that didn't mean my mama heart was prepared for the speedy changes that would take place over the following months!

My head knew everything was unfolding just as God had ordained from before the foundations of the world. I could see clear evidence of His direction in the lives of these precious young people.

Emotionally, though, I realized I was ignoring much of what threatened to well up inside me if given the slightest opportunity. It was far easier to smile and nod and assure people who asked that yes, this was happening and yes, we were happy about it. I mean, it was true, right??

I used my emotional support oil blends; I journaled (not as much as I probably should have); I went for morning walks or runs and prayed. And I thought I was doing all right. I think, mostly, I was. But I needed to let myself FEEL. To acknowledge that there was a part of my heart that did indeed feel sadness at the passing away of one stage of mothering even as I was so grateful to be entering a new stage, one that involved "mother-in-law" as a new role. 

The day before the wedding, I went for my morning walk/run and intentionally chose to soak in every detail I could. The sun was already shining brightly by the time I hit the trail near our house. A gentle breeze kept me comfortably cool. Two birds met in the air close to the path I was on, and I paused to watch and wonder whether I was seeing a caustic confrontation or an amorous affair. The birds disentangled themselves and flew off, leaving my question unanswered. 

Emotions are harder to separate and leave us feel-ers asking many unanswered questions. As I prayed through my thoughts that morning, I realized with a pang that I needed to release some past hurts--I needed to acknowledge that I HAD, in fact, experienced some hurts in the recent months. These had nothing to do with anyone intentionally causing me pain. No, it was unavoidable hurt as a by-product of life changing.

Life changes. It isn't always good or bad, it just is. But the change brings pain at times, and it's wise to let it surface and just sit with it for a bit. Yo, pain, there you are. I feel you. I love you just the way you are. You remind me of the precious relationship I have with my daughter, the amazingly BIG love I feel for her. What a great love it is, to feel such sadness at a goodbye of sorts. I could excuse it away, brush it aside, because this is a GOOD change, a wonderful change, as God is blessing me with the son-in-law of my prayers. And yet there it is. 

I stopped on a bridge to look over a green meadow into the blazing morning sunshine and let my tears flow. It was healing release with new insights into my thoughts and emotions. God and I had a good, long talk, and I cried on His shoulder. And then?

Then it was time to set up for a wedding!

What emotional journey have you taken recently? How are you honoring your emotions while not letting them control you? Leave a comment and let me know!

And if you don't yet have my guide delving into 4 ways you can be fit for life, grab it can bet emotional fitness is one of those points!

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