Jesus, Joy, and Jiggle Jeans!

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Guess what I did today? I bought bigger jeans – whoo hoo!!!!! Not something you hear most women celebrate about much, right?

Well, Dig this…………………

The other day I mentioned that I had lost a lot of weight over the course of a couple of years. A LOT, as in about 100 pounds. It took about two years to lose the weight, and I have now maintained that loss for an additional 18 months. (By the way, this was all Jesus’ doing, I kid you not!) So, this is not a brag post – I have a point  here! But you must know by now, that it takes me a while to get around to it…hee hee.

Part of what happens when you are a peri-menopausal, middle aged woman who abused her body for as long as I did, is that if you are actually blessed enough to be able to get in shape again; ever reach an “ideal” weight again – if you had that much to lose – you are going to be left with a lot of loose skin – it won’t matter what you do – shy of surgery, it’s going to be there.

Surgery is not happening for me, friends – no way. I am not judging whether or not that is right for other people, but for me – in light of the spiritual aspect of how this all played out in my life specifically, that is not where it’s at. And I have no problem with that.

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This is not about looks – but it is about “comfort.” The loose skin bothered me for quite some time, and it still does once in a while. But it bothered me more than anything else, because it isn’t comfortable in clothes. Neither is being 100 pounds overweight.

But see, when I was that heavy, although it was just a bunch of “fat”, things weren’t “loose”……it was firm fat – or it gave off the sense of feeling firm, I should say. It provided a false sense of security, friends. I felt “full” with that fat in there. I knew it was bad for me, and yes, there were aspects of that that were uncomfortable as well, but when it comes to that feeling of fullness, it was there. And I was in all actuality, a very empty woman. (And it wasn’t because of the weight issue)

Losing the fat made me feel a lot better physically, but for a while, it was weird. It was hard to adjust to less of me in other ways. It was strange to get a take on where I was at, physically, in time and space. For example, I walked around for a while with far less bruises, because I wasn’t as large and didn’t bump into things as much or fall down and slip as much as when I was heavier. But after a while, as I got even smaller, that inverted – I actually couldn’t gauge where my body was in relation to things as well as before; how close I was or wasn’t to that corner of that table. So, it took a while to figure out the logistics of it all.

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Back to the skin though. So, I lost the weight, and found I needed a new wardrobe, right? So, little by little, I started to buy my jeans, mostly at the consignment shop that I love, since it’s cheap and jeans aren’t. And I found that I really, really liked the jeans the more fitted they were. This isn’t for the reason one might think, either. It wasn’t because I wanted to look “hot” in my new jeans, although it did feel good to be more physically appealing to my husband with my newfound shape. It wasn’t because I wanted to flaunt anything about how I looked at all. It was because the fitted jeans made me feel more safe and secure – they held in the residual jiggle the loose skin was causing.

I am not saying there is really anything wrong with that, but I have noticed something lately – maybe over the last three months or so. I don’t like that feeling any more. I don’t like the feeling of the tighter, more fitted jeans, even the ones that are still worn with taste and not showing anything off. I am not saying I wouldn’t still wear a pair of them here or there, but I am finding that I am gravitating to a looser feel again.

The jiggle is still there – just like I said. And when I wear the looser things, it is exacerbated. But I feel better when I don’t try to hold it all in anymore. I am not only okay with that, but I am starting to prefer it. In fact, if I could, I would probably move from jeans to pajamas all the time at this point. No Problema!

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You may think I am crazy, but this is exactly indicative of where I need to be at in my walk with the Lord. I need to be okay with the jiggle in life – more okay than I am now, at least. I need to not need that security blanket of the world – the false one that anything of it offers to us – just like the more fitted jeans. Jesus is my only security – He is it.

As Christians, we must be willing to risk….and it can be hard when we are intent on keeping things reined in when it comes to sin in our lives, discipline, obedience to the Lord, and all the other stuff we don’t want to be lax about. At the same time, I truly believe we are called to “let it all go” or “let it all hang out” sometimes, for lack of better phrasing. In other words, our very endeavor at times to keep it reined in, is what actually binds and restricts our spiritual growth. We do need to be vigilant about sin, but not in our own power (trying to do it without God’s help), lest we begin to attribute too much of our success in those areas to ourselves. We don’t even know what tomorrow will bring – I am reminded of that all the time.

  • “As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:16
  • “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Proverbs 27:1

There is only one thing to boast about……….

  • Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:31

But we must also be careful not to confuse boasting with rejoicing. Rejoicing in the Lord and what He has done is okay any time!

  • “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

The difficulty lies in the fact that we need to do both. I need to stay fit because my body is a temple and it should to be offered up as a living sacrifice unto the Lord – and I want to rejoice in the Lord than He has enabled that! But I also need to remember that none of that should offer me a false sense of comfort, security, or anything else of the like, and that none of it is my own doing! Hmmmm. Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda? Or Gonna, Can, and Will? It isn’t a choice – it’s a must for me. It’s also a want, and I am so thankful for that!

You know, as I reflect on this, I realize that the Lord really helped me to stay aware during the process of weight loss about not allowing it to become a false idol. There were a couple of patches where it was teetering on the line sometimes, but He always graciously drew me back. I am so grateful to Him for that. Even when we are successful in something, the Lord can still use it to “grow” us. We don’t have to experience failure to grow and draw even closer to Him, even though we do sometimes, and He grows us through those setbacks too. I love that about God, amongst everything else He is: That He makes the most of us and grows us through our success stories and through the ugly stuff too.

Isn’t that just awesome?

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So, thankfully, Jesus allows me to continue to jog, and run, and exercise to stay fit. I love that feeling of a good run, where you sweat all the junk out, and then your muscles feel warm, and you feel strong. But I know that is not what makes me strong. And that jiggle that is still left behind is a gift to me, friends. Because it is a constant reminder of the grace the Lord shows me in so many ways, each and every day. He has shown it through the weight loss, and He shows it through all of life. Most of all, He has shown it through the gift of salvation He has graciously bestowed upon me and the blessed hope that one day, we shall reign with Him in heaven for all eternity.

I love my new jeans, friends. They feel great! And that jiggle? It isn’t bothering me much anymore. I feel free – free in my Jesus, and free in my jiggle jeans.

I think I will go do a little Joyful Jesus Jiggly Jig right now in my new Jiggle Jeans, yo! Won’t you put on your dancing pants and dance with Jesus and with me today? Let’s get this party started, friends! And then….let’s keep it goin!

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“Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and
harp.” Psalm 149:3

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To Do, or Not to Do

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 ESV

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As always, I have a big, long “to do” list today (hope it doesn’t turn into a “fry day” – lol). Actually, I have several of these lists, because I tend to compartmentalize all my “to dos” into categories or I get overwhelmed. And you know what? They aren’t going to all get done today. No way, man…no way.

You know, friends….I realize, that sometimes, we just have to truly, truly let go, don’t we? Just when I think in my little mind that I have done just that, the Lord gently reminds me – “no, not in that way, Annie…not in that way. You still aren’t understanding yet…you still aren’t hearing me.”

He knows I have “surrendered” to His will in regard to the employment problem/question/issue. He knows that I am willing to change what He wants for me to change if He asks me to. He knows that I am following after Him with all that I have, but the situations and circumstances in life are making that hard and causing me to lose my focus. He knows it all. But that still isn’t what He was calling me to do in regard to letting go. He put this on my heart and in my mind pretty firmly last night and this morning.

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Here is what I heard over and over in my head when I prayed: “No, Annie…I mean, really let go! I know you are willing to leap, or jump, or stay put, but just want me to tell you which one to do. It’s not time yet for you to know which one. Annie, just let go of it completely right now. I will tell you when you need to know. Just move through life right now and trust me to guide you.”

Wow! Talk about a challenge for a control freak like myself. I thought I was being sufficiently challenged to have become willing to surrender and jump into what seemed like an abyss or wait in a situation that has become very difficult to wait in, but as always, I am awakened to the fact that I still have so very far to go when it comes to true surrender. I suppose I always will until I get to heaven.

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Oh, guys…I feel so much better, it makes me tear up right now as I write to you before I start this day. I feel such a weight lifted. There is enough to juggle to keep me plenty busy while I wait and while I practice letting go. I have always said to people I work with or interact with that sometimes, what I need to work on is to not work on anything. Sometimes, what I need to do, is not do anything. I coached others in their development for years, and most of them wanted/needed to focus on something in order to grow. For me, and others like me, we often need to focus on having good goals, yes, but just “being.” Oh, this is hard!

My very grounded and spiritually mature daughter said something so very profound the other day when I was discussing all of this with her. Actually, she said several profound things, but one of them was “What I see, mama, is you wanting so badly to turn this all over to God….but you keep picking it back up again every morning. You need to leave it there. Just leave it there for Him and trust Him to give back to you what He decides to give back and when.”

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Does that not blow you right out of the water?

Know something else the Lord gave to her to share with me? Dig this little nugget of truth: “You know, if we aren’t careful, a trial can become an idol too.”

And, now standing by the side of the lake freezing in the wind with no towel.

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Whoa…I love truth! Even when it slaps me right upside the head. Actually, especially when it does that.

After that, I went through about 12 hours of I-don’t-know-what, about the fact that my daughter is more spiritually mature and in tune with the Lord than I am. Ha Ha. (not really funny, but true in many ways)

Below I share in pictures how  I think that the Lord means for us to let go when we  have reached a point with something where we are just at a loss as to what to do. And you know…..when I look at this myself before I send it out to share with all of you, I feel calm about the whole matter for the first time in a long time. You know why? Because I knew it all before – I knew that God has it under control  I knew that He has a plan – I knew He has our backs, He is in charge, and He will take care of all of us.

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But I didn’t feel it. And we don’t always, do we? But today, He is giving me a break from that – exhale. Today, He is allowing my feelings to match up with what I know. We need those breaks, friends…don’t we? I am thankful.

Because, well…when I look at this below, I see clearly that this is enough, isn’t it friends? This is plenty to take with us throughout the day. If we can just think on these things…do, or don’t do the other things…God can guide us to do the rest. God is enough….God is enough.

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The verse I placed in the beginning of this post does say we need to run the race with endurance…this is true. We still have to go through this life and press on to the calling God has placed upon us. At the same time, it also says to lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely – if we really think about it, we aren’t going to be able to run very well if we skip that part, are we?

I hope that if any of you are feeling the same way about a specific situation in your life, that you see this today and find encouragement in here. And if I don’t know you, please know, that the Lord has put you on my heart – I am praying for you, really, I am. He knows your name – He knows who I am praying for. So…do, or don’t do my friends – go with what the Lord leads you to today – but while you do so, think on these things from Him…and carry them with you wherever you may be, and wherever you may go.

Love and Blessings…..

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Waiting………..

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Resting……….

Praying……..

Living…….

Trusting…………

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Learning………..

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Thanking……….

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Following….

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Loving

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Rejocicing

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Looking

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Singing

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Praising…….

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Focusing.

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Remembering

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Knowing..

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The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

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Back, yet Forth

I am a runner – well, actually, I am more of a jogger – but I still love it and feel like I am just as taken with it as any awesome marathon runner I know. I may not be as dedicated, and I am certainly not as adept at it as most, but it is definitely one of the things I enjoy most in my life, and I am very committed to doing it.

I can’t say it enough: I LOVE to jog.

Jogging is the time that I get to have to myself, just to allow my thoughts to dump out of my brain, achieve a semblance of clarity in my mind life, to purge the toxins from my body, and it also serves as time well-spent as I get into “the zone” and think about my Savior, my family, my loved ones, and my friends. Running is just plain good for you. And it is such an absolute blessing in my life. It is not my God, but it is a gift that the Lord has given to me, and I find great joy in doing it. Thank you, Jesus.

Like any runner knows, there are times that we have to push onward in order to finish the race. This is when we must really gut it out, dig deep down within for every last ounce of strength that we may possess, and push our bodies harder than we ever thought possible. Many times this comes down to mind over matter and sheer will and determination. But without a strong foundation, without having been dedicated to a solid training plan, this alone will probably not be sufficient to get us to the finish line.

You really can’t fake your way out of this one. If you haven’t done the work, you probably won’t achieve the result that you want. It ALL matters. The plan. The commitment to that plan. Time on your feet. Avoidance of injury. Getting enough rest. Following a good eating plan to enhance your performance. Listening to your body. Listening to that still, small, but powerful inner voice. And going out and “just doing it.” You can take this to a high level (run all the time and train for full-on marathons) or you can keep it lower key, but you will still have to be well-rounded like this in order to remain consistent and make running a long-term part of your life.

And I got to thinking about this today; shouldn’t our relationship with our Savior be this way as well? It should be one in which we are fully committed – where we don’t call upon Him only when we need Him, or look upon Him as just some genie in a bottle that we can or should be able to summon whenever it happens to suit us. It needs to be a two-way relationship, and we need to do our part to live out that relationship daily for it to be so.

For me, that means training properly. That means spending the time with Him in prayer that is necessary to help me remain with Him at all times. It also means being in His word (the Bible, His love letter to us). It means fellowship with other Christians (His church). It means service to others. It means taking time to celebrate His joy and the gift of salvation that He freely offers and that I get to bask in every single day. And, not least of all, it means sharing Him with others.

When we don’t remain committed to that day in and day out relationship time with our Savior, we risk injury and stagnation. We risk hitting that spiritual wall. God reminds us to seek Him first, and to make sure that everything else we do simply enhances our relationship with Him and brings Him glory. He promises to increase our joy on this earth and in the earthly pleasures He wants for us to enjoy if we put Him first in our lives.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Sometimes we just hit a wall in our life here on earth. It happens. You have probably heard the tales that most marathon runners have shared about such grisly occasions. When you hit this wall in the world of running, you either find the way to push through and persevere, or you have to scale back and walk a while. It all just depends. It depends on what your body AND what your mind can do.

But there are also times in the life of a runner in which they must scale back a bit. This can happen due to injury, sure. But it can also be a part of the master plan to take performance to the next level. For example, to increase my endurance, speed, or time on my feet, I occasionally do speed work, or sprints. One or two such sessions a week can go a long way to making me able to run faster on my longer runs, or just be able to run for a longer period of time. And although I have yet to complete a full marathon since I have been consistently running again in these last couple of years, I do want to someday. (Or at least get VERY good at completing some half marathons on a pretty regular basis…ha ha).

As I was running (uh-hem…I mean jogging) again today, I was thinking about how very many things in my life lately have come down to being willing to listen to God’s voice inside of my heart about whether to sprint forward with all my might, or step back for a moment and regain my strength and composure. And God has definitely shown me a pattern He has held true to in my life of late – one in which I take what may look like a “backward” step, but that inevitably gives me what I need to spring forward into fulfilling His will in my life in a deeper and more true way.

Taking that step back not only gives me time to soak in God’s energy and listen to His voice before I move forward again, but it often helps me to gain new perspective about just what it means to step up in life. So many decisions I have made lately, with God’s divine and merciful help, have been ones that the world might tell me were steps back – things that look by all accounts, as if I am moving in a backward motion, down the ladder, hitting rewind and staying put. But in reality, God has just been preparing me to spring forward in this earthly life according to His will for me. Although these things (trials) can be difficult and somewhat stressful at times, this has been nothing but a blessing in the “long run”. And they have all been lessons in humility for sure.

The lowlier we become, the more humble we can be, and the more like Jesus we are. Lately, all too often, if the world hates it, I know I may be on the right running track. If it looks backward to the world, it is forward with Christ. I am gaining a whole new understanding of what it truly means to live for God and not for this world. And I can’t be grateful enough that the Lord continues to open my eyes in this area. It will be a life-long process, I am sure. But a cool adventure it shall be!

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? Matthew 16:26

So, as I finished my jog today I felt satisfied. I felt fulfilled. I felt good about the knowledge that stepping back from life can help us to spring forward with Christ. Yet there are many things still in my life currently that I haven’t achieved resolution about yet – and that’s okay. I am listening for God’s direction in my life. I am keeping my eyes wide open. And I am spending time nurturing my relationship with Him. I am sure that some of these miniature races I am running or participating in will be ones in which I hit the wall. For some, He may help me to realize I need to take a step back and muster up the strength I need (HIS strength, not MINE) to spring forward. And there will be others in which it is decided that I am to drop out of the race completely and reevaluate His plan for me or re-vamp my training program completely. While still others will be ones in which He asks me to push through the wall with the last ounce of strength that I have. And that strength will need to come from Him, not me. I know He will provide it.

So today, I must remind myself: There are some races I will get to finish with flying colors. And there are some I just won’t be able to finish at all. Some will be learning lessons in which I stand corrected and have to scale back and ponder just what caused me to need to throw in the towel. Was it a good thing, or was it due to lack of discipline and commitment on my part? I won’t know until I get there. But I do trust that God will tell me what I need to know, as long as I look to Him for the answers. And that, is what completing the race is really all about.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

Yes, I will complete this race in life. And I will do it with the help that only my Savior can provide. He alone gives us the strength and endurance to step back, while moving forward into His light and love.