Thursday, March 23, 2017

Kissing cheating goodbye

I have an admission to make.
I'm a cheater.
I'm not proud of my actions. Oh, how I wish I could tell you it was a one time mistake, that remorse and regret immediately taught me my lesson. But my infidelity has been recurrent. I've been a repeat cheating offender. On countless occasions I have given my heart to another and let my eyes wander away from my first love. Over and over again, I have broken my vow to remain forever true. Without hesitation I have jumped into bed with a lover not my own. With passion I have abandoned loyalty and thrown caution, and commitment, to the wind.
I have cheated. I am a cheater.
And I've cheated on the perfect love, my one true love, God.
To add insult to infidity injury, I've committed my affair with the cruest of lovers.
Worry.
Worry isn't really a lover at all. He's a hater, really. And I've been giving my heart to him over and over again. Full of concern and anxiety I've run into the arms of worry without a thought for the true love left behind.
When challenges and struggles have befallen my relationship with God I have turned my back on Him. Instead of remaining committed, I have fallen prey to the allure of an anxious soul. Willingly I have embraced fret and foregone faithfulness to my one, true love.
And what has my cruel lover given me in return? What have I received when I've turned from the truth to embrace a lie? Not a kiss on the cheek. Not a hug to comfort me. Not a moment of joy. Not a glimmer of hope. Not a peace in my soul. Not even one single beautiful flower or ray of sunshine. Worry has given me nothing and robbed me of every good thing.
As the saying goes, full me once shame on you. Full me twice, shame on me. Well, worry has fooled me countless times but I'm done giving him the pleasure of victory.
I'm done cheating on God. I'm done falling into the arms of worry.
I am finished with false love that only wants to steal my happiness and contenement. I am no longer sneaking off to worry when the going with God gets tough. I'm going to stop seeking comfort in a lie, giving up the everlasting peace I have in the truth.
Yes, I have been a cheater. A no good, downright rotten cheater. I have looked at the lover of my soul, my perfect first love, and turned my back on His affection. But no more. No more cheating, lying, and running to another.
Right here, right now and forevermore I am ending my dishonest relationship with worry. I am closing the book on our scandelous affair.
Worry, consider this our breakup letter. And don't expect it to be sealed with a kiss because you've been nothing but a hater, through and through. You've left me with nothing but heartache and disappointment. You've delivered nothing but lies.
But now we're through. We're over. The story of you and I has reached "the end."
Now begins the real story of my love life that I know is going to end in a happily ever after because I'm going back to true love. My first love. I'm going back to God and remaining committmd to my vow, dedicated to His devotion. I am running into the arms of truth and grace. I'm seeking forgivness and laying down in a bed of comfort, peace and joy.
I'm going back to be with God forever. And to be to Him I will be forever true.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Flying United


Dozens of planes sat in a row, lined up by gates as airport attendants, fueling trucks and baggage handlers rushed across the pavement. Arriving planes were quickly being emptied of their luggage and travelers. Departing flights were boarding and readying passengers for flight. The scene was a flurry of air-travel activity.
As I waited for takeoff I watched the airport world unfold from my up-right positioned window seat. Then the boarding door on the EMB-145 closed, engines roared and the plane pushed back from the terminal. We taxied out onto the tarmac, leaving the parked planes, and the bustling activity, in the distance.
The plane moved swiftly towards the runway, then made a sharp turn to the right, and stopped as the pilots voice came over a fuzzy intercom. “Second for take-off. Flight attendants take your seats.”
In that moment, the world around me froze. The plane made its brief pause, stopped on the cusp of the adventure and excitement of lift-off. I could practically feel the impending sensation of the wheels scooping up off the pavement. Suspended between stillness and soaring, anticipation left me breathless.
And then there was movement.
From the soles of my feet I could feel the buzzing of the motor’s engine. The propellers outside my window spun with such force the whole plane shook. With power and determination, the plane picked up speed, moving fast and flooding the cabin with the sound of wings meeting wind. I closed my eyes as I breathed in the thrill of flight.
And then I felt it. Wheels up.
I spread my eyes open wide and eagerly peered through the plastic windowpane as I watched the line of planes below fade off into the distance. With each passing second the grounded massive machines made of steel and rubber became smaller.
And that’s when I noticed it.
Written in bold, painted in blue on the side of every plane lined up along the edge of terminal two was one word. United. Each plane with its own unique destination and flight path was flying United. The dozens of planes below, destined for their own adventures, charting a one-of-a-kind course. They all were United.
And so was I.
From seat 5C, aboard the air-born EMB-145, I glanced out the window to see the plane’s wing and saw the trademark blue and yellow design of United Airlines that claimed ownership of the plane and the flight. Just like the parked planes at the terminal and the string of planes lined up along the runway, I was flying United. Each one of us bound for a unique adventure; each one of us flying under the same banner of ownership, control and protection.

In life no two passengers are taking the same course. Each one is given a unique path to travel. Each is on a one-of-a-kind route, with take-offs and landings, unlike any other. But each one of us can fly united. We all can fly under the same banner of ownership, control and protection. We can all fly united with Christ.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Peep for all people

Peeps come in a variety of marshmallow-ie flavors and forms. There are Peep Chicks and Peep Bunnies. There are Peep delights, dipped in chocolate, and Peep pops, conveniently stacked on a stick. There are big Peeps and little Peeps. There are orange Peeps and blue Peeps. Sweet Peeps, sour Peeps and even sugar free Peeps - an oxymoron if there ever was one. Marshmallow lovers can have their Peep in nearly any flavor they crave and the adventurous can even bite into a gooey surprise mystery flavored Peep.
Here, there and everywhere there are marshmallow Peeps for all people. Unless you don't like marshmallows. Then you are peeping out of luck.
Now, for those who don't salivate at the thought of a corn syrup chick shaped marshmallow mess, you need not feel left out. Contrary to what you might believe, you can still enjoy a Peep - a very special Peep. The good news is this Peep doesn't come with preservatives and is naturally sugar free. This one Peep suits all taste buds and is relevant past Easter. This one variety of Peep  never goes stale and doesn't need the excuse of a bunny hoping holiday to be enjoyed.
For you, both marshmallow lovers and marshmallow adverse, God is your Peep.
God is the Peep that doesn't stick to your teeth. God is the Peep who doesn't leave hands sticky. God is the Peep that isn't on every diet's "don't" list. God is the Peep that never runs out of stock.
Have you ever enjoyed God as your Peep? He promises to be satisfying. And He'll never leave you with a tummy ache. He comes in one variety but takes all forms. You'll find God your Peep while walking through a store or in the church sanctuary. You can find God outdoors. You can even find God, your one and only Peep, in the solitude of your bedroom. He isn't stuck in a package and He isn't exclusively kept in the company of white rabbits. God is every where and always present.
If you haven't had God as your Peep, what's stopping you? Why wait to enjoy the world's most soul-satisfying sustenance? Why fill up on this world's marshmallows when you could have the eternal sweetness of the heart?
Trust me, no matter what flavor Peep you pick up on the shelves this Easter, God is the everlasting Peep for you.

With or without evidence

Eight years.
Eight years without a menstrual cycle.
Eight years of infertility.
Eight years post menopause.
And I'm only twenty six, almost twenty seven, years old.

According to human logic and medical science, my reproductive system is as good as dead. That determination was hinted at in the very first year I lost my womanly flow. By year five doctors stopped hinting around my bleak child-bearing future. The fact of infertility was stated as plainly as "The sky is blue." No emotion. No consolation. No hope for a different future.
I remember laying on the table in the gynecologist's office when she flatly stated that I demonstrated all of the signs and symptoms of premature menopause. The night sweats, the lack of a cycle for years, my hormones and my physical condition all led to the same conclusion. My body's reproductive system had skipped decades. Now the deed was done and my ability to bear children, over.
I asked her if this could be reversed. She told me no, that this is a permanent condition. Once the die is cast there is no going back.
Her response wasn't surprising. Upon further investigation her understanding of the reproductive system and its charted course is the standard in the medical world. Even the Mayo Clinic doesn't hold out hope for premature menopausal women. All they have to offer are experimental fertility treatments with discouraging success rates. Doctors focus instead on the risks of wasting bones and coping with emotional instability. In other words, just manage it. Fill this prescription. See this therapist. Check back in six months. But don't get your hopes up.
I left that appointment under a cloud of defeatism, never to return again. I wasn't willing to come to their conclusion. I decided right then and there to choose a different conclusion: hope and trust God to determine the future of my fertility.
Now it has been seven years since I lost my reproductive functioning and the cycle hasn't returned and, quite frankly, there is not a shred of evidence that it ever will. Still, I have hope. I still have faith that God can work a miracle if He so chooses. I still believe that God is in control of the inter-workings of my body. Without a shadow of a doubt I know that God has the power and ability to intercede on behalf of my reproductive system. He can, at any moment, step in and change the course of my fertility future.
The trust and confidence I have in God does not conform to the logic of medicine. What I know about God is not written up in medical journals. The assurance I have is not based on testing and doesn't rest on a diagnosis. The solid rock on which my faith stands is rooted in the Almighty God.
Flow or no flow. Cycle or no cycle. Evidence or no evidence. I trust God. I trust Him with my fertility. I trust Him with my future. I trust God, my truly great Physician.



Saturday, March 18, 2017

The goose on the road

From the driver's seat of my car, traveling at a quick seventy mile an hour clip, my eyes took in an unlikely sight. A goose crossing the interstate highway. The goose was traveling solo and headed right for my lane. She slowly waddled and wobbled across the first lane of highway, dodging the busy Saturday afternoon traffic. She barely escaped the grill of the Dodge Ram dully truck speedy ahead of me. I watched as cars swerved violently to avoid a feathery crash.
Meanwhile, the goose seemed to be absolutely oblivious. She swayed back and forth, pausing mid-lane. She took a few steps forward then a few steps back. It was as if this silly goose wasn't even sure it wanted to cross the road. Her pace was entirely noncommittal. And although I assume she could fly, her wings showed no signs of an impending flight. She just shuffled along, halting here and there, causing dozens of near accidents.
When it was my turn to play Dodge Em' with the goose I let my foot off the gas, checked my rear and side mirrors, then performed the driving equivalent of a bob and weave. Success. I missed the goose who was still lingering on the dotted line of the northbound lanes.
Intrigued by the goose's journey, and hoping her trek wouldn't end in tragedy, I slowed down and watched from my rear view mirror as a dozen cars, trucks and vans entered onto the highway. In the flurry of motorized vehicle activity I was sure the goose was toast. For a moment or two I couldn't see her at all.
But then a miracle. Out of the zooming and speedy cars the goose appeared, not in the air and not in the grill of a truck, but on the shoulder of the highway, upright and unharmed. She was still waddling and still oblivious. The goose emerged victorious from the traffic and onto the safety of the highways brim without a single feather out of place.
This silly, some might say stupid, goose who had no concern for the dangerous traffic and no understanding of the doom of walking on the interstate highway, stepped off the pavement and into safety, completely unharmed and entirely unfazed. The goose played a real life round of Dodge Em' and won! She survived a miracle and she didn't even know it.
With the goose out of danger and safely on her way to her next death-defying adventure I couldn't help but laugh at the irony of her journey and the amazing similarity it has to my own. Although I've never tried to cross the interstate on foot and I've never waddled (at least I don't think), I too have traveled through life in imminent danger without knowing it.
As I watched the goose in my rear view mirror I saw in my own past the death-defying journey traveled in complete oblivion, unaware of the risk. I tried to walk through life outside of God's will. I stepped off His path and immediately entered an interstate highway with evil threats and doom speeding at me with all of the force of a Hemi engine.
And there I was, as ignorant as the goose on the interstate. Without a care in the world or a thought of God, I traveled alone, pausing here and there, indifferent to the danger swerving and zooming all around me.
But that's when a miracle occurred. The miracle occurred.
My salvation.
It was while I was standing in the middle of the highway with death and destruction hurtling towards me that Christ rescued me. He swept in and saved me. The dangers were coming fast and the traffic was overtaking me but Jesus provided me a way out. He carried me to the shoulder of the road. He won for me the ultimate game of Dodge Em'.
The goose on the highway eventually faded out of my sight but her waddle hasn't left my mind's eye. I am that goose. I have been rescued, saved and redeemed. I have been given another chance at life. I have been given the amazing, miraculous opportunity to take another adventure and see another day.
And this time I'm taking a different journey. On this adventure I'm staying on God's path and off of the world's highway. From now on I'm fleeing from the danger of the interstate and staying beside my Savior because I know He can keep me, and the goose, eternally and everlastingly safe and sound. 



Friday, March 17, 2017

Have you been thinking about eating a promise based diet?

"Stephanie, have you been thinking about eating more plant based?"
My e-mail inbox is always asking me questions and addressing me by name. If you ask me, it's a bit disconcerting that the internet knows so much about me and my eating habits. And that I'm a hopeless sucker for email marketing campaigns. So, despite being perfectly content with my plant to non-plant based food intake ratio, I open the email.
Thankfully an evil spam scheme is not underway and my computer is not hijacked by an unseen intruder. The email is just the latest newsletter from Nature's Path Organic Foods encouraging me to eat more greens. The email instructs me to, "Leave the earth better than how I found it." Clickable spring-themed pictures of beets and rhubarb attempt to persuade me to follow the link and switch to a plant based diet. A bounty of fresh produce accompanies promises of five solutions for plant-based diet deficiencies. A hearty bowl of peach oatmeal beacons me to tap my mouse and enter the world wide web to discover the coconut topped recipe.
But the newsletter's messages fail to entice me to click, read or share. The pretty pictures and professional graphics don't compel me. Instead of following the links I tap on the trashcan.
I suppose it was silly to ever open the email in the first place. I haven't been thinking about eating a more plant based diet. I haven't been thinking about diet at all. Well, not my physical diet. I've been more focused on improving another area of my nutrition - my spiritual diet.
Organic food and plants may be the best fuel for the body but what about for the soul? Even the juiciest peaches mixed with the best oats and freshest flaked coconut can't satisfy the spirit. Switching to a plant based plate won't change anything in the heart. Fixing the deficiencies in my diet does nothing to solve the deficiencies of my immortal soul.
The most important diet, the diet that will bring me true health and wellness, is the diet that nourishes the spirit within me. The sustenance on my soul's plate is of eternal value and so I'm choosing my meals wisely. I'm deciding to feast on God's promises.
Unlike plants and the food of this world, God's spiritual food will never rot or spoil. His promises never go bad. The diet He has perfected never changes. It is not subject to the comings and goings of the latest superfood crazes.The goodness of God's eternally nourishing diet is the same today as it was yesterday and it will be tomorrow. I need not wait for the latest newsletter from God proclaiming the latest promises. They are already written in His Word as fresh today as the day they were penned. The promises of God are always in season, a never ending bountiful harvest.
God's promises give new life to body and soul. His truth breathes enduring health and wellness into my eternal spirit.
So the truly important question is this: Have you been thinking about eating a more promise based spiritual diet? I promise you it is a diet more enriching than a hearty bowl of coconut topped peach oatmeal. Beloved, when you and I feast on God's Word and His truth our hearts will be well fed, without a single deficiency.
Give God's diet a try. Switch up your plate. Change what you're feeding your very soul. With God's promises as your nourishment you will be eternally satisfied and forever filled with God's enduring truth and everlasting goodness.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spiritual Equipment

In a past post I shared about a unique item I keep in my car at all times - beach glass. For years I have kept a few stray pieces of beach glass in the center console to remind me that God can make the broken beautiful. It is His specialty and every time I look down and catch a glimpse of the tiny pieces of smooth blue and green glass I remember that God will use the storms and waves of my life to make me beautiful, too.
Beach glass is an essential part of my car's equipment, as important to me as the jumper cables I keep in the trunk and turbo engine under the hood. The beach glass is my car's spiritual equipment. Since the beach glass has been such a blessing and encouragement to me throughout the years I decided to dedicate more of my car's center console space to God's promises.
So I bought a little silver cross necklace and placed it among the beach glass to serve as a constant reminder of Christ's sacrifice. When I look at it I remember to put the cross always before me and to live for Christ alone. The world and all of its trouble fades into the distance when my gaze is fixated on the cross.
And then, just a few inches from the cross and the glass is a stone, smoothed and perfected by a skilled craftsman. On the stone is written a Biblical promise, a simple verse, Proverbs 2:8. "For he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Each day I climb in and out of my car countless times and if I'm honest most times I fail to actually read the words on the stone. I glance down at the gear shift and my eyes catch a glimpse of the sand stone keepsake in the center console but they fail to pause, read the words and internalize the message. More often than not I throw the car into drive or reverse and never meditate on the truth staring me in the face. 
But today I turned the car on and, just as I was about to put my foot on the break, something inside of me paused. I pulled my foot back and gazed down. First I saw the cross, then the beach glass and then the stone. Slowly and deliberately I read the words silently to myself and a flood of relief washed over me. It was as if I were reading the stone for the very first time, as if the message were entirely new. As if it were the first time I had heard the good news of God's steadfast protection and provision. 
I realized in that moment how often I read God's word, see His goodness and take in pictures of His sacred truth and fail to internalize the message. I go through the motions without letting the magnitude and gravity of the promises of God settle in my heart and give me true peace. God is constantly flooding my life with love letters and daily reminders yet in haste and routine I so often miss them. If only I would pause for a moment I would see that God is all around me offering me the bedrock of His promises and truth.
If today you find yourself feeling abandoned, wondering if God has left you alone on your car ride of life, I promise you He has not left your side. Remain faithful and remain fixated on His promises. Take a moment before you put the car in drive to look to your Guide and Protector and remember that He is there with you. He'll never leave you alone on your journey. 
Sometimes you and I fail to see Him. We go through the motions and never stop, look and listen. We look right past the Cornerstone. We just want to drive. But God is patient and He is waiting for us. His promises aren't going anywhere and neither is His protection. Remain faithful, dear friend. Remain faithful and fixated on Christ, the solid rock on which we can always stand.