Sunday, February 14, 2016

I Should've Just Fasted from Facebook


It's my fault really.
I had considered fasting from Facebook from the past Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) until Easter. But, just out of complacency and feeling crappy healthwise, I hadn't pulled myself away.

Certainly not one of the reasons I would make a point to fast from social media during Lent, but nonetheless, it would've been helpful to miss out on the deluge of Valentine's Day posts. 

Pictures of couples, celebrating another monumental day together.
Pictures of babies dolled up in their Valentine's best.
Even pictures of heart-shaped pizzas and donuts. (Which doesn't help with my food deprivation either.)

Now, let it be known that even the few years I've had a 'Valentine', I've not been a big fan of the day. I'm one of those unconventional girls who would rather get a bunch of wild flowers on some random day than a dozen of red hot roses on the 14th, because the calendar (and Hallmark) advise you to. So, it's not (just) because I can be a litte jaded, being still single at 41. I just resent the whole day. I appreciate any kindnesses extended to me on Valentine's Day; it's just that it feels a little forced. And fabricated.

But, being as I am still single at 41... and still very much so would love to find someone I could share my life with... it's just another day to feel zeroed out. Marginalized.

It's not that I'm so disillusioned to believe that if I only had that one person, all would be well in my world. I understand that relationships are difficult. They take work. They challenge you. They break you. And that's even when everything goes right. 
I also realize that life happens. Spouses can get sick. Children can become troubled. Jobs can get lost. Houses foreclosed. And then there are in-laws.

I get that.

It's just that the older I get, the more it feels like I'm just an onlooker while everyone else is doing life.

I've always said it's not so much the number (age) that you hit; it's where you are (or aren't) in your life, when you hit that number. 
Up to 40, I always felt like I was missing out.
Post 40, I feel like I have missed out.

It's almost like everyone else my age is out there. They're doing life. Getting dirty. Sometimes getting knocked down. Busy. Tired. And from time to time, maybe even getting benched. But, they're out there. Together. Living. Learning. Cheering each other on. Together.
And the best I can do is watch and maybe cheer from the stands. 

No longer on the field with the 20-somethings. 
Yet not qualified to be on the field with the 40-somethings.

Not that Valentine's causes all these feelings. It just pronounces them. Pronounces that marginalization. 

And I realize that all this only means I'm giving way too much power to a silly little Hallmark generated holiday. But, there it is. And it's my blog, so I can cry (and whine) if I want to.

Whatever. I blame the fact that I can't have chocolate. Or wine. Or ice cream. Or cake. Or any other comfort foods. You try facing this holiday, alone, on a strict hamburger and zucchini diet.

That's what I get for not fasting from Facebook.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Let Your Desire for Growth be Greater than Your Fear of the Pain

As I mentioned in my earlier post about our "Next" conference, most all of us as Christians have 'stuff' to work out and work on, in order to press ahead for God has for us next.

And I just kept thinking of this video that Anthony Evans shared a few weeks ago. He's basically saying that he's been learning the same thing in his walk and surprisingly enough, his is the very same issue as most of the women at the conference confessed as holding them back: fear.

Once I got back from the conference, I went back to this video and watched it several more times. Then, finally just wrote it down to keep posted where I can be reminded of it and encouraged by it on a regular basis.

Things have to change.
I want the change.
My desire for growth is getting bigger than my fear of the pain of what growth looks like.
I love my comfort zone.
But, I'm not going anywhere.
I'm not growing.
The only way I'm gonna grow is if my desire for growth is bigger than my fear of the pain.
I'm facing things head-on and as I face them, what happens on the other side is so much greater than the fear.
This fear of pain has kept me from growth.
Fear and avoidance and comfort zones will never outweigh the reward you will feel on the other side of pushing through your pain.
Push through whatever you're afraid of facing and let your desire for growth be greater than your fear of the pain.


Okay. So, I've already been falling behind in my blog posting. I blame my UC flare, which has not let up in the least. 

BUT - was so thankful that I was able to make it up to Johnson Ferry Baptist Church once again this year, to hear Lisa Harper and Meredith Andrews.

This was our 3rd time joining Johnson Ferry for their annual Women's Conference. They always do such a great job. And it's just such a warm, welcoming bunch.

The theme this year, Next, was based on Philippians 3:14 - "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Forgetting what may lay behind you, but also dealing with anything that keeps you from pressing forward.

Their Women's Ministry leader, Marsha gave a great illustration.
She said one of her favorite things is to go to the spa. She typically gets a hot stone massage and it just helps her unwind and relax. So, not long before the conference, she made an appointment for her usual massage, to help her deal with all the tensions of planning such a huge event. And so, she soon found herself, laid down, face in the hole, prepared for a peaceful time of relaxation and pampering. Instead, she heard "I don't know how anyone can live like this." To her surprise, the massage therapist not only was not quiet, she was critically commenting on her left shoulder, which had grown quite tight. Marsha was taken aback. She said the therapist continued "We can go ahead and do the massage as planned... or I can work on this shoulder. But, it's going to be uncomfortable." Marsha laid there and thought "I just came in for some pampering." "But, I will tell you, if you don't get this shoulder worked on, it will only become tighter and harder to work out next time." So Marsha relented and had the shoulder worked on. And it hurt! Not the relaxing, peaceful time she'd looked forward to. But, she knew the work was necessary, going forward. "Now, you do realize that if you don't continue to work on strengthening this shoulder when you leave, it will only mean more work on it again later." After the therapist had begun the work, it was up to Marsha to continue the work.

So relevant to the Christian walk. Oftentimes, we have things in our lives that we must 'work out', in a manner of speaking, so we can better move forward.

We were each asked to write down what was keeping us from moving foward into what God had next for us. Their ministry team went through them all that night and prayed over each one. And the next morning, they reported that the overwhelming majority wrote that it was none other than fear that seized them and kept them from what God has in store.

I must admit, that was my answer as well. And it was comforting to know I was in such great company.

Now, to do the hard work of getting that fear worked out, so I can better strain for that goal ahead.

Meredith Andrews leading worship on Friday night.

Our very own 5ft Missy finally got to meet Lisa's awesome little spunky adopted Missy for the first time at the meet and greet after Friday's session. 

I love that this church is such a supporter and encourager of such great organizations! The past couple of years, they have supported My Sister's House, a safe place for women and children in the Atlanta area. 
This year, they have been huge supporters and ambassadors of refugees, which I so appreciate in this day and age. (If you have the slightest critical spirit toward refugees, I would highly encourage you to watch "The Good Lie" with Reese Witherspooon. Or read Immaculee Ilibagiza's "Left To Tell". These beautiful, brave people have been through more than we would even want to imagine.)
So, this year, they highlighted a relatively new organization out of Clarkston, GA (home of World Relief and primary location for refugees to be relocated and worked into our society). It is called Refuge Coffee. It was founded by a couple who had moved to Clarkston and fallen in love with the melting pot that they came to know there and felt it impressed upon them to come up with a way to both support the refugees through employment and at the same time, give them a place or a means of coming together and getting to know one another. The result was Refuge Coffee. 
For more information, please visit their website at: .