Monday, April 14, 2014

CIAO and CHOW: A month of saying goodbye to crap foods and shoving veggies down the gullet instead

We are doing it. For a month. Sweet deprivation   Clean food indulgence.  Did I mention for a month? Starting April 21st. 


Let me explain. Joshua and I have been learning more and more about nutrition and how the food that we eat can drastically help or hurt our bodies and also just how modified almost all of the food we eat is (GMO).  After much research and some experimentation in the past, we have come to the conclusion that almost everything we eat almost is killing us somehow and we should go into a deep depression about it.  That was sarcasm, a bit of dry humor (ha ha?)...but for real...minus the depression part.  I won't go into all the science that we have learned but I will jump to the experiment we are going to do as a result of our learning.  

GOALS for the experiment: 

OUR HEALTH:
Joshua and I both have been suffering from some really debilitating health issues (which I will list below) that we want to track as we eat clean, and at the end of the month, see if any of these issues improve.  We are aware that eating clean may not "fix" a more serious problem going on in our bodies, that we may require medical help, but we know it can't hurt our bodies to treat them well, nor make the problem worse.  

Joshua's Symptoms:

-Fatigue 
-Fatigue
-Fatigue
(yes, clearly I'm saying he is tired.  All the time)
-Lack of quality sleep
-Leaky gut symptoms
-Irritability
-Brain fog/inability to concentrate
-Forgetfulness

Sarah's Symptoms:
-Fatigue
-Joint aches combined with "burn" like sensations to touch on random parts of skin (scalp, arms, leg, fingers)
-Swelling (inflammation)
-"Zingers" shooting pains up neck into head
-Extreme bloating (aka like board flat stomach in the morning to 3 mos prego immediately after eating...I kid not people). 
( a lot of my symptoms seem to be autoimmune and inflammatory responses and sugar is linked to inflammation issues, so I would expect to see positive changes in my symptoms by eliminating most sugar).  

WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY BEEN DOING:
Just to clarify, we have already been primarily eating organic produce and try whenever possible to eat organic meats.  We have also done stints of gluten free, dairy free and sugar free eating.  However, we feel that we have allowed too many "exceptions" and been often inconsistent.  

WHAT WE WILL EAT:
-Organic veggies
-Organic fruits
-Quinoa (organic)
-Organic beans
-Balsamic vinegar and Organic Olive oil (yes, not quite "clean" but will help us maintain sanity in cooking)
-Coffee (in moderation) (Heh!) ( yeah right) (but really)
-Herbal teas
-Nuts

That's. IT.  
Please people, if you have some awesome recipes that work with these ingredients, please message me or comment on this blog with them!  :) 

PREPARATION FOR LIFESTYLE CHANGES
Our goal isn't just to eat this way for a month, but to incorporate some major changes into our lifestyle while giving provision for cheats out of necessity or the occasional treat. 
Given the culture we live in, eating healthy is almost a novelty and seems unattainable unless you get blessed by the Whole Foods fairy who delivers free produce at your doorstep daily (of course by way of the eco friendly hybrid car she drives), and honestly, I'm starting to believe this fairy doesn't exist. :(  Therefore, I want to track how much eating strictly organic whole foods will cost our family so we have an idea of a budget we can handle (or need to modify).  Currently (not including eating out) our family can easily put $600 in the grocery budget and just make it to next paycheck before spending more on food.  I am well aware that may be really high for some of you families but please understand our family consists of 2largestomachcapabilitiesMEN plus a healthy nursing girl who loves to consume her momma's calories so rapidly that momma has to eat just a liiiiiitttttllleeee extra to keep up. I plan to track how much this month of revised eating costs and strategize how to incorporate the lifestyle changes without upping our budget.  

Another complication that comes with our culture (food loving fatties fraternizing over foods), is that eating a purely organic diet around social gatherings or during our occasional family foodie movie nights will be impossible to maintain without cheating sometimes. So, we will learn to cheat and being ok with it.  #heckYEStohavingaCOOKIE!



Nonetheless, with all we have learned about nutrition, and especially if this diet produces positive changes in our health, we can't justify going cold turkey back into our current way of eating.  We are also aware that once you take foods that irritate your system out of your diet for a period of time, introducing them back into your diet can wreak havoc on your body like never before.  I have friends who could tolerate dairy until they got off of it for a few weeks.  When they tried to go back, they had horrible stomach issues etc.  Thus, we know that doing a month of this eating puts us at "risk" of making some of the foods we now eat, impossible to bring back without really drastic effects.  Anyway. We shall see, shan't we? 


GOALS of blogging on the experiment: 

I would love to use this blog as a bit of education for others, motivation for us and others, accountability for us (b/c really, I will want to "cheat" in the first 2.5 seconds of the experiment).  SO, I plan to post weekly updates on how we are doing, recipes for you readers, and finally, again, we would WELCOME any yummy recipes you peeps may have successfully tried that fall in line with what we are going to eat/not eat. 

So...updates to come after April 21st! 

Ciao and CHOW! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

daily battle



my hunger is insatiable, the root of it is traceable, all the way back to the lie that i, cannot have grace.  

 i know it's a lie, i've KNOWN it's a lie, yet somehow, i've been serving up it's soup, hoping that one day, it'll come back around to me, set me free, free from the bonds of trying. 

i'm TRYING TO BE AN INVISIBLE SINNER.  love brings my sin to light, but in defensive flurry my eyes get blurry, and i start shooting a 12 gauge. 
I KNOW I'M GUILTY BUT I MAKE LIGHT OF IT B/C I DON'T KNOW GRACE.  

i can't feel grace, i can't see grace, so there must be no grace, right?  

wrong. right?  

my desire for grace is strong, but until the iron grip of the lie of a graceless life is removed, my pain will be plenty.  

God, help me.
I've been working overtime on earning my grace, trying to set up my future glory. a good deed here, right heart there, investing in my salvation as if i believe in purgatory.  

i'm slaving to the slayer, the one filthy betrayer, the one who'd have my life and smear me in the ground.
oh he tells me all sorts of things that tickle my ears. he offers me smiles but in the background he jeers.  he knows my flesh, he knows it well.  he offers to feed and satisfy my craving and hungry heart, saying "taste and see, it'll set you free'.  

i've been guilty, i've done wrong and sin's weight it seems so strong.  i've been feeding and gorging myself on the lies of my captor.  
i do what i don't want to do, and what i want to do i don't do.

haven't i gotten it yet?  how many flavors does one lie have, why do i have to try every flavor before i realize the main ingredient.... is poison. 

now, my mouth open wide in silent agony, i've been as slick as polished mahogany. my SIN IS KILLING ME.  

this puritan guy john owen once said be killing sin or it be killing you. 
TRUTH...
fact is, i'm already dead.  my flesh is dead and my soul was dead too, but GOD.  

But God, WHAT?  

if  i do what he says, maybe then he'll see me, hear me love me more. so i try, and i strive, and heaven forbid, i can NEVER be wrong....only to realize once again.....i've slain my savior.  
grace, i can't feel grace. i know grace, i read grace,  but i don't feel it.
  
feelings. since when did feelings determine what's true?  my heart sure is feeling, but how can i trust it?  the heart is deceitful, so i cannot give it weight.  no more than my veins telling me red blood is blue. 

sins lurk from the past, they bite and they haunt, eating my soul till its weak and its gaunt. my enemy never stops working, always poking and prodding. hoping to keep me missing my freedom.

freedom.  it's what i want. acceptance.  grace. love.  

WHAT I WANT is what i have.  i'm filthy to the core, my good efforts are but dirty rags.  that's why god sent Jesus to the tree, his blood has covered me, glory be, praise be to the PERFECT ONE!  

my face, my shame, his name, his blood, my place, my fate, in grace, just LOOK!

my savior was slain, God's wrath on him lain, he died for my pain, so eternally i can reign at the foot of my father.  
his cross, my shame, my life is his fame.  glory glory glorrrry be to his name!  i needed rescue and he came!  he took my shame so in his death i can claim, life.  i must die with christ so i can live.  

death does not have dominion. FLESH does not have dominion.  sin may be laying dormant waiting to spread through my body, doing it's vile corruptible work, but the spirit is in me. the spirit is greater than he who is in this world and the spirit is in me.  

so who has authority? ugly words dressed up nice, holding me captive, enslaved, in a vice?  or the one who shed his blood, took the blame for my shame, offering me life, though i denied him thrice?

romans 7-8 speak the truth that i fight with.  the Word is my sword, the authority to make right with. I have the greatest gift ever given to man.  I have life in my soul, the gift of the Spirit. though i walk with dead flesh, i don't have to fear it. one day Christ returns and claims his beloved.  so for now,  i  walk in his grace, it's mine free of charge. 

all my good acts are still present but WAIT...this time, 
i'm driven not by fear.  it's God's love that will motivate.  so i  fixate on micah 6:8 to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with my god. 

free from fear, free from flesh, free from death, free from lies. free from blame, free from striving, free from silent cries.  free from guilt, free from faking, free from despair and my quaking.

there is freedom in grace, and grace is offered freely. tho satan still lies and is only abusive the death of Christ is my life, so grace, is no longer illusive.


-sarah codispoti

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I'm Not Stuck



Friends.  It's been a whirlwind.  We are now four weeks into having two children and it has been a ride. I am not going to lie...it's been hard.  Very hard.  But...also, very very good. Between pregnancy complications, adjusting to a 2 year old and an infant, trying to figure out how to do life...I have been overwhelmed.  Scared. Fatigued. Wrestling with my heart. Feeling...stuck. 

Also, I have been overwhelmed by God's goodness. Grace. Provision. Nearness.  

Here's the thing.  I am now a parent of two.  That comes with certain difficulties but it also comes with many opportunities and reasons to rejoice.  I have been reminding myself to "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say rejoice"  (Phil 4:4).  That the "Steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and his mercies never come to an end" (Lam 3:22).  So.  I have my role and my blessed gift of children to parent, therefore, I am in this thing for keeps.  I don't have an option to not parent (well, I do but that would be a whole other problem!), but I do have the option to choose to find joy in my role OR to let myself be miserable.  I choose joy.  I don't just get the gift of joy thrown in my lap, however...I have to posture myself to "rejoice!"  I have all that I need to get in this posture.  I can ask God for wisdom every single time I am overwhelmed and at a loss how to parent my toddler who thinks diversion is a great tool, and receive it (James 1:5) ***Thanks, Karen (if you're reading) for sharing that verse! (And of course James 1 doesn't include the part about diversion...obviously). *** I also have the very greatest need I will ever have, met, and that is my salvation.  My sin, washed clean.  If I reflect on how little I deserve this forgiveness, and the totality of that which I've been given, it will give me much reason to rejoice.  I have what I know of God...that He is always good and always kind and full of grace.  He tells me not to worry about tomorrow as tomorrow has it's own worries (Matt 6), so I can't look ahead at tomorrow's grace.  I need to look at the grace that He promises to give in the current day.  So, when there has been noise and chaos and no ability to shower for 48 hours, and I have to take an entourage into the bathroom with me just to make my bladder gladder...I can ask the Lord to give me grace by way of patience, a supernatural ability to not have my ever loving nerves fried, and wisdom how to love my children well and at the same time...ENJOY it! 

Every time...seriously...every time...I have asked the Lord to give me grace and strength and joy in my day for what He has called me to do, He has faithfully answered.  So, if I have this wonderful source and provision, this way to find joy in what I wouldn't normally "enjoy," why don't I just ask for it all the time?!  Because, I'm a sinner.  I try to parent by myself.  I try to be the wise one, the capable one, the..(gag me) "supermom." 

I don't want to be anything "on my own."  Actually, it's when I try to be self-sufficient, and realize how hard it is, and how much I *feel* alone, I struggle with discouragement and wanting to feel sorry for myself...even give up.  I don't want to self-parent; rather, I want to parent along side of my Father God.  

So, for the rest of 2014, and, well...my life...here is what I want and pray: 
-For a hunger for the Word (already answering!)
-For me to be intentional to ask for help daily from my Father
-To be an encouragement to my husband and family and friends 
-That my joy would be sourced not out of circumstances, but rather of what I have in Christ. 
-That the mundane "non-enjoyable" tasks of being a mom (be honest, there are a lot of these) would be seen as nuggets of gold, used to build character. 
-For me to find rest in the Lord when life doesn't seem to offer a whole lot (at least at the present moment)
-To remember that my best offerings are but filthy rags without Christ.  
-To have a heart of thankfulness.  Deep thankfulness. 
-To honor God by being a faithful wife and mom. 
-To choose the freedom of joy when I feel stuck. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

JERICHO MALIYAH: birth story





                           Introducing Jericho Maliyah, born December, 2013 at 11:36am, 7 lbs, 5oz.
We love her so much and she is such a joy already! We prayed for a cuddler and she most definitely IS. a cuddler. And...a squawker.  As her daddy says, she sounds like a baby parrot.

Anyhow, I thought I'd type up Jericho's birth story as a few people have already asked to hear it.

Due date was December 12, and my mom arrived from Indiana exactly on the 12th.  We were so hopeful that somehow her presence would "trigger" my body going into labor (as with Israel, I went into labor only hours after my mom arrived).  Alas, she waited a few days.

The fun part was that Joshua and I got to go to the theater for the first time in...well...I think since before Israel was born.  On the 14th, both Joshua's parents and my mom and us got some yummy burgers and then my mom watched Israel while we viewed the Hobbit.  During the movie, I started having contractions, so I just tried to subtly time them while we watched on.  Nothing was really consistent at this point.  However, when we got home, after going to bed around 11pm, I started really getting timeable (but still spaced out) contractions.  After an hour of timing and knowing that I wasn't going to be able to fall asleep (coupled with the feeling of "I just really think this is IT"), I woke up my poor husband who had just managed to get in about 30 min of sleep after pulling a 24 hr shift the night before. I KNEW he was tired, because he was asking me questions about going in "right now" being necessary, and before bed he was all "bring it!" excited for labor time.  I called the on call midwife and she told me to go ahead and come in.  We arrived at the birth center at 1am and I was only 3 cm dilated but fully effaced.  So, the midwife just told me to get some rest if I could.  Joshua and I were laying on the double bed, him trying to stay awake and me trying to fall asleep.  We both failed.  Throughout the night, the contractions were getting stronger and harder to work through but not much more frequent.

Now, we had prayed specifically for a certain midwife to be on call when I went into labor.  The first half of the night was not this particular midwife, but come to find out, the one we prayed for was taking over at 8 am.  I was so very thankful, because out of all of the midwives who I had met, I felt most calm with this one, and she was also the midwife who had evaluated me for miscarriage the year before.

By about 6am, the contractions were getting really intense and by 8 am when the midwives switched out, I was "controlled-ly bellowing" (if there is such a thing).  Ok, so I forgot to mention that Joshua had forgotten to bring coffee for the coffee pot at the birth center.  Poor man, he was so blitzed after having come off a 24 hr shift and then coming out of a deep 30 min sleep that coffee was absolutely essential for the night.  It was rough for him, but looking back, makes for quite an amusing story.  Whilst laying face to face on the double bed (I had the midwife massaging me through contractions at this point), practically nose to nose...and with me squeezing his hand to utter oblivion, Joshua slept peacefully on through 3 of my "controlled bellowing" episodes.

Shortly after this catnap, I was moved into the tub to finish up laboring there.  By this time, I was about 6-7 cm dilated.  Then...our dear midwife asked my husband "Would you like a cup of coffee?" Oh, his face lit up and she was definitely as close to an angel as it comes in that moment.  From there, we were ready to roll.  At 8.5 cm, I was growing exhausted from not sleeping at all for so long, so I agreed to have my waters broken.  After they were broken, the midwife worked on moving aside the rest of the cervix (so SO painful) so that I could go ahead and push.  Well, I was so exhausted that it took about 6 or so tries (Purple pushing) during contractions before the cervix was completely dilated.   Also, during this time, my shins decided to both charlie horse at the same time.  I was growing hopeless to keep on going, but my hubby kept assuring me sweetly that I could do this.  He is such a rock and I was so thankful for his care and support.  FINALLY, I moved to a different position to get more bearing and with about 6 or so pushes (ok, not gonna lie, the worst pain I've ever had in my life), Joshua took over and was able to deliver her!  Everything looked different for him and he was having to go by feel this time as I was in a different position than with Israel.  But...he did a stellar job and finally, FINALLY I was holding our sweet baby girl in my arms.  The Lord is good and gracious.  Total labor time (just active labor on) was 12 hours.

So thankful to all who prayed for us, and the Lord was so kind in answering our specific prayers for Jericho's birth.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Do. I. Know. YOU? (to which i kinda sorta rant but not really about social media)



There seems to be a never ending flow of information, especially by way of social media, about people's lives.  With just a few clicks of a button, we can see what someone has been up to for the last five years, discover who they hang out with, and what sorts of new toys and items have been purchased and enjoyed.  With Instagram and Facebook, we can see anything from how amazing someone's husband is to what someone fed their cat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and how said cat reacted (the latter sort of information I choose to "hide"). ;) I can go on and on about all the "novelties" we can view on social media, but chances are, if you are reading this blog, you already are quite familiar.

What I have been challenged in lately is to think about what I don't see.  What I am not (usually) seeing on Instagram and Facebook are people's hearts. While people can post a scripture verse, something they are thankful for, a struggle, or even a vent, these are just slight glimpses of what might be going on deep inside someone's heart.  Often times, we see only the "good" things in people's lives, and have no idea what the background to those good things are.  What about the friend who posts a status about her wonderful husband who later tells me the heart behind it was to honor him after being hurt by him, in effort to show grace and forgiveness?  Or the person who posts 3984203 selfies a day and is radiating confidence in each picture...yet is dying of self-hate and loneliness on the inside?  Or the pictures of a new house and new car that a friend's husband bought her...while, not posted in those pictures are her crumbling marriage?  Or a scripture/quote full of hope and joy that is the end result of working through a painful breakup?

Finally, what about you? do you feel that you are alone in your struggles when you scroll through the ever-loving plethora of highly informative Facebook status'? I sometimes do.  I forget that behind a few edited photos and well-edited status' there is much more going on.  While it can be fun and sometimes encouraging even to browse people's "lives" over the web, there is danger in forgetting that there is so much more than what you are breezing through in five minutes.  Danger in comparing your messed up, not put together, struggling life with someone else's "perfect" life.  Danger in becoming discontent with what you have.  Danger in wanting to fit in or be seen as someone, and because you see people's best foot forward, you only put your "happy" moments out there for people to view.  Or, if you see someone complaining about something that seems so much smaller than the great, almost insurmountable mountain of grief you are facing, you might not share that grief with the public for fear of no one relating.  

I am not hating on social media...rather, I want to see it as a fun supplement to knowing people, rather than the primary means.   I have been challenged recently to not make assumptions about the entirety of a person's life based off of one status or picture.  I want to pursue relationships, pursue hearts.  I want to come out of myself, my selfish ambitions and quit falling into comparison/insecurity.  I want to focus on blessing others, building them up, encouraging them in the faith, and being an example of one who has joy and happiness because she has Jesus.  I realize I can't pursue in-depth relationships with all of my 982347834 friends on Facebook (yes, I'm that popular folks), but I can still spend time in prayer, asking the Lord to help me know who to pursue, how to bless them, and most of all, keep my heart in a right and healthy place so that I am open to and acting in laying myself down for the good of others. 

 I wanna KNOW you, yo.  

So.  That said...I'm going to go scrounge through my fridge for something to eat whilst trying not to think about the 234989348 drool-worthy pictures of all of your amazing breakfasts, lunches and dinners that someone fed to you in bed...with a vase of flowers on the side...and be thankful. ;)  

Side note(s):
1. That last paragraph I just wrote?  I kid. 
2. So maybe I have a problem with exaggerating my numbers...
3. In all seriousness, if you are struggling with feeling unknown, misunderstood or alone, be encouraged by these verses:

Psalm 139:1-4
"Oh Lord you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all of my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, Oh Lord, you know it all together." 

1 Samuel 16:7
"But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on  his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees:  man looks on the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart." 

Ephesians 2:19
"So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God..."

Matthew 5:13
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?  It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet." 

1 John 3:1
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.  The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him." 


I pray the Lord grows my heart to live in these truths!


Monday, September 16, 2013

"The Chasing Song"

Well, I was not doing so well last night, nor was I so hot this morning.  I was/am struggling.  Wrestling with good desires tainted with idolatry and self-sufficiency.  
I had a meltdown that turned almost to despair as I allowed myself to dwell on my desires of being pursued the way I want to be pursued and finding those desires not always being met.  Dwelling on hurt. Pain. Loss.  Misery.  Feeling crushed by life as a mom.  My wiring...it feels like it was intended to be wired for a different "job"...I feel like if I could just take a break here and there and completely disconnect from the world of mom, I could handle it better.  But instead of trusting in the Lord's strength and grace to help me, looking for the joy in the hard times, I found myself feeling buried and wanting to just give up.  Everything else in our little family's world right now is full of waiting and praying and hoping and seeking ....and waiting....and waiting...and trusting God in the unknown.  I don't do well with unknown's especially when the known is not where I want to stay.  Will we get out, move through this hard place?  Can I trust the Lord?  Of course I can! Then...why have I been not allowing myself to?  Life.  Life last night and this morning felt lifeless and I was allowing it to feel that way because I am tired and I don't "feel" like fighting back with truth.  That is dangerous...was dangerous...I am fighting now.  

I am not done working through everything but the Lord has used different scriptures and people and songs and readings (in His mercy, love and compassion) to lift me up some.  I want to share them with, and encourage those reading...

*****"The Chasing Song" by Andrew Peterson...these lyrics:
Now and then these feet just take to wandering 
Now and then I prop them up at home 
Sometimes I think about the consequences 
Sometimes I don't 

Well, I realize that falling down ain't graceful 
But I thank the Lord that falling's full of grace 
Sometimes I take my eyes off Jesus 
And you know that's all it takes 

Well I wish that I could say that at the close of every day 
I was happy with the way that I'm behaving 

'Cause Job, he chased an answer 
The wise men chased the Child 
Jacob chased her 14 years and he 
Captured Rachel's smile 
Moses chased the Promised Land 
Joseph chased a dream 
David, he chased God's own heart 
All I ever seem to chase is me 

Well, they say a race can only have one winner 
And you know you've got to pull out front to win 
God knows the only time I'm winning 
Is when I'm chasing Him 


*****
-My husband penned this word this morning:  "Father, when my hold doth fail, as waters cover me; this to, I cling: hell cannot break thy loving hold on me.  Fear, into confidence doth turn because you, first, loved me.  Christ my strength, my sword, my shield--my rock, my surety."  

*****
Psalm 27:4:
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire[a] in his temple.

Psalm 30:11-12: 
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
    you have loosed my sackcloth
    and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
    Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!


*****
"Be Thou my Vision"    Yes.

*****

From the day's reading in "Streams in the Desert" devotional:  "Hide in the Kerith Ravine"  (1 Kings 17:3).
This is a place of solitude, away from people...dwelling in God's tent (Ps 61:4).  Here, I can absorb the spiritual power of God...I am hidden with Christ. No sounds of people's voices to distract but a quiet and safe place to take my sorrow, pain and struggles to.  Lord, I will hide in the Kerith Ravine....

*****

Finally, I will paste a poem I wrote a few years ago that is quite fitting to where I'm at: 


Stripped Naked
I am found cold, shaking.
My feet lift one by one
off the shivering ground.

I need that ring, please!
It will show my accomplishments
The world must know

You took my last comfort, why?
I wanted that purse
To carry my securities in. 

You destroyed my shoes!
The world awaits me
Time will not hold still

And what about my jacket?
Surely you know my condition
I am weak, and need relief. 

I take pleasure in food, you know this! 
My stomach, once a round marble
is now exposed, empty. 

My hair, a brilliant sheen
For what purpose have you made it dull?
I have to be beautiful

Wait, please stop! 
My pride, now this has gone too far
I am not the fool

The ground is now groaning
it's not for me
You mean it's for you?

All I deemed important
You have taken from me!
And here I am, stripped naked

Perhaps I have missed something? 
From dust I came
spoken to life by your breath

I must return to you. 
You want me, all of me
My possessions were cumbersome 

And now, bare and alone
I come before you
I desire one thing

Come, clothe me in your love
There is work to do
My treasures are in your kingdom

*****
This is probably a discombobulated mess, but it is my mess, and I found the Lord's grace in these words worth sharing.  

I will Bless the Lord, Oh my soul.  I will worship your Holy name.  Amen. 





Thursday, August 29, 2013

Letter to Jericho




Dear Jericho Maliyah,

You just woke me up kicking around inside of me (you are about 6 months in baking).  I love that you did, because I now have a whole heart that is welled up in love for you, and thoughts that I have for you and want to share with you.

There is a lot of talk and letters written to this Hollywood girl named Miley Cyrus as of late.  Letters from men, women, and also, some concerned and saddened mothers.  She has recently debuted herself to the public in a way that has both disturbed and broken hearts, mine included.  Here, I see a girl who needed/could still greatly benefit from her own family sharing her importance, worth, truth about her identity, and love for her.

I don't know how old you will be or where technology will be when you read this (this whole blogging thing could be for the stone ages for all I know!) but I want to take a moment to "pen" out my heart for you, my little Jericho.

The world is an enticing place, and if you want to fit in with the world, then you can do the great balancing act
***side note: slight and temporary sarcasm may follow as I talk about worldly standards***
***End side note***

Beauty:  This is a tough one. For men, be skinny, because that is the "standard" of beauty but not too skinny, or you might lose your curves and instantly become unappealing and a mockery of beauty.  For women, they might hate you if you are skinny, yet you will secretly be their greatest role model , because they want that.  If you are heavy, maybe you have a chance at fitting in because you will make insecure women feel better about themselves.  By all means, do what it takes to fit the mold, but just don't get an eating disorder...or at least don't talk about it.  The world doesn't want to hear it. 

Also, sex.  You must ooze sexuality without being overtly sexual.  There is a balancing act here, too, my daughter.  In the worlds eyes you in just one wrong move can go from having sex appeal (necessary to win any "love") where every guy seems to be vying for your affections, (which really, he wants your body...your heart? Naw, why bother?) to raunchy and a "poor sad case" to be mocked and kicked aside in disgust.  Maybe you will be used as a source of entertainment, or for other's to feel better about themselves before getting kicked to the curb...if you're so lucky. 

Love.  If you want to receive the love the world offers, it's easy.  Really, just learn how to love yourself, and then figure out a way to "love" others in a way that will ensure that they love you back.  Give, so you can receive.  If you don't receive the fulfillment you are looking for, move on until you find it.  You have to first acknowledge that you are loveable and then work your way up in earning that love from others.  You have...to perform.  No big deal.  

....ok, here is where my sarcasm endeth...

My daughter, I put in bold the phrase "great balancing act"  because that is what life is to you when you seek to find your worth and identity in the world; an act.  You will never be enough, do enough or feel enough to win a permanent seat in the play called "worldly affections."  This is why I used quotation marks around the words beauty, sex and love...because the world's definitions are not true definitions/representations of them. 

Life is a battlefield for your soul, my precious one.  Satan, our enemy, would have you any way he can get you.  He loves to prey on women in the area of beauty, sex and love.  He feeds us "tricks" to strive after, and they (myself included) strive so hard to get worth and love from performing  these tricks, that they miss what is right in front of them!

YOU. ALREADY. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.  LOVED.  ACCEPTED. 

My daughter, Jesus loved us when we were still sinners! Romans 5:8 says "But God showed His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."  Jesus accepts us for who we are. Jesus died for you, for me and for all of our sins and we have nothing to earn, but everything to gain!  The Gospel, daughter, is life!  I encourage you to hear the lies of the enemy, the lies of the world and throw them away as dung.  View the world's promises of freedom as shackles.  I pray that you would see God's way of life as freedom, because that is what I have found in Him.  Galations 5:1: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery."  That yoke of slavery is the world. Us in our sin without Christ.  

Your children's Bible (by Sally Lloyd Jones) which we will be reading to you has a few phrases in it that I absolutely love and want to share here with you:  


"so God breathed life into Adam and Eve. when they opened their eyes, the first thing they ever saw was God's face. and when god saw them he was like a new dad. 'you look like me' he said 'you're the most beautiful thing I've ever made!' God loved them with all of his heart.
and they were lovely because he loved them." (p. 26)

"Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: 'it will not always be so! I will come to rescue you! and when I do, I am going to do battle against the snake. I'll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I am coming back for you!'
And he would. One day God himself would come." (p. 36)

Yes!  Jesus already came, Jericho! You are already lovely because he loves you!  So simple, and so profound.  

Your name: 

Jericho- "His Fragrance"
Maliyah - "Beloved"

Your name is beautiful and your father and I chose it for you with great thought and prayer.  If you are pelted by the world to "be" someone, just remember that you are already God's Fragrance.  His beloved.  

I want to share one more thing with you about your name...I am pasting an excerpt from facebook that I wrote a little while back.  I am not sure facebook will be around still when you are older, and I certainly am unsure that the "hashtag" thing will still be in use, but if you are in any way confused about this part of my letter, just ask me. ;)  Here is what I wrote:

I'm thinking about the name we gave our daughter Jericho, and praising the Lord.  The meaning, "His fragrance" was very much one we wanted to have encapsulating who her identity is in the Lord.  What we hadn't remembered until a recent sermon at church reminded us, is that Jericho was a city whose water was causing women to miscarry (it was cursed).  In God's great mercy and kindness, he chose to give Jericho, his fragrance, a picture of redemption (though undeserved!) through his servant Elisha.  2 Kings 2:21-22: "Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it." So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke."  Wow.  Are you kidding me!?  Our daughter Jericho gets to grow up bearing the identity of our Lord's fragrance.  Not only that, but she is HIS beloved (Maliyah!).  And God, being a loving God, chose to heal me from miscarriage and thus bring about her life!  Thank you Father! Thank you for your tender and loving kindness.  Thank you for making your children who are unlovely, lovely...through Jesus.  #HealedWater #GraceUndeserved #Jericho"

Jericho, your father and I love you so much already and you aren't even on this earth yet.  We are not naive enough to think that our own sinful hearts will not cause you hurt and "mommy/daddy issues," but we pray that you will be so engulfed and rooted in who you are to Christ, the perfect one, that you will not be crippled by our failures.  That you would bring forth a better generation than your parents.  That you would love like Christ loves.  God chose you to be on this earth.  Had He not taken your brother or sister early (our miscarriage before you), you would not be here!  So, your physical life because of death. Also, your spiritual life, because of death.   

My final words to you are from 2 Corinthians 5:17:  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold! the new has come." 

Daughter, die to sin, and live in Christ!

P.S.  I write all of this from my heart, but also as one who has struggled with identity and fear of man and not God.  One who has not lived like she is accepted and beloved even when she knows in her head that she is.