What Is That To You? Follow Me!

I was sitting in the Kansas City IHOP a couple of weeks ago and was finishing up my reading in the book of John and these words jumped off the pages. It was one of those moments when you just get stopped in your tracks and it’s all you can think about.

“What Is That To You? Follow Me!”

In the scripture, Peter was worried about what Jesus was going to do about the other disciple. Jesus pretty much told him to mind his own business and follow Him. How often are we so focused on what the “other” person is doing that we lose focus on what God wants to do or we lose sight of who we are because we are trying to be like someone or something else. Why is it we always want what someone else has? Or why do we think if we do what they do, we are going to have the same outcome?

There’s a quote that says, “Imitation is the best form of flattery.” I agree with that but the person on the other end is the one receiving the benefits of that flattery. The person wanting or trying to be like someone else can lose sight of the personal call that God has for THEIR  own life because they are so busy trying to reap the benefit of others instead of reaping the benefits that God says He pours out daily for each of us. Psalms 68:19

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting a great outcome of our plans and seeking what others have been done to be successful but did God call us to be a copycat of someone or something else or did he call us to be unique? He says in Psalms 139  We are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s beneficial sometimes to use the ideas of others but when we start identifying with them rather than God, we miss something that God wanted us to do in us.

I used to always say, “When I grow up, I wanna be just like…………” You fill in the blank. The sad thing was I never could be just like so and so and would be so disappointed and feel like a failure when I didn’t even resemble that person. But what I didn’t realize is God wanted so much more for me and I was willing to settle for so much less.  When I die, the only thing I want people to say about me is, “That woman loved God so much and she was following hard after Him!…oh wait,,,,, ok and that,” She was crazy about Hallmark Christmas Movies! That could be my tagline. But seriously it can be a great compliment to be compared to someone who has done great things but shouldn’t we rather want to hear, “She looks more and more like her Father every day.”?

I always dreamed of being a great speaker that could effect change in people’s lives but now I have to ask myself can I be ok with only affecting the 5 possible readers of this blog? What if God wants me to take care of those 5 people? What is one of those 5 goes on to be a great speaker that actually effects change in people’s lives? What if we are so busy looking ahead that we miss what’s going on right in front of us? What if having our dreams realized means realizing the dreams of others first or heaven forbid our dreams are going to be accomplished by the dreams we plant in others? What if what we think is a little thing is actually a huge thing to God or vice versa?

I have this vision of God pulling this little girl by the hand as she keeps looking back and says, “But what about………… and what if…..but Daddy Ann is doing……God the Father is saying as He pulls her along.“What is that to you? Follow me?” And when she finally catches up and looks at what’s in front of her she says with this huge gigantic smile. “Ann who?”

 

When You’re In It To Win It!

I started my weight loss journey in April of 2018….Or should I say my millionth attempt at weight loss? At this moment I am down 17 pounds. This is the slowest I have ever lost on a weight loss plan but it’s one that I have to say I enjoy the most. I’m enjoying cooking so much that I’ve probably in three months cooked almost half of the recipes in my cookbook. I have three cookbooks. I’m trying things I never would have tried before and opening up a new world of tastes to me. Who knew that you could bake desserts with white beans, black beans, spinach, and okra. You couldn’t have paid me to even look at okra in the past.

I’ve been off of processed sugars and fake sugars for three months. Did I say I have…had a sugar addiction. I now use stevia which is a plant-based sweetener. It took a little to get used to the aftertaste but I don’t even know the difference now.

I am also off of white bread, white potatoes, and white rice. I think the hardest thing to give up was pizza but thank God there’s cauliflower pizza and I love it!. I also have yet to try the pizza recipe in my cookbook. I’ve been going in order from front to back with the recipes. Don’t ask….it’s just how I roll.

So how do I know I’m in it to win it? Since starting this weight loss plan, I have been in pain from some severe things going on in my neck. It started on my right side in my shoulder and shoulder blade. I went to see a Dr and he did an MRI on my neck. Much to my surprise, it was my left side that was in bad shape. The miracle was I wasn’t experiencing any discomfort or pain on that side. My Dr. was puzzled. Well that all changed two weeks ago and then I learned what level 14 type of pain was. It’s right up there with birth and kidney stones. Some days I want to put my fist through the wall; it hurts so bad.

I also lost my little Jackie (schnauzer dog)of 15 years last week. Watching him have seizures on top of my pain was killing me. That dog went through so much with our bigger dogs. We always thought he had nine lives and would outlive us. I have cried for days.

My daughter and her husband have moved across the States and my youngest and his wife will be joining them in the fall. I won’t see my daughter leading worship anymore and it kind of hurts but I am so happy for her.

I’ve also lost my dreams. I’m kind of at a place of not knowing what God has for my life. Only four months ago I had incredible visions only to watch them slip away from me. I’m sitting here with this huge mountain in front of me not knowing whether to climb it, go around it or make it go away. I’m totally open for whatever God wants me to do. I just don’ t know what that is.

BUT

in the midst of all of this, I have never cheated or wavered off plan. I have stayed focused and not even felt the need to eat off plan. I am/have been a pain and emotional eater and here I am sticking with this plan that I am totally on board with. I have no desire to go back to sugar eating which has always been my narcotic. I don’t look for reasons to cheat or make excuses to eat in an unhealthy way. I don’t ever want to touch processed sugar again. Every other diet I have done, I couldn’t wait to get to goal so I could add junk again….and I made up for lost time. Everything I eat now, I know is good for me and doing good things for my body. That is exciting. If I can overcome temptation in my hardest days, then how much easier will it be when my days get better?

That’s how I know I’m in it to win it!!!

Seven words that hurt…

There are seven words I have heard over and over in two different ways that really trouble me. They are, ” You can’t be a Christian if you….” and ” You can’t be a Christian and do..” Every time I hear these words said it breaks my heart and honestly frustrates me. By saying something like this aren’t we really saying, “Since you believe differently than me and I am a true Christian then if you believe differently, you can’t possibly be a Christian?” This is not pointed at anyone directly, in fact I haven’t heard or seen it from anyone I know. It’s just comments I have heard from other people or read in other people’s posts, tweets and blogs. It’s sad.

I was praying about this and the Lord reminded me of how he compares his people to trees. Like a tree there are different stages of growth as a Christian. There is the sapling or brand new baby Christian who is just developing. He or she is just learning about the bible and what it says. They are being nourished through one on one mentoring, church, small groups and bible study. They are young and should not be expected to have the maturity as those who are in a different stage of their life.

The second stage of a tree’s life is the juvenile stage. This is where the most rapid times of growth come. they are beginning to establish themselves in their surroundings. A juvenile Christian is forming his thoughts and learning and soaking up everything he or she can. Just like the tree they are strong but they can also be easily broken. When they are free to grow and not injured, they  will respond with rapid growth, be solidly established, and  found in good health.

The third stage of a tree is the prime of life or mature stage. Trees like a Christian in their prime of life will take care of themselves with little outside help.Growth continues at a slower, steady pace.Just like the branches of the tree that are strong so is the christian strong at this place, and their opinions are pretty formed.

The fourth stage of tree is the middle age or post mature. The tree may prune some of its unproductive branches. They are intolerant of disturbances. The tree’s energy reserves are good and balanced allowing it to fight diseases effectively.  Like the tree a Christian at this stage is growing up and has formed his or her opinions and is discovering what belief systems need to be eliminated as they are understanding the word and applying it to their life. They also can become intolerant of anything or anyone disagreeing with what they believe and are not afraid to stand up for that belief.

There are a couple more stages but I think you get my point by now.

What I’m trying to say is: people like tree grow in stages. It has nothing to do with age but with maturity in their walks. Their systems are being formed as they are nurtured and allowed to grow. We can all be at these stages in different things like politics, denominational beliefs, what we allow into our life, what we eat or drink, what we celebrate etc…So to say someone can’t be a christian if they……..is not allowing for stages of growth in that particular area and could be a bit judgmental if it is lacking in discernment and there is a difference……..maybe I’ll write about that at a different time.

It’s so important that we know the heart and maturity of people before we throw out random comments like that. Not that we should even throw out comments like that. I know some great Christian people in my life that think totally different then me but they are strong in their love, walk and belief in the Lord. It could be that I might not be at that stage of life yet…just a thought.