My Fitness

Sunday, September 24, 2017

glory song - matt redman - giveaway

I hope you enjoy this CD as much as I did. Amusingly, I have to admit that I agreed to listen to this CD and when I got it home I looked around my room and thought, "oh. right." I don't own a CD player! ha! So I found a DVD player that I used an adapter to hook to my computer. Fun times. Hopefully you have a CD player and can enter this giveaway!

You can pre-order HERE.

Watch a really neat live version of Gracefully Broken HERE

Watch the story HERE
Video with lyrics HERE

About the album:
Matt Redman teamed up with several of his worship-artist friends for this album, first releasing the track “Gracefully Broken (feat. Tasha Cobbs Leonard).” Tasha Cobbs Leonard also released her own version of this song on the same day! The album also features Kierra Sheard, Guvna B, Madison Cunningham, and Kim Walker-Smith. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

slip of paper (meditating on scripture)

This slip of paper represents much of my trials going through labor with Lucas. The back wasn't filled out much because labor picked up and I was no longer able to write.

Everyone has their trick for getting through labor. Some use drugs. Some use a special verse they picked out weeks in advance. Some meditate and use incense.

I had several verses and I wrote them down here. I chose none in advance and only wrote each verse down as they came to me in my discussion with God last Thursday.

The main one that I shared last week is at the top of the page: The Lord goes before me and the God of Israel is my rear guard. (Isaiah 52:12)

My next verse was soothing to meditate on whenever I got scared about dying or about the baby dying. It says that no matter what happens, everything will turn out ok: All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

The next verse is an adaptation of the fruit of the Spirit. Who else better embodies the fruit of the Spirit than the Spirit himself? I needed to remember that God cares for me and about me. He isn't a Norse god waiting to "get" me or a Greek god trying trick me:
God loves me
is joyful for me
gives peace to me [and is at peace with me through the blood of Christ]
is patient with me
is kind to me
is good to me
is faithful toward me
is gentle with me
has self-control toward me [he isn't going to suddenly be unjust for no reason] (Galatians 5:22-23)
My next verse is not from the Bible but more a lesson from several verses like Ecclesiastes 3:1: Trust in God includes trust in his timing.

This next verse is also not in the Bible but a practical application of many verses include Psalm 23 which immediately follows it: Don't doubt in the dark what God said in the light.
The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 
Next is only the symbol #27 referring to Psalm 27:
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing I have 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 gave upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will life me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, Lord, do I seek." Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
And even after I was reminded to wait upon the Lord I would still get angry that things weren't going as well as I wanted. And pointedly the Spirit rebuked me (and I repented) saying, "The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." (James 1:20)

Alright then. Well, I remembered all these things and the Spirit closed the conversation with, "How much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:11)

And with that, I amazed to say, the baby was born. And he is a good gift.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

that was hard (Lucas Xavier's birth story)

By my calculations his due date was August 31. My midwife Mercy, who knows a lot more about these things, said September 1. But I had a feeling it would be much longer than that because my kids have all ranged from 5-15 days late. With all the other babies I tried every trick to start labor or turn false labor true. Nothing ever worked and only left me exhausted. So I did no tricks this time. I even prayed but God's plan was not altered.

For 3 weeks I've had bouts of false labor every few days. This week, I had bouts every day that were so realistic that I canceled plans! The big kids played at the Gonzalez's house all day Tuesday BECAUSE MY WATER BROKE. The midwives came over and spent the night as contractions faded away. And in a truly over-the-top-and-competely-way-too-dramatic-Lauren Mulford-way, the sac resealed itself.

Wednesday was Micah's 6th birthday. He was hoping for a birthday buddy. Micah asked if we could name the baby "Toot" claiming that it came to him in a dream. So, Baby's nickname is Toot (or Toots). Around 8pm some more contractions started.

Thursday at 4am I awoke to sharp contractions right on top of each other. I had to cancel my Thursday morning ballet class which really bummed me out. I love that class. I thought this was more false labor. But these contractions were so intense that real or not, I couldn't handle them.

My D-Group (well, every d-group) has been memorizing Isaiah 52 these past 12 weeks. The verse that has been my tether to sanity and holiness has been, "The Lord will go before you and the God of Israel will be your read guard." I would repeat that verse over and over these past few weeks. It got me through the worst of my mind games. During labor right before the end there's a period of about 15 minutes to an hour where baby is getting into his final position and mama is thinking of how to escape and give up. I could recognize it and got the midwives back over here telling them I was "in transition."

[mini-preaching: Transition is that time where you look around at the news and get filled with despair. It's when you hear of landslides and fires that kill thousands. It's when you see your house flooded and extremists marching in cities and so many Americans think of Jesus as a white Republican. You look around thinking that there's no way to survive this. There's no hope for humanity. Christians don't even know Christ. What can we do except give up and escape? But God has the answer in Matthew 24:13, "But the one who endures until the end will be saved." -both in normal labor and eschatology. /sermon]

Holly woke up early and was so excited that she stayed up to be my first "labor buddy" of the day.

I visited the chiropractor and that kicked the contractions into real action. I got into the tub hoping that would make things easier. It does help but short of drugs, there is no "easy labor". I don't think I'll do that again. I wanted to die. I envisioned my body being popped apart like a toy skeleton. I also fell asleep between contractions and hallucinated. Guys, I was exhausted. I still am.

I decided to get out of the tub and head over to the bed. This is much easier to type; in reality I needed help and it still took me a minute to go the dozen feet. And my second labor buddy joined me. I had dreamt of Zoë helping me through labor. She's a real hero. I needed Felipe to hold my leg because I didn't have any strength left. And I squeezed Zoë with each push. She snuggled up to me and was so helpful and sympathetic. She's not yet 2! What an angel. I don't think I could have done it without her. I'm so grateful for a home birth where my big baby was able to participate.

Baby Lucas took about five sets of pushes to get his ginormous head out. And another couple sets to get the rest of his body out. It was HARD. I was so sleepy but knew I had to push through the exhaustion. Just another push and I could be done! And here he is! His position was a bit off because he had his hand pressed against his face. I thought that might be the case because several times over the last few weeks I felt him punch me and right before he came out he punched me again. HA! What a stinker!

We had to wait to find out Baby's sex until birth and so we had two names picked out, Lucas and Brooke. Holly is still waiting for Brooke to be born...I've tried explaining it to her but she has made up her mind that we WILL be having another baby. ha! She told me last week that as soon as the baby was born she was going to sing The Itsy Bitsy Spider to him. And she did. It was adorable!

Caleb can't stop saying how cute and adorable Lucas is. His voice gets super squeaky. Caleb is the best oldest child ever. He is so loving!

Micah right away wanted to sing to him. Lucas loved it. He stopped fussing and tried to focus on Micah. Then Micah went and got a toy that sang and gave it to him as a gift.

Guys, I have the best kids!




Mama and Toot

Sunday, September 10, 2017

ec and the four pillars of counseling

Equipped to Counsel (EC) is a discipleship class through my church that I am currently taking.

Today's class we discussed the 4 pillars of Biblical counseling. They are summarized as Father, Son, Holy Spirit, love. You can see these pillars displayed in Christ's answer to what is the most important commandment. Christ answers, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind...And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:36-40) And in the great commission, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) If we are to make disciples and teach them to observe all that has been commanded, what better way to do that than to use these two greatest commandments to do so since everything falls under these two commands? What better way to counsel people than to help them develop a better life with Christ?

Slightly expounded, the 4 pillars are: 1-God is central, 2-Exalt Jesus, 3-Depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, 4-Always act in love.

I want to briefly discuss the 4th pillar.

How often I've seen well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) Christians speak the truth without any tact, gentleness, or tenderness. These Christians have told me, "Is it loving to just not say anything?" Yes. Yes, if you cannot speak the truth in gentleness, since love is gentle, then it is better to not say anything. It is not loving to go around pointing out people's sins. That's arrogance. Love is humble. You are not "just trying to help." Because the truth knows that love is patient. It isn't easily triggered. If you have wisdom then you will know when and where to say anything. Wisdom knows when to hold its tongue.

If what you are saying doesn't directly glorify God, then don't say it. Using the Bible as a hammer is an ungodly use of Scripture. Instead, seek to edify the body. Don't try to show off how smart you are and how well you know the Bible. Consider keeping your mouth shut. You can know the Bible thoroughly and not know God personally.

Consider asking questions if someone comes to you for help and instead of beating them down and showing how much holier you are than they are, be tender and kind, sympathetic and loving. Know that their struggle is real. Go away in prayer and search the Scriptures for wisdom. Someone might be gluttonous, but that might not be the sin that needs to be addressed. Wisdom will help decipher. Berating a person for their sins is not helpful. You don't see Jesus doing that. He had sympathy for the crowds. But the arrogant, self-righteous Religious Elite, he beat down.

I'd rather be known as the one Jesus had compassion on than as a Religious Elite. I'd rather be like Jesus and show compassion.

edit to add that this is not the same as "If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all."  Often what is needed, godly, and holy is not going to be "nice". Ultimately it will be nice, but the perception will not necessarily be that way.

second edit (more like addendum): After writing this I read an article (also from class) about Redemptive Speaking by Paul Tripp in 1998. It's exactly what I mean and of course better articulated.  I don't want to plagiarize anything he wrote but I will encourage you to get ahold of a copy of it from The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, volume 16 no3 Spring 1998)

Friday, September 1, 2017

saved through childbearing

Let me describe contractions to you. In my five pregnancies this is the first that have been like this. (And even this pregnancy, it's not normally this bad)

Imagine sitting around minding your own business when you suddenly notice you need to take a deeper breath. Then you get a slight headache right behind your ears. You may need to gasp slightly for another breath when you get jabbed on the top of your head with something that feels like a dull rock. It drags down your spine and plunges its fist completely through your abdomen where it finally reaches up your chest to your throat to choke your neck. Meanwhile your belly turns into a massive stone that pushes against your pelvis and your joints crumble in pain.

Then nothing.

At first this happens at intervals of 40 minutes for a few hours, then 30 minutes for a few hours, then 15 minutes for a few hours, then 10 minutes for a few hours. You might think, "ah yes, it's getting closer. I'm almost done." You pray that you'll see that little face in just a few more hours. This goes on all day.

And then nothing.

It all stops. You go to bed. No baby. No productivity. Nothing has happened except that you are now exhausted. There's no one to help you bear this burden. There's nothing that can help (unless you want a real medical intervention that puts your life and your baby's life at risk).

Why would anyone willingly go through this?

What did Jesus endure and why would he willingly endure that?

Jesus' death was more than being tortured and hung. That has happened to plenty of people. Jesus' death was a spiritual death that we cannot fathom. Becoming sin for us means he was separated from the godhead trinity. He was alone. No one could help him. Why would he let them do that to him?

It's because he loves me. He didn't want to see me die that way, so he died that way. He saved me. And it was not worth it at all. What he has gained from me is incomparable to what I have gained from him. There's no paying this debt back to him. That's just the way he likes it. He gave me a gift and if I then earned that gift it'd be about me. Since I cannot do anything in return, the focus stays on him where it should always be.

Accepting Jesus' death as your own and then submitting to him is the only way to life.

Jesus endured the cross because of the joy he knew was on the other side - joy of heaven and bringing us to himself there. I can endure my "cross" because of the joy that is on the other side - joy of heaven and bringing a little living being into the world. (Hebrews 12:2)

Today was rough with the false labor. Today was my due date. I hate this. But I could never look at one of my children and think that it wasn't worth it. If at all possible I'd like a pass, but it's not about me. Not my will but the Father's be done. Christ looks at me and says, "worth it." He asked for this cup to pass from him but set my example before me saying, "not my will but yours be done." (Luke 22:42) If Christ can endure the cross, then I can endure a bit of pain.

I come to my salvation just like everyone else: acceptance of the sacrifice that Christ made. Childbearing doesn't save me. When you see a verse like 1 Timothy 2:15, the "through childbearing" doesn't mean childbearing brings salvation. Read that "through" as "in spite of" or even "in spite of the feelings associated with". Like, "I feel like I'm dying and surely this is a sign that I am cursed and full of shame." But Paul says, "I know you feel that way, but you'll get through this. That's not true. You are not cursed. You are loved." And we are saved by faith...John Piper has a whole article on it here.

So, while I feel empty and alone and dying, I can get through this.

But if you wanted to bring me a pumpkin scone from Starbucks, that'd help.