Friday, January 29, 2010

Conquering Change


It happens, whether we want it to or not.
Faster than we think or sometimes not fast enough.

Change has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks.
My habits are changing. I exercise more often. I eat different foods. I have changed from 3 or 4 cups of coffee every morning to one or two cups of herbal tea. I can hardly believe that myself!

How I spend my time is changing. Family time is a priority. I always thought it was before, but my eyes have been opened to my own deceit. My daughter is turning 16 in two weeks, and I don't like to leave her alone at home. Not because I don't trust her because I do, but because I want to be with her if she is available. This is a change because not that long ago, I didn't mind leaving her at home to self entertain. Now I can hardly stand it.

Change. I pray differently these days. My time with God is sweeter and my requests are more about loving Him more, seeing Him work in the lives of those around me, and asking Him to break my heart over what breaks His heart. If He reveals things to me that are not pleasing to Him, I ask Him to forgive me. If He gives me discernment about another sister or brother, I intercede instead of judge.

And I think about these things, wondering, what happened? How has this happened? I realize it is not anything I have done. It is all God. He is transforming me, little by little, to be more like Him. Sanctification. How amazing. I don't deserve it. After all, I am a sinner...a terrible, evil, mean spirited sinner. And for no reason other than He loves me, He makes beauty of my messiness, my meanness, and my uncaring heart. He reminds me, like He did just last night, that He loves me - whether I like it or not, whether I deserve it or not - He just loves me. And the things that I have done that make me shake my head in disbelief...the wrong I have done, the gossip I have spread, the rage I have spread - gone. Yep, forgiven. What a wonderful thing to be a victim of His grace, His mercy.

Change. The only change I really need to think about is the change that God is making in me. I am more than a conqueror! He is victorious in me!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 8:37 - 39

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fill-In's

1. You have a chance _to start your day over anytime you want to_.

2. The time to_ enjoy life is right now_!

3. There is a _light at the end of the tunnel_.

4. _I only buy now and _pay later to earn points.

5. It's time to _really let things go and move on_.

6.There is always _some aspect of my life that is up in the air but I will choose to enjoy it - whatever circumstance_.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _a date with my hubby_, tomorrow my plans include _cycle class, a little cleaning, some relaxing, and maybe a movie_, and Sunday, I want to _worship at the Village Church (which I LOVE) and have the VERY FIRST MEETING of the Home Group that I am leading! I am so, so excited_!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Project 365 Week 35

It was a good week over all.
But the photos don't reflect the blessings I experienced.
And I wonder....
"where was my camera when.....?"
Funny how after 34 weeks go by, and I remember to take pictures, then this past week -
I forgot.

Let me explain.

Monday, January 11
I went to work and then went to the gym.
(this is an old photo, but the cycle room looks the same)

Tuesday, January 11
My family and I are eating vegan only for a couple of weeks.
This is what I prepared for dinner.
It's not just a movie!

Wednesday, January 13
While getting ready for work, I hear about the tragic earthquake in Haiti.
My heart is breaking for those who are there.
And then I hear that some of the physicians that work in my building are also in Haiti, working with Doctors without Walls.
When I arrive at work, I photograph their names on the directory while adding them to my prayers. They have returned home safely.

Thursday, January 14
I went to work and then I went to the gym.
(you might be getting the picture now)

Friday, January 15
I went to work and to the gym! (ha ha)
And so is everyone else....look at the parking lot!
I did go out with a friend too! But, I was so caught up in having fun, I didn't take a photo!

Saturday, after going to the gym, (smile)
my daughter and I went shopping at one of our favorite stores.

Sunday, January 17
I went to worship services and
I did NOT go to the gym.
I watched the Dallas Cowboys loose to the Minnesota Vikings,
and I took a nap.
A wonderful vegan potato chowder was served for lunch, and I read part of a book.
But I did not take a photo.

But it was a lovely week!
Hope yours was too,

As Myself?

Thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr., today and the impact that he made in our nation. Good stuff and I am glad that he was bold and courageous enough to step out and make a difference.
As thoughts about equality, human rights, and prejudice have tossed around in my mind, there is one verse in the Bible that continues to pop into my head.

Love your neighbor as yourself.
Romans 13:9
Isn't that what we call, "The Golden Rule"?
As a follower of Christ, the Bible is the standard that I use in how I live my life, or it should be. In every situation and every circumstance, God's word is to determine how I behave. This means that my feelings don't get to determine my actions and reactions. And if scripture is my standard, then love has to be the law.

God is love. Love is the reason that we have a savior. And it is because of love, God's love, that we should love others...all others. Love is not a feeling, it is not a mushy emotion that gives us warm fuzzies in our tummies. Love is an action that takes commitment and effort in treating others the way God treats us. And as we learn to treat others like we would like to be treated (with respect, kindness, mercy, and grace) we will find out that we are becoming more like God! And that's a happy thing!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Video Update from Matt Chandler

Some of you have asked how my pastor is doing. He just finished his third week of radiation and has three more. He also is about to finish his third week of chemotherapy, and has three more. He is doing good, he is upbeat, and relying on God.
God uses this in the lives of all of us at The Village Church, and even in the lives of people all over the world. I am learning my own lessons from God as I ask Him to reveal the work He wants to do in me in this circumstance.
One of the things I am in awe over is that Matt and his family have decided to suffer this trial and battle this battle publicly. This decision of Matt's has helped me learn a great deal about honesty, about trust in God and others, and heal from some past hurts that involved dishonesty and secrets in church leadership. What a refreshing change.
And I have determined where I fall in the question, "Is God so sovereign that He won't change His mind?" He is absolutely sovereign, yes, and He does change His mind! Both examples are all through scripture!
I, along with thousands of others, are praying for the complete healing of our Godly, and well-loved, pastor Matt.
(and yes, Matt is preaching the messages currently, for as long as he can.)

Click on the link below to view Matt's video.

Video Update from Matt Chandler

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins

Here is my Friday fill-in-the-blank posting!
1. The lesson I learned yesterday was _that it is important to always be honest with myself_.

2. _I love it when my home is_ where friends and family meet.

3. All these years_, almost 30 of them now, I have been in love with the same man._

4. _There were flowers on my desk_ when I arrived.

5. The truth is _I really just want to "retire"._
6. _The pained look in her eyes_ is what I remember most from that day.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _dinner and shopping with Tricia_, tomorrow my plans include _cycle class, a massage, shopping with my daughter, and an evening at home watching a movie_ and Sunday, I want to _go to worship services and then watch the Dallas Cowboys play AND WIN the game against the Vikings_! GO COWBOYS!
Somewhere in there, I should grocery shop! :)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's Thursday and I am Thankful

Evidently, I am not inspired to be creative. Days come and go and this is the conversation that I hear:

Love Writing Liz, "I want to post something on my blog."

Me, "But what are you going to write about?"

Love Writing Liz, "I am not sure, but I know something will is there (in my heart) that is ready to be expressed."

Me, "I am not sure about that. The brain seems have taken over for the heart and your words are a little....well, direct- aka dull."

Love Writing Liz, "That's okay...write anyway."

My mind has been busy. For this I am thankful. For one thing, it means I can think! And it also
means I am learning, which is fun and makes me feel just a little more alive.

There are a lot of changes happening in my world. Some of them are initiated by me, some of them have been introduced by others but I agreed to, and some of them? Well, some of them are just happening whether I like it or not.

One evening, recently, I was with two other friends who know me well. We decided that we would make a list of everything in our lives that we did not have control over. Then we also listed all of the things that we do have control over. We discussed our lists among the three of us, encouraged one another and planned to work on the things we were able to change. This was beneficial in my ability to let go of worry or stress over the changes that come into my life without my permission! :)

Some of the changes, however, are ones that I am enjoying. In April, I will participate with some friends in my first triathlon! What a huge, but fun change as I begin training. Cycling has been my preferred form of exercise, but now I will add swimming and running. It has been a good while since I ran (jogged), but it feels good to be back at it. Swimming has always been recreational for me and I look forward to improving that skill. I have a swim lesson set up with a fellow cyclist who was on the swim team in High School and college. And yes, she is young, but this is good! She will give me tips and help me determine my strongest stroke. Additional change will hopefully be a more fit body. After all, I do house the Spirit of God, and I want to glorify Him in this area. Even though I have lost nearly 25 pounds in 2009, sadly I must say, I have another 15 or so to go. (admitting how much overweight I had become is very humbling!) THIS is a change I look forward to! And thankful??? Oh yes! That I am capable of doing this with God's help! Thankful that I will be able to (God willing) spend a little more time in this life enjoying my loved ones. If I leave this earth before I am old, I pray that it will not be because I did not care for my physical body.

Change is happening in my spiritual life too! In a little more than a week, a brand new home group will begin in my house! This change is initiated by God, but I have said "yes" in obedience. I am thankful because He has given me all I need to do this, and I am also thankful because He has prepared me. And oh how He has prepared me. Five years ago, almost to the day, I resigned my ministry position as Leader of Discipleship at my former church. The events that lead to that resignation were painful and I didn't think I wanted to serve in this area (or any to be really honest) again. Today, I am so excited at the opportunity to shepherd women as they grow closer to the Lord, myself included! I am thankful for the 3 women who have stepped up to help start the group, and the one who has already committed to come! In preparation, I have been fasting, (Daniel fast) and God has been awesome. He has revealed new things, softened my heart, and given my new insight. As I ponder and pray, His presence is very real. So much so, the other night, as I prayed, I asked for Him to give me words to speak as I was going to give testimony as to how I came into leadership for this position. He answered me, clearly, IN MY PRAYER! It was awesome. I spoke the words that He gave me and it was just as if He placed them in my mouth and I simply opened it so they would come out. Talk about THANKFUL!

Those are just two of the changes happening that I am thankful for today.

Blessings surround me in my family and friends. I am thankful that my marriage is strong and even though it is not perfect, it is good, real good. My kids are wonderful and I am so proud of them. And God has given me such good friends that I just get all mushy just thinking about them.

So, even though I am not feeling creative, and writing is difficult right now, my heart is bursting with excess! This is when I want to is as if I have to write, to get rid of what I can't carry.

And my heart is full of thankfulness. grateful,

Monday, January 11, 2010

Project 365 Week 34

Week 34 has come and gone and I was a little lax about taking my photos.
It was so cold in Texas (ranging from 14 to 28 degrees) for so many days that I found myself lacking motivation.
Go figure.

Tuesday, January 5
The group of friends - we call each other Warrior Chicks - came over for meeting 2 of
Beth Moore's Bible Study on Esther, It's Tough Being a Woman.
This group of friends all met at a summer Bible Study nearly 3 years ago.
The Bible Study is long over and we represent 3 different church homes,
but we still meet monthly for fellowship.
We recently decided that we wanted to do this study together.
Somehow I was elected to lead.
Anyway, we had a great time....

Wednesday, January 6
On my way out the door, BEFORE I put my coat on.
I don't ever need to dress like this in Texas....
but it has been so, so cold!

Friday, January 8
My hubby received a gift certificate for this old time saloon and steak house as a Christmas gift.
He and I drove the 1 1/2 hour south to have dinner.
We had a very nice time!
Instead of driving home, we got a hotel room and spent the night.
We had a lovely relaxing morning, sleeping in, lingering over breakfast and coffee, reading, and planning our menu for the week.
(we are doing the Daniel fast)

Look at this cutie!

Appetizers and drinks.....

Saturday, January 9
We had a beautiful drive home.
The skies were clear and downtown Dallas looked beautiful.

Here is the old Cowboys stadium, still in the demolition stage.
(Go Cowboys...they killed the Eagles on this night!)

Sunday, January 10
My good friend Jo Anne and I are attending Leadership Training
at the Village Church.
She and I are both being obedient to God's call - becoming Home Group leaders.
It is fun but sad because we have been in the same home group for a year and a half,
now we will be leading two different groups.
But, we will remain prayer partners and fellow encouragers!
She is going to make a wonderful leader!

I hope that your week was as blessed as mine!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Random Poem for Rusty

Feeling so sad
my dog is ill
his teeth are hurtin'
he won't take his pill

We waited a time
then returned to the vet
so he's having surgery
a quite risky bet

His body is old
his kidneys are weak
the whole family's nervous
we feel rather bleak

We hope Rusty's strong
and fights a good fight
so he can come home
after staying one night.

Get well, Rusty!!

** UPDATE! Rusty is home and recouperating well! **

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Got A Feeling....

that this is gonna be a good, good year!!!!!!

I have great expectations!

And I don't make New Year's Resolutions,
but I do like goals.

And prayers.
I know God will answer prayers, and there are a few that I look forward to seeing the answer to, hopefully in 2010.
It would be great if love and peace and forgiveness would win out in a few broken relationships.
I am still praying.

And I am look forward to how my marriage will become more wonderful,
as it does every year!

My health should improve since I am training for a triathlon. I lost 23 pounds in 2009.
I look forward to losing about 15 to 20 more.
Completing the Caveman triathlon with a couple of my very good friends is a
goal that I am excited to achieve!

It is going to be fun to see what God is going to do because I said "yes" to Him and stepped up into Home Group leadership with my church.
And my church....
I have to say I am amazed and thrilled to love my church!
What a blessing after so many years of being a skeptic!

2010 is going to be great, great year!

Looking back at 2009, I saw a fun idea on my blog friend Pam's blog (Grey Like Snuffie)
I am going to post the first sentence of the first post for each month in 2009.
It might be fun to see how it looks...

Let's go!

January 2009
Today, I am very grateful for the recovery program that I am in.

February 2009
God's new testament math specializes in addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division.

March 2009
I selected a new verse to memorize today. I didn't have to think about it, or pray about it.

April 2009
Finally, all of you, live in Harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and Humble.

May 2009
The first rule of working in an office and getting along is don't take things personally.

June 2009
The below story is one that I read on my former pastor's blog the other day.

July 2009
Well, I have to apologize.

August 2009
I spent the afternoon transferring activities from various calendars and appointment cards to our family calendar.

September 2009
I feel thankful, tired, analytical, and not creative.

October 2009
I have a history of saying more than I should.

November 2009
Have you ever experienced a period in your life where you seem to get the same message over and over?

December 2009
Below is the letter that was sent to the body of believers at the Village Church today.

Pretty funny to look back and let those sentences write my year end 2009.
True, all true.

What a year.
Looking forward to 2010!
Thanks for reading my blog!

Blessings to you~

Project 365 Week 33

It seems like a lifetime since last week's Project 365 posting.

Monday, December 28,
It was the last day that Adam and Thien were here all day. They left on December 29, early in the morning. This is what some of Monday looked like at my house - memories that I want to etch into my heart....

Below is a photo of Adam, Aaron, and Rebecca...the Russell kids.

Tuesday, December 29
I was sad...
so I kept looking at the painting that Thien painted and gave Fred and I for Christmas!
Isn't it beautiful?

Wednesday, December 30
I was driving to work and saw the most wonderful sunrise!
God of wonders!

Thursday, December 31
New Years Eve 2009
Fred and I hosted a party to ring in the new year.
Here is a photo early in the night...a handful of some of the very best friends in the world!
I look at the faces in this photo and know the blessings that God has poured over me this year with these ladies! Each of them has a different place in my heart and each of them are my

And of course, me and my hubby....
the one friend who has stood by me through everything!
God was so good to me when He gave me this guy as my husband!

January 1, 2010
I did what I normally do on New Years Day,
take down all the Christmas decorations.
This is how simplified I left things...for now....

Saturday, January 2
One of my very BFF's, Lori, and I went shopping on Saturday.
This was the post Christmas shopping trip where you make any exchanges and spend gift certificates.
I was so happy, my son Aaron, took a picture of me.

And I came home with a throw for my sofa that I have been "visiting" in the store for many months. I used a gift certificate. I bought two pillows also. (the ones with the squares)

Sunday, January 3
Today when Fred and I went to church, our pastor - Matt - was back!
Tears rolled down my cheeks when he walked out on the stage.
(This might be an entire post, later.)
But I was feeling so upbeat that I cooked lunch for my entire family. This is uncommon these days. A simple meal after all the crazy, heavy meals that we have had the last couple of weeks.
Turkey Tetrazini (made the turkey for New Years Day) and sauted squash. yum.

Happy New Year!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Friday Fill-In's

So, I should be sleeping in ( I was up until 2 a.m.), but since my entire family knows I don't (normally) sleep in, I have received 3 phone calls before 9:30 a.m. I love my family! But I was sleeping in! ha ha! Instead of sleeping, I sit here having coffee and completing these Friday Fill-In's!

Here are my latest fill in the blank answers.

1. Last night _Fred and I hosted a New Years Eve party that was wonderfully fun, thanks to our very lovely guests!_

2. _I am really looking forward to the great things happening_ this year.

3. The funniest thing _we did last night was play charades_.

4. _I have made a list of all my 2010 where do we go from here?

5. He said _"Let's stay home"_; she said _"I want to go"_. (they went)

6. _Joy is available to us each and every moment_ and it's up to us to find it.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to _movie viewing_, tomorrow my plans include _CYCLE CLASS!, making sure ALL Christmas decor is stored away, and Sunday, I want to _go to worship services, organize photos, and work on some project activities around the house!

Happy New Year to my family and friends!