Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A kid-free post (well, almost)

I usually post things about the kids--how they're growing, changing, etc.--but I rarely post things about how or what Bryan and I are doing (we're fine, by the way :-) )! Well, I have experienced something fairly life-changing lately and I feel compelled to share!

I'm participating in a women's Bible study with a friend of mine (sponsored by her church). It's not just any study; it's a Beth Moore study. If you are a woman and have never done one of Beth's studies, YOU SHOULD. She is an incredibly gifted teacher and speaker and God always uses her material to speak to me in whatever season of life I'm in. This study (the sixth one I've done of Beth's) is called "A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place;" it's a study of the tabernacle. Week two of the study focused on God's provision for the Israelites during their wandering in the wilderness, and here's what got me: God is a daily God. He wants us to come to Him every day for sustenance and a renewal of His mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23). Meeting with Him once a week for corporate worship, or a couple times a week in prayers before meals, won't cut it. The interesting thing is that several things in my life leading up to this week of study had been pointing to this very same idea, and when that happens I know God's trying to teach me something. What I'm learning this time is that in a lot of ways, I've been focusing on the future or a far-off goal instead of living for and paying attention to today. I'll give you some examples so you can see what I mean by "this is fairly life-changing."

1. For several years now I've wanted to lose a significant amount of weight (anywhere from 30-50 pounds, depending on what year it was!), but each time I've never been able to lose more than 10 or 15 pounds. I am working on losing weight again, and this time when I started the process, I started really thinking about why I'd never been able to accomplish my goal. What I realized was that I'd been focusing so much on the big number at the end, I'd not been able to be happy with my daily or weekly, smaller goals (met or unmet). Therefore, if I had a week where I didn't lose much or any weight, or if it was taking longer than I wanted, I got discouraged and just gave up. Now I realize that I didn't gain all that weight in a couple months, and it's going to take longer than that to lose it! Also, if I just focus on eating well today, each day, those daily choices will put me closer to my goal. By the way, I've been successful so far...to date I've lost 18.5 pounds! Woo hoo!

2. Amelia is getting to a point now where she occasionally throws tantrums and shows a nasty attitude. Hello, almost-4 year-old (I told you this was almost kid-free)! It is obviously a challenge to figure out the best way to handle these instances, as all kids are different and all punishments don't work across-the-board. My struggle with this phase has been my thinking, "if she's this bad now, what's it going to be like when she's a teenager?? She is going to hate me!" This may, of course, still turn out to be true, but in light of my new realization I've decided to pray every day that I'll make good parenting decisions for that day, and not focus on what might happen 10 years from now. It's also helped me to remember that the way I react to her is an example to her of how to act when she is upset or angry. If I yell at Amelia and stomp around when I'm upset with her, she's likely to react the same way when she's upset with me! Putting these into practice has helped me to be more loving and calm when dealing with her, and I can already tell that her reaction to me is changing.

3. I've been very involved in different ministries at our church for several years now, and I'm burned out. The details are complicated so I won't share all of them, but trust me when I tell you that at this point in time everything I'm doing, I have to keep doing. I've realized that I've been in a spiritual slump, so to speak, due to this burnout and some other factors, and I've gotten indifferent, negative, and bitter (though mostly not publicly). Unfortunately I can't say that these feelings are totally gone, but with my "Daily God" approach He's been teaching me to focus on the task at hand, and to focus on those I'm ministering to instead of myself. It's been much more joyful and I'm sure it's made me a whole lot more effective.

So how else am I responding to the "lightbulb moment" God's given me? Every day, in the morning (to start the day out right!) I'm praying that God will sustain me for that day, that I'll rely on Him only, and that He'll show Himself to me. I'm asking Him to help me be a good wife and mom...today. That He'll help me make good eating and exercise choices...today. That I'll be a good friend and example to others...today. That He'll forgive me when I sin...today. Like I said, this has really changed my perspective and, I think, changed my life. It's something I always knew, but just now took to heart. Maybe you'll consider doing it, too; live in today!
*check out these scriptures for reference: Matt. 6:11; Matt. 6:33-34; Lam. 3:22-23


Kellie Buckner said...

Thanks for the post, Emily! I think that is awesome and definitely something I needed to hear.

Bria said...

Emily, you are always and inspiration and fantastic role model for me (slump or not!). I appreciate your honesty in this post - it really encourages me to pray the same kind of prayer every morning (to keep me from getting stressed out, to stay focused on my task, to be a good example to my peers at school). I love you so much, and thank you for posting this! I think God wanted me to see this, so he put it on your heart! He is always in control and will get us through everything!!

By the way, I'm very proud of how well you're doing with your diet! You look amazing!

Ted and Anne said...

Ditto to what Bria said! Emily, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts...and I agree 100% that everyone should do a Beth Moore study! I'm so glad you are in my life and I am very thankful to have a friend like you. I love our chats...thanks for always being there and for listening (you're kind of like my therapist, ha!) :)

Kellie Buckner said...

Emily, my mom just sent me an email about your Uncle Rick. I'm so sorry to hear about what happened. I hope you, your family, and especially Eva and the kids are alright. We are keeping y'all in our prayers.


Ava's Adventures said...

Hi, Emily. I also enjoyed reading your new perspective. I think that it is a great goal to keep a daily focus. I need to do that especially with my work! I'm always drowning in what I need to get done each week, and if I can strive to take it more day by day and start with a prayer like you, that will help! Right now I start it in an absolute craze to chase Ava as she fights and protests getting dressed, another argument and protest as I drop her off, and a rush in late through the door before teaching 45 or so kids a day how to talk! Your way sounds so much better!!! I'm not sure what the reference is to your uncle, but I hope everything is okay. Love you!

Martha said...

Em, you are inspiring! Amen to your comments on Beth Moore. I can't get enough of her studies. They are so wholesome, informative, and GOOD! Also, congrats on the weight loss. I loved the pictures that you emailed to us last night. In the picture of all four of you, you were just glowing and looked so beautiful. Now I am going to do some more thinking about TODAY. Miss you!