Fasting for 21 Days Like Daniel

What really matters to you? To me, it's all about love. I love God, I love my family, and I love my friends. More and more lately, I love this amazing woman that God made to live in this amazing body that is typing this message so adeptly. Yes, I am learning to love me. And it's something I would have considered sacrilegious to say in the past. Love myself? I know every verse about why I shouldn't. What changed? I learned one very important one, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." This was my problem.
Stephanie Orsini didn't like herself much. She talked a big talk about self-esteem and self-acceptance, but she really didn't have much of it. She treated herself badly with her negative self-talk and her disrespectful treatment of her body. And she treated others pretty badly, too. Slowly, over time, I learned a lot about how to love myself, and now I'm learning to act like it. I'm taking care of my health, speaking kindly to myself, and expecting respe…

Go! Run!

Recently, I stopped attending the church that I've focused so much of my life on for well over a decade. It made no sense. I help in a bunch of little, fulfilling ways, and I didn't really want to go at first. Well, after God told me to go, I asked my husband and my mother-in-law for their opinions. Of course, it made no sense to them, either. So, I shook it away, like a stray thought.

Fast forward a few years. Yes, years. I held on for far longer than I should have because it simply made no sense to me. But over the past two years, I have bumped up against a ton of walls. Everything seemed to tell me that I was in the wrong place. I felt so tired. Everything just seemed to go wrong. Yet, now I felt stuck. You see, I had asked the opinions of other people, and they were certain that I was wrong. So, if I go now, I'm going in opposition to their advice.

Now, I am going to explain a little more about my story. It's not just a church, but a family effort. My entire family…

My Jewels

This afternoon, I’m more aware than ever of the richness of my life. During our entire marriage, I think we lived 6 to 8 years above the poverty level, and even then, we always seemed to be struggling financially. We’ve always been technically poor. We’ve never had an excess of money. But oh, we’ve had joy! I need to put it into context for you. You know when you run out of toilet paper and you have to make do with napkins until payday? Well, we spent whole years with neither napkins nor toilet paper. No, we didn’t have paper towels. Coffee filters could be awfully convenient at times like those, since we were out of coffee, too. Might as well put them to good use. Are you getting a clearer picture? I’ve never been open about this online because it makes us uncomfortable to share such details. During those scarce years, I took my 3 year old daughter into a friend’s beautifully appointed bathroom once and she shouted, “Look, mom!” I thought she’d exclaim about the thick towels with…

Immobilized and Numb

I feel like a fake. I haven't arrived even close to the face that I portray. You see, I can use big words. I can talk about the right path to take. I can begin doing the right things. But I have never consistently done the right things. I freeze. My whole being goes into a sort of suspended animation, a hibernation of the soul. During those times, I sit on my couch, watch TV, and give up on trying hard. This is my usual existence. I do almost nothing. Other people help me clean. Or the mess stays. Other people feed the family. Other people help with laundry. And I sit.  Okay, usually, I do the laundry myself. And the dishes. I even prepare food for the helpless ones in the house. I cover diaper duty and midnight feedings. But boy I'll tell you that I stick to doing just the bare minimum.

I get stuck just like my car. In a traffic jam, the car has gas, is in good working order, and is fully capable of accomplishing its purpose of providing transportation. Like that traffic jamm…

Trusting People Is Insane

That title had two parts: Trusting People Is Insane, but Forgiving Them Is Mandatory

Faith in man has made a fool of me. Over the years, I've given my heart and my faithful friendship to people whom I later discovered weren't ready to be trusted with my confidence. It's a painful experience that we can't even fully mourn because the shame about how foolish we were takes over and makes us feel even worse. So, we decide to put it all in our past. After all, we reason, we are over it anyway! That person didn't deserve our trust. Anyone who asks us hears about it. And now, we're bashing and gossiping about someone who we had been willing to trust with our very lives. But there has to be a better way. Shouldn't there be?

To begin with, let me share my old plan for dealing with betrayal. First, I acted like I never felt any love for the person even from the beginning. I told people I had kept the friendship out of pity. Then, to show how little love I had, I reve…

Personal Development Books

Through the years, I've read some life changing books. "Finding God at Every Turn" by Catherine Marshall was a huge influence upon me as a woman. Even though it was about a life lived decades upon decades before my own, it resonated with me. Another one was "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer, which I'm reading again at the moment. Ruth Bell Graham has an autobiographical book whose title escapes my mind right now, but in it, she talked to me like a best friend.

"Lord, Change Me!" by Evelyn Christensen was amazing. Like her, I eventually got some time alone with God and begged him, not to fix my life, but to fix me. But lately, as I tried reading through a few more modern books, I hit a wall. They're bestsellers from people whom I admire, but I can't make myself wade through them. Something is missing, and as I think about my favorite books, I think what they lack is introspection.

These days, we talk about keeping it honest, real, be…

Am I Good Enough?

I've spent my life trying to please others and do what's expected. Now, notice that I didn't say that I was trying to be good. Yes, I've tried to be good. Of course, I've really made an effort to be godly, kind, and a generally good person. But sometimes I just begin to get overwhelmed by the fact that I'm not going to accomplish that goal at all. In those moments, I just give in to the idea of living up to a standard set among respectable mainstream Christians. I rest in the assurance that I don't drink, smoke, or have intimate relations with anyone but my husband. I'm holding down a job that really makes a difference in people's lives. I rarely miss a Sunday at church. See? I'm pretty good as far as the basic rules go.

Then, I spend a little time in the presence of God. There in his presence, I realize all over again that I'm not even close to good. I'm not free of rude attitudes or unkind thoughts. Besides, my job truly fulfills me…