On Spinning Heads

“Milk is bad for you!”
“Vaccinate or die!”
“Don’t vaccinate or die!”
“School enrollment starts tomorrow!”
“Fundraiser event Friday!”
“Your dryer sheets are poisoning you!”
“Johnny needs new shoes!”
“Slim down! Bulk up!”
“The sonogram shows something wrong!”
“Fox News said! CNN said!”
“Gotta plan that party!”
“Lucy broke her finger!”
“Work called and moved up the deadline!”
“Dinner fail! It’s ruined!”
“Antibiotics are creating super bugs!”
“Yoga! Pilates! Weights! Do crossfit!”
“Picket for this cause! March for that cause!”
“Technology is the antichrist!”
“The Pope is the antichrist!”
“The president is the antichrist!”

AAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!

head-spinningHave you had enough yet? Did that list start to make you anxious? Is your head constantly spinning at the barrage of messages, to-do lists, and “need to fix” issues we are faced with every day?  I have become so grieved at the state of our society and the pressures we put on ourselves and allow others to put on us.  We are driving ourselves mad.  I’m not sure I can count the number of people posting on Facebook that are deeply disturbed, depressed, or having mental or emotional issues over politics, health, racial conflict, job, money, kids, vaccinations, marital strife, the state of their gut–you name it!  It has grown beyond being informed or concerned…it is a GIANT of fear, worry, strife, confusion, anger, division, and more.  I realize that the presence of social media and the technology umbilical cord that puts us in 24/7 connection to all things news and information increases the frenzy.  But even if I turned it off today, I still know that sugar is killing us.  That politics are straight up crazy town. That states have education requirements of what my kids need to graduate. That my friend just suffered a miscarriage. That I’m expected to make decisions about vaccinations. That I need to eat right and exercise.  That my neighbor lost his job.  That abortion has slaughtered millions of babies.  That feeding a family of seven is expensive!

That…BURDENS!

No one is exempt from burdens in this life. Jesus said we would face trials and persecution.  The life of the early believer suffered in many ways, as do people today.  However, how many of us are taking on burdens we shouldn’t? Burdens that God did not ask us to carry? How many are engaging in fruitless arguments that stress our soul to the point of no peace?  When presented with information or knowledge that rightly demands action or response, how many are totally freaked out or go and try to change too much at once? Maybe some of us are not being realistic or sensitive to the season we are in and doing too much? Maybe some are completely shut down emotionally because of how affected they are by someone else’s opinion?  Possibly, many (or most) of us are control freaks who lash out at people or situations we can not control.

I would like to encourage us all to remember a few things:

  • God is in control.  He has a grander plan than we see. His ways are not our ways, His thoughts not our thoughts. He does not operate in space and time like we do. When we feel the need to control everything, we are not resting and trusting in Jesus.  When we act out of the need to control everything we are in sin, we make messes of all sorts, and we need to repent.
  • When God reveals something to you that needs to change, He also gives grace to achieve it. We need to follow His lead, step by step, refrain from attempting a huge overhaul that He is not asking us to do (which sets us up for failure), and stop to repent when we fall short.  His kindness leads to repentance and His mercy is new every morning. Information can be wonderful but also overwhelming if we are not discerning.  God will do much in the journey of making changes.  (I give a personal example of this in just a minute below.)
  • On the note of seeing things that need to change…if it is a social or political issue that we are impassioned about, we have to know:
    1. Not everyone is as equally passionate.  That’s ok. Do not grow angry or weary in well doing.  God reveals things to people in His time and can also harden hearts for His purposes. Keep praying.  Keep standing.  If you are activated in a cause, great! But do not cross over into hate, despite, slander, pride, division, gossip, etc. in the process.
    2. God gives some people a platform of influence, as well as the grace to handle the platform, when He desires to use them for broad change.  If He hasn’t given you the platform, don’t beat down doors to try and get it and find yourself in over your head.  Most of us in this life are called to stand in the place of prayer and intercession, doing battle in the spiritual realm for many causes because He has not given us a platform otherwise. That’s ok.
    3. And if you are overwhelmed by the cause, not sleeping at night, in turmoil and consternation all the time, or have lost your joy…you are hanging on to a burden that is not yours.  God’s yoke is easy and His burden is light–meaning we can sense it, but it is not shoving our nose down in the muck and mire.  Some of us need to pull our nose out of the muck!
  • “Keeping up with the Joneses” isn’t always about money/possessions.  All of us need to assess where this applies in other areas and where we are stressing ourselves out, making our lives crazy. Do you have:
    1. Busy calendars full of sports, parties, commitments or activities that don’t allow rest, family time, or sabbath and really are just attempts to make us look good.  This includes overactive church involvement and the need to “prove” our spirituality.
    2. A workaholic mentality, or a drive to climb a ladder to be better than someone else.
    3. Every type of social media account and constant need to “frame” your life or have everyone know what you are doing.
    4. A pinterest obsession and resulting feelings of failure or not doing/being good enough as you compare yourself to unrealistic pictures of motherhood, education, housekeeping, cooking, crafting, decorating, organizing etc etc etc! Really, we need to give ourselves a break.  Some people are just better at those things than us.
    5. A problem with vanity leading to imbalanced amounts of time and energy spent on looking good, body maintenance, shopping, working out, trendsetting, etc.  Women, especially, lose too much sanity over it all.  Stop the insanity!

One note on what I’m NOT saying with all of the above. I’m not advocating for laziness or apathy or being cold-hearted so as not to feel.  This is not about detaching from our world, not feeling anything, not caring, etc.  Obviously, God wants us to care, to love, to obey, to move and act out of faith, and affect those around us.  There is a time and season for everything under heaven.  I personally am in a season of intense family needs with the number and ages of children we have, with the fact that we have been homeschooling, and with being the wife of a pastor and leader in the community.  Does this mean I don’t care about abortion?  No.  Does it mean that I can’t attend Life rallies in St. Louis. Yes. I have to know according to the Lord what my priorities are and trust that He has the people involved who ARE supposed to speak on behalf of the unborn at events and  courthouses.  He has not given me that platform.  I will not beat myself up for not “doing” enough, but I pray for the unborn, as well as their mommies and daddies, regularly and am part of a church community that does as well.

I’d like to share a personal experience of how we walked through changes regarding our health, diet, and wellness.  About 10 years ago King James and I started learning much about nutrition, health, food supply, GMOs, chiropractic care, wholistic/”alternative” medicine, vaccines, environmental toxins, and related things.  We realized that we needed to make some major changes.  It would have been easy to be quite overwhelmed or to try and change everything drastically.  Difficult for anyone, especially a young family, a drastic overhaul would have been stressful, probably short-lived, and expensive!  So we started taking small steps and changing one thing at a time. All of us had to change how we thought about food. Research and trying different products were needed.  I was thinking the other day about all that we have modified and how different we live now.  If we would have tried to manage all of these things at once, we would have failed.

  • Stopped drinking cow’s milk. Tried a variety of substitutes. Now enjoy almond milk or coconut when needed.
  • Obtained natural-minded physicians who only suggest and use medicine when absolutely necessary.
  • Reduced red meat intake.  Jim’s family has a history of issues with gout which is exacerbated by red meats. He wanted to avoid a future of that.  Use venison we harvest and process ourselves in place of most beef dishes.
  • Researched, reduced, delayed and avoided vaccines.
  • Reduced bread and carb load.  Used to have roll or bread with dinner every night and starchy sides, as well as cereal most mornings.  Now we rarely have bread at dinner, and go for eggs, protein, greek yogurt, fruit, oatmeal for breakfast.
  • Don’t keep soda or junk food in the house (except for the rare party or special event).
  • Eat mostly organic and non-GMO to avoid pesticide toxins, preservatives, and hormone disruptors.
  • Changed over all hygiene products to organic, paraben-free, aluminum-free, non-toxic.  This took a LONG time to accomplish.
  • Got rid of plastic tupperware and changed to glass storage, or got BPA-free containers.
  • Began using essential oils as first line of health defense vs. meds/chemicals.
  • Changed over cleaning and laundry supplies to non-toxic, natural, “clear & free.” Use wool dryer balls and essential oils instead of dryer sheets.
  • Stopped using chemical-filled bug sprays, started with natural or essential oil products.
  • WAY reduced sugar intake. Like, a lot.
  • Replaced scented (toxic) candles with diffusers and essential oils.
  • Cook at home the majority of the time and rarely go out (as opposed to the reversed ratios 10 years ago).  Also learned how to make SO many things healthier, including mayo, salsa, relish, pasta sauce, dressings, and expanded our veggie palette.
  • Drink almost exclusively water. Occasionally tea.

That’s not an exhaustive list of changes, but what I thought of off the top of my head.  Little by little, small changes lead to lifestyle difference. It takes time, but is doable without making yourself absolutely nuts.  Information, media, and the internet can make you feel like you will never get it right or achieve results, will keep you running rat races in the comparison game, or will freak you out and cause you to walk in so much fear over EVERYTHING.  We need to be people walking in maturity and not fear these days.  We need to be those, not with heads spinning, but with eyes locked on Jesus and hearts full of peace.

On Beautiful Feet.

Several years ago I had a little, no-name blog that was mostly updates on my family, a place to post scrapbooking pages and recipes, and eventually a place I just shared about my life, what God was doing in and around me, and various encouragements.  That was during a time period when I had two and then three kids and stayed home almost exclusively.  As time marched on, I grew too busy for the blog, worked off and on in communications/creative departments at the church my hubs and I pastor, carted kids around to homeschool or extracurricular functions, and had more face-to-face interactions with people.

Then…life.  We had another kid, started a journey of revolutionizing our health, sold a house, built a house, went from one to three location of our franchise business, moved 35 minutes from church/social arenas, experienced tweenagers and now teenagers, and had yet another baby (among many other happenings).  With so many experiences and life events under my belt, I find myself tethered to home much more again now.

I recently was with a group of women at a DoTerra oil convention and they began asking about who I was and what I do.  As I talked, they seemed fascinated and told me I should blog–that I should share about wearing different hats and walking in various roles all the while juggling the ins and outs and ups and downs of life. My first thought was a bit of…Who am I that anyone would care? There are so many bloggers and writers and the internet/social media is saturated with voices these days.  Flashes of the people that message, text, or call seeking advice about many areas of life began dancing through my mind.  But I also felt a nudge from something inside and a reminder of certain scriptures that led me to dust off the blogging keyboard and begin to share more publicly again.

First, I want beautiful feet.

beautiful feet.jpgIsaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” {ESV}
I want to be a part of publishing good news and peace and salvation. Because there is blessing in it.  Because Jesus is worthy of all glory that comes from walking us through every valley and up every mountain in life.  Because this world needs peace.  Because God, unapologetic, reigns over all of heaven and earth despite what any news outlet or disastrous political campaign might lead us to believe.  Salvation is never far off. His saving arm is never too short.  Funny parenting stories, poignant ponderings, health & wellness ideas, meal recipes, pictures from marriage anniversary trips, chronicles of our past and present…are all vehicles in which ride the good news as we are working out our salvation daily.  This blog also acts, in part, as a publishing of my family’s history–a way to journal the working of God so that the generations after me hear of His goodness and remember a family legacy of faith.

Second, I am one of the “older women.”

I keep waiting for the day when I will actually and mentally “feel” my age. Like, I’m quickly nearing 40 and still sometimes feel like a young person. But when I take in the landscape of my life, I see that I am indeed entering the time of what Titus 2 describes as older women–those who instruct, share with, encourage, and exhort younger women as they marry, parent, work, and do good.  I’m now 17 years married and five kids deep into this circus, so whatever nuggets of truth or practical help that I have, I offer freely, so that those around me might learn both what to do and what not to do as we navigate these 80+ years in this skin on this earth.  And in this modern day, when face-to-face interaction is many times difficult, I am grateful we can all be somewhat connected via the internet.

Finally, I want to stay humble.

If there is anything the train wreck of reality TV has taught us, it is that being under a microscope (even if producers tweak it for ratings) shows all the fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots on the proverbial face of the heart.  Truthfully chronicling life–even the ugly, sad, struggling parts–brings humility and perspective and makes us all realize we are human and in need of a gracious Savior to free us from ourselves.  I will not pretend that I have it all together, or that my family isn’t messy sometimes, or that being a pastor isn’t difficult on good days and gutwrenching on bad ones, or that occasionally I don’t stop at a gas station to eat Chocodiles (sorry, Dr. Nick!).  I will protect the identity of people close to me in the chronicling process, but I want to be honest about my life stories, heartaches, adventures, mundane days, and lessons learned.  If anyone is to “follow me as I follow Christ” like Paul says in 1 Corinthians, it must be with the understanding that I am an imperfect, weak person who is only whole, strong, and able to love through the power of Christ in me.  My goal is that these beautiful feet of mine can ascend the hill of the Lord because I have chosen to know God and allow Him, through whatever refining or vehicle He uses, to give me clean hands and a pure heart.

So, thanks for reading all of this.  If you don’t really know me, you can stay for a minute and check out the other pages on my blog, including descriptions of my kids and the Princess character aliases I gave them.

Blessings,

Jess