Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Christmas Angel

Every year as Christmas comes around I pray about how to make sure my kids get the message of the real reason we celebrate Christmas.  As much as I love gifts, cookies, lights and decorating, we would have none of it if Jesus had not been born so many years ago.  I was beyond excited last year when I heard of the Christmas Angel so I wanted to share it with you in case you are also looking for a fun way to celebrate the real reason for this Christmas season.

What is the Christmas Angel?   It is very similar to "Elf on the Shelf" except instead of getting into trouble the angel leaves messages of inspiration that teach the joy of giving.  They even provide you with a calendar full of ideas!  You can learn more about the story of how it got started here. 

I didn't use all of their ideas(couldn't do a garage sale in December) but did use it for inspiration:  

I love how a few days on the calendar have a memory verse to memorize!  Here is a picture of the first day I introduced the angel to our kids last year:

Our kids LOVED the Christmas Angel and I LOVED that it helped us focus on giving in a season that can be so "me" centered.  You can purchase a Christmas Angel at some local christian bookstores OR order online here.  They even have a boy Christmas Angel! :)  (Please note:  I do NOT get paid to promote this product, I just think everyone needs to know about it!)

I LOVE hearing other creative ways families come up with to stay focused during this holiday season.  What traditions do you and your family do to keep Christ at the center?  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Our Spartan Race

You may remember when I mentioned in this post that I registered us for a Spartan race.  After much running, lifting and burpees the big day finally came for the race.  I really wasn't too nervous until race day arrived.  As we were driving to the race I felt like I do when I get on a big rollercoaster....all excited until we start going up the first big hill and I decide I would like off but it's too late.  The only way off is to scream your head off and ride it.  Which is exactly what I did with the race. :)

There really is no way to describe the true thrill of what we experienced in our Spartan race.  I am going to try though because it was just too awesome to not share.  

The first obstacles started out pretty easy with a little over and unders...then they took us into a creek that was up to my chest in muddy water with dead fish floating around.  I admit I screamed when I hit the water and felt how cold it was.  After that we went on a trail up and down hills, jumping over walls, flipping tires and logs, climbing ropes(or trying to I should say), throwing spears, scaling slippery walls and much more.  Spartan is kind enough to catch some oh so flattering shots of you throughout the race.  Here is one of me climbing up the bridge wall:

The one on the left is when the photographer yelled at me to look at him and that was the best smile I could muster up. :)  

When you fail an obstacle on the Spartan you have to do 30 burpees before you can move on.  I failed the rope climb(shocking, I know), the side wall climb and the spear throw....leaving me with 90 super fun(insert sarcastic smiley here) burpees!  

My husband was so sweet to wait for me at obstacles to help me over walls if I needed it.  If it weren't for him I would have done even more burpees!

You can't notice in any of my pictures because my shirt is covered in mud but I was wearing my 2 Timothy 1:7 shirts that says "POWER, LOVE, SELF DISCIPLINE".  There were a few times during the race that I started thinking I couldn't go on and the Lord reminded me of that scripture.  He reminded me that he made me strong and powerful, not weak and timid.  

As "horrible" as this race may look or sound I would highly recommend doing one if you are thinking about it at all.  I believe that if you can't see God in everything you will have a hard time seeing him in anything.  Here are a few things he spoke to me during my Spartan race:

Know the word.
Like I mentioned, I had the word written on my shirt to remind me of who I am in Christ. Do you need to have a shirt made for everything you do?  No.  But you do need to have it hidden in your heart so you can easily remember it in tough times that you want to quit.

Surround yourself with cheerleaders.
The other really cool thing about the Spartan race was how everyone helped each other regardless of knowing one another before the race.  I was amazed to see random strangers staying behind to make sure everyone made it over a wall or stopping to help me up when I fell.  It reminded me that we need to surround ourselves with people who are working towards a common goal and who believe in what we are doing and will not let us quit.  Ecclesiastes 4:9 says "two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed."

Don't be afraid to get dirty.
When people hear my story of our race or see our pictures they tend to freak at how dirty we got.  Normally, in my everyday life, I would never go crawl through mud and make a mess of myself.  However, when I had my mind made up that I was going to start a race knowing I would get muddy, bruised and a little bloody, I was okay with it.  I think too often we want to say yes to God but we don't want to get in the trenches and do the work.  Don't be afraid to get your hands may find you like the feeling of doing something so much bigger than yourself that you really don't mind the mess.  Plus other people will respect you for it which is a great leadership tool. :)  

Do your training.
When the day of the race came I knew I had done everything in my power to train for this.  As I was running I had to tell myself more than once "I am prepared for this.  My body is equipped for this."  I think the same thing is true spiritually.  Read the word and spend time with God in worship and prayer and when your race day comes you can easily remind yourself that you are equipped for this.  

Enjoy the fruits of your labor.
In our go, go, go! society it can be easy to not stop and give God thanks for things He has helped us to accomplish.  It was such an amazing feeling to do our last obstacle, the fire jump, and run through that finish line! 

 Here is my husband charging through with confidence:

And then there is me, a little hesitant, but I did it:

Here we are with our hard earned medals after the race:

If you have nothing holding you back physically from doing a Spartan I highly recommend kicking fear to the curb and going for it.  My husband is now trying to talk me into running the Spartan Beast(which is more obstacles plus 12 miles).  I just love surrounding myself with people who challenge me.  Who does that for you?  Find someone who does or read my blog and let it challenge you!

I know not everyone is physically able to do a Spartan race but what is God calling you to do that may seem a little scary or uncomfortable?  Pray about it, train for it and then do it.  It will be so worth it!  

P.S. On a random funny note, every time I typed the word "burpees" my auto correct kept trying to change it to "slurpees".  Oh how I would have loved if we got slurpees instead of burpees for failing an obstacle! :)  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

4 Tips to live as if today was your last day!

God has been speaking to me about the depth of this scripture from James 4:14.  We have all heard the saying that life is short so make the most of every moment.  But how many of us truly live this way?  I know I don't. Yes, I have my moments but I fail to keep a kingdom perspective on a daily basis.  

The question that keeps coming to my mind is: what if today was your last day?  The Bible makes it very clear that this earth is not our forever home.  We are merely passing through until our day comes to meet our Lord and Savior  We will take nothing with us. So why do we work so hard to make sure all of our earthly possessions are secured while taking very little time to think on eternal things?  I believe it is because the enemy knows if he can get us to lose focus then he really doesn't have to worry about us having an impact on God's kingdom.  

I am convinced we should strive to live each day as though it is our last. According to this scripture in James we don't even know what our life will be like tomorrow.  There is nothing wrong with making plans and filling our calendars but we must not be so obsessed with our plan that we miss God's plan.  

Here are a few ways God has been speaking to me about living today as if it was my last:

Stop worrying.  
Matthew 6:34 says "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today."  This isn't to condemn us when we worry but instead to protect and enable us to live today to its fullest.

Keep an eternal perspective.
When we focus on the things above, all the worries of this world(like what we will eat, drink, or wear) seem so small.  I know if I was told today was my last day the last thing on my mind would be what outfit to wear or what is for dinner.  Yes, God does care about the little details of our life, but He wants us to rest assured that He has got that all under control so we can focus on the things He has called us to.

Just do it.
I can't write a post about living each day as though it is your last without challenging you to take a step of faith.  If you knew today was your last, would you find the courage to call an old friend to make amends, share your testimony with a lost co-worker or friend, write that book, start that business, tell somone how much they mean to you, or start that blog you've been thinking of for years?  Most of us would throw caution to the wind and just do it.  

Spend quality time.
While my motto and theme of this blog is to be bold and draw our strength from God, I never want to minimize the value of spending quality time with family and friends.  Planning family time, vacations, lunch dates with girlfriends is just as, if not more, important than any major accomplishment we will have in life.  If we accomplish all of our goals and dreams yet have no friends or family around to celebrate with us than we have lived an empty and sad life.  We must prioritize and plan quality time with family and friends or it won't happen.  

God is asking me to dream big and do the things He has set before me.  Will you join me in shifting our perspective to have a kingdom view and stopping living life for only ourselves but for God's kingdom?  You never know how your action may light a fire in someone else's life.   

As for me, I will start by running my first Spartan tomorrow.  Where I will go from there I do not know, but I know that I am following Jesus each step of the way and it continues to be the ride of a lifetime!