Life Coaching – Looking Forward to Tonight

My mind will not dwell in the problems of the past – it will live in the solutions of the future! Andy AndrewsFailure Thomas Edison

Tonight we will work on Decision One – The Responsible Decision! I can’t wait to share with you all the new things I have learned. We will address past failures and use them to fuel our future success. Let’s work together to change how we THINK so we can make better decisions. DON’T miss tonight’s session. It could change your life!Success Decision

 

There WILL be a class for the children tonight. See you soon!

Life Coaching – Week 3 Motivation

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

Motivation is a challenge for me. I strugSharkgle to stay committed. Each day I have to renew my resolve and focus on my goals. Some days I reflect over how things went and am happy with the outcome. Other days, like yesterday, I look down at the enormous ice cream cone from the Salt and Straw in Portland and know I didn’t hit my mark. Many things motivate us to achieve our goals. Like in the picture here, the shark is a large motivation. Randy Teegarden will spend some time with you on Wednesday night talking about getting ready to apply the 7 decisions we are going to learn.

I look forward to being back on March 12 for the first decision. I am passionate to share with you these principles because I KNOW they work. Each day I apply many of all of the decisions and I can see the outcome. Please allow Randy’s words to inspire you to put your entire effort into learning what the decisions are and participating in exercises that will help you make them a natural part of your thinking and life.

I have been in Portland, Oregon and am heading to Seattle, Washington today. As a side note for those of you who are interested, Portland is causing me to have a serious hair crisis! It has rained the entire time we have been here! No amount of hair spray is going to fix that! I encourage you to attend class tomorrow night and hear what Randy has to say about getting inspired and motivated to apply the 7 decisions. I will be back in town this weekend and will see you in class March 12. Read Chapter 3 of the Traveler’s Gift by March 12th.

Decide commit succeed

I pray that you can see your potential and that you will commit to the 7 decision so that you can succeed for Christ!

Getting good use of my umbrella here in Portland,

Evona

Life Coaching – Week 1

Problems

II Corinthians 5:14-15

 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:  And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.

We all need a guide to help us make right decisions.  The word constraineth in II Corinthians gives us a picture of restraint (think straight jacket). The love Christ showed us and the love we have for him because of his sacrifice for us holds us to a higher standard or “constrains” us to make the right decision or “judgment”.  The Evona translation might say “The love I have been shown by Christ and the love I have for Christ helps me make the right decision.”

Images help us visualize a concept. I like to Google words when I am trying to get a deeper understanding. This is a risky habit and not one I would recommend on impressionable folks but helpful for those of us who are visual learners! In class we made a mind map (picture on the wall) of struggles or issues or problems that might hinder or be used as an excuse to not find success.  Things like a lack of education or a lack of money. Some of you wrote health issues or attitude problems. I put lack of self-discipline. If you were not in class, what struggles or problems do you see in your own life that might make you unsuccessful so far in your personal goals and might impact your commitment to applying the seven decisions for personal success? Take a minute to write down three or four things if you were not in class.

Take a minute to watch this video of Andy Andrews and hear his story. It will only take 1 minute and 48 seconds. It will give you a good understanding of how Andy’s background influenced his perspective in The Traveler’s Gift. VIDEO  Don’t forget to purchase his book if you haven’t already. We will begin reading in two weeks.

This week we are working on learning how to be REFLECTIVE. The Bible uses the word meditate but I have put a few other words to help you understand what the word reflective means. Psalm 19:14 says “Let the words of my mouth, and the mediation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer. “ Taking a deep look at your life and your heart attitudes is a scriptural habit and helps redirect your actions as you make better choices.

Some practical ways to be reflective are listed below.Reflective Wordle 2

  • Writing (Blogging) – Writing gives our conscious mind a chance to weigh in on the subconscious ideas we are telling ourselves. Most times things sound WAY better inside our head than when we say/write them out loud.
  • Video (Vlogging) – This is not my favorite way to reflect because it takes forever to get the angle right on the computer so that I get rid of the double chin! However, this is very popular with younger folks and there are many cool ways to reflect.
  • Bullet points (Concise ideas) – I am wordy so making myself make bullet points helps me get to the point.
  • Get a personal statement journal. (Make it fit your personality. Mine is super fun and flowery and Larry’s is sleek and understated… nuff said!)
  • Keep it near. (Drag it around with you and purpose to write small bits as you have time. Make it a friend.)

What areas of your life do you feel that you are just drifting? Many times, we settle into a comfortable routine rather than strive for something better.  Achieving significant goals requires significant action. Here are a few questions to get you started this week on your journal.

    1. Where have you “settled” in life? List each area (e.g., my marriage, my career, my health).
    2. How does this make you feel? Write this down in one paragraph.
    3. What would it feel like to experience a breakthrough in each of these areas? Write this down in one paragraph.
    4. What are the internal barriers you’ll need to overcome for a breakthrough?

This week I want you to take the Strengths Finder’s test at this link and find out your top five strengths.

http://freestrengthsfinder.workuno.com/

We are going to learn about these strengths next week and use our strengths to apply the seven decisions for personal success. During the lesson next week, each strength will have a famous person attached to help us remember and associate the characteristics of the strength. My top strength is Futuristic. Buzz Lightyear is our character for that strength. I think you get the idea! It will be fun.

Grab each moment you are given this week and embrace the blessing of just “being.”  Dwell on the goodness of God in your life and celebrate your strengths.  Normal is way overrated. Today was Valentine’s Day and I wanted to make it special for our family. I planned to make a cookie cake in the shape of a heart for dessert this evening. However, instead of telling the boys that, I told them that I was going to make the cake in the shape of cupid. The looks on their faces were priceless. You could tell that they were not sure I could pull that off. (I am not particularly crafty) Caleb sweetly said that just a plain heart might be a better idea. I assured them that I had great directions from Pinterest and was good to go. I never really intended on trying to make cupid so I globbed the cookie dough in the most outrageous form and baked it. I decorated it with pink icing in a way that no one could ever fathom what I was trying to create. When the boys saw it after school they were all so sweet and tried to say nice things. WhenCrazy Cake I left the room Micah tried to get Larry to help him figure out which part was the top of cupid. I finally confessed that I had just been teasing them all day and that it was not really cupid but just a Valentine Day blob. They were all relieved that I wasn’t really trying but are secretly concerned that I am going crazy.

I embraced a day that is sometimes sad from memories of loss. I could let my sadness take away from the joy my family could have if I don’t make the choice to be happy. So today I chose to giggled and laughed just thinking about how funny the boys were when they were trying to be nice about my horrible cake. I smiled at my silly plan and how much they would enjoy the joke after I told them the truth. I chose to allow the love of Christ help me make the right decision and embrace the blessing of “being.”  I hope you have a great week and learn about the things that make you strong and not so normal.

Week 1 Challenge:

  1. Buy a personal statement journal. (Bring it to class next week.)
  2. Write and answer the four questions above to start your journey of reflection.
  3. Take the Strengths Finders test at this link. It will only take about 15 minutes or so.  http://freestrengthsfinder.workuno.com/
  4. Write your top 5 strengths from the results of the test in your personal statement journal.

Let God’s love lead you to good decisions this week.

Life Coaching 101: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success

Choices“Our very lives are fashioned by choice. First we make choices. Then our choices make us.” Andy Andrews

In 2009, I heard a keynote speaker at the FLVS staff conference that changed my life. Andy Andrews walked up and down the aisles of the conference hall filled with 3,000 people and spoke directly to me. His words and thoughts changed my perspective and impacted my life immensely.  I was widowed and alone caring for the boys and desperately needed what Andy shared that day.

Over the next thirteen weeks we are going to journey together through the seven decisions in Andy’s book, The Traveler’s Gift. I will share the steps that have given me confidence when I was inadequate, courage when I was alone and success where I had failed.

You are my friends. I want you to experience the life changing message that is based on scripture and laid out in simple steps for those of us who need it right between the eyes. I am passionate about the seven decisions. I teach them to my kids. I use them in business.  I talk about them to strangers in the store. Please allow me to walk with you through the decisions and share practical applications so that you can experience these amazing changes as well.

What you need to do:

  1. Show up on Wednesday evenings at 6:45 starting this Wednesday, February 10. I will hand out the exact schedule for the weekly sessions in class this week. There are a few weeks we are going to skip due to Mission Revival and my work travel schedule. If you do not live in our area, feel free to follow along through the weekly blog and contribute through the comment section.
  2. Purchase The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews. I have 8 copies that I purchased for around $6 or $7 each. Feel free to show up Wednesday and I will sell the books that I have. If I run out, you will have 2 weeks until you need to start reading for class so you will have time to purchase/order on your own. OF COURSE the overachievers can start reading early!
  3. Some weeks you will read a chapter in the book (they are very short and fun to read) or do an application activity.
  4. I recommend attending all sessions but I know that many of you have conflicts. Feel free to attend as many as you can.
  5. I will post notes and additional information here on my blog so that you can easily access links and resources we talk about in class. You can follow my blog and get an email alert when I post. (wechoosefaith.org)
  6. We want to create a community support atmosphere in class and on the blog so feel free to post online and share in class to gain support or to support others.
  7. INVITE OTHERS! The class is still open so feel free to invite your friends and family. You can also share my blog link via email or by posting it on your Facebook page.

Get ready to transform your thinking and see immediate results.

Life Coaching 101: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success

This Growth Group at Fellowship Baptist Church taught by Evona Frink Jones will address attitudes that make the difference between failure and success. Become part of a small group of learners who want to be used greatly by God. We have been gifted and empowered by God. Now, come be inspired to choose to act on the principles that will change your life and impact the world for Christ.

When: Wednesday Nights at 6:45

Where: Fellowship Baptist Church

13515 N US Hwy 301
Thonotosassa, FL 33592
813.982.1000 // office@fbc301.org

Lesson Four: Live with a Thankful Heart

Habits are the threads that weave the fabric of our lives. What we value we repeat over and over. We value clean healthy teeth so we brush our teeth multiple times a day (hopefully). We like to eat so we visit the grocery store often or at least send our husband there often. Thankfulness is a habit that produces a strong vibrant thread that weaves a masterful pattern in our lives. A lack of gratitude undermines the integrity and strength of our life fabric. It leads to depression and bitterness.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

 Psalm 28:7

Thankfulness isn’t automatic. It is a habit we must cultivate. When Cliff, my husband of thirteen years and daddy to my three little boys, died it was easy to focus on our loss. It was true that we had lost the most authentic and stable part of our lives. However, when we focused on our loss we forfeited the blessings of remembering what we had. The boys and I decided to PURPOSE to be thankful and remember the good times. We posted signs around our house reminding ourselves to be thankful for the time we had been given and not to be bitter over our loss. We cultivated thankfulness. It helped us muddle through our grief and find our way to acceptance and joy.

June 2006

Thankfulness has enriched our lives. We take time to notice God’s blessings. Long before Cliff’s illness he jokingly told Micah and Caleb that he was leaving them an inheritance. Of course, being normal kids they were ecstatic. Cliff solemnly called the boys to the back porch and pointed to the yard. “Micah” he said, “I am leaving you the dirt under our pool.” He then turned to Caleb. “Son, I am leaving you the leaves in the yard.”  The boys laughed and jumped on Cliff and they wrestled around as only boys can do thinking that their dad was the funniest dad ever. Sometime after Cliff’s death, the boys took me out to the yard and reminded me that Cliff had promised them those things and then we spent time talking about all the other things he had also left them as an inheritance. He left them with a love for God even when things don’t turn out like we planned. He left them with joy even in overwhelming circumstances. He left them a love for family and complete acceptance. He left them with a desire for excellence knowing that average isn’t good enough. He left them a strong foundation of Bible knowledge that they have passed on to Lucas and to others. He left one of them looking just like him, one of them with his sweet joyful heart and the third with a little bit of both. He left them the knowledge that God is good and faith is rewarded. He left them with memories of how to truly love their wives as they watched him love me. He left them with a passion for ministry and a desire to serve God. Last but not least, Cliff left me with Micah, Caleb and Lucas. How can I not be thankful?

Link to series prologue post: http://wp.me/pFsxL-1z

Still Choosing Faith,

Evona

Lesson Three: Accept Responsibility

The secret to managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.

Casey Stengel

After a brief stint in “management” I have come to realize that I am way better at managing tasks than managing people! I enjoy motivating, encouraging and empowering people but managing not so much. Maybe if I had attempted to “manage” from the viewpoint of encouraging and empowering I would have enjoyed my situation more. Unfortunately I seem to get caught up in the result rather than the journey that gets us there. The task overshadows the people. Lesson three that the boys and I learned after the death of their dad is to accept responsibility. My “management” life-stage helped me divide this lesson into two levels.

Level One:

Accept responsibility when you have messed up.

Picture from Wikipedia

We all make mistakes. I call it the “Three Stooges Response” when I ask my Smelly Monsters who left the milk out on the counter or who left their wet socks on the table or who ate my hidden stash of chocolate. They start pointing and ducking and smacking each other and then the little one starts wailing “You gotta believe me…” Now that the girls are with us, at least half the time the boys have someone who isn’t around to blame it on!

We are going to fail. Scripture says in Proverbs 28:13 “… whoso confesseth and forsaketh them (sin, failures) shall have mercy.” We need to accept responsibility for mistakes and failures. It is the first step to success. Acknowledging that we have failed gives us the power to make a different, better choice next time. We are no longer the victim. We are more than conquerors through Christ.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill

Level Two:

Accept responsibility for your response to the circumstances that God sends your way.

Wordle.net

Don’t you love the phrase “Life is not fair?” I have used it quite a bit as a parent but acknowledge that it is much easier to quote that saying than be on the receiving end of the quote. We do know that life isn’t fair and circumstances and situations come our way that seem overwhelming. I get deep satisfaction knowing that even in situations that are unfair we are not “victims of circumstance” but have been given the freedom by God to respond well and turn a bad situation into an opportunity to glorify Him. Just remember, it’s not a crisis, it’s an opportunity.

And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. Psalm 50:15

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
– Thomas Edison

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.
Jim Rohn

Link to prologue post: http://wp.me/pFsxL-1z

Still Choosing Faith,

Evona

Lesson Two: Let Go of Bitterness Fast and Often

Hebrews 12:15

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Gardening has always been a love of mine. I love watching other people garden. I love looking at things other people have grown. I love eating the items that result from other people’s work. Gardening is great in third person. For example I might say, “Wouldn’t it be really cool to have fresh herbs for cooking?” Larry understands that I mean, “Please, build me an herb stand, buy and plant the herbs and water them so I can clip a few herbs on the random day I might want to cook.”

During the sabbatical I took last fall, I began baking bread and actually gardening in the first person. My family was very concerned and more than once my boys asked “Who are you and what have you done with my mom?” During this time, we cleared and planted a garden that was about 25 feet by 25 feet. Planning, preparing and beginning a garden is hard but rewarding work. Maintaining a garden isn’t so much fun. Our land has a nice layer of dirt over the top of thick, matted, intertwined vines. It takes hours to clear one small area. After the area is cleared it takes just as long to revisit the site and maintain the cleared out spot. Vines (smelly vines) are much more aggressive than tender tomato plants.

Picture taken by Micah Frink

I must have passed on my love for gardening to my Smelly Monsters. As a means of earning spending money, they have been given the opportunity to work in the yard this summer. The littlest Smelly Monster is fond of shopping but not so fond of working. His least favorite job this summer has been weeding. Therefore he has been given the most opportunities to overcome his aversion. Please don’t report me to Child Welfare Services. I am sure that making kids do their least favorite chore is in the “Parent’s Manual.”

Lesson number two has been a bit harder to put into practice. We have learned (doesn’t mean always put into practice) that we need to let go of bitterness fast and often. Just like the smelly, stink vines in our garden area, bitterness grows. The longer you ignore bitterness or heaven forbid feed or nurture bitterness the harder it is to deal with.

Hebrews 12:15 talks about the “root” of bitterness. After spending long hours pulling and clearing out vines and roots from our garden area, you would think that I would not have allowed even the tiniest little shoot to invade my garden. Not so! I was so tired of dealing with the difficult, painful vines that I gave up and went inside and pretended that the garden would be vine-free all summer. Thankfully, God blessed me with a plethora of children who want spending money and I was able to leverage that to my advantage. Our garden was cleared and I was once again gardening in the third person.

Unfortunately, personal bitterness isn’t as easy to delegate. We have to acknowledge that we are struggling with bitterness and not only deal with the obvious evidences but look for and attack the root. Obvious evidences of bitterness in my life have come in the form of self-pity, anger, a lack of compassion, sarcasm, depression, unreasonable expectation of others and the list could go on for days! Our scripture reminds us that “many be defiled” or made unusable by bitterness. Those evidences were outward signs of a deeper root. The root of my bitterness stems from trust issues. One of my favorite quotes from Cliff during his illness was that Faith is not us telling God what to do, but trusting that what God will do is right. Ick! I know! I struggle daily with letting go enough to trust God with the outcome of my requests.

So in review (I never stray far from my teacher habits) Lesson Two reminds us that bitterness must be addressed immediately and addressed over and over. I wish I could offer the silver bullet that would help you deal with your root of bitterness but I don’t. I hope it helps you to know that we all deal with bitterness and it isn’t easy for any of us. Don’t allow bitterness to keep you from fulfilling the God ordained part you are to play in the story of life.

Link to prologue post: http://wp.me/pFsxL-1z

Still Choosing Faith,

Evona

Lesson One: It all Comes Down to Choices

Deuteronomy 30:19

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

It was the final step in the process. We made it through the funeral arrangements, the graveside and the memorial service. This would be our final trip to Garden of Memories for arrangements for my husband, Cliff. His sweet mother went with me to the funeral home to approve the headstone for his grave.

Before we headed over, I met my friend Melody and traded cars with her so that we didn’t have to move Lucas’ car seat and she took the boys. Kay, my mother-in-law, and I headed to the funeral home. We were able to make it through that last step with the little emotional energy we had left.

We walked silently out to Melody’s car parked in the reserved parking close to the front of the funeral home. Thankful for Kay’s support I smiled at her as she walked around to the other side of the car. Hurrying to unlock the car I put the key in the driver’s side door. This simple action created a chain of events that in retrospect are humorous but at the time were anything but humorous. As soon as I tried to open the door to Melody’s car the alarm began going off. This is a bit disconcerting alone but coupled with the fact that we were less than thirty feet away from a graveside service IN PROGRESS it became a full fledge crisis. Kay began pacing around the car and I was ineffectively trying to punch in the code that Melody was screaming to me in the phone over the piercing car alarm. The grieving family had stopped the service to watch us address the alarm crisis. Finally God had mercy on me and sent a kind stranger to talk to Melody on the phone and get the car code to disarm the alarm. There are no words to describe the silence that came after the alarm was finally disarmed. The grieving family collectively turned back to the graveside and the pastor picked up where he left off.

This is the point in my story that I make a VERY bad choice. I am left standing by the now quiet car and have to decide what to do next. Not understanding the nature of car alarms was a definite handicap in my decision-making process. I felt that since trying to open the driver’s side car door was what triggered the original alarm, I would outsmart the car. I made Kay climb out of the passenger side of the car and let me climb in my dress over the console to get to the driver’s seat. Pleased with my plan, I finally made it to my seat and allowed Kay to climb back in her seat. As soon as I put the key into the ignition, the alarm started again. I turned to get help and advice from Kay only to find that she had laid her seat back as far as possible and was doing her best to hide from the mourning family across the way. We were eventually able to start the car and leave the area. I am truly sorry for the interruption I caused that family by my poor choice.

Choices are never easy and always cause consequences. But, oh how precious is the principle that God allows us the freedom to make choices. In Deuteronomy 30:19 God says, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”

Isn’t Scripture great? It tells us that we have a choice between life and death and blessing and cursing…. THEREFORE (this is the KJV version of DUHHHHH) choose life! We have been given the freedom to choose. We are not victims. When we accept that we can make different choices it empowers us to make changes. Those changes give us the ability to impact our lives. WE control our response to the circumstances. We have a choice.

When trials or difficult times come our way, let’s choose to turn to God and have faith. When failure has marred our life, we can choose to move forward and learn from those mistakes. When we are given life-changing news, realize we get to choose how we respond. We have the ability to choose and impact not only ourself but those around us.

Lesson number one was one we all began to learn during Cliff’s illness and continue to learn each day with new circumstances. It all comes down to choices. We can’t control what happens but we can control how we respond. Each day Larry and I beg God to empower us to continue to choose faith. What will you choose?

Link to prologue post: http://wp.me/pFsxL-1z

Still choosing faith!

Evona

Raising Smelly Monsters to be Spiritual Men

Summer isn’t the best time for me to write warm and fuzzy anecdotal stories about the boys. Right now I need a whistle and a referee’s outfit to keep any semblance of order over here. Fun part of this story is that I am “working” from home these days. “Working” you noticed was in quotes. Working might be overstating things a bit. I am working but not for FLVS… Shhhhh please don’t tell. I fit in customer calls and support emails between lessons, camp, taxi service, VBS and a myriad of other activities.

Raising kids at any time is a challenge. I often feel way out numbered and extremely under qualified to fill the position of parent. However, the day sweet, cranky little Micah came into the world I was given the name tag “Mom.” Those years were fun and difficult, priceless and expensive all at the same time. Cliff and I did it as a team. However, the day I had to tell the boys that their daddy had died, was the most difficult of my life. Cliff used the last moments of his life to assure me of his love and give me charge of raising our three Smelly Monsters: Micah, Caleb and Lucas. He had such confidence and trust in his eyes as we talked about how I was going to manage without him, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we were in trouble. I couldn’t believe that it was going to be all up to me.

I spent many hours crying, praying and begging God to change our situation. However, he chose to lead us down that path. Once I accepted where we were, I began to beg God to help me rise to the occasion. Friend, many days I fall very short. God is so full of mercy. He cradles us and comforts us and stands us back up to try again. I learned many lessons hard and fast that first year. God taught me lessons that I in turn “shared” (the Monsters called it lecturing) with the boys.

Our first lesson was one we learned during Cliff’s illness. It all comes down to choices. You can’t control what happens but you can control how you respond. We as a family chose to respond in faith even after God didn’t answer the way we wanted. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Our second lesson was to let go of bitterness fast and often. Bitterness grows, so the longer you have it, the harder it is to deal with. Bitterness keeps coming back. This isn’t something that is a one-time deal. You have to let go often.(Hebrews 12:15)

Our third lesson was to accept responsibility. We waste time and emotional energy trying to find someone else to blame. Life isn’t fair. Difficult things happen to everyone. We must accept responsibility when we do wrong, ask forgiveness and move forward. The fastest way to fail is to blame someone else. (Proverbs 28:13)

Our fourth and most important lesson was to live with a thankful heart. Thankfulness is the key to abundant blessings. I am so blessed to have been given 13 wonderful years with Cliff. The boys are blessed to have had a wonderful father.(Psalm 28:7)

These days things are easier. I have someone to share the load. Daily I am reminded that circumstances change but those principles still hold true. Raising Smelly Monsters to be Spiritual Men isn’t a cake walk but it has its rewards. I know that Cliff is watching and is proud of the progress they have made. We have to remind ourselves daily of the principles but thankfully God understands.

Still Choosing Faith,

Evona

The “Processed” Christian Life or the Real Thing?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

 I am against “skinny jeans.” Not on principle. However, for the record the fact that they fit so tight on your legs that they prevent you from bending your knees can’t be safe! No, I am against “skinny jeans” because at no point in my past, present or future life will I be able to wear them without looking like a tube of toothpaste that has all the paste squeeze up to the top! Taking “skinny jeans” off the table, I would still like to look decent in “normal jeans.” For this to become a reality, I have to exercise and diet. Ick… I know!

I have tried every imaginable system to beat the hard truth that I have to eat right, burn calories and avoid the Oreo cookies. We are on a new journey at our house. I am trying to change our eating habits. After doing a bunch of research (I researched during the holidays, of course, so that I didn’t have to start the journey while I had so much yummy food in the house) I found that the easiest and healthiest way to eat is to find things as close to their original form as possible. For example, apples are better for you than sweetened applesauce. My boys did make a good point this morning that meat needs to be in a bit of a different form. The less it looks like a cute little chicken the better it is for us over here. I have spent years reading labels trying to finagle the system so that I could still have the items that I love without the guilt. I am pretty sure that they are not being honest when they tell me that I am buying “Fat Free Half and Half”! What is the other half if it is fat-free?

 In Galatians, Paul shares with us what types of fruit a healthy spiritual and mental life produces. The list he gives is pretty clear. God wants us to show love and joy to others. He longs for us to feel peace and behave with longsuffering and gentleness to others. Our lives should be filled with goodness displayed through meekness and temperance supported by our faith. I look over this list and immediately go looking for the “Fat Free” version. I evaluate my life and check off love because I love my family and give to missions. I show joy. I smiled at the cashier after I gave her 47 coupons. I am much more peaceful (on the outside) than my co-workers when they announce cutbacks at work. Didn’t I teach Micah to always give others the benefit of the doubt when driving and be patient and longsuffering? Well, gentleness and goodness go without explanation because I am such a nice person. Of course I have faith. I go to church every Sunday. Temperance is easy. I am pretty sure it means that we don’t drink alcohol and meekness is widely misunderstood. Jesus doesn’t want us to be a doormat.

Suddenly, I realize that I am trying to substitute a “processed” version of what God wants us to be producing. Does tossing a few dollars in the mission offering look anything like the love for sinners Jesus modeled when his heart was broken and he was moved with compassion for the people in Matthew 9? Is doling out a tight smile consistent with living an abundant life full of joy talked about in John 10? My dependence on my job shows that I don’t really have a peace that puts my trust in God to supply my needs. (Phil 4:19) Do I actually “consider one another to provoke unto love and good works” at home and show longsuffering and goodness with those I love most? (Heb. 10:24) Do my words of correction to my children show a gentleness and meekness or am I annoyed at having to say things for the seven thousandth time? (Ephesians 4:15) Does the lack of balance in my professional and personal life undermine my claim of living with temperance? (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) Am I living an active life of faith or limiting God by only showing faith for salvation? (I John 5:4)

God wants us to produce fruit that is as close as possible to its original form. The original form is Christ. We can’t take a short cut on the processed or fat-free isle. We need to spend time digging in the dirt of the Word of God to produce the real thing.

 “Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, and cries it shall be done.”                     ~ Charles Wesley

Still Choosing Faith,

Evona