all the things

What Do You Dispense?

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When they were younger, one of my kids’ favorite things were PEZ dispensers. Remember those?  I loved them, too.  I liked the sweet candies that popped out when you flipped the top up.  PEZ candy was first created in the 1920’s.  Did you know that in the 1960’s, some unusual candy flavors were featured?  Have you ever wanted to taste chlorophyll flavored candy?  Once upon a time, PEZ offered chlorophyll flavored PEZ.  Yep.  You also had the options of licorice, coffee, cola, or pineapple.  I sure am happy they had grape, lemon, and orange by the time I got my first PEZ!

Today I want us to think about what we dispense.  I woke up early one morning last week thinking about love and what God says about love.  The first fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5 is love.  As children of God, this product of the Holy Spirit lives inside every believer and as we grow spiritually, the holy spirit gives us the power to reject our sinful desires and begins to work in and through us to make us look more like Jesus.  By following the guidance of the holy spirit, fruit becomes evidence that we are becoming more like Christ.

Love is vital.  It is indispensable.  It is necessary to be effective in sharing love with others.  Romans 5:5-8 says His love is poured out abundantly in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  That love is in us.  Sealed by the Holy Spirit as we see in Ephesians 1:13.  We should burn with the love of Christ, for without love, we cannot be effective in sharing that love with others, which is our entire reason for being here.  1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says, If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Without love, people tune us out.  We become unimportant to them, untrustworthy, and invalid.  To them, we have nothing of value to offer.  This is why it is so important to be in constant communion with the Lord, in His word and in prayer.  God’s presence breeds love, because God is love.  Perfect love.  And the closer we come to Him, the more consistently we feel His strength, His comfort, and His guidance.

I had the wonderful opportunity to lead worship at our Women’s Spring Retreat this year and it was such a blessing.  I enjoyed it so much, but to tell you the truth, I did not want to go.  When I was asked, I was in a deep pit of depression and had been for some time.  Finding myself in this all too familiar place was embarrassing and I stepped away from anything where I would be in front of anyone because I didn’t feel like I had anything positive to offer.  I feel like I make a mess of things.  If I feel like I hurt someone’s feelings or make someone angry, fear and avoidance take over and I find myself in a pit.  It took me several months to dig out of that pit and I was just starting to feel like myself again right before the retreat.  I would like to share with you what I learned about God’s love as I walked that journey.  Hopefully, it can help someone else.

One of my familys’ favorite movies is Star Wars.  I’ll never forget one of the many times watching the series.  Over Christmas break, we have been known to have a Star Wars movie marathon.  You know that famous Yoda quote:  Fear is the path to the dark side.  Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.  I remember thinking, great,  I’m Darth Vader!  Lovely!

Seriously though.  Fear brings torment.  It really does.  When we are tormented, there is no love in torment.  It is actually quite ugly.  When we are fearful, many times we are irritable.  We lash out at the ones we love or at others.  1 John 4:18 says, There is no fear in love.  Perfect love casts out all fear.  God’s love is inside of you.  It is internal.  His perfect love casts out all fear.  Fear is going to come, but our response should be totally different than an unbeliever’s,

  1.  because of our prayer life.  We have a direct connection with God through His Holy Spirit living in us.  Prayer should be our first response, not our last resort.
  2.  because of our intimacy with God.  He speaks to His children through His word and through His Holy Spirit, and through others.

We cannot afford to allow fear to have a resting place because that will impede the flow of God’s love through us.  Our peace comes from God.  We have to remember that God is still on His throne.  What is true in the light is also true in the dark.  God tells us in His word, I will complete the good work that I began in you.  I will carry it on to completion and that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. We must focus on God and His promises for good things. Be still and know that I am God.  The Lord says, “I’ve got you.”  Whenever I start stinkin’ thinkin’, I have trained myself to stop in the middle of the negative thought and say, Whatever is true-  okay Cindy, what is true right now?  because I am worst case scenario girl.  I am.  Whatever it is on my mind that I am concerned about,  I’ve already got it playing through in my mind and somebody’s gettin’ a tongue lashing.  Well, hold up.  I don’t even know what’s gonna happen.  Do you even know how much time and energy I have wasted on worrying about how I think things are or aren’t?  Oh my goodness!   And, you know what?  Even if sometimes things were the way I thought.  She really was talking about me.  They really don’t like me.  The teacher really did forget to give Michael extra time and his grade is not good.  Whatever it is, God’s got it and my worrying about it is not what I am called to do.  One of my favorite songs right now is Like You Love Me by Tauren Wells.  The first verse and chorus are:

Always something trying to steal my mood
My crazy thoughts trying to kill my groove
That’s when I hear a voice, whisper through the noise
That brings a bigger picture into view
Whenever the clouds come into my mind
I won’t forget it’s You who tells the sun to shine
Every worry, every night
Every second thought about tomorrow’s wasted time (Ay)
You give the sparrows everything they need
You light the stars and You paint the leaves, eh
You clothe the lilies with Your majesty
And You don’t even love ’em like You love me
No, You don’t love ’em like You love me, no
Steve and I were sitting outside on our back patio one morning, eating breakfast.  We love to watch the birds.  This particular morning it wasn’t sunny.  It was raining.  We noticed the birds were quiet.  The trees aren’t fully in bloom yet, becuase it is still early Spring, but the birds are still there.  The rain started getting heavier.  We noticed one bird on the fenceline between our house and our neighbor’s.  It just stayed perched on the fence.  The rain kept getting harder and harder.  You know, sometimes we are going to have to weather storms in life.  For me, it is depression.  It may be something different for you.  It may just be a particular season you are in.  It may be a health issue, a mariage issue, a job issue, one of your kids, all of your kids.  Whatever the storm,  we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us and we can be very confident that nothing will be able to separate us from His unfailing love.  Our confidence should be sky high in God!  We are more than conquerors through HIS love.  His perfect love.  Ephesians 3:18-19 tells us that His love is endless.  It surpasses knowledge.  Think about that… and we are to be filled up to all the fullness of God.  We should be overflowing.  Overflowing onto others.  How can we do that?  The more openly we invite God into our hearts…where the hurt is, where the pain is, where the fear is, His love can heal us – Jehova Rapha my healer.   Jehovah Jireh my provider.  His love can deliver us – Jehova Mephalti my deliverer.  He gives us our identity – Jehovah Nissi the Lord our Banner.  God’s perfect love, inside of you, will make you more than a conqueror, and then you can be a dispenser of love through the overflowing love inside of you.  Love covers a multitude of sins.  Love is an action word.  As believers, people should know you by your love.  John 13:35

Be Blessed!

Cindy

 

 

family, marriage

A Chord of Three Strands…

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Well, it has been a little over a year since my very open post on married life and all the things and I thought I might visit with you about where we are.  Steve and I have been married now for 26 years.  Last year we hit a pretty rough patch.  I confessed how we didn’t seem to be on the same page anymore.  At the time, it felt more like not even in the same library!

We have become more intentional in our relationship.  Praying together before we walk out the door to go to work, school or whereever happens every morning.  Every morning.  Do we still have moments of frustration with each other or times we don’t see eye to eye?  Yes, but it is less often and less intense.  We seem to have found a new rhythm.

It was really different with both the girls out of the house and just Michael under our roof.  I recognized Steve’s need for BMX and all that entails and I think he has recognized that I needed to decompress from my former job and just be mom and wife for a while.  I needed to get our home back together.  We have also discovered that I have been dealing with some health issues that explains my exhaustion all of the time and why I couldn’t seem to do all of the things and keep up like I used to.  I am feeling much better, sleeping again, which helps alot!  I guess the pace of the Bierman household has slowed down compared to when there were five of us here, but we still have plenty to keep us busy!

I have noticed that Steve and I both acknowledge what is important to the other more readily.  We definitley make time for each other.  We are much more intentional about our relationship.  I guess it’s just that it was easier before kids, multiple kids and all that goes with that.  It sounds so simple yet we somehow still wound up where we did and had to fight our way back to each other.  It was worth the fight.  It is easy to just build a wall and do your own thing when things are tense.  It is difficult to stay affectionate with someone you feel at odds with.  However, choosing to show our spouse love and affection, even when it would be easier not to, benefits the both of us.  I have found that when we do the hard work, God blesses that.

The most powerful change we have made is praying with each other.  To some people it may sound kind of corny, but to me, it has made a big difference.  I’m not saying that when we pray all of the clouds depart and a rainbow appears and all of our problems go away.  I am saying that I believe and trust in God’s word and that He is faithful to keep His promises.  According to Lamentations 3:22-23, His lovingkindnesses never cease. For His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is His faithfulness.

I began writing this post back in May or June, I think.  It is now August.  School has started.  Our college girl is not at school, but is home dealing with some pretty heavy health issues.  An unexpected change that we didn’t see coming.   We’ve had lots of unexpecteds this summer.  So the new rhythm will have to become a new, new rhythm.  Ha!  Anyway, new challenges and new stressors, but we still have the same God with us and I know that we will work through these new challenges together, too.  Praying all the way.

A chord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12

 

family, health and wellness

…and then June happened.

Well, for two weeks we ate right, exercised, and were feeling good. We knew that Michael and Steve were going to church camp with the youth group the second week of June, so Paleo was kind of out the window. Camp food is camp food. Early mornings and late nights. Just as it should be. Lauren and I stayed home because she is home from college and we had a room in the house to get cleaned out. Her room. I had used it as a storage room for all the things when we had wood floors put in and I had not emptied all of the boxes by the time she was home. She has been none too pleased to be sleeping on the top bunk in Michael’s room. So, we had plenty to do. There was no reason for us to stop exercising or eating right, but somewhere in between getting the boys packed, snacks purchased, and them sent on their way, I lost my mind and abandoned the exercise/eating right routine we had begun to establish. 

Lauren and I did get the room cleaned out. I even got the yard mowed while they were away. However, exercise was non-existent, as was the healthy eating. Somehow, I convinced myself that a box of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls and binge watching Dowton Abbey (yes, I know everyone else watched it like six years ago) was the new order of the day…every day…like four seasons worth. I know. I know, but we could get back on track next week. Right?

Life has a funny way of marching on where it will, even if the direction it marches isn’t where we intended. Steve and Michael had a good week at camp. They walked all over the Charleston Southern campus and despite the bus having a bit of trouble on the way, they all made it there and back home safe and sound. I thought that we could just get back into the swing of things when they got back, but God had other plans. Steve received word of a sweet family member’s passing in St. Louis and a couple of days later, I received word of my dear Uncle Jim’s passing. It was a long week, but we are so thankful that the services fell so that we were able to attend both of them. Trips were soon scheduled for Mississippi and Illinois and we got busy cooking Lauren’s meals for the trip and packing. 

Attending funerals has a way of presenting a crystal clear picture of how quickly time passes. I was reunited with cousins I had not seen for twenty to thirty years and met some of their children, who are practically grown themselves. I gave hugs to aunts and uncles that, in my mind’s memory, are 50, but in reality are now in their 70’s and 80’s. Waters muddied as we little cousins took for granted seeing each other at big family get togethers every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Fourth of July. Somewhere along the way, we all grew up, got married, had children, raised them, and are living our lives in respective states all over. Some of us have sons in law or daughters in law. Some of us have grandchildren now. It seems that life is so busy as we raise our own families that we have lost touch…or at least it feels that way to me. It makes my heart ache a little. I am grateful for seeing those I was able to see for the short time we had to spend together. It warmed my heart to see the new little family members and meet the teenage cousins that reminded me of what their parents looked like when we were growing up. That made me smile. 

We arrived home just in time to get ready for another good-bye. Our beloved pastor of our church in Alabama is moving on to a new chaper in his life. We were blessed to have him for fifteen years. I was blessed to sing with our choir at his last service with us. It was a nice celebration of him and his family. We love them. We will miss them, and we are grateful to have served with them. 

As I finish writing this post my family is on the road once again. We are coming home from a visit to Arkansas to visit my father in law and step mother in law. We have travelled like crazy this month. None of it planned, but all of it necessary. Time absolutely does march on and we are being more intentional about taking time to visit more often and spend time together. We had a good visit with our family in Arkansas. We showed our kids our old stomping grounds like the high school we graduated from, the college we met at, the church we got married in, etc… We had good conversations along the way. 

Over the month of June, I have been learning that balance and flexibility of all the things are the order of the day. Eating healthy and exercising are what we strive to do most of the time, but traveling to spend time with loved ones and pay our respects to loved ones that have passed on is important, too. The burpees, sit ups, wall balls, and paleo food will be waiting on us when we get back home.  For the month month of June, they turned out not to be the most important of all the things.

family, health and wellness

A Bierman Summer

Well, the first week of Bierman Bootcamp is done! We are all still alive! Actually, I think this is the most compliant my kids have been about something of this nature. Of course, Michael asked for it, so… He has been willing to try new combinations of foods. That isn’t to say that he has liked all of them, but he eats whatever the meal is and keeps going. That’s saying a lot for a sensory kid! So far, most of the meals in the Paleo In 28 book have been very tasty. There have been a couple that aren’t my favorite, but we are trying something new and the way I look at it, we can stick with most anything for just 28 days. By the time this is posted, we will be finished with seven of them.

As far as the workout is concerned, we have started out super slow and easy. I don’t know that Michael even broke a sweat the first day. Ha! We stretch every single day. You know those people who can do the splits and walk-overs, and when they stretch they lay down on their legs to touch their toes? Yeah. We are not those people. Our immediate family is not flexible. Several years ago, I tore a calf muscle. I have no fantastic story, unfortunately. It simply tore with one hop. Thank goodness it wasn’t so bad that I needed surgery or anything, but I did have to go to physical therapy for a few months. I learned so much. I had no idea how long the calf muscle actually is and how our muscles overlap and how tight they said my muscles were. I was told that if I didn’t stretch every day, my other muscle would probably tear, too because it was tighter than the leg I was there for. Well, now I stretch every day. I can touch my toes. That may not sound amazing to you, but I could not before. I don’t want my kids to have the same flexibility issues I have had, so we stretch- every day. We work out three days a week. What do I mean by work out? Running, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, wall-balls. I think that’s it, so far. We have just been doing two sets. We each start our timer and then stop it when we complete two rounds of the exercises for that day. It’s kind of like a mini- WOD (work out of the day). Of course, I plan on upping the reps and sets next week. Do more for longer. I know none of this is professional or anything, but at least we are moving. We are out in the sunshine and we are getting our blood pumping. That, to me, is the important thing.

As I told you in my last post, Lauren is our resident couch potato. I don’t know that she has ever “worked out” in all her almost 20 years of life. It is not really her thing. She has been to a few Refit (think Zumba) classes with me, but that’s about it. So, working out is out of her comfort zone. Thursday was a day full of “out of her comfort zone” things. Lauren had her annual allergy appointment Thursday afternoon. It was a workout day and so she did the workout that morning and got ready for her doctor appointment for the afternoon. Allergy appointments take several hours. They do blood work, scratch test, which is extremely uncomfortable, and discuss results and medications/treatments. Lot’s of decision making, especially with all of the health issues she deals with. Asthma, food allergies, and eczema, oh my! What made this appointment different is that for the last fifteen years she has been going to a different allergist, so this was a new office, new doctor, new staff, and she is considered an adult now. She is always nervous about all of the tests they run, but she was also going to be in the driver’s seat this time. They speak to her, ask her the questions, etc… She is used to Steve or me doing that. Growing pains. I am proud of her for taking charge, finding her voice, AND getting a workout in, on top of it all.

Michael has already begun his summer reading for school. He has two books he has to read and works data sheets to do on each. This is great considering last year we were cramming in his two books the last couple of weeks of summer! Don’t judge. It was a crazy summer. It snuck up on us, so we decided to be more intentional this summer and get it all done early. He has also been studying for the Alabama driver test to get his permit. He should be behind the wheel soon!

Steve and I took a bike ride (the Harley kind) down to Clanton Sunday afternoon. We just got on the highway and headed south. It was nice. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think we actually had a destination. We just rode. The next thing I knew, we were turning into Peach Park. We ate some peach cobbler, picked up some peaches and headed back home. (this was 2 days before we started Paleo, thank goodness, because that cobbler was delicious! 😉 It was fun to get out and just ride. We don’t do that often enough.

For the most part, our summer is starting out nicely. We have some decisions to make regarding Lauren’s health and mine (more on that later), but other than that, it has been a relaxing summer. Just the kind I like. I hope you are enjoying all the things of summer, too!

Uncategorized

Bierman Boot Camp

Michael has been asking over and over these past few months to “work out” over the summer. He said he wanted to eat healthier and build muscle. He is sixteen and skinny, just like his daddy was when he was his age. Michael has muscles, just not big ones. Noone in our family is on the tall side, so there is that, too. Steve told me that he used to work out and eat things to gain weight and get bigger to no avail and that Michael most likely will be the same. However, yesterday we all started on a little summer journey of getting healthier. Steve and I are both older and heavier than we used to be, so it will be good for us. Lauren is our resident bookworm/couch potato, so she could use some exercise, as well. She is home for the summer and none to pleased, but she is going along. As she says, she was “voluntold!” Michael and I are eating Paleo. Lauren already has a diet free of wheat, dairy, eggs, and nuts, so she is just continuing with that, although I would like for her to eat more fruits and vegetables and less sugar. Maybe we can get her to work on that.

I found a great little treasure at the bookstore that has made the food part of our journey quite simple. It is called Paleo In 28. The author explains the Paleo way of eating and has 4 weeks of meals with 5 ingredients or less recipes in her book. I’ve eaten this way before, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get back into the swing of things. It has been great having everything so conveniently planned out in a book, and so far the recipes we have tried are really tasty. Our first Paleo breakfast was a tropical green smoothie with spinach and some delicious organic frozen fruits. Now, Michael doesn’t like green smoothies and the one fruit he really doesn’t like are bananas, so I didn’t know if we would even get beyond breakfast, but he surprised me. He drank every bit of it and said it wasn’t too bad. Ha! Meal one down!

Before we made our smoothies, we went right outside and proceeded to do our first work out. All four of us participated. We went to the end of our cul de sac, started our timers and ran to the stop sign and back, did burpees, sit ups, and squats. We did two rounds. It wasn’t a lot, but it was a start. I don’t think Michael even broke a sweat, haha! The rest of us? Well, we did! I believe our son is stronger and in better shape than he thinks. We have decided to stretch every day and do a “work out” 3 days a week and see how that goes this summer. Our lunch was a cobb salad with a simple olive oil based lemon dressing. It was very filling. Our dinner was baked chicken tenders with spicy sweet potato fries. We snack on fresh fruit, and dried fruit and seeds. There are some delicious looking dessert recipes toward the back of the book that I am really looking forward to trying. Hopefully, by the end of the summer, Michael will have his bigger muscles, Lauren will be a little stronger, and Steve and I will be a little lighter. Between getting healthier, stronger, summer reading, learning to drive, and of course downtime of playing video games, and looking at all of the lightning bugs that fill our back yard on hot Alabama June nights, I think our summer is going to be super full and super fun!