The challenge is over (technically tonight) I did not lose weight! In fact, I gained a few pounds. Some of you may be rubbing your chin thinking to yourself, “I thought she looked a bit chunkier…” Maybe I do. I don’t know, and really it doesn’t matter. The pounds I gained the past seven weeks, is nothing compared to the spiritual muscle I’ve gained during the same time period! I’ll take those gainz!
Let me explain… this challenge was completely different than the other two, and the one I completed by myself a couple years ago. I had WAY more going on throughout the course of the challenge and it was felt. With all the extras, in addition to following through on my commitments for the challenge, I’m sure there was a level of stress there that was but one variable adding to the weight gain. Another variable was my lack of exercise.
I started off great, the first two weeks. But when the virus hit, I was wiped out and had no energy to do any work outs for at least three weeks that followed. I then found myself with no desire or motivation to do anything, and my workouts were sporadic at best. My body NEEDS to move to lose weight. It just does. That is my body type and I know it.
Finally, I just ate MORE than my body needed during this time. Yes, it was Whole30 approved, but it was still more calories than I needed and hence the weight gain. I attribute the surplus of calories to not working out (obviously) and having higher fat foods combined with starchy foods. This is the science and physical part of it for me, but back to those spiritual gains.
I sensed from the beginning of the challenge it would be more spiritual in nature. And it was. Time and again I felt broken spiritually due to circumstances. The weight being lifted, its intensity and its duration no doubt broke me down. God, God in His goodness came along and replenished and refueled my spiritual “muscle”, repairing and ultimately building, making larger and stronger. I am certainly coming out of this challenge stronger spiritually, and have no doubt where my focus should lie during the upcoming months.
God is calling me to four very distinct projects, two of which are already well under way, I can’t escape them. I know for certain this is what is next. But He isn’t adding to my plate, He has been compelling me to remove several things from it, in order to make room for what He needs me to “see about” right now.
In the figure competitor world, athletes spend months building muscle on their bodies and adding shape to their frame. They then spend months leaning down, in order to reveal all their efforts by dramatically reducing body fat. I believe this is what God is about to do. He is about to perform a spiritual lean down (reduce spiritual fat of all those things keeping His good work from being seen through my life) and make known all that He has been building through me the past several months.
I am SO excited and a little nervous. Although I’ve visualized it many times, I have never made it on a figure stage; ultimately I get uncomfortable with the idea of all eyes being on me, seeing my “vulnerable” places. I know what is coming and how flipping GOOD it is going to be, and the thought of eyes being on me makes me feel a bit uncomfortable as well. But you know what? Folks may see my name or face, but ultimately they will see Christ, because everything that is about to be revealed is all being inspired by Him, for Him, and the sake of others! It is going to be good….
The third challenge is coming to close, and like times before, I am in reflection mode. Only this time, things feel much different. I’m not sure it can be explained, but let’s just say I have had an experience that has planted a seed, allowed that seed to take root, and grow – all within the matter of about five worship songs on my way home from work. This encounter has left me with an unshakeable conviction of what I will be seeing about in the next several months to come.
Before the first challenge, I sensed I was to write a book. Needless to say, I was swept up in the challenge, and the days that followed. Within those same days after, I came away with a clear direction on the idea of a shepherdess rising up. This led to a spirt-led study of David. During the second challenge, I again was in reflection mode, and sensed it was time to pray and stow away for a while. Again, the book came up. Not long after our third challenge began, “shepherdess rise up” began to stir within me. Great, big, grand, godly ideas have arisen with each challenge. This one has been no different, yet it has.
The spiritual intensity of this challenge has been experienced from the outset! I sensed God taking the caliber of my offering to a new and higher level, and I did my best to follow. Things like creating an actual real life recipe book, weekly video chats (WAY outside my comfort zone) with the gals in our group, and being even more available than before. It stretched me, but caused me to grow. I also knew I would have less time (compared to previous challenges) due to fall sports for both daughters, and a couple other commitments. It tested my wherewithal. Being sick for nearly two weeks and seemingly recuperating for yet another week or so, added to the fire. An out of left field attack on one of my closest friendships fueled the fire to even grander heights. Finally, last week’s event made me feel like things were straight up white hot blazing!
But you know what – and I say this with all honesty – God’s peace has taken a stronger hold within my soul with each piece of kindling the enemy meant for my destruction. And I do mean enemy. God has literally taken each tinder, and snuffed its contribution to the blaze by helping me learn and see so much. But most importantly, He has emblazoned His faithfulness so searing upon my heart, I cannot doubt His goodness – and I surely must move forward in what I know He is calling me to work on His behalf.
Where I felt I had no time, He created time by lightening my workload and establishing a connection with another gal willing to assist in my purposes. When I was sick, He created as sense of rest and well-being as He invited me into His presence, within the space of my home. When my dear friendship was under attack, He helped me to see it for what it was, and moved us to give no more ground to an enemy that had already been having a hay day! As my heart sank at the uncertainty of my experience last week, He reminded me He is good and provided peace through my husband, children, and sister in Christ. As part of that goodness, He has shown me the legacy I am to leave behind will not come in the form of material goods or wealth or even reputation. No, His legacy in my life will be captured upon pages, written out and shared – perhaps only for my daughters and future grand and great-grandchildren. But they will know all that has transpired in hopes for their future.
I’d love to say I’m going on a sabbatical (I really tried to convince God this was a good idea), because it can be so tiring to keep trudging forward on some days, especially when most, if not all of what is done, is behind the scenes. There is never a post to boast – in fact most times God whispers, “even if I am the only one Who ever knows all that you live for Me, let that be enough”. Meaning, let His joy in my obedience, trump accolades I may or may not receive from others. And it has been. I now empathize more than ever with pastors truly living after God’s heart in an effort to effectively lead their congregation. The personal challenges, coupled with family trials, joined by the needs of friends, as well as the responsibilities to a congregation with their own array of opinion, needs, points of faith and so on – and I won’t even get into the burden felt for the community, state, country and world at large.
I empathize with them and feel like I now know a secret – trust God’s Holy Spirit to lead and guide in each moment, for each soul, during each second of each day. This is part of the written Shepherdess Rise Up legacy soon to be captured and shared…
There are certain things others in our lives are able to help and assist with, but other events – not so much. GOD KNEW SHE WAS GOING TO NEED ME HERE. God knew the prayers I would need to pray with and over her. He knew, and I am grateful.
I am grateful for another reason. Hurricane Matthew. It is hitting Haiti right now, as I write this post. I was planning on being just sixty miles from the inland border of Haiti, in an effort to learn more information for future medical missions in the area. And I’m not. Why? Because I had a strong sense God did not need me to go, just yet, RIGHT NOW, this week. Thankfully I listened (although it was very difficult for me to do so with my excitement for the opportunity), and chose to stay home for the sake of my family and close friends. Please keep the entire area in your prayers!
Finally, I am grateful because He is really moving in my life. Last week was, I’ll just say, one of the worst weeks I’ve had in a while. It kind of stinks to admit it, but I felt so horrible and felt like I was stumbling and fumbling all over the place. Fear of moving forward has been trying to rear its ugly head (and some odd things reinforcing it), but a prayer request to a friend and a response from God moments later (Psalm 91):
The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”
We can trust Him, He IS faithful and His perfect love will forever cast out fear! I’m thankful He has brought amazing women into my life I can reach out to and be REAL with. I’m grateful we pray WITH and FOR one another. I’m grateful for what He’s done, what He’s doing and what He will do!
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