Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cheating Well

During this time of busyness, I know I have probably let my friends and family down by not being as available as I would like to be (hard to swallow for a people pleaser, like me).  But something I've learned is that sometimes we have to CHEAT WELL to get by in life, especially when it means putting the Lord first and our marriages/spouses second.  

We've been taught from when we were a child that cheating is wrong.  One of our pastors taught used a passage from Hebrews to teach us a new way to cheat ... way to CHEAT WELL ... a way that just might make a difference in our relationships and marriages.  

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 
let us throw off everything that hinders 
and the sin that easily entangles, and let us run
 with perseverance the race marked out for us.  
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, 
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Hebrews 12:1-2 

Most of us know that sinning is wrong and will lead to bondage in our life, but look at what comes before that: "everything that hinders."  Some translations say "weights" or things that get in the way of our relationships.  

The world we live in today is a fast paced; we have e-mail, Facebook, smart phones, DVR, bluetooth, DVR, twitter, kindle, and more channels on our TV than we know what to do with.  We are constantly bombarded with decisions and technology that we can barely keep up!  This can rob us from depth in our lives and our relationships.  

During my season of change and busyness, I had "learn how to cheat well," as one of our pastors taught.  This is a hard lesson for a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser!  I had to pick the non-negotiables in my life: (1) my relationship with the Lord, (2) my husband, and (3) my health.  If I had time for other things after that, than great, but these top priorities had to come first.  

So, I became a cheater.  

Here are some things I am learning to "cheat well": 

        • E-mail 
        • Facebook 
        • Dishes
        • Cleaning our home 
        • Writing blogs 
        • Reading blogs 
        • Having everything organized (please don't look in my closets)  
        • Hanging out with all of my friends 
        • Sending cards for birthdays and anniversaries 
I could see my life spiraling out of control, and I knew that some things had to take a back seat for a while if I wanted my marriage to thrive.  I am thankful for a husband who understands when our home isn't spotless at all times.  I am thankful he understands if I need to take a nap instead of do the dishes right away.  It took longer than I would have liked to get our new home put together, but our marriage survived the turmoil that it takes when going through so much change.  

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, 
but the simple keep going and suffer for it.  

Proverbs 22:3

What's more important putting a box away today or working on my marriage so that it will last a lifetime?
What are some areas that you can learn to cheat, so that your relationships can thrive? 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Where has the time gone?

First, I owe all of you an apology for not blogging for so long.  I hope you can FORGIVE me!  The last three months have been a season of change, and I am still trying to get my feet back on the ground.  I can't tell you how much I have missed blogging!  Seriously, where has the time gone?  Here are a some of the things that have been going on in my life:

  • I have been adjusting to my new job 
  • My husband and I remodeled a condo, which turned out to be a bigger project than we intended.
  • My Dad graduated with his Masters Degree (another one).  
  • My grandparents were in the hospital (3 times between 2 of them). 
  • We moved my grandparents into assisted living. 
  • My husband and I moved from our apartment into our new condo.
  • We celebrated Mother's Day and Father's Day and birthdays! 
  • I celebrated two of my pregnant friends with baby showers (one of which I was a hostess).  
  • There were two engagements! 
  • Two of my friends had babies, one of which I still need to visit!
  • I turned 30!  
Life is just a whirlwind!  Along with trying follow the Lord, trying to be a loving wife, and trying to keep up with the everyday activities, I have been exhausted!  I know I wouldn't have made it through this time if I had relied on my own strength!

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, 
for I am gentle and humble in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

A few weeks ago, I finally started cooking again and caught up on some e-mail!  I think my friends (and even family) thought I was M-I-A!!

Thank goodness for the Lord's strength during these times of change and exhaustion!  We can always rely on the Lord to give us the strength to make it through when we don't have the strength!

But those who hope in the LORD 
will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
they will run and not grow weary, 

they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40:31

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lady of Luxury

In my last blog post, I told you about one of the many lessons I learned from my time of unemployment.  I believe this is just one of the many way the Lord used this time to mold me and my heart during this time.  

It's AMAZING to see how the Lord CHANGES hearts!  

My last job was very stressful: physically, mentally, emotionally.  I persevered for four years, putting my heart and soul into it; working on my attitude and trying to "make it work."  Was I blameless in every situation?  Of course not.  But I can tell you that with the Lord's help, I really grew in having a positive attitude at work and not basing it on the daily circumstances.  I learned that I am called to work for the Lord and not for the fallible humans around me.  

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, 
as working for the Lord, not for men, 
since you know that you will receive an inheritance 
from the Lord as a reward.  
It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  
Colossians 3:23-24

I can't tell you how many times I had to say this verse over and over in my head to make it through a day.  Even so, this work environment was toxic.  It was affecting my health and my marriage.  I was to the point of a nervous breakdown!!  I had been looking for jobs in my bits of spare time, but couldn't find anything!  

I asked my husband...okay told him that I wanted to quit my job.  I would work at Starbucks, if I had to.  That did NOT go over well.  The expectation was that I would find a full time job at a comparable pay rate before leaving my current position.  I had brought up quitting before, but I was really at a breaking point this time!  After some discussions, arguments, and talks with our community group we started talking about how long I could hold out while seriously taking some time to look for a job.  I just didn't know how I could be a wife, work this job, and look for a job.  After all, I already knew I was doing a terrible job at being a wife at the moment.  

The Lord had other plans.  Just a couples days later, I was terminated.  

It was like the Lord said, "Your time here is done, Lauren."  A closed door.  There were no more discussions or hard decisions to make.  There was no more wondering if quitting was the right or wrong thing to do.  He made the decision for me.  Although, it wasn't the way I would have necessarily chosen to do things ... it was done and out of my control.  

It took a couple of weeks to process through the initial shock and emotional turmoil, but I started attending Watermark's Careers in Motion and began looking for jobs.  I took the time to rest, to spend time with the Lord, to serve my husband, and to work on my marriage.

After a couple of months, Dave started saying that he didn't want me to go back to work.  Huh?  I was totally confused!  Apparently, he noticed how much better my stress levels were, how much better we were able to connect in the evenings; how much better our marriage was without this toxic job.  Not that everything was the job's fault ... we have plenty of other issues to work on.  I was able to go grocery shopping, cook, and keep up the home more, which allowed us to spend more quality time together.  I was able to focus on the areas I needed to change to make our marriage stronger.  I was able to be a better wife!  Would he have ever had this observation or thought if the Lord didn't strip that job from us?  

How amazing is it to see how far his heart had changed from just a few months earlier!!!  

Well, now we had another decision to make.  During this time, I began to pray that I would serve the Lord with my time...and my marriage comes second after the Lord.  So, what should I do about work?  I'm not a mother yet, so should I be a stay-at-home wife?  What does that mean?  A Housewife of Dallas?  A Lady of Luxury as my friend Nina says?  :-)  I do enjoy contributing to our family, but I also want to be sure I am not finding my identity in my job (very easy for me to do).  

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

I really had to work through this and search my heart to be sure what my reasons were for going back to work.  It is easy for me to find my identity in my work, instead of in the Lord. My pride didn't want to "just work part-time" or be a "stay at home wife."  My pride didn't want others to think I couldn't "handle" a full time job and all my other responsibilities.  After all, aren't we supposed to be super women, who balance work, husbands, church, volunteering, friends, family, etc.??  I was afraid it would look like I had ... FAILED.  Deep down, I knew these were all lies from the enemy, even though it is hard not to believe them.  I kept praying that I could serve the Lord with my time, whatever that meant--work or no work.  

Well, again the Lord answers prayers and changes hearts.  

Earlier in my search, I applied for a job where they had both a full time and a part time position available.  I originally applied for the full time position.  After much discussion, I changed my application to the part time position and figured I would see how much time it would entail.  I faithfully prayed during this time.  When I interviewed, Dave and I both felt it was the perfect fit and answer to prayer.  Not only did they offer me the position, but they told me that I was their top candidate, and wanted to let me know that I could have the full time position if I wanted it.  Let me tell you ... it was really tempting to jump back into a full time position to satisfy my pride.  But, I knew it wouldn't be the best option for my relationship with the Lord and for my marriage...and those two things MUST come first!!  

The Lord is faithful to all his promises
and loving toward all he has made.
The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you, 
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand 
and satisfy the desires of every living thing
Psalm 145:13-16

I feel like a Lady of Luxury!!  

Probably not in the way the world would think.  I have a gracious Lord and Savior that is faithful and meets all of my needs!  I am able to put my marriage first (after the Lord) and serve my husband, while also being able able to work and contribute to my family.  Although this has been a challenging transition, it has been an amazing time of growth and heart change!  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Would I Be Thankful?

Once again, I must apologize for the delay in my blog!  As I mentioned before, last weekend I had a conference in San Antonio and then I started my new job and worked a full week.  Getting back into a regular schedule is a quite a challenge, especially after a long, tiring weekend!

Now that everything is official, I get to share the details!

I am now employed by the Medical Center of Lewisville in the Cardiac Rehabilitation department as one of their Exercise Physiologists.  For the last 6 years, I have been working in Cardiac Rehab, so I feel very blessed to continue what I love!


As many of you know, the last several months (years, actually) have been a trying process where I have had to fully trust the Lord and give full control to Him.  I can honestly tell you that I feel at peace with this position and know that I am right where He wants me.  He has truly answered my prayers, and I can't even express in words how THANKFUL I am!!

Going back to my key verse:

Be joyful always; pray continually; 
give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I can't express how thankful I am for the opportunity to work at this hospital.  The whole philosophy of this hospital system is different from anywhere else I have been employed.  They do not just consider themselves a "healthcare" organization (even though that is obviously the service we provide), but instead a "customer service" organization, just like any restaurant or retail facility.  This is the same way we are to treat our patients, not as a number or a disease, but as a human being...listening to them, caring for them, and making there experience the best possible (which is challenging, considering most people don't particularly enjoy coming to the hospital).  They continued by talking about how they clean house several years back and got rid of all of the "mean people."  They gave examples of how they can teach skills, but they will not put up with intimidation, hazing, or just negative attitudes.  Did I actually hear that you fired someone because they were rude to patients?  Am I dreaming?

I was literally tearing up during orientation!!

Now, I am not unrealistic, I know that no organization is perfect.  I know I am going to run into difficult coworkers and patients, but this organization appears to really be focused on making their hospital a family and community environment ... which is it's mission!  I have already experienced some of this in my first week.  


I know this may seem silly to you, but I am literally overjoyed by how friendly the people have been during orientation and in my department, as I have been learning my way around.  

A question that has been on my heart this week: 

Would I appreciate this hospital, this job, this department, this welcome sign as much if I had not gone through this time of growth with the Lord?  

This concerns me because I honestly I'm not sure I would.  

We may never know why the Lord challenges us in certain ways or why we must endure hardships, but I believe it is important to always be looking and praying for what the Lord is teaching us through our circumstances.  One simple thing I can take away from this is to look around me and be thankful for what the Lord has given me.  Perhaps I have taken too many things for granted.

What a better time to remember to thank the Lord than on Easter weekend, when Christ provided the greatest sacrifice of all times: giving up his son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save us from our sins!  

Make sure you thank Him this weekend for this ultimate sacrifice! 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tyranny of the Urgent

I am having one of those weeks where I need more time!   I am on the Board of Directors for the Texas Association of Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation and we have our Annual State Conference this weekend.  This is one of the big things we plan for all year!  

Of course, I was sick last week and continue to be sick this week, so I am behind on my tasks.  I have errands to run, doctors appointments, a presentation to finish, bags to pack, etc.  How am I going to get it all done?  When I am faced with days/weeks like this, I often find myself anxious and frustrated.

For me, the first thing I tend to push aside are my quiet times with the Lord, which should be the LAST THING to be ignored.  This shows the sickness of my heart and how my priorities need to be realigned. 

Thankfully, today I had a small victory.  I forced (yes, I had to consciously make myself stop working on the "urgent" tasks) myself to sit down and have my quiet time.  Afterwards, I was so much more peaceful and felt more capable of conquering the rest of this busy week.

Weeks like this remind me of an article called Tyranny of the Urgent, by Charles E. Hummel.  I wish I could copy the entire article for you here, but it is rather long.  

Here is the introduction: 

Have you ever wished for a thirty-hour day?  Surely this extra time would relieve the tremendous pressure under which we live.  Our lives leave a trail of unfinished tasks.  Unanswered letters, unvisited friends, unwritten articles, and unread books haunt quiet moments when we stop to evaluate.  We desperately need relief.
     But would a thirty-hour day really solve the problem?  Wouldn’t we soon be just as frustrated as we are now with our twenty-four allotment?  A mother’s work is never finished, and neither is that of any student, teacher, minister, or anyone else we know.  Nor will the passage of time help us catch up.  Children grow in number and age to require more of our time.  Greater experience in profession and church brings more exacting assignments.  So we find ourselves working more and enjoying it less.

Do you ever feel this way?  I know, I do!  

Hummel suggests that instead of running ourselves ragged with all of the small, insignificant tasks in life, we should prayerfully consider each decision that we make.  We should be sure that we are focusing on what the Lord want us to do, instead of just doing the tasks that WE think are important.  We often talk about prioritizing our lives, but are we living this out day-to-day?  If someone looked at our lives, what would they say our priorities are?  Do we truly evaluate our time, as if it were the Lord's and not our own?  

I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.
John 17:4

Here is a link to the complete document of Tyranny of the Urgent!  
It is a MUST read!  

Friday, April 8, 2011

On My Heart: Confession

My sweet cousin, Casey is doing a section on her blog called "On Your Heart."  This is a way to show her confessions, deep thoughts, and worries.  A way to be more vulnerable.  I absolutely love this idea and want to commend her and support her on it!  I just love this amazing, Christian woman!  
(Side note: you can find a link to her blog on the left side of my blog! )


Confession is something we should all practice in our lives.  The Bible tells us that we cannot trust our own hearts because they are sinful and wicked.

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? 
Jeremiah 17:9

We must learn to shape our hearts to be more like Christ, which takes practice and daily discipline!  One of the best ways to do this is:


Learning to be vulnerable to others is scary.  Opening up our lives and saying, 

"I don't have it all together" 

can shake our world.  But it can also provide a lot of freedom.  The Bible encourages us to confess our sins, not only to Jesus but to others.  We were not meant to walk through this life alone.  We need to have Christian brothers and sisters to walk along side us to encourage us, pray for us, and speak truth into our lives.  If we aren't vulnerable with them and show them all sides, the good, the bad, and the ugly, how can they really help us?  Personally, I don't know what I would do without those people in my life--I am so very thankful for them!

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other 
so that you may be healed.  
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:19

He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Proverbs 28:13

So many times, I find my self focusing on what others have done to hurt me or wrong me.  But confession brings me back to where I should be focusing my attention: on the only person I can change--ME!  I can't change my friends, family, or my spouse; I can only change me.  Paul definitely had his heart in the right place when he wrote the following verse: 

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: 
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--
of whom I am the worst.
1 Timothy 1:15

 One of my mentors once said:

"Your sin is the most important to deal with." 
~Rob Barry~

I should always be focused on MY SIN, because that is the WORST SIN.  I am the WORST OF ALL SINNERS and I need to focus on shaping my heart to be more like Christ.  If I don't have something to confess ... that is something that should scare me! 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Crisis = God's Glory

I can't believe this week has flown by already!  I haven't written anything in over a week ... please forgive me!  I love that my ReEngage leaders are always challenging us to share not only WHAT we are learning, but also HOW we are using the material in our everyday life.  I realized that I did a poor job this week surrendering my illness to the Lord and found myself in a little pity party this week. 

For those of you that do not know me, I have a condition called IGA deficiency.  Basically, my body doesn't produce enough of the IGA antibody, which is found in the mucous membrane of the body (this includes the ear, throat, sinus system, GI system, etc.).  Therefore, my body is unable to fight off disease it comes into contact with, such as the common cold, viruses, etc.  Nothing life threatening, but certainly a daily inconvenience.  I have to take antibiotics, along with several other medications on a daily basis, and most of the time, I feel run-down because my body is constantly fighting off illness.  I was diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago, but the doctors believe I have had it my whole life and will suffer with it for the rest of my life.  I don't want to continue my little pity party, but am trying to give you a little background. 

This past Sunday, our pastor, Todd Wagner, gave a sermon finishing up on John 4 with the healing of the official's son. 

Wagner talked about how the Lord can perform miracles, but this happens on very rare occasions.  Otherwise, they would be called regulars!  He spoke about how Jesus did not perform miracles to convert his followers, but instead to authenticate who he was--the Son of God. 

There is so much from this sermon that I could share, but here is the main point that spoke to me.  Wagner said that, "God introduces crisis in your life for one of two primary reasons:
  1. You are far from Him and He wants to draw you close.
  2. You are near to Him and He wants to use you."
Either way,  "be assured it is ALWAYS for His glory and your good."


For me, this convicted me about how I have faced my illness.  I have prayed and wished that I could be healed too.  How nice would it be to not have to think about filling all these medications and worry about scheduling all of these doctors appointments.  To be able to get up and exercise like I used to.  To not have to worry about being able to take care of my future children.  To not feel so fatigued everyday.  To wake up and feel 100%.  What would that be like? 

But that is not the path that the Lord chose for me, and I am learning to accept his plan for me.  Of course, it isn't always easy.  But think about how much I have to be thankful for!  I don't have a terminal illness!  I don't have cancer!  I can walk!  I am able to take care of myself!  I am able to have children!  There are so many horrible illnesses in this world and it could be so much worse!  I am thankful for each day that I can wake up and serve Him. 

Now, I have a new prayer.  I want to use this illness for the Lord's glory.  I want to remain faithful to Him and continue to serve Him even when I do not feel well.  I know that the Lord is good has a purpose for my life even though it is filled with some pain on this earth.    

Consider it pure joy, my brothers,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith
develops perseverence. 
Perseverence must finish its work so that
you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

I recommend checking out Todd's sermon from this past Sunday (4/3/11) to get even more out of this sermon.  Here is the link to the Watermark media site: