Fitness, Letters to My Kids, Ministry

A Call to Self-Discipline

Dear Daughter of Mine,

As your Daddy pastors our church and I learn ministry alongside him, we both hold deep convictions that discipleship must remain our core focus. As individuals, as leaders, and as a church, we must be in constant pursuit of Jesus, to know Him more and be changed into His likeness.

This morning at the gym, I was challenging my arms with some slow reps of heavy weights. The work was hard, but it felt good. I knew I was becoming stronger through the pain, being a good steward of the body I’ve been given. I want to be an example to you, my daughter, of how to respect your body, how to care for it, and how to continually make it more holy. Yes, I believe our physical body should be in pursuit of God’s holiness – the wholeness He created us for – just as our spirits ought to be.

I paused to take a breather and stretch my shoulders. And the metaphor hit me like a ton of bricks:

Christian discipleship is a mirror of physical fitness. Each individual is in charge of their own spiritual and physical health. No one can force us to read our Bibles or pray in earnest. No one can force us to develop a workout routine and stick to the challenge. We must embark on our personal journey of self-discipline. We must decide in our own hearts to pursue Jesus more deeply, to go through the dark parts of our souls, to confess sins hidden, to learn passion for the Scriptures. We must decide in our own minds to go to the gym, to lift heavier weights, to go a longer distance, to increase resistance, to love the strength we build.

And in both cases our work is never complete. We may reach a new milestone in our Christian discipleship or cross a physical limit in our workouts. We may experience “highs” when we feel like we’ve found the center of our purpose in Christ, or when we can’t imagine living life without fitness. But self-discipline comes into play when we realize that we may have achieved a goal, but our job is not finished. We cannot take a few weeks off and expect to maintain our strength. We cannot say, “I’ve done it. I’ve reached my goal. I’m finished working out (or I’m finished praying.)” It’s ludicrous in both cases. Even the healthiest person – spiritually or physically – realizes their humanity, sees how far they have to go, and knows there are many challenges ahead of them.

The process of physical fitness and the journey of Christian discipleship are never complete. We must embark on their paths with the Spirit God gave us…the Spirit that does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). We ought to anticipate the hard days, the lazy days, the pitfalls, and pursue holiness in our bodies and our spirits. Let us not give up strict training. Let us run the race marked out for us so as to get the prize (1 Corinthians 9:23-25; Hebrews 12:1).

Loving you,
working to be all I was created to be,
longing to be a good example for you,

Mama

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Husband, Infertility, Letters to My Kids, Pregnancy

Woah, Baby!

Dear Little Girl,

The most incredible experience in my life (…in my life…? *Mel, that’s kind of dramatic* …but really it’s true…happened on Tuesday night as I crawled into bed. With head propped on two pillows and a third folded up under my legs (because all the pillows are necessary at this point in pregnancy sleep), I turned out the light. Your daddy got in bed next to me, and we chatted for a few minutes. All of sudden *bubble, bubble, bubble* you started moving. Within a moment, the bubbles became full out KICKS eliciting a “WOAH” from your mama. Kevin reached his hand over to my belly hoping to feel what I was feeling. We weren’t expecting anything, but then, “Was that you, Melanie?” Nope, that was definitely the baby!

We started giggling and our grins practically pierced the darkness in the room. The next five or ten minutes you were going to town, Daddy feeling every one of those kicks. It was incredible.

(side note: I had eaten a couple slices of cinnamon sugar toast just before bed and we’ve deduced that you love cinnamon. Your first big kick was at Taco Bell after munching on Cinnamon Twists last Thursday, August 13th.)

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Since that moment, my entire perspective seems to have shifted. I can’t describe the life changing moment in words or even telling someone with a smile broadening ear to ear. But your life is changing mine, Sweet Girl. As I learn to accept my new limitations, admit defeat, buy bigger sizes, and walk a whole lot slower, I am recognizing the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. God is using you to make me the woman He desires me to be. As much as I don’t feel ready for any of this, I can say with confidence that the five years of waiting was the Lord preparing my heart for this deep transformation. And for that I am thankful.

We can’t wait to see you, Daughter.

Love,

Your Mommy

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Letters to My Kids, Pregnancy

Seeing Her Face

Dear Little Girl,

I could hardly wait until my doctor’s appointment Friday, August 7th. It was my 20 week ultrasound and we were going to get to see you for the first time (well, the first time since you looked like a gummy bear.) Since those moments, I haven’t been able to wipe this smile off of my face.

You are so beautiful.

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It was incredible, truly, to hear that your heart was healthy with all four chambers, that your umbilical cord had the right components, that your spine was strong, and your bladder was working. I saw your mouth opening and closing, and you were quite active, waving your arms, and once giving a “praise the Lord” gesture. I loved every minute of it!

I thank the Lord for the way He is knitting you together, and that He chose me to be your mother.

Loving you!

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Confessions, Dear God, Jesus, Pregnancy

Broken for You

On my morning walk before church I prayed. I was anticipating Holy Communion and asked God to examine my heart and cleanse me. I wanted to be a temple worthy to take part in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus.

And He met me. Right in the middle of struggle. He had heard my desires for surrender.

My child,” the Lord said, “just as Christ’s body was broken that the world may have life, so your body is being broken that you may bring life into the world. Your physical being is my temple. You’ve laid down your life for my kingdom. And so I have asked you to surrender, that my will be done in this world. Through childbirth you will continue in sanctification, setting aside your abilities, your appearance, your desires, in order that I may breathe deeper life into your spirit. Your body is a vessel of the daughter for whom I have great plans. Bear her with grace.”

“Father,” I said, “as Jesus prayed in the garden, ‘if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ I asked for years to be given this gift of motherhood. And then I surrendered my desire. But it became a new sort of selfish. And of that, too, you are breaking me. Use my body for Kingdom work. I’m laying down my pride, proclaiming my desire for you to use and transform and break my body that She may have life. And for those whom she will lead to Life eternal.”

And even as Christ Jesus was resurrected his body bore the scars, remembrance of his sacrifice, proof of our redemption. “So, Father God, remind me in the years to come of the good my body has done. As it shows signs of this life-giving, transformative, Spirit-seeking time in my life, may it be a remembrance of His sacrifice and mine. For your good.”

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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