Category archive: Lifestyle

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Buried in the Waters of Baptism

Buried in the waters of Baptism, raised again to new life in Christ!

 

Those were the words I heard going under and coming out of the cool water on the first weekend in June. But more than the words in my ears and the water rushing over my body, I felt something that I rarely ever do. I felt the Holy Spirit moving and speaking to me. The words  “Well done good and faithful servant”  played out in my head as I was briefly transported away from this earth and back again in the few seconds it took to go under the water and come up out. I honestly and truly believe I died and came back in some sort of literal sense..not symbolically. A few inches under the cool water I felt a peace, calmness and beauty that cannot be described and most of all I felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy One right there with me the whole time. “Supernatural” comes to mind. And I was COMPLETELY caught off guard by the whole experience.

Romans 6:3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?

In the moments leading up to the actual “dunking” (as I’ve affectionately called it) I was thinking about how I should be feeling about it. In fact, for days  prior to the big moment I was struggling with how I should feel. I was saved as a child and I’ve always known Christ was my Lord; my salvation has never been in question for me. But being raised in the Methodist church where people are “baptized” as babies, it never crossed my mind that I should do it again as an adult even though I’ve been attending evangelical Baptist churches for the past 10 years or so. In these churches we are taught that being baptized after salvation is an act of obedience and a testimony to the world that  we are believers in Christ. While baptism itself is not a prerequisite to salvation, this simple act is one that Christ himself asked us to do as a demonstration of our faith. Even Jesus himself was baptized  – and there was certainly no question about his eternal home.

Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Mark 1:4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
Matthew 3:15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.

Soooo….what to feel? I knew in my head that I should do it, my church was requiring it as a part of my membership, and I had no good reason why I hadn’t done it before.  So there I stood, waist deep in the water along side hundreds of fellow believers and over 30 people who were in the process of being baptized themselves and suddenly something sparked. I watched intently as the children’s pastor baptized the very children that he had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with. Kids that he taught for years and prayed over daily. Those precious little ones who heard the Word and were convicted by it were joyfully doing the thing I had avoided doing for decades. While watching each child go under and come up I was overcome by emotion. How wonderful must this pastor feel to actually baptize the people (in this case many children) with whom he shared the love of Christ? My heart broke once again for all the people who I had failed to share the Good News with, and that in one day this pastor welcomed more people into the kingdom than I had done in my entire lifetime. I renewed my conviction that my sole purpose in life is to share the love of Christ – all other things are insignificant if they don’t ultimately aid me in that intention.

If nothing else happened that day I would have gone home feeling that being baptized was worth it for that conviction alone. But something else did happen. I was not prepared for and I did not ever suppose that the Holy Spirit would invade my personal space during any moment of the day. After I came up out of the water I gleefully waded around to others for jubilant hugs of congratulations. I tried to put into words what I heard and felt. I couldn’t come up with the right words or descriptions, but one of our pastors did for me –  He said I was Obedient.

Obedience – – YES, that’s it!! That’s what I had done that I had failed to do for such a long time. And even though my salvation was never in question, I had not been obedient to the calling of Christ in this one area. I had no idea how much it pleased the Lord and how much His pleasure would spill over to my very soul for such a simple act as  proclaiming Jesus as my savior with my lips and then being dunked under the water for a few seconds in public. Being baptized isn’t about me or doing some ritual to join a church, it’s about being obedient. And for that alone my Father is well pleased with me. My husband put it best when he said, “If it’s good enough for Jesus to do, then it’s good enough for me.” I walked away a changed person that day and I will never be the same again!

Romans 6:4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Galatians 3:27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.


Colleen Ann Guest Lake Baptism

Colleen and Pastor Jim Gillespie

 

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Mother Nature’s Got Nothin’ on Father God!

I was very blessed to be asked to walk the runway in an eco-friendly fashion show this past weekend during all the Earth Day festivities. I love fashion and the whole idea of using eco-friendly techniques and up-cycling vintage products to create garments and accessories makes me super-duper happy. It was a joy and a thrill to be a model for this particular show. The people involved are conscious of the environment and are very giving and loving individuals. Every designer I met and every person I spoke with glowed with their love for nature. And…I’m right there with them! Love me some nature!

Yet by the time I got to the second day of events and made an appearance at the outdoor festival which took up several city blocks of downtown Raleigh, something that was gnawing at me in a teeny-tiny way suddenly took on a ravenous appetite and began to devour my heart. I passed by a statue of a person posed with it’s arms wide open, face turned up towards the sky, and clearly in a position of worship. I looked around me and saw a myriad of birds, animals, people, celestial bodies, and all forms of created things replicated in some fashion (paper mache, statues, artwork, etc). And as I looked around some more,  I saw rapture and awe on the faces of festival goers as they gazed upon the re-created things. Yep, I was right square in the middle of over seventy thousand people WORSHIPING.  Worshiping not just created things – but RE-created things (can we say idolatry?). And I could almost feel the contempt for the CREATOR of the organic creations in the midst of all this “love.”

Whoa. Eye-opening and soul-baring moment. I needed to leave. It was time to sort out how to reconcile my love of nature with my love of the one and only God Almighty who created the earth, sea, heavens, and all things in them!

Let’s be clear about something. I firmly believe God calls us to be good stewards of the resources and creatures we are coexisting with. I do NOT advocate any practice that harms the environment! Yet at the same time, I fully recognize that it is my Father God who deserves my adoration and my worship – NOT his creation. So how do I share my love for God and not alienate/offend my environmentally conscious yet utterly lost friends? This is what scares me!! I don’t want people to dislike me and I certainly don’t want to say or do anything that would make them hate the Lord!

So I dug into the Scripture.  Romans chapter one really spoke to me this morning. The Bible is very clear about the dangers of worshiping the created rather than the creator. I talked about this with my husband, prayed over it, and then I went to church with all of this burning on my mind. And in the middle of the teaching, the pastor said, “If all we do is love people (and not share the truth of the Gospel), then we are just making them happy on their way to hell.”

WOW!

OK, so I’ve now feel both led and commanded to share what I’ve been thinking and feeling – fear be damned! If someone gets offended, then I just have to take that chance. I would hate to have someone whom I loved dearly but was too afraid to offend,  look at me and say, “You knew this and you NEVER told me?” as they stand in judgement when the Lord sentences them to hell. So here goes…. (All bold and italicized emphasis is mine,  New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica)

Let me share Acts 14:15-17 from this morning’s teaching:

15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

And here is what stood out to me from Romans (1:16-25,32)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

BAM! STOP RIGHT THERE!! Is that me???

Do I continue to do such things and approve of those who practice them? ………………………………………….Um………no? (There’s that fear of offending people creeping in.)

Wait…let me use my big girl voice and be more definitive – NO. I do not!

(let the de-friending and nasty remarks commence while I duck and cover…)

 

Are you still here? whew….. Ok, well, then let me just sum it all up with some conclusions I’ve drawn about myself. After pondering, praying, and reading this morning, I’ve decided that I must take care that I keep perspective on my own environmental and animal rescue efforts so that I don’t get caught up in inadvertent worship of the creation. I must continue to immerse myself in scripture and surround myself with fellow believers so that I can be an effective witness to the great and awesome mercy of Christ; that He died for us while we were still sinners! And I must set my self apart from others who choose to worship the created rather than the creator. But by being set apart I don’t mean that I should abandon or remove myself from having relationships with folks outside the church – I need to be an example of Christian love and Godliness in every circle I am involved with. And I need to be involved in every kind of social circle available to me so that I have the opportunity to share the gospel with everyone and all may come to know the saving grace only offered by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Zebras in Motion

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Exercise – The Impossible Combination?

One of the topics that comes up quite often in my Ehlers-Danlos* groups is exercise. We all know we need it and yet it’s so difficult to start or maintain because of the obvious resulting pain, joint laxity, and POTS symptoms. And yet without it we aren’t helping our joints because we aren’t strengthening the muscles surrounding them and we’re not improving our overall health. I’m right there with my fellow EDSers on this and I’ve been struggling for years trying to find something that works. My one constant companion (although neglected more often than not) throughout these past 30 years has been a Nordic Track machine. It’s a wonderful tool because it provides great cardio with ZERO impact! It’s always been my friend – when I choose not to ignore it. A mistake I’ve always made though was to use it in conjunction with starting a completely new exercise routine including weights and dance-like moves which always leads to soreness, joint pain/problems, and ultimately quitting – usually sooner than later. But a couple of weeks ago I made a conscious effort to start anew and NOT get ahead of myself. I’m using JUST the machine 3 or 4 times a week for 20 minutes a day, I’m drinking 80-100 oz of water a day, and I’ve SLOWLY added some stretching and light isometrics. I haven’t experienced ANY soreness and I certainly don’t feel like quitting. In fact, I’ve always avoided stairs like the plague for decades because of the knee pain and possibility of subluxing, but yesterday I purposefully took the stairs multiple times and I didn’t have ANY problems. And still no backlash today! That alone is such a HUGE accomplishment!! If you don’t suffer from joint hypermobility then you just won’t get the full impact (no pun intended)  of that last statement.  FYI, because of other health issues I’ve had to revamp my diet and I’ve already been eating grain and soy free for 3 years. That has also contributed greatly to my overall improved health and well-being. I also take 4-6 grams of Vitamin C a day and 400mg of chelated Magnesium and 22 mg of zinc. So can an EDSer find exercises  to help pain and joint laxity? After a couple of weeks of skiing at home, I’m inclined to say yes – at least for this bendy girl!

*Visit the EDNF website for more information about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
I am NOT a medical professional and I do not intend for my statements to influence anyone to start a diet and exercise routine without proper medical care. Please do your own research, clear things with your medical professionals, and find what works for you.

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I Don’t Wanna be God

Questions linger.

Why did he lose his job again? They’re all strong in their faith and have been shining examples of what Christians should be. What purpose can this be serving in his family’s life?

Why did she die? She was too young and had so much life in front of her. Her family certainly prayed hard enough. Why didn’t God heal her?

Why did they get divorced? They were a perfect couple. How can this be what God wanted for them?

Pondering these (real) situations today makes me question God’s motives as I’m sure (if you’re honest) you do too. How can a good and loving God allow us to go through this garbage? Doesn’t our faithfulness to him count for just a little bit of favor? So many questions….

Earlier this week I posted a Bible verse on my facebook page: “[Trials and Temptations] Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3 NIV).

Perseverance? Perseverance for what? More trials? It seems like a vicious circle.

But when I quit complaining and airing out my questions and anguish to no one in particular and really dig into that verse and have a conversation with the Lord, I discover something. I discover that God, MY God, the father of our dear savior Jesus Christ, has something for me. He’s got all the answers to all my questions!! But he tells me that if I want to make the tough decisions and have my heart wrenched open 100% of the time, then I could do his job and have the answers too.

His job seems a bit tough to fathom, though. Watching people destroy each other spiritually, emotionally, and physically? Watching people destroy the environment and themselves? Watching a mother grieve a murdered child? Watching a father commit suicide because he feels inadequate for not having employment to support his family? Watching a child suffer abuse and become hardened to love? All these and so much more? And not just singular isolated cases, watching ALL people suffering these things simultaneously all day every day – – 24 hours a day? And not just watching all these things but knowing WHY they are occurring in the first place and having to chose how to interact and discipline and comfort? WHAT??!!!

Um, no thanks! I have a hard enough time dealing with the few trials that come my way along with those of the people I love. If knowing all the answers comes with knowing (and feeling) all the pain and making choices that I know will cause more pain but it’s the right thing to do, then I think I’ll just shut up, and consider it pure joy when I do suffer trials. Those trials produce in me the perseverance to get through this life and make it to the glorious home that awaits me in heaven. It also provides me the strength, wisdom, and empathy to encourage others on the same journey. Our faith WILL be rewarded – we just have to TRUST that God knows the answers and knows why he’s shaping us in this way. And knowing I have a loving father who cares enough about me to NOT tell me all the painful answers – to just embrace me in his arms and quiet my soul – gives me the courage to press on.

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Patriotism isn’t dead

My day yesterday began by touring the book depository and grassy knoll in Dallas, TX where JFK was assassinated. I tried to absorb the awesome weight of it all while physically being in the presence of those historic places. Admittedly I was having to stretch myself to feel something more than a dutiful sense of remorse as a good American should. I was intrigued by the conspiracy theories and captivated by the pictures and videos in the museum on the 6th floor of the former depository. But since these events unfolded before I was born I lacked the real ability to feel the outrage and pain a person should while visiting such hallowed ground. That is until I stood in the window right next to the infamous window where Oswald allegedly shot the President. From that vantage I could see crude white X’s painted in the street marking where the bullets found their marks (where ever they originated from). At that moment I quickly and flippantly remarked, “X marks the spot” not comprehending what those X’s represented. Before that little phrase finished leaving my lips, I got it though, and I felt a huge surge of sickness and sadness come over me. It was a powerful image those X’s.

In a few short minutes I found myself in front of the building, with the knoll behind me and the Veteran’s Day parade going by. The marching band was playing the Marine Corp Hymn, flags were waving, and I looked at the time. It was 11:11 on 11/11/11 exactly 11 days prior to the anniversary of JFK’s assassination. Goosebumps erupted in waves across my skin and for the first time on this patriotic day, I felt like crying … But I held it back.

I reflected on why we set aside a day to honor our vets, both living and dead, as I traveled back home by way of a couple of flights across the country. That part of Veteran’s Day has always been real to me as my own father is a Korean War vet and I have several uncles who are Vietnam War vets. More than Independence Day or Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day has always held more personal relevance in my life and I try every year to reflect and contemplate it’s significance.

The final kicker of the day though, the one that made me shed a tear in true gratitude and patriotism, was upon the announcement by the flight attendant just before we exited the plane, that we had an active duty serviceman on board and we should all show our support by giving him a cheer. When he stood up, he so closely resembled my own son (and he must have been about the same age) that I realized the true cost of our freedom. I felt it quite painfully real. It’s not our ancestors who’ve fought and died or historical events that stir an honest sense of sadness and patriotism in me. It’s the thought that boys (that could be my own little boy) are giving their lives for me and people they don’t even know. They are bravely fighting wars to keep us safe and to keep events like Pearl Harbor, Kennedy’s tragic death, and 911 from happening again. I felt a mother’s pain and pride when that boy – no – MAN in uniform stood up and removed his hat in appreciation of our cheers.

God bless the USA and God comfort all the grieving mothers whose sons and daughters will never come home from the fight!!!

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Saturday Mornings

Grain free eating isn’t that hard but it does require a little extra effort and forethought. In the past couple of years I’ve actually had to think about establishing some routines in my life, which, for those that know me well will nod in agreement, is like trying to bottle the wind. I’ve always been an impulsive, fly by the seat of my pants, kind of girl. But, knowing I must plan ahead for my meals has helped bring about a certain order in my life. For instance, I have to set my alarm on Saturday mornings so that I can be up early enough to get to the the local Farmer’s Market to buy my grain free meat and eggs. But instead of waking up begrudging the alarm on a day I used to sleep in ’till hours I shan’t mention, I wake up gleefully before the alarm and jump in the Caddy and race to Downtown Wake Forest. Why? Just for eggs? Not entirely. Dowtown Wake Forest holds magical places to explore and engaging people to visit. I love my Saturday morning routine now and wouldn’t trade it for even a single Saturday of sleeping in ever again!

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What’s UP with your Hair??

Sitting in the barber chair, I felt my head get significantly lighter as the barber snipped away my long tresses. It was a liberating feeling! It was like something intangible was lifted away along with the weight of the hair. I couldn’t help feel a tiny little bit of remorse though for what I had just done when I gazed down at the pile of freshly shorn locks that used to be attached to my head. Yet at the same time I felt giddy with a sense of daring bravery – like I had just broken out of prison. I had spent the majority of my life adorned by, enveloped by, and defined by long curtains of hair. I loved my long hair. I still do. And it will be back. But for now, it’s fun to be sporting a sassy crop of spikes haloing my face.

So the burning question on everyone’s lips these days is, “Why in the world did you do it?” (I bet some people think I’m having a midlife crisis.) As to the short hair, there seems to be two camps of opinion out there. Some people can’t fathom that I got rid of such pretty long hair and think I’ve made a huge mistake. Other people think it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve gotten lots of compliments and the majority of them center around the phrase, “you look so much younger.” THAT, I find extremely humorous. After reading the rest of this, you will too.

Alright, so is it a midlife crisis? In a way, yes. But not in the traditional sense. I am 45 years old and that most certainly qualifies me as middle-aged. I can see and feel the signs of an aging body, face, and hair every time I look in the mirror or tackle a set of stairs. My children are grown up; my daughter is married and my son has graduated from college. I am getting older and it’s a reality. When I look back at pictures of my former, youthful self, I see and recall a crowning glory of long, vibrant, silky, full-bodied hair – dark brown with red and gold highlights. It was a thing of beauty which never failed to garner attention.

But in my mid 30s I discovered (oh the horror) a few nasty, wiry, silver hairs poking up through my luscious strands like a gleaming pitch fork tines. Um…WHAT? This couldn’t be happening to ME! So I plucked them . . . and they re-grew . . .  and apparently multiplied. (Word to the wise – plucking gray hairs is like dowsing water on your Mogwai – see, I told you I was old – you are too if you get that reference) So one day, I did the unthinkable – broke down and bought a couple of boxes of hair color. “This is it,” I thought, “say goodbye to the beautiful hair forever.” I actually cried. The thought of having to color ALL of my hair when all I wanted to do was cover up a few gray strands killed me. I still had TONS of beautiful locks! But I took a deep breath, wiped away the tears, and did it. And for the last 10 years I’ve been doing it. At first I could get away with going 3-5 months without re-coloring it. Over the past decade that time has diminished to its current range of about 3 weeks between colorings.

Over the last several weeks I’ve had a revelation. Life is short – and no, that’s not the revelation – I’ve known that for a while. What I mean is, our lives can be defined in 5 (yes FIVE) 20 year phases:

  1. youth/school aged = birth-20
  2. young adulthood = 20-40
  3. middle-aged = 40-60
  4. senior = 60-80
  5.  elderly = 80-100

That’s it. Only 5.  I’ve lived and enjoyed the heck out of the first two phases but suddenly I find myself in the third phase. Five years into the third phase at that. I only have 2 more phases after this one (if I’m lucky)!!

Revelation – I WANT TO LIVE while I’m alive (Thank you Bon Jovi for those words of wisdom)! I embraced the first two phases with gusto and made the most of them and I want to do the same with this one, and the one after and the one after that. I don’t want to wake up when I’m 60 and wonder why the heck I wasted what could have been the most vibrant phase of my life in denial and pretending I was still living in the previous phase; desperately clinging to it like I was hanging from a rope over the edge of the Grand Canyon.

God, in his infinite wisdom gave us a graceful transition to the last two phases – not an abrupt screeching halt. We do that to ourselves. Why on earth don’t we just allow ourselves to age gracefully and embrace every moment of who we are? I for one do NOT want to wake up one day and suddenly be a wrinkly, gray-haired, little old lady and have arrived there as if a train smashed into a concrete wall. I want to make a gradual change and welcome the new beauty in my body, face, and hair, at every age. We only get one chance to live our lives. I don’t want to live mine as a lie. I’ve blown almost 10 years of it already in denial. I’m not going to waste once second more!

So back to the burning question, “what’s up with the hair?” Well, I’ve had it. I’m done! No more hair color for me!! I want my crowning glory back in whatever color and texture it happens to be. After several weeks of investigating my options, it appeared to me that the fastest way to accomplish my goal would be to cut off all my hair and let it re-grow. I’m far too impatient and frugal to spend the next several years trying to highlight, lowlight, tweak, or whatever-it-is-they-do to my hair to mask the line of color growth. So off it came.

THAT was phase 1. Phase 2 is the color change you’ve all been guessing at, but now you know it’s not what you thought it would be. Growing and snipping away the old color will take several months to accomplish, but my hair grows fast so it won’t be a long wait. I can already see real hair! Phase 3 is the re-growth to restore those long tresses to a new-found beauty. That will surely be the longest phase but one I’m going to have a lot of fun with. There will be lots of great hairstyles to play with along the way.

Hopefully my journey of hair transformation will inspire other people (especially women) to grab hold of life and live it to the fullest. My advice: embrace who you are and where you are – right now! Don’t live in the past and don’t live for the future. You’re missing out on LIFE if you do either.

Colleen Ann Guest
September 14, 2011
Phase 1 complete . . .  Phase 2 underway . . .

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