Archive for February, 2014

Here we are in week 6 of our Proverbs 31 “Made To Crave” journey. I spent a few minutes today looking back at the pictures on my camera roll…and wow! I found a photo taken literally one week before Made To Crave started. The picture was of me and my older two boys just goofing off, preparing to enjoy some hot chocolate. I compared this grin to a picture I took just two days ago, snuggling with our eldest kiddo. I was shocked at how different I appeared in the more recent picture. Funny how just a few weeks can truly make such an impact. 

 

But I’ve decided my journey living a healthier life – a more fulfilled life – leaving the ” I’m a survivor” mindset behind and embracing the reality that I will live for today in His promises….that journey is still continuing. I’m far from done yet. 

But going down this new road is scary. I’m not exactly sure about my next move. I’m not sure how far I will run, or the right foods to try with our family, or if shooting for running a 5k in March is just plain crazy. In fact, I’ll admit this…most days I find myself gazing back at my reflection going, “Who are you?! I like the new you…but who are you really? Are you here to stay?!” Sometimes it takes a bit to allow changes to grow on you. 

I want to go beyond hoping this change will indeed occur permanently. 

I want to go beyond simply just believing and memorizing Gods plans for my life.

I want to have the courage, daily to make change stick. 

 

Thus…

I will have a daily quiet time with my Abba Daddy.

I will continue on my c25k plan and eventually just run three miles three mornings a week.

I will continue to choose wise food options and keeping a food journal tracking my eating habits. 

I will continue to remain accountable to my study group.,

I will continue to live as His loved and precious child. 

 

Life is way too short to get comfortable and blend in. God gave us a joy to stand-out and take courage to make the changes we know that will bring us closer to Him. I believe I’m on my way. For the first time in a long time I feel like I know where I’m going and I have the courage through Him to press-on. 

So…who is with me? 

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Because of the Lord ’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24 NIV)

The faithful love of the Lord  never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord  is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT)

 

Here we are in week 5 of the Proverbs 31 “Made To Crave” Online Bible Study! Im on week 3 of the couch-to-5k program, making my goal of at least 10k steps a day using my fitbit, pretty much drinking just water (though Velentine’s Day threw me off a bit) and FINALLY my energy level is rising! YAY!!! Finally finding a balance between “mommy needs to eat healthy” and “boys don’t.” 

Lets dive-in to this week’s passage mentioned above…

Now, I love dissecting verses (the proper term is exegesis) but I won’t consume you with all of the interesting facts. However, let me entice you with a few pointers – 

– This passage is the climax (most emphasized portion) of Lamentations

– The book was originally written after the Babylonians seized Jerusalem – Gods Holy city (if you were fortunate to live during this time, you lived in horrific circumstances under the Babylonian oppression) 

A few key verses I found that describes the state of living…

Jerusalem’s gates have sunk into the ground. He has smashed their locks and bars. Her kings and princes have been exiled to distant lands; her law has ceased to exist. Her prophets receive no more visions from the L ord . The leaders of beautiful Jerusalem sit on the ground in silence. They are clothed in burlap and throw dust on their heads. The young women of Jerusalem hang their heads in shame. I have cried until the tears no longer come; my heart is broken. My spirit is poured out in agony as I see the desperate plight of my people. Little children and tiny babies are fainting and dying in the streets. They cry out to their mothers, “We need food and drink!” Their lives ebb away in the streets like the life of a warrior wounded in battle. They gasp for life as they collapse in their mothers’ arms. (Lamentations 2:9-12 NLT)

In other words…life was over for these promised children of God. Their prized city was demolished. The temple was rubble. Leaders killed. Families separated. Children dying. No food. No water. No shelter. No hope.

And you thought your day was headed downhill. 

Have you ever lost hope? I’m not talking about simply having a bad day or wrestling with internal temporary struggles. No friends…I am talking about crouching into the shape of a ball, head drenched with tears, hands trembling and fighting to simply make it through the day. I’m talking about waking-up in the morning and cursing God for making you live another day. I’m talking about living every moment with the fear of uncertainty, the inability to trust anyone around you…even the feeling that you are becoming alienated from God. 

I’ve been there…but more about that later…

Circumstances in life can lead us down this road. By starting from the beginning of Lamentations, your heart sinks for these people. The writer expresses their pain and suffering so vividly…it’s really hard to read, let alone really comprehend. 

No…you really don’t understand where the writer was coming from. Trust me. Why? Because even though these people and this writer were going through what many may define as hell on earth, together, we see hope. 

The faithful love of the Lord  never ends! His mercies never cease.

SERIOUSLY?! In the midst of devastation the writer finds hope. The writer does not define Gods love by looking at the current circumstances. He defines Gods love through His promises. 

Let me repeat that one more time here…(I need repetition!)

The writer does not define Gods love by looking at the current circumstances (devastation, destruction, separation, death). He defines Gods love through His promises (the writer knows Who wins in the end and that he is never alone). 

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Regardless of the trouble, pain, suffering, heartbreak or loss that occurred yesterday, the writer has an active relationship with God. He starts each day new in Him and with Him. God gives him hope. God is his hope. The writer chooses to live life to the full in Gods love. Wow…

 I say to myself, “The Lord  is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

For the writer, God is enough. 

Let that sink in just a bit…

The writer isn’t saying…

The Lord is my inheritance, therefore, I will hope He reunites my family.

No.

The Lord is my inheritance, therefore, I will hope He destroys the Babylonians.

No.

The Lord is my inheritance, therefore, I will hope He gives us food to eat tomorrow.

No.

The Lord is my inheritance, therefore, I will hope He returns now. 

No.

Now, don’t believe for a second that I’m saying the writer was happy, skipping along singing “Overcomer” in the streets. No…quite the contrary. I’m sure he felt pain. I’m sure he felt sorrow. He had to feel loss. He must have felt alone even if he knew he wasn’t. 

Yet, friends…he had JOY. Joy is not happiness. 

Happiness is the result of a circumstance or event. 

Joy is the ability to rest in confidence in the promises of God. 

Joy can only be found through the hope we have in Christ…period. 

Do you have joy? 


I thought I’d share a video I made (scroll below) a few years ago showcasing a few pictures I took during my battle with cancer. I’m now in full remission, but I’ll never forget how true the reality of this lesson of happiness verses joy came and pretty much smacked me across the face. It wasn’t truthfully until much later that I discovered the joy in this trial. 

Friends, if you are going through your own hell on earth right now, let me give you a glimpse into my little world through this video. The song my oldest son and I sing at the beginning and the end of this video was the song I continue to sing to him at bedtime. Even with a bald head, lying in bed next to my oldest kiddo, I would sing Joshua 1:9…scared, shaking, fighting back tears…but you know what? 

The faithful love of the Lord  never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord  is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” (Lamentations 3:22-24 NLT) 

Love y’all! Thanks for reading and watching! Live with JOY this week and live like you know WHO your Abba Daddy is!!! 

Today’s question for week 4 of the Made To Crave Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study:

What clues you into the fact that you are relying on your own strength in your battles with food (or any other struggle)? (Ch. 10, RQ 3)

Don’t you dare tell me I’m not strong enough to handle a situation. 

Don’t even think for a second that I need help – even if it may appear to you that I’m struggling…because I’m not. I am the person that rises above life circumstances and strives to be defined by what I can do rather than what I can’t. I will not show pain. I will not give-up or give-in…so don’t even try. 

Sounds like a great person you would enjoy hanging-out with on a leisurely afternoon, right? No. 

Yet, this was the way I represented myself to the world for most of my life. I learned very young that if I allowed anyone close enough to see my real struggles, I opened myself up to hurt. I was proud. I thought I was strong. I thought I had it completely figured out. If I just continued marching on in this way, like any good soldier should, eventually the pain inside would go numb…eventually I would believe in the lies of this mask I would present to the world. 

Isn’t it awesome to know that God sees right past the masks we wear everyday? He sees exactly who we are in Him, identity in His arms, peace in His love, stripped from the need to seek acceptance from the world and free to love in so many ways. 

Today (Wednesday) was day 2 of week 2 of my Couch 2 5k journey. I get up three times a week around 5:30 AM to jog/run. I have exactly one hour to get my workout in before I need to be back home to get a shower and rush the kids off to  two different schools. I’ve actually been doing this routine for a month now – just added the Couch 2 5k workout to the mix. 

Last night (Tuesday), my husband and I received a rare treat – we were able to have a real date night…without the kids! We lived it up! We walked along the beach. We saw a movie in the theater…a real movie…no animation allowed! We ate dinner without being interrupted by screams or flying crayons! We laughed. We shared. We had a blast! 

Now I knew getting home late after an already crazy day would lead to a very hard struggle getting my tired butt up in the morning to jog. I knew my head would hurt. I knew I wouldn’t want to get up in the cold (you know… 50 degree Florida morning…freezing!!).

I was right. 

My Fitbit bracelet buzzed to wake me up reminding me of the 5k I had signed-up to run in April…knowing the fact that I’m made for so much more than just snoring in bed…. But I was tired. So, I resolved to complete the Couch 2 5k portion of the workout and then head home. After stumbling over my shoes, struggling to get my contac in correctly, fumbling with my phone and practically flying through the darkness on a few toy cars…I got a late start. 

No big…I’d be done early. 

The Couch 2 5k workout involves a brisk 5 minute warm-up walk and then alternates between jogging/running and walking for about 30 minutes until finally after 9 weeks you are able to run a 5k without stopping. It’s a 30 minute workout 3 times a week. I’m loving it! Usually I complete the workout and walk maybe another mile near to loop back home.

Somewhere along my route, I got sucked into my music and realized during my cool down walk that I was 2 miles away from our house. After a quick glance at my watch, I realized I needed to be home in 15 minutes. 

This was not going to end well for mommy today.

As I started trying to think of excuses to explain why I was late to my brave husband who agreed to getting the boys up so I could exercise, I felt God telling me to just start jogging. 

Ok…I didn’t hear His booming voice, but I seriously felt Him saying to trust Him and that we could make it home in time…but not by my strength…only His. 

You got that right…God saw my legs and He knew what He had to do…He has a strong back for lifting!

Keep in mind, I had only jogged 90 seconds at a time before needing to walk…I knew it was 2 miles to get home. The math simply didn’t add up in my head…but really, at that point, my options weren’t exactly off the charts. 

As I started this journey home, God and I had a great conversation…one Ill never forget…

Bethany, look at the trees.

Bethany, check out the sky!

I’m bringing the sun out now…

(Me) God, I can’t do this…I’m too tired. I swear I’m going to pass-out…

I can do this…remember?

(Me) Remember what? 

Remember the times I’ve carried you before?

…. In your backyard as you practiced countless times to use both arms (even though one was smaller than the other) to throw a correct throw-in for soccer

… In the flooded school cafeteria just moments after a tornado had smashed through

… Holding your (now) husbands hand for the first time wondering if you could really trust guys again

Rock climbing on a cruise after saying “I Do”

… Walking down the wedding aisle 

… Jumping out of a plane wondering if the parachute really would open correctly 

… Becoming a mom for the first…second…and third time

… In the ICU after a routine pacemaker implant ended-up being not so routine

… Talking with students about Me at the Juvenile Detention Center 

… In the MRI room, on the operating table, in the chemo center…I was right there with you during your fight with brain cancer

… Learning how to use a cane and then moving to the electric scooter

… Learning how to walk again during physical therapy 

… Losing your house, losing your job…I knew you would find Me in this…and You did.

Before skydiving

… Bethany, I never left you then and I’m right here now. The battle is over. You can trust Me.

As each of these events literally flashed through my head, I no longer saw the sky, or the trees. I no longer seemed stretching to catch my breath. I no longer felt the aching pain in my legs or remembered the urgency to get home. 

By the time I reached my front door, I was simply at awe at the ways My Abba had carried me through life. Crazy.

…oh…and I got the kids to school with minutes to spare! 

 

Mommy of the 3 greatest boys ever!

 

Through this new journey I’m walking with Him, I’m learning that real strength is found in the ability to truly rest in Him. This freedom to simply quit trying to do His job and simply rest in confidence that He indeed can do His work, has completely shattered the mask I was wearing so comfortably. I had to learn when I was trying to rely on my strength and simply rest and allow God to take over. For me, it comes in days like today when I realize deep down that there is no way I’m going to make it home in time…it’s times where I’m so distracted by the lies and mind games that attack my self worth and security. It’s the times that I feel hopeless, worthless…defining myself as a mistake. 

And then…just like today, if I allow myself to simply rest and listen for my Abba Daddy’s voice, I can hear Him answer…even if its just “I love you.” And that alone is enough. 

I love the following passage I memorized a few weeks ago (emphasis is all mine)

Bethany, don’t worry about anything; instead, pray (talk to Me) about everything. Tell Me what you need, and thank Me for all I have done (remember how I came through for You time after time before). Then you will experience My peace, which exceeds anything you can understand. My peace will guard your heart and mind Bethany, as you live in Me. (Philippians 4:6, 7 NLT)

I can truly say I had no peace wearing the mask of strength, yearning for acceptance and searching for others to define my self-worth. I’m now enjoying this new life simply as His Child, resting in His arms and trusting…still learning to trust as I walk on water in the midst of the storm. 

 

Below is a song I fell in love with during my darkest times of my cancer journey…it simply “got” me in ways I still can’t express. Yet, after finally taking off the mask, wow…what a realization that He allowed everything to fall apart to show me indeed that I need My Daddy. 

Josh Wilson – Fall Apart

Why in the world did I think I could
Only get to know you when my life was good?
When everything just falls in place
The easiest thing is to give you praise
Now it all seems upside down

‘Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel you now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
But somehow still have all I need?
God I want to know you more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find you when I fall apart

Blessed are the ones who understand
They’ve got nothing to bring but empty hands
Nothing to hide and nothing to prove
Our heartbreak brings us back to you
And it all seems upside down

‘Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel you now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
But somehow still have all I need?
God I want to know you more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find you when I fall apart

I don’t know how long this will last
I’m praying for the pain to pass
But maybe this is the best thing that has ever happened to me

‘Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel you now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
But somehow still have all I need?
God I want to know you more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find you when–
You will find me when 
I fall apart 

Here I am in week 3 of the Proverbs 31 Made To Crave online Bible Study

No way. 

This week I wanted to tackle a topic that is very dear to my heart and has been the most underlying reason that kept me from really allowing myself to experience Gods love for most of my life. That’s a pretty bold statement I know. My topic – Is it possible to make peace with the realities of our bodies? If yes, how? 

I was born 31 years ago with several “birth defects” or “disabilities” or even identified to me as “special gifts from God.” I was born with my right arm and hand significantly smaller and shorter than my left. I was missing a left ear canal and my right ear drum was punctured which resulted in profound hearing-loss. I have calaboma in my left eye (a condition where the eye does not complete the formation process which results in blindness) and strong stigmatism in my right eye. 

And I loved my body so much…

Ummmm…no. 

I remember so many evenings after taking my shower, standing in front of the mirror and waiting until I could get my eyes to focus on my face. In my mind I would replay the loneliness I felt during my day at school. Reliving the moment I had vulgar notes thrown into my backpack and written in red marker all over my school books. Feeling the pain of being pushed, tripped, spat on and even kicked into a wall. As I watched tears fill my eyes, roll down my cheeks and into the bathroom sink, I felt so bitter, so disgusted…so afraid of God. Why? Because I believed that He purposefully gave-up completing me. I felt as if He started well, but for some reason, he decided completing me just wasn’t worth His time. I called myself a Christian. I had hope that one day, somehow I could earn favor with God and could really experience the love I read about in the Bible. But as each year passed, I only grew more determined to overcome my “weaknesses” to get noticed by this obviously preoccupied God. 

Bad picture there, right? 

1 year before the wedding

My weight was everywhere showing my internal battle for significance. I grew-up overweight, partially to keep others away. I grew so tired of feeling like I couldn’t fight back – eating became a way to make a buffer between myself and others. In college, however, I met my fiancé. We got engaged and due to work circumstances, we were forced to spend our year engagement on complete opposite sides of the country. So…miles away I was now into the reality that I was getting married and no longer found this buffer needed…at all. I started jogging, eating right and lost an incredible amount of weight in a year’s time (in fact, my wedding dress required alterations to look better with my new slimmer figure…twice!). 

After the wedding

 

Fast-forward a few years…enter in kids and a few dozen moves…and suddenly the weight was reappearing. Though I wasn’t as heavy as before, I found that it was impossible to keep that healthy for my husband. 

That’s right…it seemed impossible for me to eat right, get up and exercise…for my skinny, can eat anything he wants and get thinner husband! (I love him, but we are on complete opposite sides of the weight issue here!). 

 

Married 2 years!

 

Right when I decided to try jogging again, I got sick and begun my battle with GBS and double brain cancer. Due to the intense chemo and radiation, I lost half of my body weight in a matter of months. Most saw this as a dangerous issue…I was so disoriented, I became absolutely thrilled with the fact that I needed new clothes. Yes…I was fighting for my life and I was excited to have others bring me smaller pants to try-on! 

Battle with cancer

 

Right when I was healing from the treatments, I was hit with the news that I was pregnant! I gained every pound right back in a matter of months and seriously cried the entire pregnancy. 

You would have thought I would have gotten the memo by now…right? 

A few days ago with our youngest!

 

The way you see yourself in the mirror is defined only by the words whispered by the heart within the reflection.

The way you see yourself is NOT defined by the mirror itself. 

We choose to allow the following to define us…

– How people treat us at our school/job

– Words and actions from our family 

– Whether we have found our significant other

But rarely will any of these sources of worth be able to promote a permanent lifestyle change. None of these sources can make you love your body completely. Why? Hello….we base our identity on the words and actions of people exactly like us…others craving the attention, significance and worth that God placed in our hearts to be filled by nothing but Him. 

True life change requires looking not into a mirror, but continually drawing near to His love and His purpose. 

Bethany, I saved you by My grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from Me. Salvation is not a reward for the good things you have done, so you can’t boast about it. For Bethany, you are My masterpiece. I created you anew in Me, so you can do the good things I planned for you long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT).

 A few months ago, I found myself at a retreat, looking into the mirror again and through prayer and guidance, I was able to allow God in to the corners of my heart where I felt unwanted, where I felt alone, where I felt hopeless…where I felt abandoned. And…He loved me right there. He didn’t ask for anything…He simply held me…not the disabled me, not the angry me, not the overweight me or even the skinny me…but he held me, a child of God in His arms and I have been growing closer everyday since! 

Peace comes by knowing you no longer need to wait for the mirror to accept you because He already has (and that acceptance and love is unending…just FYI).

Peace is having the power to make healthy choices because you know He has great plans for you. (Re-read the verse above for proof!)

Peace is knowing that those skinny “chemo” jeans of mine do not define my worth – because He doesn’t define our worth by our works.

Peace is the ability to see my Abba Daddy chasing diligently after me my entire life for that moment that He knew…yes, He knew I could accept His love fully…and finally find freedom.

Peace is the ability to sleep at night knowing I’m securely in His hands. 

Peace is knowing He knows me and loves me unconditionally. 

Hope you find peace this week friend! 

…and the journey continues….

 

I AM