Archive for the ‘Online Bible Study’ Category

As I heard my name spoken out loud that evening, my hands trembled and my throat tightened to swallow hard. My mind was racing as I seemed to float my way to the front of the classroom one week ago on a selected Thursday evening – an evening I decided to let one label stick. 

A week ago, I presented my first speech, notoriously named “The Icebreaker” to affirm my new Toastmasters membership (a club for those wanting to find their public speaking confidence and voice). Never before had I ever shared a speech, let alone a talk about my life. As I peered into the eyes of my fellow club members, most advanced in their public speaking passion, I felt like an ant amongst butterflies…starting as a caterpillar even seemed too far of a stretch. 

Yet, I decided to share my labels because I finally allowed one to stick that I was proud of. 

Below is my speech transcript. A side note to those of you in the Limitless Life Study – this speech that God put on my heart was crafted and delivered before I even cracked the cover of our book. Just this past weekend my jaw hit the floor as I read through the introduction for the first time. Indeed, our God has us right where He wants us to be. 

 

In life, we are handed many labels, whether we like them to define us or not. Labels can be handed to us from circumstances, others or even our own markings. But tonight friends I want you to remember – 

A label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

“Disabled”

I was born with vision-loss in both eyes, severe hearing-loss in both ears and a right arm that was considerably smaller (most would say even weaker) than my left. The label “Disabled” loomed over me like a brick. Yet, this label did have its advantages. I was able to purchase contacts for half-off being I only had good enough vision in one eye. Hearing the world for most was a necessity, but with hearing-aids any unnecessary noise for me could instantly become optional through the “off” switch. If you ever want to witness a stranger squirm, watch an instantaneous prayer circle as the new friend on my right tries to decide if it’s descent to hold my right hand or not (I for one have enjoyed this reaction). 

Yet, as I accepted this label, I suffered with feeling that I had absolutely no value. I heard the stories in church about this loving Creator God that made the moon shine bright as the stars. Yet, why would such a loving Creator simply stop when creating me? Why was I His mistake? The feeling and constant reality of my insignificance just ate away at my childhood. 

But, a label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

 

“Wife And Mom”

I never dreamed of a wedding, or collected bridal pictures or even really dated anyone until college. Why? Because girls with disabilities are told by wise and caring individuals (all married by the way) that sometimes God calls people to a single life (advice – don’t ever pitch this line to a single girl). I’m so thankful God had other plans. Just weeks before I was headed off to my first full-time position deep West, my boyfriend asks for my hand in marriage. Because he was completing his last year of college back East, we spent our one year engagement period literally on opposite ends of the country. Now…

9 years 

9 moves

3 dogs

3 kids

3 states

and way too many goldfish later – God still has us together and I accepted my new role as wife and mom. 

Although I like this label a lot better than the previous layer, it too shared weakness. I am a wife and a mom that constantly fights to measure-up to that woman appearing all-together, always organized, meeting everyone’s needs and summarizes Proverbs 31 perfectly each and everyday. So many nights I would crawl into bed feeling so far from hitting anywhere close to the ballpark parking-lot with my husband and kids. It’s hard to have a label that you never feel like you deserve. 

But a label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

 

“Cancer Survivor”

What started out as a month-long headache (literally) eventually revealed double malignant brain tumors. I did not welcome this label. Truthfully, there were days I could not talk to God because of the pain I felt was keeping us apart. I went from running around the yard with my two young boys to barely able to sit-up in bed without wrenching in pain. Lying next to my eldest son, then a 4 year-old, I was asked the question, “Mom, are you going to die?” For any mom to even think about this question, you honestly wish you could disappear just to allow your family an opportunity to move forward. Yet this question echoed in my mind the day I was told, “Mrs. Boring, we can’t locate the tumors on this scan. We will need to schedule a follow-up.” Many follow-ups later, with the same results, I finally entered into remission status. I wasn’t going anywhere and as a wife and a mom I gained the title of being a “Cancer Survivor.” 

As days, weeks and even months passed, I found it incredibly difficult to move past the trauma I had limped through. Under the “survivors pride” sat a little girl scared and frozen to move. Is this permanent? What can I do safely? Even with the unexpected birth of our third child, I wrestled through each rescan. I was defined by my past. 

A label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

 

“Child of God”

There is one label I just recently allowed to stick, pierce my heart, root in my core and change the way I view my identity. Because of Christ, I have the right to be labeled as a child of God. This changes everything. 

This is the only identity that welcomes Truth and allows me to overcome my disabilities, be the best wife and mom I was created to be and encourage others from my past.
GOD SAYS –
I may have disabilities but I am valuable.
In my role as a wife and mom, I belong to Him first.
I am a cancer survivor and I have a future being written daily by His hand.

A label can only define you if you allow it to stick. 

I finally found a label I want to stick and I love the freedom it brings! 

And now Bethany, just as you accepted Me as your Lord, you must continue to follow Me. Let your roots grow down into Me, and let your life be built on Me. Then your faith will grow strong in the Truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6, 7 NLT)

 

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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

 

I included a video for this week too! Scroll down to view. 

Whew…week 2 is here and almost over!!! CRAZY!!!!

Determination… Have you checked out the definition of this word? If not, here you go – 

a. Firmness of purpose; resolve: approached the task with determination and energy.
b. A fixed intention or resolution: returned to school with a determination to finish.

I love the first part of this definition “firmness of purpose.” How many times have I struggled to make a change without a clearly defined, motivational purpose for that change – a purpose I could really believe in enough to make the needed change and actually stick with it?! Probably why I quit making New Years Resolutions a long time ago…

Made To Crave is not about losing weight. It’s not a book to get you back into your skinny jeans (oh yes, I kept my jeans I purchased after my chemo treatments…just days before I got the news I was pregnant…and obviously I resolved to get into that size again). But my motivation isn’t driven by that. 

I know I am loved. That’s what motivates me. That’s what gives this Made To Crave journey to a healthier lifestyle a purpose and longevity. I am loved by my husband, loved by my kids and loved by friends…but that isn’t the love I am referring to here. 

Bethany, don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let Me transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know My will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)

I know and I’ve experienced the love of my Abba Daddy…and each day I continue to root myself deeper into His love. No longer do I look around at my circumstances and go, “If God really loved me then why doesn’t He…” I’ve had plenty of opportunities to blame God and out of anger refuse Him to love me through my brokenness, through my trials and through my pain. The most amazing part of this new journey with my Abba Daddy, is knowing He loves me right where I am and He loves me too much to leave me stuck right here. He has been slowly showing me areas of my life that need changes…and He doesn’t expect me to leave Him, make the changes and then return. He wants to go through the changes WITH me! That is my motivation…I am determined to make the needed changes to be all that God designed me to be. Let my weaknesses show that He is the One that gets me through these challenges. 

Changes are hard…

He was with me when I decided to change my breakfast to a healthier option.

He kicked my butt out of bed at 5:50AM to walk…oh and we got time to just talk that entire walk…AWESOME!!!

He was with me trying to cook different meals for our family.

He was with me, cheering me on as I jogged around the house trying to get my 10k steps in each day. 

True motivation is rooted in a clearly defined purpose which enables authentic lifestyle change. 

 

Speaking of change…I made a video of the changes occurring out of my new motivation! It has clearly been changes for the better – but it shows better through this video I made. Enjoy! Maybe more to come…

 

Here is the recipe and link for the breakfast refrigerated oatmeal! Enjoy! Have a great week everyone!! 

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey, optional (or substitute any preferred sweetener)
  • 1/4 cup diced ripe banana, or enough to fill jar (approx. half of a small banana)

Directions
In a half pint (1 cup) jar, add oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, cocoa powder and honey. Put lid on jar and shake until well combined. Remove lid, add bananas and stir until mixed throughout. Return lid to jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. Eat chilled.

Nutritional Info: 245 calories, 5g fat, 56g carbs, 10g fiber, 13g protein; Weight Watchers PtsPlus: 8
 

According to Webster, the definition for empowered is:

tr.v. em·pow·ered, em·pow·er·ing, em·pow·ers
1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority. See Synonyms at authorize.
2. To equip or supply with an ability; enable: “Computers … empower students to become intellectual explorers” (Edward B. Fiske).

 

Have you ever been in a blackout situation with a toddler? I remember a time a few years back while here in Florida, we were bracing for yet another storm. It was during our “rainy season” so I was completely caught-up in the drill. 

Car windows rolled-up…Check.

Garage door closed…Check.

Computer unplugged…Check. 

TV unplugged…Oooops. 

On this particular day, I had allowed my older kids to watch a bit of tv while I washed the dishes. It only took a second for my brain to connect the dots before it occurred….I heard the thunder and not a second later silence followed by shrieks of terror. 

The car windows were indeed secured.

The house was not flooding because the garage door was shut tight. 

The computer had not been electrified. 

But the tv…my kids source of entertainment for the moment had been zapped by the power outage (temporary power outage mind you). 

You would have thought Elmo had died. Yes…it indeed was that bad friends. 

You and I both know that our tv would return eventually, once the electricity supply had been corrected…but try explaining that to a 4 year-old and a 2 year-old. To them, life as they knew it had ended and thus, they wanted to make my life end for the next 42.5 minutes until the power returned. 

Fun times! 

Yet, there have been many times in my life I think I can make it through life just fine and completely forget my power source. I forget that “apart from Him, I can do nothing” (John 15:5). It’s in these times that God ever-so gently seems to get my attention by a storm that usually lands me in the dark momentarily, until I find the right Connection in Him again. 

Ever been there? 

The past 3 years have been incredibly stormy for me…

Battling brain cancer

High-risk pregnancy 

Losing my job

Walking away from our house

Somewhere in that time frame I started wondering if things were going to change. It seemed as if every road I tried ended-up in another dead-end. It wasn’t necessarily that I was plugged-in to the wrong power source, but it was the fact that I wasn’t ready to let this God, this enabling power to really make the needed changes in my life. Call it trust issues if you will, but there is no worse place to be – connected to God but fail to trust His promises to be of any real value to your life. 

But…that’s where I was…

Things have since changed and I have been able to humbly bring my entire heart before God and trust in Him in a way I truly never thought possible. No longer do I feel like I’m dangling from the power socket…but fully engaged and making changes I know He has called me to make. 

One of these changes I am actively engaging in is my battle to get healthy. Ever since my remission began, I’ve been in this awkward state of balancing between wondering if I’m really ok and living my second chance. With three kids now, it just seemed easy enough grabbing the “ready-made” shakes I would drink during my treatment…for some reason, these weight-loss shakes stayed down (believe me…I saw these little cans as my lifeline most days). Because my weight had dropped so fast, the team simply wanted something, anything staying down. I went off of this after my surprise pregnancy, but soon after Matthew’s birth, I found myself back in the same grind. One shake for breakfast. One shake for lunch. 

Somewhere I quit enjoying my food.

Somewhere I accepted the fact that it was ok to let a little can of mixed-up chemicals control 2 out of every 3 precious meal times.

Somewhere I gave-up my right to think for myself.

Somewhere I settled into being a halfway hanging socket…seeing God there, but not even trusting Him enough to believe He has given me the power to control what I eat. 

 

Truthfully, I had no clue what I was even doing until a few days ago when my oldest son asked why I still drank the same shakes I did while I was sick. He looked concerned. He has seen his mom go through hell and back and his mom was keeping the reminder of that pain in her hands for 2 meals out of the day. 

Yes…it hit me hard too.

When we trust God enough to allow Him to make the needed changes in our life, it indeed empowers us. Though the initial power surge may feel uncomfortable, it makes us realize how truly powerful our God is. The best part is…He has given us the power to understand that too. 

I know I’ve shared it before, but I don’t care – I’m sharing it again (it’s my passage for 2014…so you will be seeing it consistently this year!…)

Bethany, I will make My home in your heart as you trust in Me. Your roots will grow down into My love and keep you strong.  And Bethany, you have the power to understand, as all My people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep My love is.  May you experience My love, though it is too great to understand fully. Then Bethany you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from Me. (Ephesians 3:17-19 NLT)

Did you catch the power words there? Our God is not going to simply hold our hand and say, “Now look what I can do!” Oh no…if that’s the god you are connected to, you may want to give the passage above another quick read. The God I’ve been reading about and putting my trust in goes beyond simply showing His power through love…He chooses to display His power in us and through us. You can’t be hanging loosely into the power outlet to receive that type of charge! 

So…as this new Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study kicks-off with Made To Crave by Lysa Terkeurst, I have made the following changes – 

– My goal is to eat 3 healthy meals a day…not in a can! 

– I want to get in 10,000 steps a day (more playing with my kids the better! They make me go!!)

– Water is my drink of choice (this is not new for me…but my kids have really taken on this new challenge and LOVE their “water cups” that we refill throughout the day). 

My first day eating all 3 meals was today. Granted, they were small meals…but wow…what a sense of freedom! Oh…so this is what it means to really live! Hello second chance! 

Our adventure begins! Plug into the real, true Abba God and His promises. Make changes He presents to you. Trust Him. Be empowered and live a life worth living. 

The grass crunched under my brisk walking shoes as my 5th grade arms seemed to swim through the air in an effort to get me to my destination quicker. I was headed to my newly discovered safe place…my fort…the place I could be alone and be, me. Most 11 year-olds were concerned about their bikes, their next sleepover or memorizing the lyrics to Vanilla Ice or New Kids On The Block (ok…yea…that was on my mind too)…but nowhere near as urgent, as needed as my time in my quiet little hideout in the woods near where I grew-up. I found the tree one day during my journey through the wooded lot behind the house. To this day, I have no clue what drew me to this particular tree, except the fact that it was so incredibly easy to rest in its low-lying branches…it was like a recliner built by the Creator. 

But the moments I remember most about this secret place of mine was lying next to this tree, on my back, arms outstretched, feet outstretched and just gazing into the welcoming clouds as they floated by. It was in those moments that if I stared just long enough, I could dream I was flying…soaring into the clouds, to a place free from touch, free from pain, safe, secure and it was at these moments I felt myself breathe. I believe now that deep down I held onto a faith that this dream could, one day be possible…although I had no clue why or how. All I clung onto through these moments was the hope in that place of freedom. 

All of my life I have seen clouds in this way. Riding in the window seat of an airplane is such a rush for me…I still love it today! 

 

 


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