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 
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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. 

This week’s reading: Chapter 9 “When Doubt Whispers I Can’t Stop Worrying” from “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope 

O L ord , you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, L ord . You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. (Psalms 139:1-12 NLT)

I started looking at Psalms 139 in detail yesterday, alone in my minivan, parked outside of one of my children’s schools. In the midst of learning that a seller actually accepted our offer on a house, trying to make Christmas gifts, organizing house inspections, running three kids everywhere…God put an overwhelming burden on my heart to re-read this chapter in the Bible as well as chapter 9 from A Confident Heart. Because there was no other time or place I could be truly alone and still, I found myself there, in the front seat, with my trusted iPhone and apps studying away. 

And God showed me so many things in this incredible time together. 

As Renee mentioned in the chapter, our time with God can be different…it’s okay for us moms to get that quick glimpse of our Dad in the morning, talk with Him throughout the day and get our shoulder time in when God makes it possible. I was so glad when she admitted she needed variety – that’s me! I have literally used my Evernote, my Bible app (Youversion), my Kindle app, my Biblegateway app and my newest NIV Study Bible app to give me the flexibility to go deeper whenever and wherever I can…it’s AWESOME!!! From keeping an ongoing list of verses with my name in them from my Abba Daddy Himself on my Evernote, to recording times where God spoke, to highlighting verses, hearing His Word while I’m out and making notes of the dates each verse was found and what was going on in my life….for me, a tech momma, this portability has made me able to listen to Him so much more…and more frequently too 🙂 

 

With all of this aside – I started focusing on Psalms 139:5. No doubt you, like me, started reading the above passage and you just read each sentence while taking a deeper breath…right? It just flows! There are no misleading statements, nothing that keeps you from agreeing…right? 

Then I read the NIV…

Psalm 139:4-5 NIV
[4] Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. [5] You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.

I guess first of all, I should mention that I can’t sew, let alone hem. My partial blindness from birth makes the accuracy pretty much impossible. After dealing with the sewing projects in dreaded home economics class, I pretty much made up my mind that anything involving a needle and thread shouted, “Don’t come near!” As I started studying this passage, I literally looked-up the definition of hem…

HEM – To hem someone/something in – to be surrounded, restricted the space or movement of (He was hemmed in by the tables) – NIV Study Bible App 

In other words, “Lord, You surround me/I can’t move anywhere that You are not overwhelming

And then we move on to…

and you lay your hand upon me. NIV 

To have someone put their hands on you was a gesture of blessing. I like to picture this moment as Jesus rose from the dead, the Father placing His Hands on my shoulders, calling me His Child and finally being able to be held by His inseparable embrace. That, my friend, is not a blessing you can keep to yourself. It’s not a blessing that simply goes away. Oh no…it defines you, it becomes who you are…it has saved you.

Altogether now…

“Lord, You surround me/I can’t move anywhere that You are not overwhelming and Your blessing has given me life (both here on earth and an eternity in Heaven). 

Whew…kind of deep for a lil psalm…right? 

So, although this is great…what in the world connects this to the concept of worry? Well, I’m glad you asked…because I was thinking the same thing! 

Here is what I gained from my reading about worry – quoting from my post to my ladies in our Facebook group – 

What do you think about this… Worry is our emotional response to believing in a lie (or lies) that satan is feeding us through people and our perception of circumstances. Once we believe these lies and worry takes root, we experience stress, anxiety, fear…almost as if we have indeed lost our footing (and if we sink into depression we start to think we will never regain that footing again).

BUT…

If we MAKE the time to really allow God to show us Who He is (both through His Word and in our lives) and we START by believing in His promises, the lies can’t take root in the first place. Our hearts are whole and protected by Him and through Him which gives us HOPE and REST.

Am I on the right track here?! I really wanted to DEFINE worry and where it comes from…still chewing on this… THOUGHTS??
 
I’m currently not on any medication, but remaining in touch with a counselor in our area for updates. I have personally witnessed what a change can be made experiencing the breath of God and allowing His Truth to literally define me as a person. It has not only allowed me to view myself as loved, irreplaceable, valued, secure, safe and wanted – but it has allowed me to really love others in such a deep, new and confident way. It has literally changed my life…it has saved my life. 

Granted, I’m sure I will be going back on at least anxiety medication soon (hello…I am a mom of three boys…enough said) yet…guess what…I know my Abba Daddy, I know He surounds me, He loves me, He embraces me, He has blessed me, He has changed me and He has adopted me in as His own! Just WOW!!! You seriously can’t allow worry to stay when you rest in His presence – it’s IMPOSSIBLE! And I can say that too…I know real worry and I know our REAL GOD!!! 🙂 

In summary…we are His, in hem and in Him. 
Soak it in.
Live it out. 

#noworry 

 

 

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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I started this blog as an attempt to be real, an unveiling of my true identity in Christ as I embarked on a new journey of healing, resting in the arms of my Abba Daddy. 

But, as with every journey, you must start by at least glancing at where you have been in order to realize the significance and the importance of how you got to where you are now. After all, nobody wants to repeat the past, but we do learn from it and through His grace we are not defined by our past, present or future. I’m learning on this journey, we are defined not by where we are going in this life, but by Who we travel with. 

For as long as I can remember, I have never, successfully, slept through an entire night. I define “night” as climbing in bed, allowing myself to escape reality and consciousness and truly put myself into a vulnerable state to the non-sleeping, very conscious world. You could say I had a lot of trust and security issues. I prided myself on the ability to always be “on-guard” and the battle cry to protect my heart was my life song for, well, as long as I can possibly remember. 

One of the hardest, most painful lies that I have discovered that I have built my life around is this: 

“I am not wanted” 

And throughout my life, I built up walls because of this belief that was being drilled into my soul that I was not and never would be wanted for who I was as a person – my life is a failure (note the term “being” – for me it was a continual lie I felt “being” communicated to me over and over in my life…not just a single or even a few disconnected events…but a daily reality). In my awake and conscious state I was a mistake, someone that was accidentally here in life and my goal was to simply pretend like I knew what I was doing without drawing too much attention…because deep down I knew I was a failure.  

You see, “I am not wanted” believes:

“I am a mistake.”

“I cannot receive or give love.”

“I can never change.”

“I am hopeless.” 

“God hates me.” 

“God gave-up on me.” 

Not only could I relate to these lies at a very young age, I believed them and built my life around them. 

After all, if we really do have a loving God – you know, the one you learn about in Sunday School…that God doesn’t allow mistakes to happen. That loving God doesn’t and can’t accept failures. That loving God wanted no relationship with someone like me…and I accepted that. I even spent time doing ministry for this God in an effort to apoligize for my failure in life and hope that maybe…just maybe that God would give me a taste of what real love felt like. I saw people all around me that seemed to get it and I didn’t. I just assumed this true rest…the concept of unconditional love was something meant (at least for me) to be experienced in Heaven and not on earth. And yes, I acknowledge now that I allowed myself to become so angry at God that it took looking at the picture of my kids to simply get through the day…but I knew one day they would see what a failure I was too. 

And by writing this post – by posting this blog, I truly believe I am not the only one that has felt this way in life. Yes, you reader, I believe if you can’t relate, there is someone in your little world that has never allowed themselves to experience Gods love before. Yes, people like that do exist and the call to make disciples by simply sharing Christ’s love – that’s very real too. In fact, if it weren’t for the few, daring, authentic and passionate God chasers in my life that literally kept loving, kept calling, kept emailing, kept praying…if it weren’t for these few there is no doubt in my mind that this post would not be a reality. So…keep loving – in the name of Jesus, dear friends, please keep loving those that seem like the hardest to love because they (we) truly are the ones that need to experience it the most. 

I’m going to leave you hanging here for just a minute while I paint a parallel between my place in life and a story I really connected deeply with this week on my journey…

 In John chapter 8 we meet a woman in the brink of a life crisis. Though John doesn’t mention anything about her past (this story wasn’t even included in the earliest manuscripts which makes me even more curious as to who this woman was that this event was added later…it was that important, that crucial, that significant that these men of God changed what was already being shared in order to add this account in…something big is going on here!). The previous day, John records that the teachers of the Law were debating exactly who this Jesus was. In fact, most of the town was questioning, debating his identity (see John 7). I wonder where this woman was in this debate. I wonder who she thought Jesus was on the evening before her life was revealed. I wonder if she had hope. 

We do know that this woman was searching for love. She was caught “in the act of adultery.” 

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. (John 8:3-6 NIV)

This woman a few hours previously before meeting Jesus, decided that a man could fill a part of her need to be known, her need to be accepted, and her need to be loved in this way. She knew it was wrong. She knew it wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. She knew she was failing while in that very moment…yet, for some reason, she gave in. Why? 

I’m wondering if this woman, like myself, felt incredibly trapped and defined by the lies that were so drilled into her heart, that she lost hope in the idea of a Savior. 

I’m wondering if deep down, in the depths of this woman’s soul, that she dreamed of a day she could be loved, seen for the very person the Creator made her to be. A day where she could quit trying to find her place in this world, but where she could simply rest and live in peace. 

After the teachers of the law had her dragged from her moment of trying to earn acceptance, she was put into a mob of complete humiliation and condemnation. By looking at the words of these men, they had already decided what “women like her” deserved. They had labeled her by what they saw on the outside! They most likely used her as a setup for their own selfish gain. 

If you can take the biggest failure in your life (or your belief that your entire life is a failure that you know deep down is the secret to the way you have been living)…take that and picture another person dragging you into the center of the town and announcing your secret to everyone. 

The secret is out – there are no take-backs here. 

And did you notice friends that these men were so stuck in trying to trick Jesus, that they made this woman STAND in front of Jesus and the crowd. I wonder if she had the strength – I wouldn’t. I wonder if she had friends there in that moment holding her up to Jesus (again, your love for those that seem un-lovable allows them to see (or stand to see) Jesus). 

Now, I’m seeing this event in the woman’s shoes here – most likely fearing for her very life, seeing those that she did so well masking her true identity to standing in the crowd, sweat and tears become mixed in the heat of the day…at that moment, in all reality, if I were her, I would have wanted to die. 

She went from a false acceptance by one man, to a crowd of rejection and immediate condemnation with no room to explain or defend herself. There were no attorneys present that day – yet the Judge ruled in the flesh. 

Again, at that moment when these angry men of really no authority gave the judicial right to Jesus – the very One who actually has the authority over heaven and earth…I wonder if the woman met the eyes of Jesus…I wonder if she saw His eyes through…

Through her sweat of trying to earn love

Through her tears of hopelessness and rejection

I wonder if her eyes followed His as He looked down to the ground and wrote. I wonder if her heart pounded during those moments of silence. 

Folks…this ain’t American Idol…the silence of those moments could only be heard by the thumping of her heartbeat…

The very heartbeat that Jesus heard through every stroke He wrote with His finger. 

As this woman STANDS there, waiting for His verdict…I wonder if in the moment of her mask-less nakedness, if she might have found hope…really searched for hope that this man, this Rabbi, the One that she heard may be the Christ, the Chosen One, the King…oh my goodness…if He really was, what would He say? 

Perhaps the very thought met her with more fear. 

Oh…but it gets better…

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.     At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. (John 8:7-9 NIV)

As the woman STOOD there in terror, surrounded by those that had already condemned her, with her fate resting on the shoulders of a possible Messiah she might have been meeting for the very first time (wow – what a way to meet Jesus with your heart already out for Him to see…)…Jesus stands up on her level and doesn’t even say anything to her! 

Seriously?

In a moment that this woman was supposed to be condemned, Jesus doesn’t even acknowledge her! Instead, he puts these men, these leaders who “think” they have the power…he gives them permission to use it…with an addendum…a really, really, really big addendum. 

As the woman…yes, still STANDING…watches on, her heart pounding all the more louder as she hears Jesus say,

“Let any one of you who is without sin throw the first stone at her…”

I wonder if she heard – “Let anyone throw the first stone at her…” 

Shoot – if this were on my DVR, I’d need to replay and go, “Say what?!” 

As she STOOD there, her heart pounding, perhaps even shutting her eyes and bracing for the pain, she was met with a different sound…the sound of rocks dropping to the ground and feet walking away. The sound of Jesus writing in the dust. The sound of gasps and perhaps sobs. 

I can only imagine the utter confusion this woman might have felt in that moment. I wonder if she was still bracing as she saw Jesus rise her to her feet and meet her eyes. I wonder if she was so afraid at this point that she could no longer think for herself. I wonder if she was still fighting inside, unable to rest that this was real – this was actually happening. She was revealed and yet not put to death. She was still living and breathing…

Shoot y’all – this woman was…you guessed it…STILL STANDING!!! 

Oh…and it gets better! 

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”     “No one, sir,” she said.  “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:10, 11 NIV)

Ok…PAUSE – I wonder if she believed this was the Messiah after having this conversation. She acknowledges that Jesus had sent her enemies packing…but what she might have been feeling is accepted and seen for who she was by a man…a real man…for the very first time. It took going through hell to experience standing near a taste of Heaven. 

Jesus tells this woman, most likely on the brink of falling over from standing during all of this…He tells her to “Go”…but not back to the way she was. In all reality, she couldn’t. All of these people could no longer condemn her. She knew she could no longer satisfy her need for love and acceptance in the same way. She also, no doubt, had to know more about Jesus. 

But what troubles me is Jesus’ telling this woman to leave her life of sin. Wow…a tall order for a woman who has been standing for so long. How could she just leave this behind? How could she find real love and acceptance in the midst of her now publicly known failures? 

Jesus was about to show her through His victory over the cross. He somewhat gave her something to look forward to by instructing her to leave her life of sin. She knew that perfection was so out of her reach. She was going to be reminded of her failure by the entire town. 

Yet…Jesus gave this woman and all of us a way to define ourselves by Who we belong to, instead of our failures. 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you  free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1, 2 NIV)

For those that accept their true calling as His Children, we are in Christ. When the God of the Universe looks down at you, even in this very moment, He sees His Child…period. No failures. Not “a” failure. He sees you…His Child. Not only that, this God loves you so much, that He trusts His life giving Spirit to live inside of you…of us. 

I’ll be truthful – I still wrestle with that thought. Gods spirit is in me…this once failure houses Gods spirit…the God of the Universe…the very One that made the stars to shine at night, the One Who saw value in me way before I saw it in myself…that God trusts me this much that His Spirit of life kicks my failures as far as the East is from the West so I can live my life as His Child!!!

Wow. There are no words. 

This woman who once felt trapped, alone, defined by her failures and condemned by everyone…now saw the love of God displayed in a way that was so overwhelming. It had to change her. Jesus forgave her before the cross…BOOM! Instant best seller and that my friend is how her story got back into His story 🙂 

I mentioned a bit of my story above. Gods love ambushed me recently when others helped me dig beneath the surface and really discover who I really believed I was. It was at that moment that I really, for the first time sought a Savior. When I was able to really stand before the many lies of my life that told me “I’m not wanted” I realized how much He fought for me to not only WANT me, but to free me from the bondage of constantly trying to earn my own freedom! I was SO tired, yet had nowhere safe to really rest. 

This is all still really fresh and new to me BUT…for the first time in my life, I can sleep through the night. For the first time in my life, I can be open, truthful, vulnerable and whole. For the first time in my life I really know WHO I AM…and friends, let me assure you of this…

I AM NOT a mistake

I AM NOT unlovable

I AM NOT hopeless

I AM NOT lost

I AM HIS

I AM HIS CHILD

I AM LOVED

I AM HOPEFUL

I AM FOUND

 

…and He is right there, in the middle of your messy, failed life. He knows your failures and He calls you His Child. He offers you a much better way to achieve true freedom. Oh, and He is the only way you can ever really STAND against your condemnation. Let His love protect you, define you, uplift you and hold you securely on His shoulders. Life really is better from up here. 

He helps us STAND.

He helps us SOAR.