Think Carefully about YOUR Ways

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I admit it, I have been down and discouraged lately about my health and my weight. In my mind I have tried and failed over and over again. I have asked myself why things aren’t working and have lied to myself to feel like I was working really hard. I felt that I was asking for God’s help and nothing was coming of it. With all my hard work it must not be me causing the downfall of my healing journey so why isn’t God answering?

This morning I was given a healthy dose of truth and the truth ALWAYS sets us free.

I opened my Bible to the Book of Haggai and began reading chapter one. It was painfully obvious that I was being given an answer to my desperate pleas for my health and my weight to change.

Haggai had prophesied the rebuilding of the temple. He oversaw the rebuilding. I imagine He spent time encouraging God’s people to rebuild God’s temple, especially after they had been freed from exile. In the beginning they were filled with vigor and built the foundation and the alter but then discouragement began to spill into their spirits. They became derailed by a lack of focus. After two years, they left the temple to sit while they focused on other things. They had excuses, but the one that truly caught my attention was in v.2 “the time has not come”. They had determined in their minds that the time was not right, God’s timing was not here so they didn’t need to work on it.

I am sure they had some great reasons to feel that God’s timing was not there yet. I am sure the work was very hard. They were broke. (Haggai 1:6) They suffered crop failures and drought. (Haggai 1:10-11) Enemies were resisting. (Ezra 4:1-5) and of course the all time favorite excuse of any human being: they fondly remembered the easier times in the past.  In other words, by speaking against God’s timing they were rationalizing the many reasons they didn’t need to work on the temple.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Action expresses priorities” and in this case, as is usually with all cases, the action exposed the priorities of God’s people. They were more concerned with their own homes (v.3) than they were with God’s house. As a result, nothing was filling the God-shaped void in their lives (v.6) and they were unfulfilled. All the hard work they had put into their homes and their land was for very little return (v.9). Their priorities were way out in left field and no where close to hitting a home run.

I found truth in the command God give in verses 5 and 7, “Think carefully about your ways.”  God’s people should have found no rest until God’s work was prosperous and they should have been willing to sacrifice their own discomfort to make it so. In verse 8 God tells them to do the work and He will be pleased and glorified. When God is pleased we reap reward and we see God’s hand working diligently in our lives. God was waiting for their participation and when it wasn’t there He caused a drought to get their attention. (v. 10, 11)

Think carefully, my daughter, about your ways. Where have your priorities been? 

It was like a major mic drop moment for me as I sat there soaking in the truth. Clarity, although quite difficult to accept, began to flood my mind.  The truth is, my priorities have been off. Healing begins with God and requires our participation. Yes, God performs miracles, and there are also times that He requires our participation. Participation that keeps priorities straight and a heart that  understands no one else can do this but me. God will heal. God will guide. God will provide. He wants my participation and is waiting on me to get started. The drought I have been in with. my health and my weight loss and many other things has been brought on by my priorities being out of sync.  It’s time to put God first and let Him be glorified and in that process healing will come.

Let’s talk excuses now. I often say I cannot eat healthy foods because I do not have enough money to do that. I often say I cannot exercise because today I feel sick and am in pain. I say I cannot focus because I feel overwhelmed. I have a list a mile long. Do you? The answer to all my excuses is priorities. Instead of spending on the clothing that I hope not to fit in because I will lose weight, I could spend that money on healthy foods. Instead of thinking I cannot exercise because I can’t do it like the girls on Instagram, I could do what my body allows. I can do something to exercise even if it only starts out for 5 minutes. Instead of laying on the couch watching tv all day because I am so overwhelmed, I could pick up my Bible and get some focus. I can gain strength in God’s word. I can find direction in God’s word. I can find hope in God’s word. I can find LIFE in God’s word.  It’s time to put away the excuses and work on God’s temple. I am God’s temple. You are God’s temple. It is time to make God’s temple a priority and glorify Him with the one and only temple we have been given!

Struggling with 50

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To be honest, I am struggling with turning 50. Im not there yet. I am 47 but the idea of 50 has been an issue since I turned 45. I started feeling out of sorts. Like I didn’t fit in. Im no longer young and I am also not old. I’m in the middle and the middle is not comfortable. It’s the most uncomfortable space I have been in because my youth is gone and I am facing old age. I wouldn’t call it a midlife crisis because I don’t feel like I am in a crisis, maybe a midlife awakening. I am realizing things about life that I never thought of before. I am seeing things much more differently than I did as a younger woman. I am feeling the depths of life changes and how they mold us into the human beings we are meant to be.

Right now I am standing at an edge looking into the unknown just as I have in the past yet this unknown feels more important. It feels like it really needs to mean something. It feels like my opportunity to “do it right” and really make an impact in this world. How big of an impact really is up to God, but now, in this moment of my life as I stand at the edge ready to dive in, I feel the urgency to reinvent myself into a new woman God can fully use for His glory.  This new season of life just doesn’t seem to be a “me” season, but rather a “HIM” season and that feels good.

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But, again if I am to be honest, I am mourning the loss of my youth. There were so many mistakes I made that I wish I could change, but I can’t go back. There are so many moments that I cherish: having my babies, watching them grow, time with loved ones that have long since passed to Heaven. I don’t want to let go because it has made me the woman I am now. Every heartache, every tear, every laugh…they are all a part of me and even though I went through a lot in my youth, I love my life now and I don’t want to watch it end as quickly as it has taken for me to get where I am.

I guess I am mostly afraid that the last amazing half of my life will go just ask as quickly as the first half.

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So what is a woman to do? I don’t want to be one of those mid-life crisis women. Instead, I want to enjoy a mid-life level up. I want to take a good look at the past 40 years and determine what aspects weren’t so great and then I want to transform them. I want to renew things like my health, my spirituality and my relationship with others. I want to take time to be still, truly still and enjoy my surroundings. I want to walk barefoot in the grass, take up running again and enjoy being the free spirited woman that I always have been. I want to read my Bible every day and soak in all that I can so that I can pass it on to others and live my life fully in His grace. I want a deeper relationship with Christ, much deeper.

The best part? I can. I can reinvent myself. I can let go of past strongholds and just live free from anxiety, fear or regret. I can be who I want to be and I can step into a whole new level of living in Christ. The reality is, I would have never figured this out in my 20s or even my 30s. I have figured it out now, in my 40s standing in this big empty space called “the middle”. I believe it has felt empty because I now have a new canvas on which to create the life I truly want to live so today is a celebration of the renewing of my life.

Cheers to the next level!!! I suspect it will be amazing!

Falling Apart Yet Held Together

 My life is a hot mess at any given time of the day. Hell it’s a mess even in my sleep and if you were able to join in my dreams you would see the truth to that statement. I do not have it all together. I fall apart on a regular basis because I have a damaged heart. My soul has been burdened with so many heavy weights in this world that I often reflect on how I have survived as long as I have. The answer?  God.

There is no strength left in me. I am tired. I am worn.  My heart hurts at the sufferings I see in my world. I strive for goodness and see less and less of it in others. My peace waivers and my soul aches for unity and love to flood my fellow man. I work hard to show that love to others and some receive it while others stab my words with daggers flying from their tongues like warriors of discontent. Its easy to feel the glow of love but it is devastating to feel the blows of negativity.

 Even in the mundane aspects of life the devil seeks to destroy my joy. He takes the daily joys of motherhood, friendship, and family to dark places in an effort to slowly scrape away the bonds so lovingly created and gifted by God. But God. But God. But God.

God has already gone before all of Satan’s attacks. God has held everything together from the beginning. ( Colossians 1:17) He is El Shaddai, the God of sufficiency and almighty power. In Him there is no sting in death, no suffering in sorrow and peaceful, joyous living in the treacherous trenches of daily living here on earth.

 In Him the devils advances are nothing more than an annoying mosquito bite that aggravates temporarily but disappears without any more thought. In Him, strength returns with a flood of fury, peace encompasses our lives bit by beautiful bit, and day by day our resilience is a glorious example of His everlasting love.

There is no need for fear. There is no room for doubt and negativity when the doors to our heart and mind are open to God’s unfailing word and never-ending grace and mercy. He is the healer of all hurts. He is the army that destroys the devil’s minions. He is the power and the glory that heals all of the earth. Negativity has no place here. Satan has no place here. Only God. Only God.

We will have days where we feel misunderstood, shaken to our core and beat down by the evils in this world. There is no question about that. There are days that, in my imperfection, I am falling apart yet His Word is the glue that holds my fallen mind, body and soul together when I feel like falling apart.

Are you falling today? Will you let Him hold you together?  No matter where you are and how dark it feels, pick up the Bible and see light. The light is there, you just have to seek it.

Listening as an Act of Love

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I am known for being the friend that listens. I receive phone calls on a weekly basis in which the few words I speak are “Right” and “Yes” as I listen to the words coming from their mouths. Do I have things to share? Is my day crazy? Do I disagree with them? Do I agree with them? Sure. All of the above, but that is not my purpose on those days when all that is needed is an ear to listen.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Just as to love God begins with listening to his Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them.” Listening is one of the greater aspects of love. It opens our heart to understand another sufferings and joys. It is an opportunity to learn and if we are so callous that we feel we know everything and have no room for learning then we have reached a point in life where we have a real problem.

In 100% of the conversations in which I have been the listener there has always been something to learn, something that touched me or something that opened my eyes to a deeper purpose in my life. I believe God uses the words of others to touch our lives and when the time is right our words are used to touch others. That is love. Touching each others lives in profound ways that bring us to a better place. We are here for each other and that includes listening to each other.

I have also found when I utilize listening as the ultimate act of love for my spouse or my children or friends and family, I find myself in a bette replace as well. There is a healing property to being able to just sit back, in silence and let another person speak. I find it has a profound affect on my health and my well being.

What about someone listening to me? I will be honest, there are not many in my circle that really want to listen to me because I am surrounded by a lot of people who need to be heard, and I am ok with that because I believe in purpose. I am also blessed with a handful of people who choose to listen to me as an act of love. I cherish them and I am so very thankful for them. I also find that when I am obedient in being a loving listener, God always provides me another who is willing to listen to me. It balances out.

So, take heart, if you are like me: the go to listener in your inner circle. Be obedient and listen in love and in return God will always send you someone willing to listen when you need it. He is good like that!

Perfection is A Lie

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Writing a memoir about the worst parts of your life is so difficult and yet so healing. Today I am editing the chapter on my hellacious relationship with food over the years. Some of this is so embarrassing. I cannot believe the lengths I went to just to “look perfect” and the irony of it all is that now, I am so far from perfect that the young me would fall apart if she knew this is how we would look at 47 and I am this way because of the choices the younger me made! The healing aspect is so vivid though. I can look back and see where my disordered eating began and the raw truthfulness in my memoir has brought it to the surface where I have to face it and move past it. The opposite of disorder is order and I need a leveled out relationship with food now. Its the only way I will get healthy. There are no quick fixes. There are no magic pills. No amount of excess exercise will make permanent change. There is no perfection in disorder and in all honesty there is no perfection period. For years I have chased the dream of thin, tan perfect legs and arms with a flat tummy. I even attained it several times in my life but my disordered relationship with food always caused a downfall and weight gain. This is where the beautiful redemption of an amazingly loving Heavenly Father comes in and sweeps me right off my feet and reminds me that PERFECTION IS A LIE. He reminds me that my past may be a huge mess of imperfect disorderly relationships including one with food, but again, my past is past and today we move forward. Today we admit our wrongs and move forward step by step in recovery and redemption. Today we choose not to look at all these “perfect” women on instagram and instead focus on sharing the healing qualities of an Almighty God who loves me and thankfully renews me daily and today He has gently reminded me that food was created for my health. It was not created for relationship or for an emotional crutch. It is simply here for nourishment of my body. This is the shift in perspective that I needed to find redemption from a life long battle with disordered eating. I am so thankful. This memoir has been a healing journey and I am excited to start this blog and share more of my redemption story as it continues!!!

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Bouncing Back

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Photo by Maria Tyutina on Pexels.com

Bouncing back can be difficult. Just the word “bouncing” seems painful to me because it insinuates the need to hit something very hard and recoil back into the air. Yet, that is exactly what happens each time we “bounce back”. In order to bounce back we have to be falling first, we hit rock bottom and BAM we bounce back. In my life, if I were to literally hit the proverbial “rock” I would have bruise after bruise considering the number of times I have had to bounce and the truth is: I do have them. I have a lot of emotional bruises that often times become very tender when I am reminded of the great fall that caused them in the first place. We all have them and they are repeatedly going to be poked at throughout our lives.

Growing up I wanted to be accepted, just like everyone else. I was on a great track all through elementary school and middle school but something happened my freshman year and rejection became my name. I had been forced by a very popular senior into a position I was uncomfortable with and confided in a “friend”. Within just a few hours the entire school knew and everyone turned against me because I was the newer kid and how dare I say this boy did this!!  In an instant I was a pariah. I was no longer accepted and so the fall began. Eventually we moved but my self esteem had taken a hit and making new friends was more difficult this time around but I had hit the rock and was bouncing back. The bruise was still deep but healing.

Throughout my life it has been poked several times. If I must admit anything, it is that I still feel that pain every time a slight rejection happens. Sometimes I fall again and gain another bruise. Life is like that. We fall down and get up again…a lot. For the longest time, when I would fall, I had to pull myself up. It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of strength and oftentimes it was very tiring. Now, I am thankful that I no longer have to pull myself up, instead, I let Jesus lift me up. Admittedly, I often fight Him as He reaches for me. The pain gets to me and I sink a little deeper into the shadows for a while but He always brings me out.

It has been a long time since I have bounced back from rejection because Jesus does not let me hit the rock anymore. He has saved me from ever falling that far from rejection because HE never rejects me. Even when I have made massive mistakes, HE still loves me. I am. never alone.

If you are healing bruises of rejection, shame, suffering & etc., I pray that you will let Jesus soften the blow. I pray you let Him lift you up, because in His strength you have power and support. In His love you have hope and forgiveness. In Him you will survive this life covered in armor that softens your falls until eventually you don’t even fall anymore. Instead, you just trip and He steadies you.

 

I Can Do ALL Things

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I love this photo. This woman looks content and happy. She looks relaxed and strong. Her  photograph is a gentle reminder of how I should feel, at all times, on this inside because of the strength I have in Jesus Christ. Philippians 4:13 says ” I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me”.  ALL THINGS.

The great things about Jesus is this: He gives inner strength and a confident peace. It is in HIs sufficiency that I am self-sufficient. Without Him there is no “self” sufficiency. This was a freedom bomb dropped my lap this morning as I prayed over my life: you can let go of your “self” sufficiency and relax because it isn’t “you” who empowers and strengthens, it is Jesus. Let that soak in. I had to allow it to wash over me like a cool ocean wave on a hot summer day. Pure freedom. I can relax because Jesus has my strength. I can be content because Jesus brings peace. I can make it through anything because Jesus empowers me. I don’t need to do anything other than to release my idea of my own self-sufficiency, recognize my weakness and sin and accept the salvation of God’s sweet, free and undeserved grace in Jesus Christ. When I do that, I find Jesus residing in my heart with HIS strength that is made perfect in my weakness.

When life gives me trials, when raising my children becomes difficult, when my marriage is struggling, when my finances are less than desirable, when I feel overwhelmed, I can be like the woman in this photo: happy, relaxed, strong and confident in my Jesus. Confident in His strength. Confident in knowing I will make it through because He make me who I am. He is my strength, my peace, and my power and He constantly lives within me.

The beauty of this is not lost on me today as we meet this week to discuss our possible adoptive placement. We have an opportunity to place with a sweet boy with a beautiful smile and a heart that is severely wounded. His needs will be plenty. His healing will take time. We will need patience and guidance. There will be struggles as we help him navigate through a permanent transition into our home, yet, this morning all those struggles do not seem insurmountable. In Christ we can provide his every need. In Christ he will overcome and his wounds will heal. In Christ every need will be met.

Our adventure is about to begin, and as I enter the gate of our new journey, I feel confident in Jesus. That is ALL I need.