Thursday, October 20, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:7-9
What choice will you make today?
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Learning to Rest
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28
I’ve always learned a great deal about our Lord from His creation, through gardening, hiking, and animals. Recently, God revealed an interesting analogy to me using my dog Sheila who is 14 years old.
She’s an Australian Shepherd, one of the best dogs I have ever owned, and a true companion. She is deaf and partially blind now and her hips have been causing her pain and stiffness so that climbing the stairs of our home has become a painful and slow process. So for about the last year my husband has been carrying her up the stairs to our bedroom most nights.
Initially she would struggle and fight being carried and thankfully Bob, a big strong guy, was able to manage her so she didn’t fall or bring him down with her! Over the months her struggling became less and less until, finally, she barely struggles at all.
I’ve realized learning to rest in the Lord is very similar. Resting requires time and opportunity.
It took Sheila time and many trips up the stairs in Bob’s arms before she realized she was safe and didn’t have to struggle against Bob. We need time and opportunity with God holding us in His everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27) before we realize that we are safest in His arms.
When you find yourself struggling against God, take a moment and reflect on previous opportunities where God carried you. Then ask yourself, why are you struggling this time? He carried you safely before and He will carry you safely again.
So, exhale and rest. Rest quietly in His arms.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I’m feeling weary. I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m feeling insecure. I’m feeling guilt-ridden. Why?
I’m just getting over a terrible cold and I’m still producing a hacking cough. I have a wisdom tooth breaking through my gum and it hurts.
I had to “close” the books for my husband’s business and then meet with the accountant to prepare for the taxes, and since accounting is NOT one of my gifts, my brain feels absolutely drained of anything useful.
I’m feeling insecure and under-appreciated in ministry and in my relationships. Mind you, no one has done or said anything to make me feel this way; it’s just how I feel.
An opportunity to share my precious Jesus was cancelled and I’m at a loss of what to do with the information I had already prepared. And most frightening, is God trying to tell me that I have no business pursuing a speaking/writing ministry? Is that why the event didn’t take place?
Weary. Overwhelmed. Insecure. These are the feelings I have. Because I cannot identify any valid reason for these feelings, I wind up feeling guilt-ridden, another uncomfortable feeling. So what do I do?
I bring them to my Jesus. I’m always quoting Jan Silvious and saying, “Feelings don’t have a brain.” Feelings just are; they have no rhyme or reason, they just are.
OK, so I bring these feelings to Jesus in prayer, in contemplation and I wait. I pour out my heart. I sit quietly and listen for the still, small voice to remind me of my priorities.
Doing His will no matter my feelings: that’s a priority.
Taking my thoughts captive: that’s a priority.
Continuing to spend time in the Bible with Him: that’s a priority.
Abiding in the True Vine as one of His branches: that’s a priority.
Thank you Father for showing me that my feelings don’t have the power to stop me from hearing Your voice…or responding in obedience. It’s my choice to pursue the priority....You!
PS - The weight loss continues going well.
Friday, March 11, 2011
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” 2 Peter 3:10
A few years ago while hiking on the Appalachian Trail (AT), I came across a mud slide on the side of a mountain in Vermont. My partner and I rounded a curve and were met with the sight of complete destruction and the trail just disappeared. Huge pine trees lay on the side of the mountain like match sticks that had been dropped to the ground by a giant. They were all facing the same direction with dirt and rock piled all around them.
We noticed some temporary trail markers, so we knew that other hikers had made it through the debris. We climbed up and over trees and through rock piles clambering carefully for about half of a mile until we resumed our hike on the well worn path of the AT.
I have never forgotten the awesome and somewhat frightening sight. It was a powerful reminder that this earth, which appears to be so permanent, is only temporary. That fact is easily forgotten as we live our lives as though this place, this world, is forever.
One day we will be in eternity and all that has been will pass away. Our Lord is the only truly permanent, unchanging entity that is worthy of our trust. Thank you Father for being unchanging and worthy!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
"Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.” Ps. 39:4
Survival rate, treatment options, side effects from chemo; somewhere in somebody’s life today these terms are becoming integrated into their daily vocabulary. Alarming, unfamiliar phrases that signify the possible number of days left in an individual’s life because of three little words. It is amazing how simple words can pare away any extraneous impediments and reduce a life to essential priorities: “you have cancer”.
Maybe the words you heard were different; words like “there has been a car accident” or “there is no longer any brain activity” or “there was an IED”.
And accompanying those words are some deep, thought provoking questions. If the words were directed at you and you now had a definite explanation for your cause of death, how would you react? Would you be filled with regrets? Would you be satisfied with how you lived your life? What would you do differently? What if the words were directed to a loved one, how would you react then?
The truth is none of us know what the number of our days. A chosen few are given an indication of how many days are left to them, but for the most part death can be sudden and we have no idea when it will occur. We do have the knowledge that we are finite creatures, but do we live every day with that knowledge in the forefront of our minds?
No, I myself have not heard these words directed at me, but I’m aware of a situation where this very circumstance has become a hard reality and it made me stop and think. Am I satisfied with how I’m living my life? Are you?
Life is short, no matter how we look at it. I don’t want to stand before my Jesus and have to account for opportunities I missed to tell someone I loved them. I don’t want to admit that I was contemptuous of someone’s love for me. And I can’t imagine my heartbreak when I find out just how many opportunities I missed to share the love of God with my “neighbor”.
Definitely, food for thought….and prayer.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
“If an Ephraimite fugitive said, "Let me cross," the men of Gilead would ask, "Are you an Ephraimite?" and he would say, "No." And they would say, "Say, 'Shibboleth.'" But he would always say, "Sibboleth"—he couldn't say it right. Then they would grab him and kill him there at the fords of the Jordan.” Judges 12: 5-6 (MSG)
Let’s take a break from the topic of weight loss.
I came across the above verse in my reading the other day and it has been rolling around in my mind since then. As we read in this particular record of Israel’s history, Israel has spread far and wide in the Promised Land.
Because of the distance separating this huge family from one another, new dialects have emerged in what was once their common language.
Now they do not even recognize each other as family members and they are battling each other! How sad that after all the tribe had been through, in just a few short generations, they seem to have lost track of each other.
But think about it. There is a grave lesson in this story that emphasizes the need to gather with our “tribe” (read ‘peeps’).
You see, there is a unique vernacular, nuances in conversation, that becomes established between two people who spend much time together, a kind of verbal shorthand that both people understand without even trying.
And when people are not able to spend that kind of time, they will lose the ease of their conversation. How many of us have experienced this with our families, best friends, or even our spouse?
I’ve realized that the same could be said about our relationship with Jesus. Without the daily, hopefully day-long conversation called prayer, we will quickly lose our ease with Him and a language barrier may intrude on what should be our most intimate relationship.
I know that without that daily quiet time in the Word, in prayer and in silence waiting to hear from Jesus, I would soon not speak the same dialect, and quite possibly lose out on the sweet communion that is mine when I sit with Him, share my heart, and wait to hear His still small voice. Let’s not risk losing track of Jesus, the dearest Friend we will ever have!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
“By yourself you're unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped.” Ecc. 4:12 (MSG)
The Word of God has been an amazing source of wisdom and truth for me. Yet how many times have I ignored what I know to be true even when I find it in the Scripture? I know and love the Scripture from Ecclesiastes I have quoted today and yet in my pride I was unwilling to be accountable to anyone as I attempted to lose weight again. I was deeply ashamed that I had gained back the weight in the first place and I was reluctant to ask my close friends for help.
But the truth is I need my friends to encourage me and keep me accountable. Our Father in heaven knows this and His Word clearly supports it. I can’t fight this battle on my own. The fact is I got into this mess on my own and should have asked for help long before now. My chances for success are much greater with the accountability than without it.
So I’m holding myself accountable in this blog and sharing the lessons I have been learning. I am letting you all know that I am actually walking/running two miles three days a week. My food intake has returned to a much healthier place. I have not done the mindless eating that allows me to “numb out” to my pain or hurt. And I’m making progress. My pants are more comfortable, I am getting stronger and a little faster, and mentally and emotionally, I’m in a much better place. So I want to thank my daughter Shannon and my friends Susan and Chris and you the readers for your support and encouragement as I continue this weight loss challenge.
Friday, February 18, 2011
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Is. 40:29
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Jesus has revealed a direct correlation with food and the abdication of self responsibility in my life; the less powerful I feel, the more food I put in my mouth! And perhaps if I had asked myself why I was mindlessly eating, I would have identified feeling powerless to meet needs….powerless to right wrongs, powerless to comfort pain, or powerless to engineer truces between warring factions. Like the picture, I take the world on my shoulders.
But the feelings of powerlessness are misplaced because those are not my responsibilities! Those wrongs were not mine to right, the pain some people had was not mine to comfort, and the warring factions needed to find a truce for themselves. The responsibility for meeting those needs belongs to God and His Holy Spirit. As Steven Curtis Chapman stated so succinctly, “God is God and I am not!” My responsibility begins and ends with myself, my family, my work, and, where I am invited, the lives of my friends. That’s it. My weakness is recognizing when and why I feel powerless. I am also weak when it comes to healthy food choices and portion sizes. And as I acknowledge this weakness, I can avail myself of the power of God, “who gives strength to the powerless.”
The Lord gives me the strength to make a healthy choice, to leave food on my plate, or to resist the second portion when I’m not even hungry. More importantly, in Him I can find the strength to identify when I’m taking not taking responsibility for meeting my needs, or taking responsibility to meet needs that do not belong to me. I ought to recognize when I’m using food as a method to “numb” the pain or the powerlessness. The truth is I am not powerless over myself. I have the power to say no. As I recognize God’s mighty hand revealing His truths in my heart and mind, I rejoice and accept the appropriate power He gives me to gain control over myself.
Monday, February 14, 2011
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Is. 40:29
In my last few blogs I have been sharing some of the lessons the Lord has been teaching me as I break the habit of over-eating. I recently began to recognize that the last several years have been deeply painful and highly stressful and that I have felt powerless to control the circumstances surrounding my life. And as I pondered the idea of powerlessness, I started to see a pattern of behavior emerge in my history.
Let me define exactly what I’m talking about. Children do not have the authority to make life decisions such as where to live, how money is spent, how discipline is applied, etc. Those decisions are left to their parents or guardians. Children learn how to make decisions by observing the adults in their lives making decisions and then being given the opportunity to make decisions for themselves. This is learned behavior. But what if the child does not observe or learn healthy decision making skills? The result can be an unwillingness to take ownership or authority in the decision making process, in other words, a learned helplessness or powerlessness.
I’m recognizing powerlessness has been my constant companion, starting in my childhood. With the specific dysfunctions in my family of origin, as a child many of my life circumstances were a result of someone else’s decisions and behaviors. As a young adult I had to learn to take back my appropriate power; my authority over myself; authority to say yes or no to someone; authority to engage or not engage in different activities, and the authority to experience the emotions I felt rather than denying them. Through counseling, prayer, and learning to trust “that I am who God says I am and that I can do all things through Christ” (thank you, Beth Moore and “Believing God”!) I made some significant progress in this arena.
However, when life becomes highly stressful, I fall back into the unhealthy behaviors, especially the behavior of learned helplessness that is so familiar. I found myself relinquishing my authority, my power in many areas of life, especially in my food choices. More succinctly, when profoundly stressed, I abdicate responsibility in my own life! But I have an inside track to taking back my power, for God gives strength to the powerless!
How about you? Do you find yourself abdicating responsibility in your life? How is that manifested? Does it take you time to recognize the behavior? I would love your feedback as I explore this topic further for my next blog.
And by the way, I have lost between 5 to 7 pounds in the last six weeks! I’m very excited about the weight loss, but I’m more excited about what God has been showing me in this process!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:8-10
I have a dear friend who says that sometimes life is like the game of whack-a-mole; as soon as you nail one problem, another problem springs up that requires attention. Just as I start to get an exercise regime in place, the food intake decreasing, and as I work at not retreating to food for comfort (refer to previous blog), I find myself irritable, emotional, overly sensitive, and downright no fun to be with…and I cannot escape my own company! I don’t like fighting feelings of negativity and rejection that are probably just figments of my imagination. But what do I do with these feelings? Numbing out with food allowed me to not feel and escaping negative feelings is pretty addictive. And I was a lot more fun to hang out with. Now, I find myself writhing internally with hurt, pain, anger and a host of other emotions that have long lay dormant and are spilling through me like the water behind a dam-burst! How do I deal?
Writing this blog is somewhat therapeutic but I’m not sure why anyone would want to read about the processing of my emotions. Or perhaps reading about the emotions of another frees one up to consider one’s own emotions. Meanwhile, I just want to sit with a bag of chips and watch the feelings disappear. However, processing the emotions is my prerequisite. So writing, working out, prayer, and talking with friends helps the processing of the emotions, but frankly, I feel foolish and vulnerable sharing feelings and weaknesses as I consider posting this blog.
To my chagrin, when I take self (read pride) out of the picture, maybe it is a glimpse into the process of working through my emotions that Jesus can use to encourage and enlighten others. Perhaps this blog is not about the success or failure of losing weight, but about sharing the process of what I am learning as I sit quietly before the Lord and listen for the still, small voice of my Deliverer. After all, my desire is that my life be about Jesus Christ and His will being lived out through me, even in my weakness. Maybe Jesus can use this for you, dear reader, so that you feel less isolated in your struggles to gain empowerment over issues of your own. I would love any feedback you have for me. Until then, get your mallets ready to whack-a-mole!
Thursday, February 3, 2011
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
Several years ago, I was in one of those deep discussions with a trusted friend that takes place late at night; the kind of discussion that results when two hearts have no fear of the other person and there is freedom to discuss profound ideas and intimate feelings. This friend is the quintessential business woman, intelligent, resourceful, well educated and well spoken. In the course of our discussion, I asked her, “How do you receive comfort when you are hurting?” For a few moments she was silent and she looked utterly perplexed, not even able to answer; she kept repeating the word comfort with a tone of confusion as though I had given her a word in a foreign language. This simple word, “comfort” left her profoundly mystified.
Strictly defined, “comfort” means relief in affliction, solace, or consolation. It can mean to soothe, console, or reassure. For those of you who read my last blog, I left off with this question: how was I going to be comforted in my pain and begin the process of removing the yoke of over-eating? I also solicited your thoughts on how to answer this question, and to those of you who have responded, I thank you. But in returning to the question, we all know the “good girl” answer is God and His word. I must be willing to turn to Him for comfort, rather than putting my head back into the yoke of over-eating. When I’m hurting and feeling bad, I read Scripture (especially Psalms) in my search for solace and pray crying out to God in my pain. But sometimes this just doesn’t relieve my affliction.
The truth is, sometimes I want God to have skin on so that I can see and touch Him. That’s why relationships with people are so necessary. Job’s friends knew this. Paul understood that same need for comfort and we read of many different relationships in his letters: Titus, Justus, John-Mark, Timothy, and others, and the comfort he received from them. In John 11:19, there is a reference to the fact that many Jews had come to offer comfort to Mary and Martha in the loss of their brother Lazarus.
Therefore, I’m realizing that I need to reach out to my intimate friends when I need comfort. And boy is that difficult! I despise feeling so vulnerable! What if no one wants to comfort me? What if no one wants to hear me? What if no one has time for me? What if, what if…this is the crux of the matter. Maybe it is time to take the risk and ask for the help of my dear friends instead of numbing out with food. The truth is, the numbness wears off but the pounds do not! Or at least, the pounds only come off after a lot of hard work. But the feelings will return and I will be back where I started, alone and hurting. God has provided me with incredible friends (you all know who you are) and I am profoundly grateful for these friends. So, I must be willing to take the risk, reach out, and receive the comfort they are willing to give me. When all is said and done, I’d rather take the risk than to put my head back into the yoke!