Friday, March 30, 2012

Food for Thought: Pride

There is one vice of which no man [or woman] is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people...ever imagine they are guilty of themselves...it was through Pride that the devil became the devil; Pride leads to every other vice; it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
--C.S. Lewis

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chest of Treasures

I was sitting in a bible study, watching a video I had not much interest in,
when the speaker said six little words that would change my entire perspective:

SO YOU THINK THEREFORE YOU ACT

Powerful words. It's interesting to me how my thinking affects everything else,
especially emotions. For me, changing the way I think drastically affects my
mood and my actions. So, does the way we think directly influence the way we
act? Yes, I believe that it does. I wonder sometimes, do we really take into
account how much influence our words have? Matthew 12:34 says "The mouth speaks
from the overflow of the heart".  According to this verse, who you are and what's
in your heart are revealed in the words you speak. We should think twice about
the words we use and think, because it matters how we use them (Me, Myself, and
Lies by Jennifer Rothschild).

I've learned over time that I need to think positively in order to live
positively--it won't just happen. It takes effort. It takes me making the choice
daily to think a positive thought, to actually meditate on God's Word, His
provisions, and remembering what He has done for me. These are some of the most
important changes I've made in my life.

My emotions used to be my guide. If I felt a certain way, then that was it. I
have discovered that although emotions are valuable and shouldn't be dismissed,
they are not always trustworthy, either. ("The heart is deceitful above all
things, and is desperately sick; who can understand it
?" Jeremiah 17:9) 
Emotions can be such a roller-coaster. I have used my emotions in the past as a
tool to manipulate others, as a defense mechanism, as a guide to navigating this
crazy world...not always good stuff. Upon discovering that they aren't always
trustworthy, I can look back and see the foolishness of my ways. I see where I made
decisions based on how I was feeling at the time instead of thinking through a
situation. In my relationships, I have at times allowed my emotions to wreak havoc. Then I made the decision to start making choices, regardless of how I felt. Like the decision to love. I'll admit, sometimes even my closest loved ones make me steaming mad, and I don't always feel like loving them. But loving people isn't so much an emotion as it is a choice. Love is a choice that stands solid when your emotions go awry! And where does all that love come from? From God, who loves me. He fills me up so that I can make the choice to love always, even when I don't feel like it. It has made my marriage stronger and my relationships better.
inkart.com

I feel like I have unlocked a chest of treasures!

Proverbs 24:3-4
English Standard Version (ESV)
3 By wisdom a house is built,
    and by understanding it is established;
4 by knowledge the rooms are filled
    with all precious and pleasant riches.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eat, Pray, Love

eonline.com
"I am so tired of saying no and waking up in the morning and recalling every
single thing I ate the day before. Of counting every calorie I consumed so I
know exactly how much self-loathing to take into the shower." (Julia Roberts as
Liz in the movie Eat, Pray, Love)

Sound familiar?

I know it does to me. Who wouldn't be tired of exerting energy on
counting calories, remembering with dissatisfaction how much you ate, and
feeling guilty about it? As Americans, they say in the movie, we are good at
entertaining ourselves but we fail at discovering true pleasure. I am determined to
grasp the true pleasures in life.  After hearing that quote, I was inspired to
free my mind, to allow myself to experience the pleasure of a good meal with my
family (that I didn't have to make or clean up!). I fared well; it was an
enjoyable dinner and everyone had a good time. One thing we try to do every
night at dinner is to share our "high and low," or the beast and worst part of each person's day. It's a tradition that I picked up from my sister and her husband, and I think it's a great idea. The best part of my day was that I was inspired to
change; the worst was that as I went to bed that night, I didn't feel like
I had changed at all, or had any right to feel like I could.

That sort of condemnation is not from God, and even though I know that in my
head, it's harder to feel in my heart. Condemnation is a heavy emotion, one that
keeps us down on our knees, not able to pick our heads up.

When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to a boy named Timothy, he urged him to not be timid in his faith,  "for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and
love and self-control
" (2 Timothy 1:7). That's one of my favorite verses in
scripture; it reminds me that even though I feel faint of heart, I have God. I can lean heavily on Him at all times, and He will suffice. He didn't die on the cross so I could suffer and live in defeat; He died so that I could live in freedom. I don't want to be the very person that Paul warns against who is "burdened with sin and lead astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:6-7).

A few lines later in the movie, Julia Roberts' character says "I'm through with
the guilt." In order to be through with the guilt, I need to "arrive at a
knowledge" of His truth--"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

Monday, March 26, 2012

Apron Strings

I try to begin my day with a devotion/quiet time with God. I think it's really important to protect your mind and spirit with prayer, and the point has been made before that you can't develop a relationship with someone (or even the One) if you never spend any time with them. I'm breaking away for a bit from talking about insecurity as in body image and delving into a topic that is almost as tough for me -- insecurity as far as safety is concerned.

It's hard to read the paper or watch the news and not be fearful of the world we live in, isn't it? It makes me want to keep my precious babies at home, under constant survellience! When they go to school, I worry about negative influences. When they go to friends houses, I worry about safety. And don't even get me started about playing outside by themselves! I think I have operated under the false assumption that they are not completely safe unless I am right there watching over them. As much as I'd like to think that, yes, I am a good mother, I am by no mean capable of protecting them from every danger and evil that exists. It breaks my heart, and causes much suffering and worry on my end. I wish I was.

cartoonstock.com

I read out of "The Power of a Praying Parent" by Stormie O'Martian this morning, and quickly realized that part of the sin I talked about on Friday was hanging onto my children for dear life and not trusting God with them. It's a fine line, one that I have a tough time walking, but that's where prayer comes in so handy. It's okay for me to pray through it so I can discover what that fine line is, and how much control I really do need to give up to God. One of the prayers in the book is about thanking Him for the gift of children, showing me where I'm hanging onto them too much, and asking Him to "Help me not live in fear of possible dangers, but in the joy and peace of knowing that up you are in control.".

I think it's possible to apply that to any area of life where worry has become overwhelming, whether that be with a job situation, kids, spouses, or body image.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more then will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?
Matthew 7:11

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Food for Thought: Happiness

If you are not happy with what you have, you will never be happy with what you don't have. --Ann Jillian

Friday, March 23, 2012

Censored

Beth Moore's words really got me. Then the devotion I read this morning just reinforced the idea. The general idea is that I am asking God to do something for me, but He is also asking something of me.  Obedience. Or, if that's too strong of a term, how about agreeing with or giving deference to?  Whatever term I choose, it's convenient for me to forget that last part.  I am asking Him to take my insecurities away, to transform me from bleak to sparkling. I really do want Him to. I see where I need it. I see where my perspective has been colored with negativity and pessimism, thinking the only way I could possibly be worthy is to fit into this very confining and narrow idea of what beauty is. These days, I'm tired of trying to constantly fit into that mold.  I have very little energy left to contort myself, twisting into knots just to fit perfectly. So I've turned to God. Finally. I read somewhere once that when He's the only game left in town, it becomes painfully obvious  how much you really do need Him. For me, it's not a little bump in the road, like "Oh, it's you God. Well, I'm glad you're here. I guess I've missed you, but not really cuz life's been just dandy without you".  It's been more like I smacked straight into a wall with nowhere else to turn; a deep churning in my spirit for something more that only He can fill.  To move forward with God, sometimes you have to totally let go of where you have been, or so says Beth Moore. Sometimes that seems severe with a dash of extreme.  But you know, I find that I absolutely agree. I can't hang onto the past and move forward at the same time. 

Beth also suggests that if I am living in the will of God, then I am never meant to experience defeat. Hang on--what? Never, as in--never? Then what's all this "I can't get past my insecurities" thing about? Why am I still struggling with it? She says that in every part of my "land" (or the areas God has given me) that I am meant to experience victory, and if I'm not, then something is wrong and I need to figure out what that is by asking WHY I'm still struggling. And a major place to look is the area of sin, which is not foreign to anybody (2 Chronicles 6:36 ...for there is no one who does not sin...").

As I look at different areas of my life, it's been made clear to me several different areas where I repetitively, blatantly sin without regard to how God looks upon it.  One area is music.  Some of the music I listen to is so vile and disgraceful to Him that I should be embarrassed, and yet, I rationalize, "I love this song, and it's not really hurting anybody because I don't believe the lyrics.  It's just a song".  Other areas, like insecurity, where I am accepting status quo instead of looking to Him for my portion. Is what the world says is okay really okay with me, so much so that I'll take a dose of worldliness along with everybody else? And to what end? It may seem unlikely right now that my taste in music could conceivably affect Him working on my insecurities...but how willing am I to take that chance? If everything I need is in Him, then why risk it? I'm willing to give up a few good (okay, so that's a matter of opinion. They aren't really that great!) songs for the possibility that He will transform me into a beautiful, shining, yes even sparkling, reflection of Him. 

In fact, I'm going to go get my iPod and make a few changes now...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring


layoutsparks.com

Ahhhhh.

I just want to go outside and drink it in. The weather is beautiful. The sun is shining. And the trees and bulbs are blooming, transforming the dreariness of a winter landscape into a beautiful image. There is just something about Spring. It's resplendent, and I just want to bask in the beauty of it. As I look outside, my pink cherry tree is blossoming against the backdrop of emerald green grass and a brilliant blue sky with puffy white clouds.  It's impossible to deny God when you see His extravagant, dramatic displays of beauty all around.

I want to be transformed, too. I want God to take wearisome feelings that I have been holding onto for too many years and transform me into His beautiful image. I feel like I am finally giving up, but not in a bad way. I'm giving up in a way that allows me to breath, in a way that is taking that proverbial noose from around my neck.  My lungs can expand and fill with air.  I'm letting go of some things that were holding me back, like control and negativity.  If God can transform what was bleak into something so exquisite, then I must ask Him: what can You do with me? The thing is, He loves His people (that would be you and me!) so much more. Psalm 52:8 is a promise I want to engrave on my heart... "But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever."

To think that I will flourish like Spring.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Buh-bye!



I'm thinking about doing myself a favor today.  It's overdue. Or, let me rephrase. I will do myself a favor today, period.  Thinking about it doesn't do me much good. Action does. I have an old pair of jeans in my closet. They stare me down every time I go in, taunting me with how small they are. I know jeans are just inanimate objects, but in my head they are totally calling me out. For not fitting comfortably in them anymore, that is. I actually feel guilty, a tad ashamed. For what?? For gaining some weight? It's a heavy feeling for such a small thing. I need have the courage to turn to God, shed that weight of guilt and shame and ask for confidence.

Just like I need the courage to shed those jeans! Buh-bye. And good riddance.

Hanging onto them for me would be hanging onto the old, not moving
toward the new. I already got some new (cuter!) jeans to replace them, and they
even say "Feel Beautiful" on the inside of the waistband. My old jeans just say
"Lucky You", and they don't even make me feel very lucky. They make me feel bad.

The thing is, I need to physically get rid of those jeans, as hard as getting
rid of them may seem right now. It's not the jeans I'm resisting getting rid of,
it's the idea that maybe one day I could comfortably fit back into them. And
wouldn't that be exciting? Perhaps. But what would it cost me?  For what does it
profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul
? (Mark 8:36).  The
Bible says to have no other gods before God  (To you it was shown, that you
might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him
, Deuteronomy
4:35), and should I chose to keep hanging onto the idea of "beauty" or "perfect"
or even "skinny", then I've put those things above Him, which would make them
more important to me than Him, and that would, ultimately, make those things a
"god" in my life. God has brought me so far, and I trust that this isn't the
end, but only the beginning. He promises to complete the good work He started in
me (Philippians 1:6), and I have confidence that He will. I have to fight to not
turn back to what is my comfort zone. But, then again, comfort zones aren't what
He specializes in.



*picture from 1000awesomethings.com

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Anxious Thoughts

I have decided to extend the book giveaway one more day, so get your comments in :)

This morning, as I went through my morning routine, I had a feeling of general
anxiety. Nothing that I could specifically pinpoint had happened, as it was only
6:15 AM, but I just felt...restless. Apprehensive. Even a little uneasy.

The feeling stayed with me even as I sat down to do my quiet time, so I felt
distracted and unfocused. Before I go any further, let me be clear about one
thing: this is a very familiar feeling to me, so I didn't really think too much
about it, even though I don't like feeling that way. Sometimes the things I do
don't make any sense to me. Instead of dealing right away with how I was
feeling, I tried to ignore it, walk around it, pretend it wasn't there. How that
helps anything at all I will never understand. Anyway!  My son came to me and
said he didn't feel good. Oh, no! This means I will have to make a definitive
decision
, which is impossible when one is as anxiety-ridden as I am some days. 
I gave my husband several plaintive looks, trying to get him to say something
like "Maybe he should stay home", but all he did was shrug at me. Not helpful.
So I made the decision to let him stay home and sleep, figuring that would help
him feel better. After discussing with my husband, I still questioned my
decision. Why??

I tried to go about my day, unloading the dishwasher and loading laundry, but it
was bugging me to the point that I had to do something to clear my mind. I
finally sat down to unload on the the One who can take it. I got a sheet of
paper, labeled it "Anxious Thoughts", and let the words spill out onto the page.
You know what? I was anxious about a whole lot more than just letting my son
stay home for the morning! Here's just a few from my list:

Eating
Being far from God
Drinking enough water (I'll just insert here--I'm sorry, but what?? That's just
silly. Anyhow, moving on...)
Not getting it all done
Being tired
Exercise
Not enjoying life
Having no laughter or joy
My kids safety
Church
Kids spiritual learning

Aha. I felt like I had stumbled upon something. I wasn't processing things that
were really worrying me (i.e. not enjoying life, my kids safety), so I was
focusing on silly stuff like drinking enough water (don't roll your eyes, I
vowed only to tell the truth here, embarrassing or not). And to think, all
those thoughts had rolled through my head before 8:00!

So, taking it a step further, I went down my list and, stopping at each one,
gave it to God. Some of them I explained, some I didn't. Some I am scared to
give to Him, some I am relieved to give up, but I gave each one to Him, because
His shoulders are big enough to bear it all (do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests
be made known to God, Philippians 4:6
). I will probably have to give them up
again tomorrow, but for today, my mind is free from those anxious thoughts. 
Freedom is priceless!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pretty

I woke up this morning not feeling very pretty. It got me thinking: is "pretty" a feeling? Does one rely on feeling pretty to be pretty? What exactly IS "pretty", and why is it something that I yearn for? It seems that I'm not the only one who desires to feel pretty, as plenty of friends and family members have expressed the same. Plus, the media drives home this idea of being pretty over and over again as we are bombarded with airbrushed images on magazines covers, catalogues, tv and Internet pictures of all things sexy, beautiful and pretty. It affects me profoundly, and the more I subject myself to media, the more influenced I am by what I see. The more I try to be that kind of pretty. And the harder I try, the greater my failure becomes. See, that kind of pretty is unrealistic, but I've known that for a long time. So the question is, why do I still believe it, and worse, strive relentlessly to attain that which is unattainable?

I think part of the reason I don't feel very pretty is because I know what I'm like on the inside, and I definitely don't feel very pretty there. Lately, it's been a little harder to laugh, because I haven't really been enjoying the life that I've been blessed with. I've concentrated on beautifying the outside with makeup and clothes, but have left the inside bereft of any improvement. So, I've been jealous of what others have that I can't seem to get, and I'm not talking in only material terms.  I've let my feelings get hurt over small things, and have let resentment fester. I've allowed lonely feelings and thoughts to swirl around in my head. Left alone long enough, these feelings will dull my emotions, eventually leading to a sadness that I won't know what to do with.

You know what I really want? To go outside, throw my arms in the air, throw my head back and laugh. To feel the sheer joy of life, unencumbered by these things that I let myself hang onto. I want to be pretty, beautiful even, on the inside and let that shine through in everything I do, instead of needing to FEEL "pretty". The beauty that God supplies on the inside will be the only pretty I need to have.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Calling All Soldiers

I'm officially declaring war.

I discovered an article from The Roanoke Times (March 4, 2012) with this disturbing headline:

Young girls asking YouTube audience: Am I Pretty?

It definitely caught my eye, because isn't that part of what I've been talking about (perhaps ad nauseum) on this blog? The question that seems to burn in every woman and girl's soul...Am I Pretty?

Apparently, young girls are posting videos of themselves on YouTube and asking the world what seems to be the question of the hour, and they aren't stopping there. They are inviting the world to respond. And the world did. The article says, of a specific video--"The video, posted December 17, 2011, has more than 4 million views and more than 107,000 anonymous, often hateful responses in a troubling phenomenon that has girls as young as 10--and some boys--asking the same question on YouTube with similar results." (emphasis added)  These girls think they are ugly, hate their bodies, and they take the feedback and "value as well as incorporate [it] into their own sense of worth, [which] can be devestating". Sounds familiar.

Does this alarm you like it does me? And I have been sitting here, for 35 years, as part of the problem and not the solution.

It's time to be part of the solution.

If I choose to continue looking to appearance as my main source of security, then I am leading the next generation into the same pitfall. The scary thing is, I don't even have to say a word. I will silently lead our daughters into a deadly trap that some will never see their way out of...unless I stand up and take action. I don't know exactly what taking action looks like, but it does mean I'm not sitting and waiting for something to happen, for someone else to change the world.  Change can start with one person.  I'm also calling my sisters to join me.  I want to see the next generation, and the ones following, begin to see themselves as worthy in Christ. I want our generation to see the next as worthy enough to show them how and where to find their security. As women, we can't turn on each other, we have to stop seeing each other as competition and look at each other for who we really are: children of God, women with face and a story, somebody's little girl for goodness sake.

I'm praying that I stop the nonsense of beating myself over how I look (or don't look, as it were) now. Not tomorrow, or next week while I try to figure out whether I actually want God to change me, but right now.  Beth Moore says in her study "The Inheritence" that God's priority is on our spirit, which means that no stronghold, oppression or bondage can sustain what God can do.  Essentially, insecurity doesn't have to be insecurity anymore.  I just have to ask Him.

It's time to declare war on this ugly insanity. God can do anything, He just needs willing participants. Will you join me?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Strength

I have been tired lately. Do you ever just feel that way? Where the stress of daily life has made you weary beyond description? It's almost as if I'm physically tired, but my very soul has been made weary, which has an enervated effect on my mind. Why am I so weak?

I think it's because I have not been searching the Lord for my strength. I do acknowledge in my head that my strength should come from Him; however, I tend to try to medicate myself before asking Him for strength. One day I will consider water the culprit, so I try to drink more. A few days later I might think not eating enough healthy foods is the problem, so I change my diet. Other considerations follow: vitamins, exercise, quiet time for just me, sunshine, talking to my sister...I'm sure I could come up with more.  I've assumed that I'm lacking in each of these things, which could contribute to my feelings of fatigue and my occasional lackadaisical attitude.

I've tried to pinpoint exactly what makes me feel this way and then solve it so I can move on and never feel tired again.

You know what I think my true issues are? Worry. Anxiety. Unforgiveness, bitterness, envy. Anger. Allowing stress to enter into my quiet time so I end up searching for causes of fatigue online instead.  We all acknowledge the toll stress can take, but do we acknowledge the One who can really take it away? There are days when worry wins. And it's worry that will completely gnaw a hole in my soul to the point that I am weary beyond anything I've ever known. So what do I worry about? The ones I have talked about the most--gaining weight.  Appearance. A few I haven't: My kids. Safety. Friendships. My husband. Finances. Time management. Keeping it all together. Cleaning the house. And on and on I go around this insane merry-go-round. I need the strength to get off.

This morning, I gathered an arsenal of weaponry. I got myself every verse I could on strength from the Lord.  I'm memorizing one verse to meditate on all day.  When war is being waged and the battleground is your soul, it's the only way to fight.

**I'll gladly share my list with anyone who wants it! Please message me and I'll send it to you.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Damage-control

I went to the doctor on Friday for a simple check-up, and when I got there I had to be weighed. I already knew that I would probably have to be weighed, and even though I was trying very hard not to be anxious about it, I could feel that familiar feeling of dread wash over me. "Step on the scale, please" the very pleasant nurse said.  In my head, I was thinking "Do I have to?"  As the digital readout registered my weight, I considered 2 options: a) jumping off the scale in a dramatic display, distracting the sweet nurse, so that it wouldn't reveal my true weight, or b) passing out from the shock of it. I think you probably know I did neither! I stood there, numb, while she wrote down the number.

Immediately, my mind went into damage-control mode.  "Okay, maybe that scale is off. Plus, I have on really heavy boots, that's probably 2 or 3 pounds, plus all these clothes, well, that's another couple of pounds, and I'm carrying around some water weight because it is that time of the month again (blast being weighed anytime around "that time"). So,"  I say consolingly to myself, "it's not as bad as I think". 

After I chastised myself for gaining weight, I thought about how hard I am, and I think we all are, on ourselves. Could it be possible that I still look okay even with a weight gain? Is it possible that I look better? It didn't cross my mind at first because for a long time, my standard for myself has always been that thinner=better.  Remember back to the entry on "Mis-eyelz", where I talked about the woman on the Today Show who said our eyes are "miss-eyelz?" (see the full explanation on the entry by the same name -- Miss-eyels). I had mine directed right at my heart. I had forgotten who I am in Christ, that I am His daughter, made in His image. Why should I be so harsh with myself? I don't know why I feel like I have to put myself to shame just because of a physical attribute. Even the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:15  " I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." I hate beating myself up, yet I do it on a regular basis when it comes to my appearance.  Paul goes on to say in verses 21-23 "So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me." I can hear the frustration in his writing, just as I know how frustrated I get when I want to "do good", but it seems like I just can't. There is hope further in the passage, as he proclaims Christ as his Deliverer in verses 24-25 "Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

That number on the scale has nothing to do with who I am. I have a book called "5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter" by Vicki Courtney, where she shares a similar story to mine, right down to being weighed at the doctors office. She says "At some point, something snapped and I realized the absurdity of the tapes running through my head. I...thanked God out loud for seeing me as 'fearfully and wonderfully made' (Psalm 139:14). I asked Him to help me in the ongoing pursuit to define my worth according to His standard of beauty rather than the world's narrow, not to mention unrealistic, standard...Truly the quest to meet the world's standard of beauty is vain. Every thought that consumes my heart, every moment that my focus is deterred of Him and onto myself is nothing more than vanity." (pp 58-59)

I feel like I can breath a sigh of relief! Because it's not about me, it's all about Him!

picture: clipartof.com

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Food for Thought: Trust




Trust steps in and reminds us:  we can’t ever learn how to live real faith if we never need real faith.
(Lysa Tyrkurst)

*picture from ethicscan.ca

Friday, March 9, 2012

Good Idea




I love plants and flowers. Especially flowers. And I've even been know to say that I enjoy gardening. I love looking at beautiful gardens, full of fragrant, luxurious foliage, which is why I love spring. There is something about it that really appeals to my sense of beauty and life. When it comes right down to it, however, I think I only like the idea of gardening, and not so much the act of gardening itself.  I don't actually enjoy getting down on my knees, with a trowel in one hand and a bucket in the other, getting dirty and sweaty.  And the time it takes! I'm like that with dogs, too. I do really want a (teeny-tiny) dog, I think it would be so much fun. But, as my sister so astutely observed, I may only actually like the idea of having said dog.  Picking up doggy poo does not excite me in the least. Nor does walking the dog when I'm tired, or it's raining. And I can't even imagine how I would react if the dog chewed up some of my furniture or scratched up some wood work. The good would outweigh the not-so-good, I'm sure, and I think I would take it all in stride, but she might just be on to something. Sometimes the idea of a thing is actually more desirable than actually walking it out.

I'm like that with God, too. I do really like the idea of having Him in my life, living for Him, serving Him faithfully, having the Fruits of the Spirit come out in my life, enjoying the benefits of walking His path. It all sounds wonderful. It's a great idea, even, and one I will strive to daily. But often, I like the idea better than living it out, better than actually walking that straight and narrow path even though He makes His promises to the faithful very clear. Occasionally, I'd rather sleep in than go to church.  It is quite often I'd rather just keep all my money for myself rather than give it to church, charities or organizations.  And, at times, I just want to be totally selfish with my time, instead of spending time with God during a devotion/quiet time or serving Him.  I am distracted at every point along the path by selfishness, greed, the promise of great beauty, material possessions, pleasure over pain, gossip, judgement, annoyances and frustrations, and the like. It's too easy for me to slide right into the Heather that reacts without patience, and who buys into the lie that my worth is equal to my outward beauty, or that money could, yes, possibly buy happiness. Ephesians 4:31 says to "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice."  As with most of life, that's easier said than done.  The good news is that 1) I'm on the path to figuring out where to turn! That's a huge step for me.  I don't want to be swaying in the wind with every distraction or idea that comes my way. I want to be rooted in God, with His Word as my guide. 2) The good (the benefit from walking His way, down His path) definitely outweighs the not-so-easy-to-do in this case!

Ephesians 4:22-24 says this:  "...put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and...be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and...put on the new self, created after likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness".

What a good idea!

picture of garden from vancouverislandgardentrail.com

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quick Fix, Part Deux

A quick fix would be great, right? I wonder if I don't just want an easy life. If God would be willing to just fix everything that is wrong, then I would have no need for a relationship with Him. I would also have such an easy life. Can you imagine? No issues, no problems, no nothin?  It sounds nice, but is it?

In Beth Moore's study "The Inheritance", she suggests that a life with a past (which would include everybody, since everybody has a past), even one filled with pain or failures or difficult things, but lived for Christ, can have a huge impact. God promises that He will work all these things for His glory (Romans 8:28). He can actually use my past (and I define that as everything up until now).  Same thing with life experiences, which kind of overlaps with the past. Those experiences, like childhood, education, placed you've lived, and ethnicity are what gives you depth. Even though I haven't liked or appreciated some of my life experiences, and have tried to shove (not sweep, SHOVE) my past and my insecurities under the proverbial "rug", I really just need to ask Him to show His glory in my life and He will. A life with depth and experience could be such a blessing to other people. Think about it. YOU could be a blessing to someone else who is struggling.

I am struggling with finding my security in Him everyday, but I know that I know that I know He is using my battle with insecurity for good. I have given up some bad habits, like criticizing myself every time I look in the mirror (now it's just every other time;) ) And I've gotten a little better about not checking myself out in every window or mirror I pass. (I'm sorry, it's just the awful truth. I do it all the time, almost without thinking about it. My husband even said one time (as we were passing a mirror at the mall, which, in my defense, are all over the place!) "Did you look okay?" I did it so quick, I didn't think anyone else even noticed.  I felt like a kid who got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. EMBARRASSING!) Some things I'm not past, like I'm not past counting my calories down to the bite and writing them down in a food diary. I'm sure that's helpful for some people, but it's not necessarily a healthy thing for me. But I can't stand not knowing how much I've eaten, and it makes me feel more...hmm...maybe in control. I can't give up my workout for a single day.  I still haven't fully accepted my body for how it is right now; I keep wishing all my old clothes still fit well.  I understand, as much as I'd like for it to be, it can't be a quick fix. I'd learn nothing, and would probably return to old habits, since they tend to, as the say, "die hard".

I hope that bringing my own insecurities out into the open will help someone else deal with their own. I hope that someone is hearing that God loves you enough to take you, flaws and all, and make you beautiful. Not perfect, this side of heaven anyway, but a beautiful life filled with the One who defines beauty. It's when we lose ourselves that we actually find ourselves in Him.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Quick Fix

If there is a single question I have asked God the most over the course of my entire life (aside from asking for a 3 pound dog, preferably a Chihuahua or Yorkie. Another story, another day...), it has been asking Him to FIX ME. To just zap me with confidence, take my insecurities away, give me peace and joy so I can finally be done with it all. Sometimes I just want to be done so I can move on. It's hard when you keep struggling with the exact same thing over and over again, sometimes for years. And when I talk to friends, I feel like a broken record. I wonder if they get tired of hearing about about how I struggle with insecurity. At times I feel like there is something seriously wrong with me because I can't get over it, and other times I feel like I have taken 2 steps forward, only to then take 5 (thousand) steps backward.  I pray, I ask, I beg: "Why don't you just fix me? Why don't you just kinda do your God-thing and zap me so my little light can shine?" (you know the song...this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine, this little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine...oops, now it's stuck in your head. You're welcome ;) )

I don't think God wants to just zap me, to instantly "cure" me of anything, because then I could walk away from Him. I wouldn't need Him, I wouldn't have to depend on Him. I'd be good to just keep on keeping on, until the next time I need Him. It would be more like a transaction than a relationship, and that's not what He desires. That's not what I desire! He wants fellowship, a relationship. I think it would be like this: if my kids only needed money from me. If they didn't need love, or affection, or a mommy, really. Just money. And then, when they got their money, they just went about their business, doing just fine on their own, until the next time they needed money. It would be all about the transaction and nothing about having a relationship. That would be so sad to me.

God is bringing me to a place of complete dependence on Him, and that's where I want to be because He is the source of life. He is where I get the things that matter most, like joy and peace. I think about how it would be to live my life with just those two things, and it makes me long for the day when those feelings overrule anxiety and fear. And the good news is there's more! He has so much more to give than just joy or peace. I don't think that I will ever be in a position where I can look around and say "My insecurities are completely and totally gone" (but I would totally say good riddance to them).  It's partly due to the fact that we live in a fallen world. I do know that by keeping my face turned toward His light, depending on Him for my confidence and finding my security in Him, that my light does shine because of Him.



picture from candlefind.com

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Centered on Self

I admit it. I spend way too much time focused on myself. It's not okay, either.

The amount of time I spend thinking about my own issues, problems, complaints, and annoyances is a waste. That's not to say that ignoring them is the answer, no. Ignoring those things, especially the problems and issues, eventually causes a volcano-like eruption of anger and sadness that isn't good for anyone. We've got to start dealing with our stuff! What I'm saying is that I can get so micro-focused on my self for so long that I forget that there are truly needy people out in the world. I can get so caught up in my own bubble that the problems in the world don't exist anymore.  Sometimes my own issues are bigger than everyone else's. It's a terribly selfish way to live. I don't think God has any patience for the pity parties I throw for myself (only on occasion!); He never joins in with me. And why should He? He sees the whole big picture that I cannot possibly see or understand. The point of this life is to live in fellowship with God and to live out my life serving Him. He made me with a much bigger purpose than worrying about how I look all the time. But I'm also human, and I do get caught up in all the worries and shallowness of the world. I have got to make the choice to live for God, and to live beyond all that stuff that bogs me down. He says in Matthew 11:28-30 "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 

He has made me with a specific purpose, has given me the gifts and tools I need to accomplish that purpose, and has asked me to walk beside Him. I just have to agree to do it, and so far I've been a touch reluctant to completely follow. It kind of goes back to the question "Is God a giver or a taker?".  I don't know what my purpose it yet, I have not a clue the gifts He's given me to accomplish that purpose, but I do know one thing: I'm ready to find out.  There is so much need in the world it's staggering. A book was recently recommended to me called "Kisses From Katie". It's about a young girl who decides to live out her purpose in Uganda helping people. At the age of 22, she had adopted 14 girls and was living out her purpose created in her by God. She doesn't consider herself a hero or a saint.  She considers herself to be living out His will in her life. I read about how selfless people like her live their lives and it is in glaring contrast to how I live my own: comfortable, complacent, sacrificing nothing.  And that's partly because I'm so blessed that I don't have to sacrifice anything. Fortunately for me, it's a choice, and I've not chosen to make as much of a sacrifice as I could.  Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). 

He it is that bears much fruit. 

He asks us to bear His fruit. In Galatians, it gives some good examples of the fruit He's talking about: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..." (5:22). It gives me a pretty good model to compare myself to, and as I compare and contrast, I see where I'm lacking. God's Word is the one place where I can compare myself. My "fruits" of worry, anxiety, fear and insecurity aren't at all what He has in mind. I am those things because I've taken my eyes off the One who can produce good fruit in me and have put my trust in things that will ultimately fail me. I need to take my focus off myself and put it on Him, because only then will I begin to find my identity and security. 

By the way, I'm not suggesting that we all pack up tomorrow and move to the Sudan, or adopt 10 more kids. I'm only saying that I want to start doing more, and my start is by asking Him.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Warped







I looked in the mirror last night and was secretly pleased!

I had a mirror up on the back of my closet door, and it kept falling off because I tried to stick it on with 3M command strips. Not a great way to hang a mirror when your kids constantly bang the door against the wall so the mirror falls off (you would think they would learn after the first time, but alas, the banging continues).  So, I decided to order another mirror that would hang with hooks from the top of my door, but the ones I found online were really expensive. Except for the one I found from WalMart, which was at low, low bargain price of $15. Just let me say -- do not buy bargain-priced mirrors from WalMart.  Lesson learned. Anyhow, I put the mirror up a few days ago, and much to my dismay, it was like one of those "mirrors" in a baby book or that you find in a toy. I can see my reflection fine, but it's warped, distorted. Last night, as I was trying on some new clothes, I was actually pleased because it was warped in my favor! It makes me look a little taller, a little thinner, a little better in my opinion.

But do I look better, or is my whole opinion of myself entirely warped, just like that mirror? I think that we have a somewhat distorted point of view when it comes to our opinion of ourselves, including how we look. I started wondering last night if I even really know what I look like, since it seems like this mirror makes me look one way and a different mirror makes me look another. What's that old saying about movies? Something like "it's all smoke and mirrors".  If I am looking at myself and comparing myself to others in this planet, then my opinion is warped. I won't ever see my true worth through all the smoke and mirrors.

But if I look to God and measure myself up against what He says, then I will see myself for who I truly am: a child of God. And beautiful, at that. I bought a pair of jeans recently and they say "Feel Beautiful" right on the inside of the waistband.  Isn't that what we all want? To just feel beautiful without having to try so hard and without being afraid to fail?

I do not want to continue living my life allowing warped mirrors to give me momentary happiness and a Victoria's Secret catalogue to give me a momentary (ok, it may last longer than just a moment!) bout with depression. God's Word is my mirror, my reflection in Him is lasting.

Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (ESV)

*picture courtesy of http://2.bp.blogspot.com/

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Far Away

I have a confession to make, and it's a little off-topic today: I really like hip-hop. And some rap. I love to dance, and sometimes no other music will work. It's fun to boogie with my kids in the living room to some really good music, but unfortunately, most top 40 music leaves out a positive message. And even when the message is neutral, artists and song writers feel the need to add in "explicit deletes" that really ruin the song for me. So! I have discovered, through the help of the child of one of my friends, this Christian rap guy called Lecrae. He combines positive lyrics with a good beat.

Sometimes, as I'm really working through things in my head, I feel alone. I know God is there, but He feels far away. I found these lyrics. It's a great song, filled with emotion and honesty. At one point, he says "hold my hand through this cancer".  Even though I'm not dealing with the sickness, I do see the pain and anxiety of insecurity, or anything that eats at you, as a type of cancer. If I don't deal with it, asking God to truly heal me, then it will continue to chip away at my soul. My mom had cancer and died in 2006, and toward the end of her life she believed that anger, anxiety and stress were contributors to her getting sick. Getting cancer is one of my biggest fears, but allowing anxiety and stress to enter into my life via insecurity that I haven't allowed God to deal with is not doing me any favors. I need to press into close to His presence and allow His grace and mercy to wash over me.


Far Far Away (You feel) Far Away. (You Seem) Far Away.. So So (x2)
Hopeless!
I can spell it
I can smell it in the air
Lotta people wonder if you still care
And are you still there
Cuz I dun lost it all
I keep calling your name
But do you hear my call
And are you still involved
Or am I left alone
I wander the streets
Cuz I no longer have a home
My brothers all GONE
My sisters all GONE
My families and my friends aint gonna be here in the Mornin
Ya see me hear mourning
They say you feel my pain
They say you went through it
Say to die is to gain
But I aint gain nothing
I lost everybody
Now Im losing my mind
And my faith is all Im counting
Im still holding on
Thats why Im still pray
Feelin empty inside
I cant make it through today
I dont know what else to do
I dont know what else to say
Im talking to ya now
But I promise you feel so far


Far Far Away (You feel) Far Away. (You Seem) Far Away.. So So (X4)

Dear hope: Been waitin on ya for a while now
Been cut so deep that I aint sure if I can smile now
Look at this devastation
Look at the pain and sorrow
Somebody fed me lies and promised me a bright tomorrow
I know the God I follow
Is bigger than disaster
Big enough to handle
Any evil that harasses us
But I feel like he passed us
Pain overtook us
Buildings tumble over head
As the ground shook us
God have you forsook us
Lord you still with me
I know you save souls
I trust you to forgive me
Relief can you hear me
Hey Rest can you get me
Hey Peace can you see me
Hey love can you heal me
I dont know what to do
I aint looking for answers
I just need you to hold my hand
Through this cancer
Tell me you never left
Even in the midst of death
Breathe on me I'll do anything to feel your Breath

Far Far Away (You feel) Far Away. (You Seem) Far Away.. So So (X4)
(PSALMS 62:5-8)
5. For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6. He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7. On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
8. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

(Far far away.) Hes not (Far Away) No hes not (Far Away) Our Gods not 
Even though he seems 

Listen at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rerU_NYwD8&feature=youtube_gdata_player