Monthly Archives: September 2013

Spirit Seeker Sunday~All Things

Spirit 16 stephen

Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer

All things work together for good . . .

This Christian phrase comes from a Scripture in the Bible that says that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. It’s found in Romans 8:28.

I discovered this Scripture while in elementary school. I still remember sitting on the gold carpet in front of the heat vent and reading those words. Hope instantly filled my young heart. Even back then there was stuff. Even back then I knew I needed a God who’d work it all out.

Though I’ve lived my life with this Scripture as a foundation, recently the Lord confronted my attitude, asking me if I truly believed it. He showed me I settled for less than the good He wanted for me. All around the seed of doubt I’d entertained was a growing anger. But God is good, as always. He then reminded me He is faithful and has good plans for me. He showed me that my anger didn’t rock His world, and even showed me where I succeeded so I’d quit leaving in the places of my failures. He does work for my good.

We all have our stuff. For many of us the whole weight loss journey has been too hard for too long. I’m experiencing some success now, but for years I couldn’t even bring myself to try–or even care–about my issues with weight and health. In her Made to Crave Devotional Lysa TerKeurst talks about how it can be hard to believe God is working everything for good when her “jeans won’t zip.” But God did lead Lysa’s journey to better health, and her story has inspired countless others to persevere in their own journey. God took an area of Lysa’s struggle and shaped good from it. Now she reminds others the journey isn’t about today’s too tight jeans, but all God can do through a surrendered heart (and body.)

We can trust the One who makes change possible. He’s got this–the weight loss struggles–all of it.

Father,
There is always “stuff” that seems too hard, impossible to our way of thinking. Sometimes we know there is a possible good future, but in the reality of today hopeful thinking feels fake–like platitudes that sound nice but carry no truth. But Lord, all thing are possible for YOU. When we hit the wall of “I can’t”, remind us that YOU can. When the hope before us seems too far away to believe, remind us that You accomplish what You desire. Give us the faith that You truly work all things (even in our body) for our good, making us like Jesus (Romans 8:29), and using us to help others. Give us a sense of your plan, your destiny, your power.

Share it!

All things means a healthy body, too

Singin’ in the Rain

*Warning – Playful post. I am not minimizing the trouble so many in our community face with floods and devastation. We’re praying for you!

We’re high and dry at my house–except when we choose not to be.

IMAG2351 Yesterday I decided sometimes you just have to embrace the rain.

Since I got my new shoes last week, I’ve been crazy busy. Though my feet improve daily, it’s been difficult to find time to do as much walking as I want. Yesterday my body craved activity, but it was drizzling, as it had been all day.

“I’m headed to the library.” Sam’s declaration beckoned, and I begged to join. He waited patiently as I tied my bright tennies. As he grabbed rain protection, I slipped out the front door coatless.

“You’re not wearing a jacket?” Not to be outdone by his rockin’ momma, he shrugged out of his. “No way am I wearing a coat if you’re not.”

I grinned at him, and off we went. IMAG2350 You guessed it. The rain then began in earnest. By the time we reached the library my clothes stuck to my skin, and water droplets ran down my nose and hung a moment before dripping off.

But my heart was oh so happy.

Sam checked out, “The Empire Strikes back,” and showed me how to put a book on hold that my business partner asked me to read. (Yes, business partner, but that’s a story for next week.) Afterwards we pushed through the library doors to the Great Drizzle, and I pleaded. “Take the long way home?”

Chuckle. Another eye roll. And we were off. He had his longboard. Sometimes I ran to keep up, which only made him go faster. For a while he let me grab his hand and run, pulling him along behind me, but at fifteen he is way too cool to let that go on for long.

Oh the sheer joy of it! If you’ve never been overweight, I don’t think you can understand what it’s like to go from lumbering to actually playing, running, laughing again. Enjoying your kid and being a kid yourself.

And at my age!

Soon it was time to cut through the park for home, but I kept walking the other sidewalk. He shook his head.

“Oh come on. It’s just the long, long way home, not the long, long, long way.”

And we continued. Somewhere in here I started singing phrases from songs about rain. Eventually we made a game of it. I’d sing a phrase, and he’d guess whether it was from a real song, or if I made it up. He became quite impressed with my ability to rhyme little ditties right there on the spot. The score was 5-5 as we rounded our yard. Then I think he cheated because somehow he sneaked ahead.

Soon we stood at the front door calling for an old towel so we didn’t make a puddle on the floor. A nice hot shower later, I was snuggy in my jammies. IMAG2352

The next morning Sam decided to enjoy the continuing rain his own way. I guess it needs to be a little wet to truly engage with one’s marine biology text.

With only one left home this year, I worried about homeschooling. About Sam being lonely. About ME being lonely. But this man-child of mine has delighted me by a willingness to share pieces of his day. And though we are alike in our love of family gatherings and need for people, we’re discovering how to enjoy our moments of being two instead of 4 or 6 or 7.

I hope you find a way to enjoy those you love today–even if it means singing in the rain.

Singing in the rain.

Glory

It’s silly really. I haven’t written a best seller. I don’t daily receive requests as a speaker.

playfulWhile I’ve won some friends and influenced some people, I’m mostly a mom. A wife. A lover of Jesus and Jerry.

A writer with little renown.

But I worry sometimes. About being successful. Receiving attention. Wanting a bigger career.

About glory.

My Benew Journey today isn’t about lugging around extra on the outside. It’s about inside weight loss, learning to let go of the stuff that bogs down my heart instead of my feet.

Lately the heaviness I’ve worked through has been a fear of myself and a twisted perspective on making sure God gets glory not me. (Like He needs my help. Ha!)

These questions surface, in part, because I will find out in a few days whether or not my first traditionally published story will win an award. And I don’t want to care whether or not I win.

But of course I do.

The big announcement won’t be a quiet email. Winners are applauded at a fancy gala where I’ll be making a fashion statement in my friend Megan’s dress.

Excitement. Bling. Bright lights.

One of those affairs where if I win I’ll pray I don’t trip over my own feet as I climb the stairs to the stage and give an acceptance speech in front of *gasp* peers, agents, and editors.

lindsey's wedding

The dress I plan to wear. Megan let me wear it to a wedding, then said I could hang onto it for the gala. (And this is my girl, of course!)

The thing is, though my hands will likely tremble and my mouth will surely get dry if I win and have to stand up in front of that crowd, I want to give that speech.

Is that self-serving?

Isn’t my life goal supposed to be about His glory, not mine?

I’ve looked inward at motives, upward to ask God’s perspective, and outward, processing with my hubby and friends. Jerry helped me think through it, then at prayer group my friend Deb said something that finally got truth from my head to my heart. Relief, followed by joy, whooshed through me.

Deb’s words were something like, “If God is glorified through His people, doesn’t that mean you share in the glory?”

gorgeous moon flashed into my my memory, big and glorious next to a Utah highway. The bright white orb had no energy of its own, but it reflected the light of the sun. As we drove beneath it, awed, I thought that’s how I should be, a beautiful reflection of the One who gave light.

With Deb’s words, with this moon memory, came sudden freedom. Freedom to light up with the joy of reflecting my Creator. Freedom to celebrate every good thing that comes my way, even if it includes winning or attention or applause.

Because every good thing I am, every good thing I’ve done is not of my own accord, but a gift of the Creator. Yes, I worked hard. Persevered. Learned. But He brought the teachers, the growth, the increase, the book contract, the recognition.

HeartsongChristm.indd

If I win, the glory is still HIS, just shining in my smile, too.

If I get attention, and I am His kid, He gets attention, too.

So if “You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch,” wins a Carol Award, I’m going to grin real big without any self-consciousness.

That big ole smile will just be light, a little piece of HIS glory shining through me, reflecting His joy.

(And if the book doesn’t take first place, I’ll smile anyway.0smiley_winking)

Tweetable:

A glory reflection

A Guest Post – Sweetly Broken

yellow rosesWhen I read this Joyvotion from my friend Robbie Iobst, I knew you had to see it to. I get her Joyvotions delivered to my inbox. You can too. Just follow the link.

Be blessed!

Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord, the one you teach from your law; you grant them relief from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.” Psalm 94:12-13

Sunday at church we sang a song by Jeremy Riddle called “Sweetly Broken.” The chorus:

At the cross you beckon me

You draw me gently to my knees, and I am

Lost for words, so lost in love

I am sweetly broken, wholly surrendered.

You can hear it here.

I sat in worship and cried. Sometimes I do that. I wish I cried pretty and sniffed gently. I’m more like a loud Louis Armstrong blowfish, red and puffy and blowing a trumpet. But we are what we are and the Spirit was all over me.

Sweetly Broken.

Ever feel that way? I have. Lately, it feels like it will never end. And it won’t. Not ‘til I see Him face to face.

The adventure of living for Christ is full of epiphanies if we decide to keep growing and not just remain stagnant. This past week it occurred to me that as the fourth of four children I often got my way. (My siblings may cough loudly and obnoxiously at this point.) I wouldn’t call myself spoiled but I do believe I have lived my life getting my way most of the time.

At age 23, I met someone I thought I would marry. He didn’t want to marry me. I didn’t get my way and I remember very clearly turning to food. I could have my way with food. So began a pattern that has been deeply engrained in my life for 27 years.

Now, at 50, I have surrendered. I’ve thrown in the white flag and said “God, not my way with food anymore. Your way.”

Ergo, I am being sweetly broken.

Ouch.

In the last ten months I’ve lost 70 pounds and several dress sizes and a lot of inches.

But I’ve also lost a part of me that was extremely used to being in control. That part of me has stood in the way of going deeper with the Father. That part of me that still rears its ugly head and cries out, “This is too difficult.”

I am sweetly broken.

The breaking hurts, but there is a sweet side.

Physically I look and feel better.

Emotionally I find myself clinging to Christ in desperation and gratitude. And my compassion for other folks going through similar battles has quadrupled.

Mentally I am discovering that I have more room to think about other people or challenges where in the past, that space in my brain would have been crowded with “What am I going to eat later?”

Robbie

Beautiful, passionate Robbie Iobst. 70 pounds down and counting!

Spiritually I know I am tasting freedom. Last weekend I climbed a mountain. I kept thinking I would fall because it was steep, but the freedom to keep going, even if I fell, was exhilarating.

Sweetly broken. Wholly surrendered.

Christ did it first. He showed us the Way, the Truth and the Life that we can have simply by yielding our wills to God.

Today, join me and quit stomping your feet trying to get your way. Pray with me, “Your will, not mine, be done Lord.”

Note from Paula: Robbie’s first novel, Cecilia Jackson’s Last Chance, releases soon. It’s been a long time since I connected this deeply with a book’s characters. A long time since I’ve seen real, difficult issues tackled without making the reader wallow in the pain at the same time. It captured my heart, taught me about life and God, made me think about real stuff, but didn’t drag me down. I felt empowered and joyful at the end of the story. Watch for it!

Sweetly broken

Spirit Seeker Sunday~His

Spirit 15 stephen

Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer

“Don’t let compliments go to your head, and don’t let criticisms go to your heart. The degree to which you do either of these things is the degree to which you’ll be ruled by what other people think of you . . . we must rise above the chatter of the world, place our identities in the un-shifting grace of God, and keep our hearts turned to the reassuring whispers of Jesus.” Lysa TerKeurst

I don’t know about you, but when I first started the weight loss journey I didn’t tell anyone but those very closest to me–and I’m usually an open, vulnerable personality. But this seemed too scary, too deeply threatening, to admit to the general public that I was actually trying to lose weight.

I’d lost almost twenty pounds when my sweet daughter thought she was bragging on me to announce it on facebook! I wasn’t ready to tell, but once she put it out there, I laid it all bare.

Going public had its reward–more support than I ever dreamed! And I have been shocked when people tell me I’ve actually inspired them. That feels good. And let’s face it, when you’re public on Facebook, that’s a LOT of accountability, which can be motivating!

It’s also a lot of pressure. I don’t want to fail. I want to be honest with struggles, but I don’t want to be discouraging by sharing too much.

But the point is that no matter how public my journey has become I can’t let it become ABOUT the public face, the encouragement, or the embarrassments. It has to be about me and God and what we are doing, not about anyone else’s opinion or journey.

I know this will not come as any great shock to you but . . . I’m not perfect on this journey! And on “those” days I desperately need God’s grace and the “reassuring whispers of Jesus.” (I always need it; I just realize it more some days than others!)

When I remember WHOSE I am I can better face my personal short-comings as well as the critique of others. To God I am BELOVED, not because of my perfection or lack thereof, but because I am HIS. He created me for promise, not compromise, and He empowers me to move forward in all of life. Sometimes I do that in a big leap, sometimes it’s one step forward and two steps back, but He loves me too much to leave me where I am.

That’s how He feels about YOU, too.

What about you? Have you admitted to others you’re trying to lose weight? Why or why not? How does it help you to remember Whose you are?

Tweet it:

Solid in Whose You Are

Opposition

IMAG2347I feel like weeping tears of joy as I post this blog today. I wrote it a few days ago and scheduled it ahead.

Yesterday morning I sat in my old blue recliner and told the Lord how very much I needed new shoes . . . how I couldn’t afford them, but missed walking. I reminded him that I’ve been praying about this for awhile. I was tempted to complain. Instead I simply slowed down and told Him that I was a daughter of the King, and I knew He wanted me to have good gifts.

That afternoon a friend asked me what I was doing for exercise. I admitted I’d been struggling due to the pain in my feet and my worn-out tennis shoes. Within an hour we were at a GOOD athletic shoe store. She bought me new shoes, inserts, and socks. Everything I needed and more.

Wow!

As you read my struggles below, do it with the delight of abundance, of knowing our LORD sees our struggles. Know that HE fights our battles. Stands with us when we are opposed in every good thing. That He is the Provider for all our needs.

HE cares about you and me, our struggles toward health, and even whether or not we have tennis shoes!

Here’s the post originally scheduled for today:

I’ve heard that every good thing will be opposed.

broken

A few weeks ago Jerry and I took a lovely 5 mile trek. Lots of time alone together to just talk while also doing something healthy. Glorious! (And free!)

Only I awoke the next morning with a returning case of plantar fasciitis. I’m told plantar fasciitis is often brought on by poor support in your shoes, especially if you walk or hike. I’ve been holding off replacing my walking shoes, despite the holes in the bottom and the worn away support system. Every penny has been needed elsewhere.  But my feet hurt, and the times I’ve tried to walk anyway in my old shoes only bring negative consequences.

So I’ve tried to do more pilates with my at home DVD. Wouldn’t you know it? The exercises are done with a long plastic band, and the band broke!

Sinister opposition if you ask me!

Today I’m trying to think of another healthy way to burn calories that doesn’t make my feet hurt, and I’m seeking to be especially mindful of what I eat, returning to daily BeNew meal replacement shakes to help me guard my caloric intake since I’m not burning as much off.

I didn’t come all this way to go backwards!

How about you? What things creep into your life to oppose your victories on your benew journey?

Standing against the opposition

Celebrating Good Surprises

To Remember

Reality check.

I came across an old blog post in my draft folder, one I never published. As I read through it I didn’t feel the angst I experienced when it was originally written, but it made me remember.

Let me share a snippet from that post, and then I’ll expound:

It’s a strange morning.

Usually I look at old pictures of me, when I was at least 50 pound heavier, and I just accept them for what they are.

Accept me for where I was.

Usually I feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at those pictures because I see how far I’ve come.

This morning they upset me. I don’t know why I hit a wall and didn’t want to see any more, but I turned away from the computer. “Shut it off.”weight loss beginning and end

I’ve put a lot of pictures up on this site of me at different sizes. Those pictures tell the story better than all the words in the world. I’ve swallowed hard when I post those old pictures. I spent years cropping out most of my body so it didn’t show before going live with a picture, but here I sought to be real. And I thought I was okay with it all.

But today I sit at my computer, a perfectly normal size, and I’m grieving and angry.

Angry I let the pounds creep on. Grieving the loss of energy and activity I put up with. Wondering why I placed myself so low on the priority list that I allowed the weight gain, the loss of quality of life. Thankful my husband loved and accepted me even at 210, but sad I didn’t take better care of my body for his sake. Wondering why I didn’t CARE enough to change.

It does no good to wallow in mistakes. To live in the past only inhibits the future. I’m not going to allow myself to hang out in grief or anger over how I treated my body.

But it is good to learn from the past.

To remember.

IMAG1877-1I’ve been “normal” for a few months now. I’ve hiked in the mountains, hopped out of chairs, gone swimming without the need to hide. I’ve offered myself to my husband in ways I couldn’t with all that weight between us and seen the delight in his eyes.

I’ve celebrated the return of my long, slender legs and stood shocked at the mirror when necklaces are suddenly too long instead of so tight I have to add an extender to get them around my neck.

I taken bags and bags of too big clothes to Goodwill, even dumped shoes that no longer stay on my feet.

I’ve celebrated every 5 pound weight loss, settling in at 55 pounds gone.

Even with all that joy sometimes I forget how important it is. Just this week I returned home after a bad day, emotional and hungry.

I started my snacking with wisdom. Just a small cup of yogurt to tide me until dinner, please. But then emotion took over and self-control left, and suddenly while my hand was in a bag of chocolate tortilla chips this quiet, gentle voice inside begged me to STOP, to put away the snacks, to REMEMBER.

I rebelled at first, stuffing another handful, then another. But then I slowly returned to myself, to Him, to the journey.

My little binge was a lashing out at all that made me unhappy, but its allure paled as I identified it as self-sabotage instead of self-care.

It is time to stand. To remember.

But not return.

Tweet this post:

Self-care or self-sabotage?