Monthly Archives: September 2013

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?

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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.

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Self-care or self-sabotage?

Guest Post: A Love Letter to My Body

When I read this post from my friend Claudia Mair of the Ragamuffin Diva, I knew you had to see it, too. Claudia Mair is one of the most powerful writers I know, and I’m honored she gave me permission to share this post with you!

Embrace the heart behind these words!

Dear body,

You don’t have to be my Giving Tree anymore. You are so resilient. I know how I neglected you, how I caused you to suffer. Oh, sweet body.

How I’ve caused you to suffer.
When I was afraid I overfed you, when I was stressed and overwhelmed. You graciously contained my pain. Your complaints, considering, were minimal.
Where did I begin to neglect your needs? When I was a small child? My head hung low and my shoulders rounded as I walked in tiny steps in my little world, in defiance of my mother saying, “Stand up straight!” Even then I grieved, what I cannot say. You bore my girlish sorrow. You are strong.

What about when I was abused? Just because I loved a man enough to die for him. And he would have let me, die at his own hands. Mercy, Jesus! Body, you are exquisite!

And I allowed you to be battered, bruised until no uninjured skin remained save the bottom of my feet. You took the blows and tried to shield my soul. You tried to save me, though salvation wasn’t your job. You are wise beyond my comprehension.

He weighed me everyday, unsatisfied until I wasted away to 89 pounds. And when I grew so hungry I binged on epic quantities of food, and vomited so he would not catch and hurt me. You protected me, though I hurt you. You even protected the child I carried. Precious you, you kept me through anorexia and bulimia.
I love you with all my heart. Your wild and holy tattoos, your curly/nappy hair, your greeting strands, brown eyes and generous mouth. I love your crooked teeth and warm smile. I love your working hands, your thunder thighs and wide stomach, stretch mark dimpled stomach. I love your scars. There are so many.
Forgive me. You are free now. I release you to good life.

Girl, rock your all day lipstick. Scent your sweet skin with anointing oils. Dress yourself in beauty. You are a flower in God’s garden. A red, red rose.

Fly free in this big world, this gorgeous God drenched world. It all belongs to you. Yes! It’s yours. It all belongs to you, dear.
Take it.
At long last.

Love,

Me

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A Love Letter to my body by the Ragamuffin Diva

Beauty in the Everyday

As summer decides whether or not it will yield to autumn, I’m celebrating the glorious blooms that decorate the yards and sidewalks on my mini-journeys. No mountain travels for a while, but a walk with my friend Jennifer or Dani, or the rare treat of strolling with Jerry now that he’s working so much, still yields beauty.

Here’s to you finding joy in the everyday journeys~

jen 3 jen 2 home 1 jen 4 jen 5 jen 6 Lakeside 3 Jen 1

Everyday beauty

Spirit Seeker Sunday – Cravings

Spirit 14 stephen

Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer

“Our souls were created to crave Him and love others to Him. So many people are waiting to hear the message of your calling. Don’t get stuck in defeat and held back from it.” Lysa TerKeurst

Maybe this is what the battle for health is really about. Satan wants to keep us stuck in defeat so we miss the satisfaction we get when we fill our cravings with Jesus and the joy we experience when we help others do the same.

Ten years ago the Lord showed me that there was idolatry in my life. It was mostly wrapped up in people-pleasing, especially in some specific relationships. He showed me that as I tried to please these people they became an idol. I missed what HE wanted me to do and instead tried to do what THEY wanted.

What was really twisted is I thought I was serving God by sacrificing myself to their needs.

The Lord gently showed me I brought pain to myself and enabled those people to stay in their dysfunction. I wasn’t serving Him at all. In fact, I held myself to a standard He never required, doing things HE never asked.

There was great freedom in letting go.

In her Made to Crave Devotional, Lysa had a great list of things that will never satisfy: Food won’t fill our souls. Possessions won’t fill our hearts. Sex won’t fill the hunger for love. Children won’t fill our identities. In my life I’d add, “pleasing people won’t fill my need to be good.”

God,
I give you permission to call me on it when I look to anything besides you to satisfy. Please connect this to my journey to health. I want the body You intended when You created me, and I want to seek that which truly satisfies–YOU! Help me to look to YOU this day. And the next. And the next.

What things would you add in your list of stuff that doesn’t satisfy?

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Satisfying the Craving