Tag Archives: celebrating

Epiphany #6 ~ Stretching into His Arms

IMAG2573I warned you my summer was a summer of discovery. Obviously now that we’re into October and I’m still getting epiphanies, my fall is following suit.

Honestly, those first five epiphanies wore me out. Highs and lows. Hopes and struggles. Dreams and Disappointments.

Growth.

If you’ve hung with me this far, thank you. I’m hopeful that today’s epiphany will be the last I need to write about–at least for a while.

Actually, even though I was bawling when this epiphany came, it might be my favorite. With it comes a picture I cling to. I think about it all the time. Even envisioned it as I walked about my neighborhood last week.

I’m posting this blog ahead of time because as you read this I’m embarking on yet another new adventure, attending the 2013 National Life Force Convention. I’ve no doubt but that I’ll need this epiphany as I continue to discover what it means to become a business woman who is yoked with Jesus in unforced rhythms of grace. 

Learning to do something new without falling back into my negative patterns of perfectionism and performance-driven behavior isn’t easy for me. But this epiphany helps.

It came while I was praying with my friend, Jill. She told me that God liked that I was competitive and wanted to do everything I did with excellence. He just didn’t need me to get caught up in performance and perfectionism. Then came the epiphany. She said, “You push too hard to stretch yourself. All he asks of you is that you crawl into His lap, lean into Him, and let Him do the stretching.”

Let Him do the stretching.

All that struggle melted away.

I don’t have to try so hard, to question myself so harshly, to push myself. I simply hang out with my Father, safe in His arms, and let Him do the stretching.

I know if He does it I’ll bend but not break. I will grow and change, but it will be natural healthy growth, like a branch full of grapes connected to a strong vine. Not straining and groaning, just sweet, normal growth.

Yes, I’ll change as I need to.

It just won’t kill me in the process.

After all, He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.

How about you? Are you resting in His arms today? Looking to Him to teach you how to do YOUR work in the unforced rhythms of grace? If not, I invite you along. It’s way better this way.

Epiphanies I

IMAG1753-1 (2)It all started on the side of that mountain. There I was minding my own business with my girlfriends minding theirs. I gazed at sloping green that opened into a valley surrounded by white-frosting-tipped peaks piercing a bright blue sky.

Beautiful.

My “baby” girl had just returned from a Mediterranean honeymoon cruise, and my sliver of travel, less than two hours from my home to Breckenridge, stirred longing. “Could I see the Mediterranean, someday, Lord? I want to cruise, to travel.”

The guilt came instantly. Starving children in Africa and all that. Me. Me. Me. Want. Want. Want. Thinking about my comfort. Fun. I have eternity to see good things. There are people who need HIM. Why am I thinking about myself?

“Why do you do that?”

His sudden appearance in my thoughts shocked me. Huh?

“Why do you feel guilty about wanting to experience the world I created for you to enjoy?”

That’s when the waterworks started. My friends clustered around asking what was wrong. It was too deep to share just then, on the side of a glorious mountain where just seconds before we’d been talking and laughing.

Anyway, I wasn’t ready. There was more to His Words and my reaction to them. It was time for another round of emotional weight loss.

Breck neighborhood 9After our hike we headed back to the cabin. I disappeared into my room with my journal and trusty pen. I often hear best with my pen in hand.

Seventeen journal pages of dialogue later I had an epiphany.

Or several.

Here’s the first: I was created to spread joy, created for delight, for celebration.

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~The Journal Conversation ~

Him: “I’ve asked you to do without in a culture where there is much. But that doesn’t mean it is more holy. It’s just been your process and Jerry’s. I’ve been teaching you to learn contentment in all things.”

I don’t think I’ve done very well with that . . .

“You have found joy in the small things. The real things–like relationship with Me, your family, and your friends. Small things like the fragrance of roses. The feel of a warm mug. The swirl of cream in coffee. The song of a bird.”

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I’m not sure those are so small.

(He Chuckles) “No. They are my gifts, more beautiful than you understand, but often overlooked . . . Even now you pause to enjoy My Aspen leaves dancing on the breeze outside the window. I like that about you.”

(Tears spring to think this pleases Him.) It’s simply how you wired me.

Us: It makes me/you more resilient.

“Can I not enjoy this trait even more knowing I gave it to you and that you have cared enough to develop it? My gift to you is your gift (our gift, really) to the world. Give them eyes to notice My beauty, Paula. And let me give you sweeping moments of beauty and joy so you can be continually refilled to pour out the celebration of the Good in Me and in My world.

“Receive My every gift with open abandon, arms stretching to Me, dancing in the falling joy-petals of My love-gifts.”

~

Of course there’s more to the seventeen pages of journaling, some of which I’ll share in the coming days. My epiphanies eventually circle back around to the curve ball post of a few days ago. I hope you’ll continue to journey with me as I drop emotional and mental weight.

For today I’m camping out here. In the joy of little things. Delighting in the idea that such simple notice of His gifts pleases Him. In letting go of the guilt barometer and learning to fully enjoy His gifts.

I’m wishing all of that for you, too, my friend. May today bring notice of the love-gifts of the Creator. My you dance in the falling joy-petals.

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Dancing in the Falling Joy-Petals

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.

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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.

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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)

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A glory reflection

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.

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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

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

Reminder: I DO Have a Life

I’ve had a life for a long time. And it doesn’t only revolve around the kids or even Jerry. As all of them are less home-centered and stretching to new places, I am reminded of two things: 1) It’s okay to cry 2)I DO have a life outside of my family.

Part of a BENew journey is embracing changes. In the last year I’ve processed lifestyle changes, thinking differently about food and movement. I’ve enjoyed (and sometimes struggled with) the changes that comes with having a different body. As my homeschooling family is growing up by leaps and bounds, I process change again. I hope to transition well, to give my loved ones wings to soar solo and to stretch new wings myself.

Today’s pictures are a celebration of this other part of my life, the world of writers, where I find community and stretch for new heights. Colorado has a lot of wonderful opportunities for writers. As Colorado Coordinator, I’m most involved with ACFW Colorado, but there’s a wonderful spirit of cooperation in our area with other writers groups, including Words for the Journey. A few weeks ago a bunch of writers, both WFTJ and ACFW members, gathered at the invitation of WFTJ to a “write-out” at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

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My thoughtful friend and fellow author, Megan DiMaria, makes sure I know about this event each summer and invites me to share it with her and the others.

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Megan used to be teased at her work because she brought a beautiful tablecloth to enjoy her sack lunch upon. She’s one of those rare people who truly savors beauty, and the Broadmoor is is a Megan kind of place.

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My Broadmoor day was so filled with magic, that I just had to dance in the empty ballroom.

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I pray I can dance into and through this latest transition of celebrating kids who do crazy things like get married and go to college.

And, because this blog started to process weight loss, I’ll admit it. I also pray I can ignore comfort food and seek comfort that makes a difference. This latest test of my new lifestyle is fierce and with it comes cravings I really should ignore. They only mask the real need, for me to recognize the passing season and give permission for mourning.

When Stephen drove away for his first day of “real” school away from me, I curled up in my old blue recliner and had a little talk with the Lord. I cried some, not sobs, but big bubbles of tears that slid silent and wet down my cheeks. But they are not just sad tears, they are proud tears, too.

This is how it should be, this transition, this quiet house. And I must remember to let the tears fall, take a walk, listen to music, or read a little, instead of reaching for some big cheesy mess.

How about you? What tempts you to run to the arms of comfort food? What do you do instead?

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Comfort or crash?

Spirit Seeker Sunday meets God’s Real-life Fairy Tale

hands - three people

 “Two people are better off then one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a tripe-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

When I saw this picture I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but as I pondered the imagery of three people’s hands, I came to believe it symbolized the verse from Ecclesiastes that Sarah asked to be written on the wedding program. For her, the triple-braided cord reminds her that she and David never stand alone, but their lives are entwined with the Holy Spirit, who is always with them and for them.

When Sarah was very small there were a few prayers I prayed often: I prayed she would know and follow Jesus; be protected; and be given a good husband who loved her and who loved God.

Sarah decided she wanted to follow God when she was very young. I think she was only four when she took her little brother aside and explained to him that Jesus died on the cross to pay for all the wrong stuff we’ve ever done and that Seth could chose to live in God’s forgiveness and God would come and live inside of him.

She may have been three.

As a teenager there were plenty of times of angst, lots of hurts and struggles. I watched as Scripture appeared on note cards all over the mirrors in her bedroom and bathroom, on sticky notes all over her room and books, was written on her door with sharpies, and (on particularly trying days) penned on her wrists and forearms.

Sarah pounded out her passions and questions on a blog, writing mostly poems about her perception of life and God. One day she told me, “If I ever meet a guy who cares enough about my heart to read my blog I’m going to marry him.”

Far away in Georgia, David fought his own battles while his parents prayed and fought for him.

And somehow they both grew up and loved Jesus.

They had romantic relationships, and some were particularly painful. Then one day they both decided no more dating until it was obviously something God was doing in and for them.

By this time David had graduated college in Illinois and moved to California. Sarah graduated cosmetology school and worked in Boulder, CO.

Sarah had a friend, Kirsten, who was visiting from Wyoming. During her visit Kirsten happened to get a Facebook message from an old friend she’d gone to youth group with in high school in Georgia. (Are you catching this 5 state connection–starting mostly east and traveling all the way west in the good ole USA?) David jokingly messagedKirsten, “have you found the perfect girl for me yet?”

Kirsten started to reply, “no,” then gasped. “Sarah! You’re perfect for David!” She introduced them on Facebook. They chatted most of the night. Sarah mentioned she had a blog. David stayed up all night, read every post, then put several of his poems on a blog for her to read.

They will both tell you they knew that night they’d met their future mate.

Fast forward roughly a year and a half to last June. David proposed, and they picked May 19th as their wedding date.

It was a practical choice. Sarah was determined to marry in May, the pastor was available only one weekend that month, and Wagon Wheels and Wildflowers had Sunday open.  It also pleased the couple that it is the birthday of David’s grandfather whom his mom Ronda says, “would have loved Sarah.”

After the date was chosen, I noticed that the calendar had “Pentecost Sunday” written on it, but I didn’t think much about that until a few days later. I sat in a Bible study listening to Beth Moore speak via DVD. She related several Christian holidays to their roots in Judaism and explained that Pentecost Sunday fell on the a Jewish celebration of harvest,

Stunned, I felt sure it was no accident that Sarah and David had chosen to get married on a day that celebrated harvest. Their marriage seemed a harvest of all the choices they’d made to seek God in the hard knocks of fighting to adulthood. It seemed a promise to Jerry and me and Steve and Ronda that our prayers had been answered.

I did a little more research:

May 19th, 2013 is Pentecost Sunday on the Christian liturgical calendar.

Pentecost Sunday is the Christian celebration of the day the Holy Spirit came to followers of Jesus. It manifested in a wind that blew through the room and in tongues of fire upon those gathered. That day 3,000 people believed for the first time Jesus was the Son of God, Savior of the world.

For Christians, Pentecost is a reminder of God’s plans, movement, and empowerment. It celebrates the birth of the Christian church. But there’s more! The Day of Pentecost is related to the Jewish celebration of Shavuot. Celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, Shavuot is traditionally a joyous time for expressing thankfulness to the Lord for the blessing of the first fruits of the summer harvest.

On May 19th, Sarah and David reaped an abundant harvest. They harvested the bounty grown from the seeds of parents who prayed their children would follow Jesus and find a spouse who did the same. They reaped a harvest from their own prayer seeds when they asked the Lord for a mate who understood their hearts, who looked to God for life direction, and who wanted to serve others with His love.

The marriage we celebrated on May 19th was God’s gift. It is the first fruits promise of all God will do in and through their relationship. It is a touchstone, a date of remembrance, an altar.

It is a harvest of love, a celebration of the movement of His Spirit, and a joyous day of gratitude to the One who brought them together.

A triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Pouting Then Celebrating Now (Day 91)

plateau

Real life plateaus are actually pretty cool. This picture is of The mesas of Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, as seen from the Needles district. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IslandInTheSky.JPG

Yesterday I pouted and didn’t go for my walk. I was too frustrated that I’d hit the beginning of week three without the scale moving.  My grumpy I’m-not-doing-this-if-I’m-not-getting results attitude was self-sabotage. I knew it but didn’t work my way out of it.

I hate plateaus!

A lot of people say they have cravings where they’re upset. I didn’t even want food. In the end I ate okay—no big binge, and I didn’t deny myself food either—which is honestly what I felt like doing. Just stop eating and maybe I’d lose. But that would be so NOT healthy.

When I went to bed I told myself I had to get up early and do at least a short walk before I started my busy day. Getting outside has become more than just a way to lose body weight. It helps me drop emotional pounds, too.

So that’s what I did this morning. Got up and got outside! This plateau will NOT win!

Real Time Update:

Of course not long after these posts about the plateau I dropped about four pounds all of the sudden, then the cycle of stalling for a week or two then dropping 3 or 4 pounds started again. What I’m reading is this is very normal as you draw nearer your ideal body weight.

This week I was down another 2 pounds, which put me completely into the “normal” and “healthy” range for my height. Wow. I was pouting back in January, but I’m celebrating today!

How About You?

Pouting or celebrating? why?

Weight Loss Journey Day 60

 

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My half-full bag of BEFull chocolate meal replacement powder. Yummy with almond milk!

I had an amazing, beautiful, celebrative day–and came in under calorie count!

I love my BEFull shakes. I like them best with some frozen berries and a little rolled oats thrown in, which is healthy and relatively low in calories. But when I want to save calories for later in the day, it also offers the perfect solution. With almond milk (only 45 calories for 12 oz) and the BEFull powder (145 calories for chocolate or 120 for vanilla), I have a low calorie meal that leaves me feeling strong while using up very few calories.

Today I did just that. We invited Jerry’s brother and wife for dinner. I made London broil and red potatoes, served with salad and pomegranates, yum!

Then we were all off to an incredible Christmas Eve service at my church. The music was glorious, and the sermon SO good. I love how our pastor presents God’s grace, shows how we can’t earn God’s salvation, but only have to receive the gift God offers. The whole family, including Sarah’s fiancé and our dear next door neighbor, sat together.

I love sharing Christmas Eve services with my neighbor, Bernice. She’s 85, Jewish, and from New York. Yes, you can think of some of those Jewish momma stereo-types. She is out-spoken and says it like it is. When I first started getting heavy she said, “you’re  getting fat. It happens to all of us.” Another time she admonished, “It’s time to start coloring your hair. You’re going gray.”

She can sound a little gruff sometimes, but she has a heart of mush–and is one of those loyal, giving people.

I adore her.

Everyone worried the church service would overwhelm her. Our church has a big auditorium full of people, and the music is REALLY loud. But Bernice just says, “At least I can HEAR what is going on!”

There you have it.

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Candle light and “Silent Night” at our church

Bernice and I especially love the candle lighting part of the service. It’s amazing to see all those twinkling candles in a big church. ~December 22, 2012

Real Time update:

BeFull with strawberries and oatmeal vanilla

BeFull vanilla with almond milk, frozen strawberries, and just a little raw oatmeal to help it stick with me longer.

I still love my BEFull shakes. Yesterday I rushed out the door at 5:30 a.m. armed with 12 oz of almond milk and a serving of BEFull. When I was ready for breakfast it was as easy as popping the power into the milk and shaking!

The BEFull meal replacement is not only full of really good protein–the healthiest kind, pea protein–but also has some of the nutrition in Life Force’s wonderful supplement, Body Balance. It makes me feel really good with plenty of energy and strength. I like the chocolate best when I’m running around and have the shake straight. The vanilla is my favorite for when I’m home and add frozen fruit for a treat that is almost like ice cream, only low calorie and good for me!

What About You?

What is one of your favorite holiday traditions? Do you have a favorite “go to” meal when you’re in a hurry and want to eat low calorie and healthy?

Weight Loss Journey Day 52

meauring tapeCan I celebrate with you? Down 2.5 inches in my bust, 4 inches in my waist, and 3 inches in my hips!! Thighs and arms are smaller, too. I want to keep losing, and will keep working at this, but if I never lose another inch or lb it is so worth it. I feel so much stronger, have so much more energy.

I’m praising God for this gift!!! Walked almost 4 miles tonight and really didn’t even feel it. I called my dad for his birthday and we talked while I walked for an hour. It was so cool to catch up with him while I exercised.

And I’ve found some great deals on gifts for the kids—clearance stuff like $7 for a $47 shirt!  That $100 Jerry gave me is s-t-r-e-c-h-i-n-g.                                                    ~December 14, 2012

Real Time Update:

I haven’t measured in a couple of weeks, but on January 31st I was down 19.75 inches!

What About You?

Sometimes the inches show more about weight loss than the scale does. Have you found that to be true? Do you weigh, measure, or both?