Tag Archives: connecting with God

5 Ways God Deals with a Petulant Child

You know the day is starting poorly when (after very little sleep) you find yourself googling “define petulant” while the sun is still streaking the sky peach outside your window. You know petulant is the exact right word for the behavior you’re facing off with. (Petulant: irritable, impatient, or sullen in a peevish or capricious way; a person or behavior that is irritable in a childish way.)

No I wasn’t babysitting a toddler.

And my teenager was actually without peevish or capricious behavior.

The petulant child was me, myself and I. 1

It’s 3:27 p.m. now, and I’m typing because I’m awestruck by how the Lord dealt with such an attitude in someone you’d think (now that she is FIFTY after all) would have outgrown such behaviors. My peevish and capricious ways have been building for days. After throwing down the gauntlet before God (never a bright thing to do) my irritable, impatient, and sullen behavior increased with the certainty that I wasn’t getting my way.

Here’s our the Lord dealt with this petulant child of His:

  1. He didn’t give her what she begged for. No way. No how. No amount of stomping her feet, threatening things she wouldn’t really do, accusing, or whining changed His mind. Without raising His Voice or growing emotional He simply stood His ground.
  2. He put loving boundaries about her and allowed her push against them. (A little pushing builds muscle, after all.) Any spot she pushed was immovable, yet soft, sinking so as not to injure her threshing limbs, but springing back like memory foam. Knowing she was hemmed in frustrated her. But the fact that love hemmed her in kept her from pushing longer than she needed to push.
  3. He let her cry it out, never once leaving her to sob in isolation. He gave her warm, safe arms to cry in. Soft voices to console her. And He showered her with the whispered prayers of friends.
  4. He waited until she was spent and ready to listen before He reasoned with her. Then He gently explained Himself and why she couldn’t have what she had asked for. He helped her understand He wants only the best for her, and that her way was a quick fix to a deep problem. He helped her understand how NOT getting her way was actually a stepping stone to increased freedom for the future.
  5. When the anger melted into weakness He reminded her of His complete, unconditional acceptance of her at any state, saying, “Your weakness does not repel me. On the contrary, it attracts My Power, which is always available to flow into a yielded heart. Do not condemn yourself for your constant need of help. Instead, come to Me with your gaping neediness; let the light of My Love fill you.” (Jesus Calling, November 2)

It amazes me how gentle and loving my Father is.  I’ve never once had an unkind word from Him. (There were days I thought I had, but I eventually learned there is a voice that masquerades as HIS. This is the voice of one called “accuser” and “deceiver” and “that old snake” It is not HIS precious Voice.)

I’ve never once experienced my Father reacting to me with disdain, condemnation, or even surprise (whether I’m being very very good or very very horrid). He accepts me unconditionally. Loves me on good days and bad.

And . . . remains immovable, set on His course, and changing me from the inside out.

May you know His Love my friend, may you truly experience how unconditional and unchanging it is–always and forever, even if you are given to petulance now and then.

Until Next Time,

(Hoping Next Time is sooner than it has been lately. I *think* I’m about ready to come back . . .)

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PS. There’s actually another. Consider this one a freebie. # 6. He chuckled. Not laughing AT her exactly, but chuckling that little parent chuckle that says He thinks she’s kind-a cute when she’s all worked up. (Husbands have this kind of laugh too. Actually my young adult sons use it with me on occasion, too. Come to think of it Jerry and Sam did this yesterday. Twice.)

The Fragrance of His Notice

canopyA canopy of white blossoms rise high above as I sweep the sidewalk. I’m sweaty. Aching from hours of yard work. Dirt blackens the space beneath my fingernails.

A gentle breeze, cool and fragrant, teases my hair, and I straighten. Pause.

Those blossoms smell how I imagine heaven. I let the scent, the stirring of air, refresh my body and my soul.

God’s gift.

Did He stir the branches?

Send the breeze, the fragrance?

On purpose?

This moment?

For me?

Or it is just how the Creator planned it out years ago. Scientific.

Maybe both.

Maybe God is big enough to have planned out my encounters with nature even before I was born. Maybe when He set his plans in motion, spoke the seed for this beautiful tree into existence, He had me in mind even then.

Doesn’t the first chapter of Ephesians support this way of thinking? This God who plans with me in mind?tree with blossom (2)

I choose to believe this moment is personal. He SEES ME. Wants to bless me. To cover my aching, weary body and soul with His perfume.

I’m reading Ann VosKamp again. She quotes Erasmus, a contemporary of Luther, “A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.”

She admits the struggle for gratitude. Like her, my writing of over 1,000 thanks sometimes felt juvenile. I didn’t know then I was driving out a nail by another nail. That I was practicing what it is like to live a life of moments embraced and noticed with thanksgiving before they march on, lost in time, pushing me to hurry without living.

That noticing the little things and giving thanks to the One teaches me to live with Him. Notice Him. Trust Him. Slow down and embrace Him as I delight in His gifts.

i still practice. Choosing to hammer gratitude. Trust. Faith. For my soul. My mental and spiritual health.

And for my body I hammer healthier choices. Salad. Walks. Water.

Sometimes I awake fearful again. And which nail do I pick up? I want to practice trust. To drive out unbelief with faith. To grow as one who walks in peace with the Father. Believing He is personal. He sees. Me.

Sometimes, like the last six weeks or so, I curl in a ball instead of walking. Gaining a few pounds from not choosing the nail of activity.

blossom 2And maybe that was ok, this drawing into myself to grieve. This wintering.

As long as I come out.

And there’s nothing like spring to draw me from winter, tempting me with fragrant breezes.

Reminding me that He sees.

He sees me.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Practical Tips to Break the Food Addiction

OUCH: “When the desire for treats is triggered by difficult emotions, it’s not really a desire for treats. It’s a thinly veiled attempt at self-medication . . . our souls are thirsty and ravenous . . . if we fail to . . . fill our souls with spiritual nourishment, we will forever be triggered to numb our loneliness with other temporary physical pleasures . . . this issue is bigger than emotions; it’s really about spiritual deprivation . . . and self-medicating with food . . . vicious cycles I must avoid.” Lysa TerKeurst

One of the best parts of my journey to health has been discovering some of the “whys” behind my eating choices and learning to be mindful of those when I want to reach for food. It’s amazing how the realization that I’m trying to fill an emotional need with something that won’t satisfy, but will instead derail my goals, gives me strength to walk away.

Sometimes it is now as simple as a quick prayer breathed to the Lord, telling Him I want Him to fill my needs, not food.

It was harder earlier in my journey. Maybe because the cravings were more physical than they are now-metting with agent 2-along with being emotional, which they still are. During that time period I found a cup of licorice spice or peppermint tea helped curb the cravings and still felt like a treat. I could sip my no calorie tea and do something else I enjoyed rather than eat–like read a book, write in my journal, chat with a friend, or play on Facebook. I read later that peppermint tea curbs the appetite when you’re hungry and Licorice tea (I like Stash Licorice Spice) curbs sugar cravings!

God is sweet to give us great tasting, no calorie options. Early in my journey I also found that taking a walk when I got a craving was a great alternative. Once I started walking I no longer felt hungry, and the time it required often took me to the next scheduled meal, so I didn’t think about snacking between.

The other cool thing is that walking never fails to connect me back to God. I hear the birds and am grateful for the beauty of their song–and next thing I know I’m thanking God for the gift. Or the sun shines or me, or the sky is a brilliant blue, or I see a flower, a tree, a mountain . . . or I simply feel the fresh air upon my face. Nature draws me to the Creator. Another cool thing that often happens as I walk is that He’ll prompt me to prayer or I’ll use the time to listen to Scripture on the audio Bible app on my phone.

The last few weeks we’ve talked about spiritual practices and how they relate to weight loss, but God created us mind, body, emotions, and spirit. We also need tangible, practical, physical plans to help us succeed in our journey to breaking the food addiction.

What practical plan do you have for the next time you are tempted to self-medicate with food?

Father,

Help me not to self-medicate with food. Give me what it takes to break the cycles of food addiction. Free me to enjoy my life, not just my food. To find freedom not in eating anything I want, but in choosing a fuller life over a fuller tummy. Help me to turn to You when I am tempted to self-medicate. Be my healer. Show me healthy alternatives to my addictions, even if for a while they are simply distractions. But in the long run, draw me to Yourself.

Being practical in overcoming the need to self-medicate with food

PS. I truly believe my Benew products have reduced cravings and helped my physical self in this journey to break the food addiction cycles.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Sitting in Silence

Sitting in silence . . .IMAG3148

How often do we truly sit in quiet, seeking God’s presence and agenda? I don’t know about you, but sitting and silence aren’t so easy for me. I can sit–and talk, or write, or read, or watch TV or . . . but in silence?

A few weeks ago a friend encouraged me to set a timer, turn on music that makes me feel loved, and simply sit in silence with God, inviting Him to love me. My execution has been sporadic with varied results from profoundly beautiful to annoyingly distracted.

I find it comforting to be reminded that the Holy Spirit prays for me even when I don’t know what to ask for. God Himself prays to Himself on my behalf, asking the Father to help me know Him in increasing measure.

I like the idea of being still to connect with God’s love. I also like the idea of practicing silence for the purpose of discerning His presence and His agenda. I do this often in a prayer group I’m in. We don’t mind stretches of silence as we seek Him. But I find it harder when I’m alone.

IMAG3162Before I began the weight loss journey the only time I truly faced the Truth that God had an agenda for my body that didn’t include obesity was in the silence and vulnerability of the night. I believe now that the Holy Spirit was calling me to pray, nudging me to ask the Father for help with this very real issue of defeat in my life.

Times of introspection, prayer, and silence are invaluable to the weight loss journey. What if we asked God some hard questions and sat in silence a few minutes each day until we got the answers we sought?

What if we said, “God, why do I struggle with my weight?” or “Lord, please show me the root cause behind why I feel powerless to change in my body.” Or maybe, “Are there specific health or nutritional choices I need to make to help me with the journey to losing weight? If so, what are they, God?”

Then we waited a while. In silence. And if He chose not to answer right then, what if we whispered, “I’m still listening, Lord,” and sought to keep an open heart to His answers as we returned to our routines?

Lord,
Teach us to discern Your presence, Your voice, Your heart. Reveal what we need to understand about our relationship with food–and heal us.

Share this devotional: Finding Truth in the Silence

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ The Desire Beneath

treatLife’s deepest lessons are learned and relearned at ever-increasing levels.

Years ago I read The Sacred Romance and Journey of Desire by John Eldredge. These books helped me process the idea that behind every desire was a deeper, more potent desire for God.

It was a time of deep financial struggle for our family, and I remember processing my lack through a spiritual lens. For example, I’ve always loved layering scented body wash and lotion, and for many years my favorite store was Bath and Body works. But during this season buying fragrant body lotion was simply out-of-reach.

As I prayed about this disappointment I remember thinking, “underneath the desire to smell beautiful is the deeper desire to live beautiful. I want to live in a way that leaves the fragrance of Jesus trailing after me.”* The thought brings a lump to my throat even today.

The struggles of that time pushed me deeper into Christ’s arms. I took my craving for good gifts and looked beneath them for a craving of of Jesus, of heaven. I never became so spiritual that I stopped wanting stuff, but it did help me focus on my longing to experience God over the longings I had as many of life’s pleasures were denied me.

As I write today, I wonder that this concept didn’t help me more with my physical body, but I never remember applying it to what I ate, other than to help me overcome disappointment when I couldn’t afford to buy certain foods. But this looking beneath the desire to the deeper desire applies to weight loss, too.

We’ve talked a lot on this blog about turning our cravings for food into a reminder of our craving for Jesus. Filling emotional needs with food will never satisfy. Even real hunger is a metaphor pointing to a deeper need, our need for God to satisfy our innermost soul.

During our financial lack I grieved not being able to purchase some special chocolates I loved that were only available around the holidays. I told myself I could look beneath that desire for chocolate to a deeper desire, to taste the wonders of God. There was even a Scripture I applied, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Funny how back then the concept didn’t connect with the fact I was putting on pounds. But today the application seems natural. When I crave that treat, what if I looked to Jesus as the ultimate treat? What if I stopped my thoughts and looked beneath them, then spent the time meditating on the wonders of Christ’s love instead of munching?

“After all, the ultimate goal of this journey isn’t about making me a smaller-sized person but rather making me crave Jesus and His truths as the ultimate filler of my heart.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst

Share this devotion:

Is there a deeper desire than that treat you crave?

*You can read 5 short devotionals that I wrote about this concept on my other website.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ The Deep Happy Isn’t From Skinny

Body size does not determine happiness.

Haven’t you seen unhappy people at all sizes–and visa versa?

If we’re not happy overweight, we won’t be happy at a normal weight either.

From a spiritual perspective the deep inside peace–happy, if you will–is achieved when happiness is tied into embracing the identities we are given from our Creator: forgiven, set free, accepted child of God, holy child of God, made new child of God, loved child of God, confident child of God, victorious child of God, you get the idea . . .

Lysa TerKeurst says, “Tying our happiness to food, skinny jeans, relationships, or anything else will only set us up for failure. But tying our security, joy, and identity to God’s love is an anchor we can cling to no matter what our circumstances might be.”

I don’t know if I could have chosen to deal with my weight issues if I hadn’t first felt loved. I’ve been around long enough to know that if I don’t feel loved when I’m heavy, dropping a few pounds isn’t going to solve the issue.

What I cling to is this Truth: Heavy or thin, we are completely loved and accepted by the One who made us. He has brushed our hearts with His mercy and declared us good and beautiful and treasured. When the weight loss journey is hard, I press into that truth. I ask Him to help me persevere because I know He loves me and cares about my journey.

That said, there is JOY in the weight loss journey. It’s not so much an identity thing as a freedom thing. Losing weight has freed me to move differently, to break some strongholds, to feel stronger and healthier and to enjoy activities that were before too draining because of the extra weight I lugged around. I think there is also some emotional cleansing tied to weight loss. I actually read that the toxins in our fat can also store emotional pain! I’ve had plenty of tears as the weight has burned off–and the other side of tears is usually a new lightness and peace . . .

Father, 
Please help us to build our identity on YOU and your love, not our body size. Convince us deep down that we are loved forever and always, deeply, passionately, and fully. Help weight loss to become an act of joy, not because our identity is tied to it, but because of the new freedoms found there.

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Body size does not determine happiness

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ New Perspectives

Buena Vista 5“I can instead of I can’t is a powerful little twist of phrase for a girl feeling deprived” (Lysa TerKeurst).

In life and in food we humans have a tendency to want whatever it is we think we can’t have. If our thoughts get into that cycle of thinking about everything we can’t have, that’s what we want!

But what if when we’re tempted to something that is permissible, but not beneficial, we twist that negative to the positive: I can be healthier and slimmer. I can eat one piece of chocolate instead of five. I can enjoy a salad tonight. I get to bask in the sunshine as I walk today.

For the first months of my weight loss journey I tracked everything that went into my mouth on the My Fitness Pal app on my phone. As I got closer to my goal I stopped tracking calories, but continue to eat the way I learned in those three months that I tracked my food. The lack of specific accountability made it a little harder to be wise, but was also a good transition to life-style change, not just weight loss.

As I made changes some of the twist of phrases I used were:

  • I can eat one small handful of chocolate mixed with walnuts instead of several and only chocolate.
  • I can be satisfied with one helping at supper tonight.
  • I can enjoy my smaller sized clothes–and continue to enjoy them by choosing to fill my plate with a lot of salad and a little pasta instead of the other way around.
  • I can go to bed without a snack even though I didn’t get a full supper tonight. It’s worth it to keep losing weight instead of pigging out late at night. I had a full lunch, and I can enjoy a big breakfast in the morning.

It’s really about perspective, isn’t it?

As I journeyed to my 55 pound weight loss, this was my prayer:

God,
I want this journey to be a lifestyle change, not a one time experience that doesn’t last. Please help me not to return to mindless eating. Help me to resist returning to junk food. Give me a desire for the wonderful, nutritious food You created. Help me to add movement to my days. Thank you for helping me choose not just what is permissible, but a lifestyle that is beneficial.

It is still my prayer today.

What “I can” twists of thought can you embrace this week?

Share it!

A twist of phrase can bring success!