Tag Archives: God’s faithfulness

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Cravings

sunset clouds“I want you to give up the one thing you crave more than me.”

Wow.

Lysa Terkeurst in her Made to Crave Devotional says this is what Jesus is really asking the rich young ruler in the old Bible story. You know the one. The guy comes to Jesus and asks what he needs to do to be saved. Jesus doesn’t withhold punches. He goes for the one thing the guy wants more than a relationship with God.

Do you feel as convicted as I do?

It was money for the rich guy. Not for me. But there are plenty of other things that push out my desire for God and scream for attention.

Lysa writes, “God made us capable of craving so that we’d have an unquenchable desire for more of Him, and Him alone. Nothing changes until we make the choice to redirect our misguided cravings to the only one capable of satisfying them.”

Ouch.

Gotta stop there and pray: “Jesus, I want You most of all. Please open my eyes to the places I have misguided cravings. Please use those epiphanies to call me to Yourself. Help me to look to YOU, not to whatever it is I think I want, whether it’s that brownie, those french fries, or a whole myriad of other stuff not related to food.”

Pausing to pray that prayer for you, too.

So I’m asking . . . what are misguided cravings in your life?

I’ll keep it real here by sharing mine:

-book contracts
-financial security
-my kids’ happiness
-a flat tummy
-chocolate covered raisins
-new clothes
-cheese dip
-Starbucks
-my own car that I don’t have to share and that purrs like a kitten
-relationships

I don’t think anything on the list above is a problem if kept in perspective, but when I want a book contract so much I can’t be happy without it, and when it consumes my thoughts instead of Jesus, it’s a misguided craving.

Or when I reach for food when I’m stressed or sad instead of turning to God–misguided again.

When I long so much to be done with financial stress or get so angry about driving a car without a working heater (welcome to my winter) that I’m angry at God, I’m saying security, comfort, ease of life is more important to me than my relationship with Him.

Or what about relationships? I pray often that those important in my life will stay in proper positions. As much as I love my kids and my husband and even my friends, when I look to them for what only Jesus can give, that’s a misguided craving. (And puts too much pressure on the relationship, swinging it out of balance.)

Ouch. Pausing right now to talk with Him about all that.

Again.

How about you? Got any business you need to do with God?

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Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Guest post

I was impacted by this power post by Amy at Loving the Least of These. I bet you’ll relate too!

Breaking Free

Somebody once said that loving other people well starts with loving ourselves.  I’m pretty sure most of my life has been spent trying to love others while hating myself, if I’m being honest. Much of that self hatred has revealed itself through my abuse of food – on both ends of the spectrum.  My sophomore year of high school I started starving myself.  I was friends with a girl who was starving herself and made it a point not to ever eat more than her.

Then in college I started putting on weight until I was healthy by the time of my wedding.

But by a few years into my marriage I started putting on pounds.

And I have qualified as obese for the past ten years.
Imagine my embarrassment walking through Ethiopia for the past three years incredibly overweight as I held the hands and hugged the necks of people who were literally starving.  I felt like a fraud.

The embarrassment of putting on the weight in the first place has been a source of really deep shame for me. I have felt like people must look at me and wonder how I could let myself get so out of control. It has caused me to not even be able to really look people in the eye because I’m just so ashamed of who I am.

I’ll never forget being in Ethiopia with my sweet, petite friend, Abbey, and having a random stranger come up to us on the street and ask me why I was so big while she was so small.  He asked me if I ate different food than her even though we lived in the same country.  I laughed it off, while wanting to absolutely die on the inside.  He hit a nerve because he asked me the question I had been so afraid to ask myself – why?  I haven’t wanted to think about the deeper things that have made me get so out of control.  I haven’t wanted to admit that food is where I go for comfort. It’s where I go to hide.  I haven’t wanted to admit that I have thrived on the instant gratification that comes from eating whatever whenever.  I haven’t wanted to admit that on my best day, I am a complete glutton, covering up my pain and insecurity with food.

My issues with my weight and with food have robbed me.  I live in a beautiful state where the mountains beckon for a hike or a bike ride, but I don’t go because I become exhausted too quickly from being out of shape and overweight.  My kids want to go to the park or do something active outside but I make up a lame excuse because what mom wants to say to their kid “Mommy’s too fat to play outside with you”?

But most notably, as my body has gotten bigger, who I am on the inside has shrunk – I have allowed myself to disappear in many ways. It has been brutal mentally to be smothered by my weight.  I battle thoughts daily of “Well, I couldn’t possibly do that – look at me.”  The gifts that God has given me have been squelched because the beast of being overweight has completely overwhelmed me.  I feel like I will catch glimpses sometimes of the person God has created me to be on the inside and I think “just maybe I can actually BE that person”, but it’s never long before doubt and insecurity take over any glimmer of hope.  I literally hide behind people in pictures – doing my best to only let my face show.  My smile really is just masking my insecurity.

If someone tags me in a picture on FaceBook that shows more than just my face, I delete it.  I don’t want to be seen.  It’s just so heart-breaking.

I have been on so many diets only to watch any pound lost come back.  Failure after failure after failure.  It has been a very long battle that I have not won.  The sense of failure and despair every time has honestly been too much to bear, and has caused me to settle into the mentality that this is just how it is for me – I’ll always be bound by this.

This past year or so has been a process of internal transformation and realization for me about the good and beauty that exists in me.  I was brought to the lowest place of my life so that God could help me realize who I really am as His beloved, and that He longs for me to dream again and fully embrace who He’s created me to be.  I have spent hours and hours in counseling and have done the brutal, beautiful work of unpacking lies I’ve believed about myself and ultimately, discovering that I have had a bogus view of God all my life, which has made me feel so much less than.  There is some sort of stark raving mad idea being spread around that we should live our lives with our heads hanging all the time because of how bad we are and how much we fail.  And so we stay small and ashamed instead of living in the reality that “God is a wild man who is knocked out by who we are”.  As I started to realize what this means for my life, things started changing inside of me and I began to hope.  As I have gotten “healthy” emotionally and spiritually, I have begun to realize that Maryann Williamson was oh so very right when she said:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is
that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our
darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be
brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not
to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the
world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people
won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the
glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in
all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give
other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our
own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I think I’ve used my weight issues as an excuse to keep myself “small” on the inside and to hide from the responsibility I have to live out who I am to the fullest.  I haven’t feared my weight issues – I’ve embraced them far too fast and too easily accepted them as just part of my life.  But what I have feared is the power and the beauty of who God has created me to be.  I have been unable to embrace that and have hidden myself away in excess pounds so that I wouldn’t have to be courageous enough to be myself.  Who I was on the outside was a reflection of the sickness inside of me.  It wasn’t until I took this past year to look inward and figure out just what it was I trying to hide from that I finally found some peace. Nobody likes to take the time to deal with the muck inside of us, but it’s so very necessary; otherwise, we just stay sick.  Being on a journey of loving, valuing and embracing who I am caused me immediate discomfort with my food struggle.

In September, I decided I was done being a prisoner to food.  Physical health was the next logical step on my path to living free.  And it was terrifying, people!  But the possibility that I could be free, caused me to take a step of faith and just beg God to help me do it this time.  I was tired of shrinking back and saying no to life.  Inwardly, I was new, and it was time to reflect that outwardly by the grace of God and a whole lot of belief that I was indeed worth it.

Four and a half months ago, when I decided I was going to try to break free from this food addiction, I only told a hand full of people because I was scared to death this would just be “one more thing” I tried and failed miserably at.  At age 38, I weighed 215 pounds and was wearing a size 18W. (How’s that for vulnerability?!)  I had 80 pounds to lose to get to a healthy weight. 80 POUNDS. It might as well have been 500, it seemed so out of reach.  It’s practically a whole person!

Before I go on, please hear me – it does not matter one iota what you look like or how much or little you weigh.  What matters is that you are free and fully alive.  I am sure that somewhere out there are women who are 215 pounds and free as a bird.  Good for them!!  That is not my story.  For me, my abuse of food has taken away my joy and fullness of life.  For you, it might be something else.  The important thing here is that we break free from whatever prison we might find ourselves in.  I have said for years and years that this is just how my life is and that I don’t have any power to change it.  I call bulls***.  That’s a helpless, victim mentality that is ultimately rooted in fear.  It was with a whole lot of fear of failure, a whole lot of prayer and a whole lot of encouragement that I started my journey to health and wholeness.

In the past four and a half months I have lost over half the weight I need to lose and have gone down 4 sizes.  You guys.  I just wish I could convey the power of it all.  Food has lost its hold on me. God’s grace has been absolutely overwhelming to me on this journey.  I am humbled and in awe.  But most importantly, I am free.  Even though I have more weight to lose to be healthy according to my doctor, if I never lost another pound I’d still feel free.  It’s not about a number on the scale – my quality of life is better, my energy is better, and I find myself dreaming again about my life.  It’s such a gift.

You might be expecting an “after” picture, given all the “before” shots above.  But the point of this post isn’t for you to look at my body and tell me what a great job I’ve done.  I have debated even publishing this post because I haven’t wanted people to get the idea that I’m looking for accolades – I’m not.  I am very aware that people’s struggle with food is a very sensitive one (on either end of the spectrum), and I pray that nothing has been said here that rubs salt in any wound. I’m simply hoping that something about my journey might touch some of you in some way to aspire for freedom, whatever that looks like for you.

It would have been easier and far less embarrassing for me not to address this issue at all here on my blog.  But, I believe in the power of sharing our stories.  I believe in vulnerability and letting people into our struggle.  I share it because my friend shared her struggle and then her victory with me – she made me hope and then take action for myself.  I share it because Maryann is right when she says “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  I share it with you because I have always been that person who watches other people lose weight and get healthy – it has never been for me. But here’s the deal – freedom IS for me.  It’s for all of us.  It doesn’t matter if it’s weight issues, crushing anxiety, relational problems, guilt, shame or feelings that you’re not enough – you CAN be free.  You are worth getting free.  Your loved ones deserve you finding freedom.  You are not an observer of your own life – you get to choose how to respond to circumstances, problems and addictions.  You are worthy of health and freedom. And there’s a God who believes that about you too.  And He WILL help you.

Psalm 10:17 says “You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you
encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”

So, be bold and brave, friends.  This life is too short to stay small and imprisoned.  You have so much to offer the world.  When we let our light shine, we do, indeed give others the permission to do the same.  So, shine!  And may your own freedom inspire the freedom of others.

love,
the free me

DTC Press-Release on Yahoo!

san diego 64Just as I sat at my computer wondering what to share on A BeNew Journey today, I found an article on Yahoo Finance about the new company Jerry and I joined, DTC. The article calls our company (the one I wrote about in my last post) an “industry changing concept!”

Had to share it with you!

We’re very excited to be on this new business journey–and a bit breathless as we watch how God is shaping unexpected opportunities for us.

Last summer Jerry spent some time processing life with a spiritual/business mentor. They prayed about Jerry’s future as a businessman.

The next morning Jerry “happened” to read this in the Bible: “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’  But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.” (Duet. 8:17-19 NIV)

We’re looking to the One who teaches us how to be business leaders.

If you think this company is a fit for you, we’d love to grow together with our friends. Check out our new website, watch the videos. There’s a place where you can ask for more information.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Turning Distraction into Delight

IMAG2744“Our cravings and distractions are not meant to overwhelm us. They are meant to show our ability to crave what we need most – a soul that is no longer tangled, distracted, and hindered, because we have set apart in our hearts the lordship and love of Christ.” Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave Devotional

Right now* the LORD feels very sweet. He has truly met me in places of discouragement, fear, and need this day. He gave me new promises to hang onto, some good friends to have a real cry with, free pizza, a movie night at home with Jerry and the kids, and a couple of other big surprises. He knew how little reserves I felt I had, how I sought to believe Him for what I needed to hang on a little longer, one moment at a time.

I have clung to the verse that God never leaves or forsakes me. That truth is paramount because I need it when my feelings tell me the opposite.

Jerry and I walked through some hard knocks the last 6 or 7 years. I’ve fought through discouragement with the reminder that I don’t need to be dismayed or discouraged because my GOD is with me.

I have other verses I turn to–like the one that says God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. I’ve had fear in my life that has almost paralyzed me, and I must have prayed that Scripture hundreds of times, reminding myself I could rise above the fear because GOD gave me the ability.

When I don’t understand life I return to the verse that tells me that God loves me with an everlasting love, and to another that promises His ways are best for me. I cling to the truth that He loves me and plans GOOD for me.

The craving for food is just a microcosm of lots of things that distract me from God. But it is such great training ground to learn to think of HIM. If I can turn a longing for chocolate into a reminder I need Jesus, maybe when other life distractions hit I can do the same with them, allowing the distraction to push me closer to the One who meets my needs.

Father,

Please pour Truth into our lives to displace the things that distract us from You. When we bump up against food cravings, worries, hardships, or fears, meet us there with promises from Your word. Redirect our thoughts to thoughts of YOU and draw us into Your heart. Reach into the deep places of the things that hold us back from You and the goals you have for us. Pull out the roots of the lies that need to be exposed and plant new seeds of life and hope and joy and the ability to overcome the things that separate us from You. Give us success. Show us Your goals for us, make them our goals, and then show us we can meet them in Your strength.

What about you?
I’d love to hear about a verse that gets you through a distraction from HIM.

*This devotional was written some time ago.

Like Butter Across Too Much Bread

tree branches 2Don’t you hate stretching? The kind where you sense you must change–are changing–but it’s so foreign, so excruciatingly slow that you wonder who you are and even if you are.

Many times I’ve watched friends go through intense growth seasons. They felt nothing was happening, but I saw it in them. There are seasons when the exterior output seems minimal, when we can’t figure out what’s going on inside of us, but there is change. Deep. Real. Good.

But of course the person changing is blind to all that’s being accomplished.

I must be in one of those seasons.  I’ve felt dead inside, like I’m not changing, not moving forward, not accomplishing. But last week I heard the kinds of words I’ve said to others during intense growing season they couldn’t see. Only this time the words came back to me.

Perhaps this thin feeling which has made me quiet here on A Benew Journey isn’t emptiness at all. Maybe the stretching is happening so fast that I struggle to keep up with it. So deep that I have to step inside myself for a time to to let me catch up to it and once again fill the whole space.

So what does a girl do?

On occasion she digs in her heels. She’s quiet. She bakes. She reads until she’s bored.

Sometimes she cries.

She tries to work–to learn a new business, to write a novel. Some days she sees a little success. Other days she wonders.

Sometimes she forces resistant feet out the door, determined to maintain the hard-earned new body, determined to feel God in the sunshine, breathe Him in the fresh air. Other times she drinks a salted caramel mocha and eats dark chocolate and screams into her journal with big angry words.

She complains and moans to God, wondering if He’s getting completely sick of her.

Then she remembers King David of the Psalms, and how he was called the apple of God’s eye even though he could be a major whiner. And that King David was also a heroic warrior and a passionate worshiper. That a person can be all of that.

Even on the same day.

And she remembers that Jesus died on a cross for whiners like her, that He didn’t come to rescue perfect people who were always strong and good, but just the ordinary person who chooses to believe He is and He loves.

And she writes on her gratitude wall in an effort to show her God that she does recognize the gifts, not just the struggle. And sometimes she reads her Bible and pulls the Words into her heart, remembering that God promises to restore locust years and to give hope and a good future. (And sometimes she doesn’t. She tells Him she’s tired of trying, of doing Christian things and He’s going to just have to hold her together ’cause she’s done.)

Her faithful friends remind her of all God has promised and all the direction He’s given.

And slowly she begins to believe the thin feeling of being stretched like butter “scraped across too much bread”* is just that. A feeling.

That God is at work.

That after a season of stretching she’ll fill up her whole new self.

That His promises are simply waiting for when she will be able to receive them.

Friend~It’s humbling to share the ugly parts, the me who struggles, but really aren’t we on this journey together? Humanity seeking to be full and real and good . . . and often stumbling, bumbling and wondering. The temptation is to only write about the good, especially now that I’m stepping into a new role as a business woman. Shouldn’t I always put my best foot forward, show the successful Paula?

But maybe you have these times too–times as a business person, a mom, a dad, an author, or one seeking to lose weight . . . and maybe the old voices scream at you, too. Tell you nothing changes, and you’re just a wimpy, little whiner.

When maybe, just maybe, God is stretching you. Making you bigger and better on the inside, where it counts.

And maybe if we’re honest with the journey, you and me together, we can unfurl the tight places, stretch our wings, and fly.

Share the hope:

Like butter across too much bread

*Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring

Seeker Spirit Sunday ~ Finding Security

buena vista 15
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19

The “one who casts something between two to cause a separation” (Satan) is coming against me with just the kind of thing Lysa wrote about in the Made to Crave Devotional–the doubts about whether or not God will meet our needs. God has continually proved the Phil 4:19 verse true. For years our God has met our needs. Why would He stop now?

I’m reminded of a friend who had to survive day-to-day. She told me God promised to give her DAILY bread. To her that literally meant trusting that she and her children would be able to eat the next meal.

Daily bread can be literal food, but sometimes it is other stuff, like emotional stamina or will power. But God promises to provide all my needs, and right now in this moment I have the provision for what I need. Instead of looking toward the journey that looms before me I’m convicted to force my mind away from the fears of whether or not tomorrow will be provided for.

Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow. We don’t usually have enough trust for the endless demands of the future, but we typically have enough trust for this one moment. Tomorrow I can ask again for the daily provision I need for that next hard moment.

In the devotion Lysa asked readers to fill in the following blank. “I need ___________ so I can be satisfied.

I put security in that blank. What do you put?

I’ll bet there’s nothing wrong with whatever most of us put above.

I said security. Feeling secure is a good thing! The problem is when I buy into the lie that I have to get that security at all cost. That I can never be satisfied if I don’t have the kind of security I long for. See, the only completely secure place is in God’s hand. Life will never be completely stable or safe or secure. My Father is my only unending, never-failing security.

Think about Your answer.

What do you think you need to be satisfied? Will that thing truly satisfy? Or does the yearning for it throw you out of balance? Make you worry?

Does it displace Him?

Lysa said the enemy wants to separate us from God BEST plans, PROPER provision, and PEACE.

As I work on this blog which will post in a few days, I feel this struggle, the enemy fighting to separate me from God’s plan.

I don’t want to “overspend, overwork, overeat”, or over-anything  to fill try to myself up, chasing after desires that will never completely satisfy.

The only complete, deep inside satisfaction is Him.

I’m also convicted that “God’s provision satisfies the soul” and “Satan’s provision gratifies the flesh.” I cling to the thought that God’s provision in the short term will reap blessing in the long term. It has in my weight loss journey. At the year mark I’ve 55 pounds lighter. Now I need to that that daily quest to receive God’s provision into my new challenges. I pray to resist the enemy’s short term solutions because they will only bring long-term heartache.

It’s crazy how a devotional about weight loss can get so deep. But really, isn’t that why we overeat too often, looking to satisfy something that will never be satisfied outside of Jesus? I’ve given into temptation and gone to bed bloated and over-full, but not satisfied. I’ve done it literally with food. I’ve done it figuratively with other stuff.

How much better to ask for the grace to truly believe that my God supplies ALL my needs. I don’t have to grasp at anything–food or other–to try to stuff that scared, empty place inside.

Won’t you pray Lysa’s prayer with me?

Dear Lord,
I am reminded once again of how dangerous temptations are, because they invite me to meet my needs outside of Your will. Keep me from compromising and from justifying today. I know that only Your provision sustains life and satisfies my soul. I want this truth to ring loud and clear throughout my day today. In Jesus’ name

Tweet it:

Filling the craving in a way that satisfies

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Hope

resevoir“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28

This hits me between the eyes: “Jesus is saying, ‘If you come to me, I will take your exhaustion in this area and turn it into expectation. In this place of hopelessness, I can make you feel hopeful.'” (Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave Devotional)

Okay. I’ve read this devotional before. But as I read again I stop and question. Really? That sounds too good to be true.

Honestly, I can receive it for my weight loss journey because–well, I’m having CHANGE and success, and what seemed hopeless a year ago is hopeful now because I have FORWARD progress.

But there are other places in my life that I don’t see much forward movement, and that’s what I think of when I read these words. Those struggles that are the same for too many days in a row, too many months, too many years. Those places where disappointment has dug a soul exhaustion.

When I go through a tough spot my friend Kordee often tells me, I have the questions, I don’t have the answers. It’s comforting because she’s saying, “you know what? I know how you feel. I’m not going to give you pat answers. We’re in this together.”

Then Kordee and I work through our crap, accept our lack of answers, and say things like, “But I choose God. There is no other answer. I don’t like this, but I will trust Him.”

Sometimes we find some hope for the situation; sometimes we don’t. But I guess even when it’s hard to believe there can be change, there is something inside of us that is banking our hope on God. On the promises that He leads on the best pathway for our life, that He guides us and watches over us. On the promise that says He will finish the work He started in us, and will never leave or forsake us.

My strength often feels more like exhaustion, even anger. Sometimes I can’t pray for a while because I know if I do I have to get real. And I’m just not ready to cry, to admit how deeply I hurt. Those are the days of my SOS prayers, that quick, “Help!” that’s whispered almost subconsciously.

But Lysa says, “”Jesus is saying, ‘If you come to me, I will take your exhaustion in this area and turn it into expectation. In this place of hopelessness, I can make you feel hopeful.'” and later she adds, “God knows where you strength ends and that is the exact point where His strength begins.”

Talk about meat to chew on!

I know it’s true, this hope thing. Scripture says that when I persevere in hard trials, I learn hope, and that hope won’t disappoint me, that it’s actually a mark of maturity, this being able to hope.

And so I pray,

“Father, You know the places in me that are soul exhaustion, where hope is fleeting or seemingly non-existent. But I DO want You to take those places and turn my exhaustion into expectation–not white knuckle hanging on for all I’m worth in my own strength expectation, but supernatural, God-breathed expectation that can hope because of Who You are. Because I believe You truly love me. Because I believe You WILL finish all You’ve started in me.

And Lord, I know some of my friends who read this blog have soul exhaustion, too. Please give them hope. Draw us to Your heart, remind us of Your character–how loving, steady, and faithful You are. Give us expectation for positive forward movement, not because we have the strength to take that next step into where we want to go, but because YOU do. And You will lead. And You take us to good.

Trading in Soul Exhaustion for Hope