Tag Archives: healing

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 ~ Jail that Sucker!

Person-weighing-themselve-007“The scale is an excellent tool for determining our weight, but it’s a terrible tool for determining our worth.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst

This one statement  is worth the price of Lysa’s book, The Made to Crave Devotional, in my humble opinion. The weight loss journey can be so emotional, and when we tie our feelings of worth to the scale it is damaging.

I truly believe the Creator wants us to be strong and healthy. But not because that’s what it takes to be beautiful, valuable, accepted, or worthy. We are those things at 250 or 150! Or anywhere above or below. We are His treasures.

I have long thought about the concept of my thought life and its effect on my choices, negative thoughts, especially. And when negative thoughts are specific to thinking about who we are, personally, they are particularly damaging.

Years ago I read a book by Beth Moore called, Breaking Free. It was obviously impacting because I’m still talking about it. She says we need to put those negative thoughts in “jail.” I doubt I’ll ever forget the little picture that illustrated this concept. It had the bad thought behind bars.

I read the book about 11 years ago. Back then I allowed my thoughts to constantly beat me up, point out every inadequacy, and leave me feeling like a failure. But once I understood negative thinking goes against the TRUTH, real change in my life began. I experienced freedom and victory like never before. There’s a verse in the Bible that  says it is for freedom that Christ freed us. But too often even though we’ve been set free from all condemnation by His sacrifice, we keep ourselves in bondage, living under the cloud of disapproval.

I have good news!. Our Creator does NOT disapprove of us. He adores us. And we don’t have to disapprove of ourselves, either.

I love Lysa’s thougts. When she comes up against an attitude, comment or thought that has potential to return her to the bondage of self-condemnation she asks: Is it true? Is it beneficial? Is it necessary?

If not, put that sucker in jail!

Tweet it!

Put negativity behind bars!

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ What’s Green Got to Do With Weight Loss?

IMAG1878“I Want Her Legs,” the title (by Lysa TerKeurst) read.

I know the green bug of envy. I’ve always envied flat tummies. Even when I was too skinny as a teen, I had a pooch. It’s always bugged me. (Lately I’ve been doing the 9 Moves to a Flatter Stomach, but I digress.)

In the devotion referenced above Lysa said it’s easy to forget about the gifts we’ve been given, to let them fade into pale, anemic comparisons as we look at what other people have that we don’t.

When I was a young mom I met another young mom. Like me, she had a passel of children. Like me she sang at church. Like me she homeschooled. Like me she was active and out-going. Only she sang better than I did. Was skinnier than I was. Got more solo work than I did. Was sexier than I was. Was . . . you get the idea.

There was a temptation to be jealous. For the most part I wasn’t (well, maybe just a tad bit of that flat tummy and perfect singing voice!) But I didn’t allow myself to turn green. Life had taught me that nobody is perfect, and somewhere beneath her size 4 jeans and golden voice she was a normal human being who had struggles just like I did.

The sad end to this story is even though my friend had so much going for her things fell apart in her sweet family, and everyone experienced great pain.

Lysa said that when she is tempted to view someone else’s life through rosy glasses she says, “I am not equipped to handle what they have, both good and bad.” She nips the comparison in the bud so it doesn’t grow into full-blown envy. She says, “When I want someone else’s good . . . I’m also asking for the bad . . . it’s always a packaged deal.”

This devotion took me back to the word trust. Do I trust that God created me good? That His design for me, my body, and my life is good?

Do I trust HIM?

When I want what someone else has, I’m telling the Creator, the God of the universe I don’t like the way He does things. (And yes, I’ve actually said exactly that to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.)

When I throw those kinds of fits God is  patient with me, but He often brings conviction. Over time I repent of my bad attitude and tell Him I trust Him–and need Him to help me trust Him more.

Whether it’s someone else’s circumstances or body that looks so good, it’s wise to remember, “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30, The New Living Translation Bible)

Lord,
I confess I am prone to envy of other people’s gifts and to lack of appreciation for my own. I confess that I don’t always trust you know best. Sometimes I blame you for the fallen parts of this world and my life, when it is my sin and the sin of humanity that has brought on the ugly stuff. Please forgive me. Help me delight in the good you’ve put into me–whether it’s my talents, my body, or my life experiences. Show me where I can apply myself to help the rough areas get better–like those crunches and leg lifts my pooching tummy needs. And help me to nip envy, distrust, and whining in the bud, choosing praise, joy, and trust instead.

Tweet it!

What’s Green Got to Do With It?

Devotion on Envy and weight loss

PS . . . The first time I read “I Want Her Legs” I thought, I just want MY legs back. I hope it encourages you when I say, “they’re back!” Keep on keepin’ on ’cause with time and determination, you can get stronger, thinner, and healthier. There are no quick fixes, but there is lasting change when we don’t give up.

Vigilance ~ Maintaining Weight Loss

IMAG3238-1Here I am again.

Life gets a little tough. Disappointing news hits. And I’m sitting at my computer dreaming of popcorn.

With extra butter.

For over a year I’ve fought to lose and then maintain weight.

After all of this time you’d think old habits could be completely broken.

Only maybe reaching for food to deal with emotions is more like an addiction that requires life-long, sustained effort to resist than a habit that can be broken after 30 days.

Today’s trigger is the fact that my youngest son needs another hip surgery. Tomorrow’s trigger may be something simple–like feeling bored.

But no matter which hits, I know food will solve nothing.

I just took a break to make a nice, hot cup of no-calorie, healthy antioxidant green tea. And I’m saying a prayer for strength, comfort, wisdom.

It’s one of those next better choices I seek to make over and over.

I started typing again only to have my rings irritate me because they are rolling around on my fingers as they often do now on chilly days. (And these are my smaller sets. I gave away the bigger ones.)

I love it that my fingers–as well as all parts of me–are thinner.

I hate it that the journey to health didn’t end when the chart said normal instead of obese. That even now I must be on guard to maintain.

But it is worth it, this new vigilance.IMAG3229-1

Never, ever again can I return to a lifestyle of mindless eating to numb emotion if I want to be strong and healthy, and maintain a normal weight.

And that is okay. Because food never solved the problems anyway.

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

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.

Epiphany #5 ~ A Graduation of Grace

IMAG2574Epiphany #5 ended up being good, but it took a lot of tears to figure it out. Here’s the thing. This whole new world of being a business woman was harder than I expected.

For the first time in a long time I was thrust into something very new. I’d worked past the early years of feeling utterly inadequate as a classroom teacher, then as a homeschool mom. I’d even gotten past the panic of having to say the words, “I am a writer.” Now I can even say, “I am an author” without batting an eye.

But after 22 years of homeschooling and 12 years of writing toward publication (and seeing it happen!) I had exactly 3 weeks of taking my role as a Life Force Business Woman seriously.

I pushed hard, making lots of phone calls and setting high goals for myself.

I met about half those goals. Instead of being pleased, I was pretty much mad at the world and drowning in exhaustion and inadequacy.

Enter Ben Mueller. Twice he called at exactly the right time (when I was at the point of tears) and twice he said exactly the right thing.

The second call was when Epiphany #5 kicked in.

See, much of my early years as a homeschool mom were about letting go of perfectionism and performance-driven behavior. Nothing like 4 children under the age of six to help a gal figure out there was no way she could be a perfect mom and live up to her own expectations of motherhood. Then there was the constant interruption, lack of validation, and serving in obscurity without a paycheck. Went a long way toward digging out the vestiges of performance-driven behavior.

Then throw in the God-factor. While I wallowed in guilt over my feelings of failure in motherhood, and trembled in fear over all my inadequacies, He showed up and healed me. I learned to keep my eyes on HIM instead of on my failures. I learned to forgive myself for my lack of perfection. I learned to lean on Him for the strength to move forward and to rest in His plan and purposes instead of living in a constant state of striving.

I mean I learned all of that until He called me to be a business woman.

Talk about miserable!

How dare God call me to a career that made me so unhappy? I mean, He wouldn’t, would He? Doesn’t Scripture promise that His yoke is easy and His burden light? In Matthew 11 He even said, “Are you tired? Worn out? . . .  Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)

Well this whole business woman thing was ill-fitting if anything ever was. There was nothing free or light about it.

Or was there?

Ben’s call helped me understand. The first thing he told me was what a great job I was doing–that I’d done what 70% of people in the business never do. (After I cried a little, I felt better.) Then he asked if I was a perfectionist.

Ouch.

As we talked I realized I’d done it again, slipped into perfectionism and performance-driven behavior. No wonder the role didn’t fit! I wasn’t doing this business woman thing the way God planned. I was falling into old thought patterns and habits I thought I’d conquered years ago.

By the time Ben bid me good-bye hope sprang forth!

Epiphany #5 is that I’ve graduated! God trusts me with a career where performance is the name of the game. Evidently He thinks I’ve learned enough about looking to Him instead of my own inadequacies and letting go of perfectionism and performance-driven behavior that I can do this thing without falling apart.

He’s peeling back another layer of my dysfunction and healing me.

As I let Him teach me how to be a business woman I will discover how to be in this career in a way that is uniquely me. There will be no ill-fitting burdens, only a new learning curve in the unforced rhythms of grace.

Epiphany # 3

IMAG2579-1You may have noticed I skipped Epiphany #2. It seems I’m not ready to write about it yet, that it is still too tender, too precious, too scary even, to share.

Someday.

On this blog.

At just the right time I will turn to July 9, 2013 in my journal and finish the thoughts I began in my first epiphanies post.

Today I can only hold tight to the promises of my Father and move on to a new conversation. It’s not that I doubt, it’s just that the future is far away. For me, at least. To Him it is like a snap of a finger.

Let’s just say that by my next entry, August 11th, I was angry again and confused, in a very different place that that joyful conversation in Breckenridge.

And the Lord was good, as usual. I knew I could say anything on my mind, and it wouldn’t freak Him out.

I started with, “Please heal me from whatever it is that is afraid and hard within me.”

You’ve been angry with me.

“Yes. And that makes me angry with myself, and yet self-accusation doesn’t make me any less angry with You.”

It never does. 

And so the two of us talked about the long haul. How I so often felt without control. How I’d given Him permission for deep change, and how that takes time.

Then He loved me. Said really sweet things to me, things that proved once again He thought better of me than I thought of myself.

Funny how when he complimented me I quit being angry with Him.

At the end of our time He showed me that I’d been begging Him for scraps when He wanted to lay an abundant table before me.

I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it sent me on a journey of discovery.

Epiphany #3 was a part of that discovery. Epiphany #3 shocked me.

It happened at a Life Force training. I was there mostly for Jerry because he had to work his day job. I wasn’t fully invested in this new business. I saw myself as standing on the sidelines, supporting where I could, and cheering my husband on, “Good job, honey. Go! Go!”

But that day it suddenly it became clear that this wasn’t Jerry’s journey alone, this was my journey, too. That the Lord wanted me to be a business woman. In the excitement of that moment, and for several days afterward I was thrilled! I sensed the Lord smiling, cheering me forward. I recorded what I believed to be His heart:

. . . I have given you a place to stretch and develop the skills you need for the next stage of your journey. It is not a divergent path. It is one of balance. Sometimes my directions will conflict with your desire, just as it has in raising your family. You will have to juggle congruent, concurrent paths, but they will not be divergent. Be sensitive to Me, My child. It will keep us connected and close as you pray through next steps and pay attention to My direction.

And so I rejoiced and rushed off to tackle my new life.

Unfortunately all that wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I guess I should have paid attention when He said stuff like I was given a place to stretch and that His direction would sometimes conflict with my desires.

More about that next time.

Stretching into a new place

Adaptation Not Compromise

IMAG2531Sometimes my feet know where I’m going before I’ve consciously processed my decision. This morning they headed for the brilliant red bush about a mile up the street.

Growing up in Northeastern Oklahoma meant incredible autumn foliage with a variety of colors. I’ll never forget the joy of early morning walks across Northeastern State University’s campus when the air was crisp, the leaves crackled beneath my feet, and vibrant color still clung to strong branches.

I love yellow. Honest. It’s almost my favorite color, somewhere below pink. But when I first moved to Colorado I was disappointed in autumn because I felt the season shouldn’t be ONLY yellow. IMAG2576

But my neighborhood has continued to mature over the years, bringing new color with it, and as I’m farther from my roots I suppose I’m more easily pleased. Maybe, just maybe, I’m also giving it a more fair shake this autumn, choosing to meander in the cool fall days by foot instead of whizzing past nature while looking out of a car window.

As I walked this morning I found myself conflicted. Now that I’m satisfied with my new weight I’m not sure what my walks are about. Health? Maintenance? Emotional and spiritual nurture? Joy?

IMAG2540-1-1

This time last year I spent hours in bed, recovering from some wonky sensations in my head after back-to-back car accidents. For a time I stepped away from most of my responsibilities, my only goal to get well. Part of my journey back to health was developing a new habit of long, meandering walks. I strolled, prayed, and didn’t care how long it took me. I was finding life again. As I healed, I began picking up the balls. I learned to fit in a shorter walk/jog to stick with my weight loss/get healthy goals when the demands of schedule increased.

But after my encounter today with the red bush and the orange leaves and the yellow canopies, my feet wouldn’t listen to my mind rattling off the to-do list. My soul engaged my gait, longing for more of this day than checking off boxes. It cried out for beauty, for quiet, for spiritual refreshment. I circled the elementary school, praying a bit for the children there, then slipped into my favorite coffee shop, not for a beverage, but for the restroom. My mind had finally caught up with the agenda my heart and feet set, and I knew the conveniences of home were still a long way off.

Another little nature trail some distance from me cried out to be explored. I wandered the path, missing the twitter of the birds that usually serenaded me on this stretch. I suppose the wind was too strong, and they chose to hunker down wait it out rather than to brave it and allow their song to be lost, carried away on the stiff breeze.IMAG2559

I tried to cut home after the trail but found myself at a cluster of three churches I prayed often for last winter, so my meanderings included prayers of blessings for them, which turned into song at my favorite of the three. I guess I don’t mind if the notes dance upon the breeze, for He hears at all times.

I still don’t have it all figured out–this juggling act of protecting the strides I’ve made in physical and emotional health, this love of the sunshine longing to wander–all while adding new balls, more commitments, more responsibility into my daily routine. Even now my schedule mocks me, telling me there was no way to conquer it.

But I must cling to what I learned in the dark of last year. That caring for myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually isn’t a waste of time; it is a necessity. If I don’t take care of myself, I’ll find myself unable to take care of my responsibilities.

IMAG2586-1I returned home today thinking the solitary rose framed by yellow leaves sprinkled upon the grass around it was a statement of summer shouting a last hurrah before giving way to autumn.

As the seasons of my life change I am forced to stretch, to adapt, to re-think. But in the midst of the struggle I don’t have to compromise on the hard-earned truths of my journey. Oh, I can’t control outside forces, like car accidents, that steal from me. But I can create margin. I can choose health. I can embrace the beauty of little moments.

How about you? Are you protecting yourself from the tyranny of the urgent?

Tweet it:

Life’s seasons change. We adapt, but we don’t compromise.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Breaking Up

Spirit 19 stephen

Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer — taking the plunge!

Breaking old habits to make room for the new: That’s the theme of the devotional by Lisa TerKeurst which inspired this post.

Seems like I’ve done a lot of this since I took that first step onto the BeNew journey. I’ve sought to break habits of emotional or mindless eating. I’ve tried to be mindful of my movement quotient and break the habit of a sedentary lifestyle in front of my computer.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m breaking up with the old habits or just taking a break . . . If I want to continue to feel healthier and be thinner, I have to truly break up with my past habits.

But the conviction of this devotion went deeper than healthy food habits. For a time the car accident of last June took away my journaling and Bible study. But I added in long walks and found a sweet communion with the Lord. As I’m improving, I’m struggling to balance all that. I want to journal AND take a walk, but sometimes neither gets done, much less both! In this area I want to make good habits to replace non-habits.

I also catch myself looking too often to Facebook friends/interaction to fill that empty God place. There’s nothing wrong with getting fellowship and support from my friends, but when it replaces communion with my Creator, it falls flat.

I’m seeing the need for another break-up.

But all of that is about doing. What about the BEing of life?

There are old thought habits that need to go–like worry or putting myself down or entertaining thoughts of “it will never really change” or “this is too hard.” 

I need to do a major break-up with that stuff!

Every day I make the choice AGAIN to break up with my old nemesis, perfectionism, and the stealer-of-my-joy, performance-driven behavior.

Thankfully on this break-up journey I’m never alone and neither are you. Our Creator thrills in helping us walk away from the stuff that holds us back and knocks us down. He empowers us for change, promising always to finish the good work He starts in us. I believe this means not only the good work of making us more like His Son, but the good works He calls us to, including the sometimes daunting job of getting healthy!

Father,
Make YOURSELF the priority of my heart. Help me to stop clinging to the poor, the mediocre, and even the good when YOU offer all that is BEST. Help me to break-up with the stuff that pushes me backwards so that I can walk forward in freedom, diving into all You have for me.

How about you?
Any conviction about something you need to break up with to make room for what’s better?

Tweet it:

Breaking Up With Poor Choices