Tag Archives: healing

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.

Tweet it:

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)

Tweetable:

A glory reflection

Spirit Seeker Sunday 2: Obedience or a Gift?

(Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer) Obedience to God, not the scale. Hmmm . . .

When I first read this concept two and a half months ago, I struggled. Reading it again now, I’m still struggling. I prayed for so long for a solution to my weight issues that I felt starting BeNew and the weight loss journey was more of a gift than a task.

Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t easy, especially at first. But I operated more out of a desire to embrace the opportunity than seeing the weight loss journey as obedience. I tried to do the things I needed to do–like change my calorie intake, choose different foods, and MOVE–because I longed for success. I didn’t really do it to please God as much as to reap the benefits of the gift He offered me.

I grew up with an over-active guilt meter and a tendency toward perfectionism. It was very damaging. In my 30s the Lord did some deep healing and helped me see how boundless His grace is. I do want to obey the Lord. But I don’t want my Christian experience to be a gutting it out, shutting down myself, do it only because I should existence. Instead, I want to embrace His gifts. To learn to walk in sync with His Spirit.

I like the word SURRENDER better than obedience. Obedience in my background was adhering to a list of rules and living in a straight jacket trying to be good enough. Surrender is seeing God as big and full and loving and unexpected. It’s learning to follow His leading. Surrender is also leaning into His empowering grace for all He asks me to do instead of gutting it out on my own effort.

I suppose at its core surrender is still obedience. But it feels more like a joyful choice to me. An opportunity to walk with God in sweet relationship.

That said, I do get the point about the scale. It is super easy to let the scale define me. It is really hard not to let the scale control my mood. It moves, and I’m happy. It stalls, and I’m grumpy. This has been a constant battle for me since October–to just keep believing in this process as God’s gift. To just keep surrendering to the process even when it got hard or when I didn’t think I saw results. To get my identity not from the scale, but from the awareness that I was God’s beloved daughter.

How About You?

Do you like the idea of focused obedience or does it trip you up like it did me? (It’s okay to disagree! God works with each of us differently!)

And have you thought about this opportunity to be healthier and slimmer as a gift? Does that help you or does it just not resonate with where you are. (I’m genuinely curious! On another group I’m in people loved this idea of weight loss being obedience to God.)

Weight Loss Journey Day 38

Lord of the rings - CopyAlong with my weight loss journey, I battle to regain my health from the accidents. Today I had another bout with head stuff while I tried to work on a proposal for a new book. Infuriating!!

(if you’re interested in the books I already have out, you can read about them on my author website.)

Still, I must be grateful for the healing I have experienced. There is much to be proud of, hopeful for, thankful about.

This journey to lose weight inside and out is not a one time push. It is a lifestyle change. It’s being willing to care about my health, to look life straight in the face. To prioritize choices that make me stronger.

I will not return to the darkness.

I’m reminded of one afternoon while I laid on my bed listening to an audio book. (It was all I could do for long hours last summer.) I immersed myself in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In one scene (which isn’t in the movie) the good guys have just won the great battle. Aragorn waits outside the city gates. He doesn’t want to enter as King until all is done properly. But there are wounded inside, in the healing rooms, who need him. He decides slips into the city under the cover of darkness, cloaked in a plain robe to hide his identity.

He goes to heal, not to rule.

Once there he calls for healing herbs, then lays hands on a wounded friend, drawing out the poison of the darkness. Those who have been closest to the enemy in the battle have the deepest wounds, and only the Healer can bring them back from despair.

I laid there and prayed to Jesus, “Draw out the darkness.”

He has.

Real Time Update:

The deep darkness is gone, but of course life still throws curve balls. The question is what do we do with the sucker punches? Drown them in calories? Climb in bed and pull the covers over our head?

Don’t get me wrong. I think there are times we HAVE to take a break, rest, refuel, heal. But in the normal curve balls of life, what choices heal instead of exacerbate the problem? How is caring for the physical self connected to the healing of the whole?

What Say You?

PS. I had a few people new the to blog the last few days. In case you’re confused, the main section of the blog is a revealing of my weight loss dairy, written about two months ago. The real time update is my commentary from today. (And the pictures on my blog yesterday show a weight loss of between 30 and 35 pounds, not the 20 I talked about in the main part of the blog.)

Weight Loss Journey Day 23

sunset cloudsI’m feeling it. That sense that this blessed rest is almost over. Tomorrow will be our last day on the beach. We’ll be gone before the sunrise on Saturday.

Introspection takes over.

I’m tired of not getting sun on my tummy.

I’m tired of hiding next to my condo door when I want to feel the ocean on my feet while I seek the sun.

I do it.

I wrap in my towel. Drag the lounge chair and my journal to the ocean edge. Where people will walk by. People who may or may not even notice that I am there, just another sun-seeker at the beach. Another middle-aged woman in a bikini top. (The bottom swimsuit piece is still granny style. Just can’t go there all the way.)

I pull the towel away and quickly plop onto the chair letting my toes dig into the sand and delighting in the tickle of the gentle tide that laps over them. I feel the sun. I relax.

Someone walks by; I panic. I imagine they are a conservative couple who would never have a bikini top in their home, and who have read my articles. I imagine they are now appalled to see me like this . . .

But they don’t even notice me, not really. And I am angry with myself for this crazy game. I’m tired of being afraid.

I’m tired of hiding.

I sit a while longer. The sea washes over my tattoo. The one on my foot that reminds me that Jesus delights in me. The one that matches my daughter’s, connecting us as she gets engaged and prepares to connect with someone else in a new way. The one that says we delight in each other.

my cool tattoo

The one I sometimes hide.

I let it go, this angst.

Then, finally, I pick up the little blank book.

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Then finally, I write.

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Maybe you’d like to know what. I’ll tell a little, carefully edited. Raw but not completely revealing:

“[Last Thursday] I was tired of crying alone, of hiding . . . of having no human place to undress. Years of compressing anger, the fears, the pain, have taken a toll. Sometimes it expands, too often and unbidden, to full size. And sometimes when it does I cry. I know it as raw, feeling pain—but other times it doesn’t feel like anything.

Then a car comes out of nowhere, and my body hurts. I hurt.  I rest and try to heal.

All used up.

. . .

I don’t want to be a burden. To hurt others. To ask for what can’t be given.

But I don’t want to be that little girl crying out for solace into a void where there is no one able to give it.

. . .

I want to be naked and unashamed. I don’t want to cry alone. I want to cry with arms around me. I want uncloaked intimacy of body, heart, and soul.”

And as I wrote these things I saw a little girl Paula. She watched to see how the words would be received. She heard voices of the past that kept her quiet.

And I remembered the little girl who wrote in her journal, unable to write real words sometimes, just harsh, cutting marks, bearing down so hard that for pages after her quiet explosion the writing space was ruined.

Nobody else was strong enough to be trusted. Just God and her journal.

But now that little girl looks curious. She’s watching to see if I truly unveil. She’s watching to see if there are people strong enough for all of her.

And I write more:

“I’m afraid I’m just a vapor with nothing left to give substance. I’m afraid of leaning and being leaned upon. What if relationships topple, too much vapor for leaning?

I know God is in this somewhere. I’m pretty certain I would have already crashed and shattered without hope of being put back together again if He weren’t. But right now I don’t want to be told He is holding me up. (Though I’m sure He is.)

. . .

I’m wearing a bikini top as I write. I’ve wondered why—at 47 and very overweight—I would crave the sun on my stomach, on the long unexposed part of my breasts. But I’ve begged it to come and color me bronze. I long to feel its heat in those typically hidden places.

The first few days I cowered, barely leaving the lanai, begging the sun to meet me there. Funny. I have burned shoulders and upper chest, but these places I expected to be so tender, those so long hidden, have not seemed to draw in the sun at all.

Today I did the unthinkable, dragging my chair out where people are, so hungry was I to have the hidden places touched. I think the water might reflect the sun, and I might actually show that I have been changed, there in those vulnerable parts.

There is risk. A few still walk the beach, and I am seen. I might even be noticed, though I hope not. The biggest risk of this exposure is that my vulnerable, hidden places will not only be warmed bronze, but seared.

Real Time Update:

So far no searing . . .

There’s some confusion about how I’m doing this blog, especially with people who started following the blog after this post released, so check it out if the timing stuff confuses you. Basically, the heart of today’s blog is about what happened on the 23rd day of my weight loss journey even though today I’m at something like day 87. The real time updates talk about my present struggles/success, but in less detail. I hope getting both perspectives help!

And about yesterday’s real time update–I did get it together to return to exercise, and I’m researching plateaus and praying about how to approach this one.

What About You?

Have you hidden? Come out of hiding? Been seared . . . or healed?

Weight Loss Journey Day 5

IMAG0326 (2)Time to ask questions and admit the struggle! Awoke to more cramping and bloating from the cleanse. I posted to the secret beta group about the stomach issues. Thankfully, I’m not the only one struggling! I laughed out loud at one comment I got, “It will pass. Literally.” It was encouraging not to feel alone and to know that this is one of those short-term pain for long-term gain situations. Everyone emphasized keeping up with the water intake and healthy foods. (I think the pizza last night made everything worse, but no way am I admitting on that forum that I had pizza!) They also emphasized that getting exercise in will help with the digestive issues. Some people in the BETA group are saying their jeans are fitting looser. I’m just craving my sweats because my stomach is so sore!

Had my shake and lots of water in the morning, but the stomach issues continued. Had an apple, then a healthy lunch and while my stomach still gurgled, it didn’t hurt as much with a little more food in it. A couple of the ladies said they even got a bit nauseous. Thankfully, I just mostly feel bloated now.

I called my sister-in-law, who is seeing a nutritionist and has done multiple cleanses. She says the first is usually the worst by far, that I need to not let the calories dip too low or it might make things worse, and that often people pass parasites in a first cleanse. There also seems to be a balance in the fresh fruits and veggies arena. The people on-line said to be sure I’m eating them. She says she can eat too much fiber and exacerbate the problem. I wish I’d asked her if she’s had emotional side effects. I was excited when she approved of the ingredients in BePure. She is so into all this nutrition stuff, and it felt good to have her approval.

Have a light headache today. Don’t know if it is toxin release, which I think is probable, or just more issues from the whiplash from the accidents I was in.

Ready to be renewed, inside and out. As Life Force and the chiropractor help me deal with my body, I’m getting good support for my mind, spirit, and emotions through a prayer group of fellow writers. I was also offered counseling through an acquaintance of mine who has trained in stuff like PTSD and was watching me struggle after the second car wreck, and have been getting treatments for trauma from a guy who specializes in fight or flight. Interesting how God is bringing all these resources to me at once. I feel like I’m getting an inside-out makeover: from heart and spirit to weight and skeleton! I’m open wide, Lord. Wanting positive change on all fronts!

(later) someone just posted to the BETA group that when we lose fat it releases emotions. And someone else connected emotions to the cleanse. Decided to Google it and do a little research. According to Natural News, “you can remove stored negative emotions with deep body cleansing.” The article continued, “Most people don`t know it, but emotions can become trapped in the body. It`s the negative emotions that become trapped, and the reason they become trapped is generally because we didn`t know how to deal with them appropriately when they originally occurred. The consequence is that those stuck emotions then negatively affect us long past their due. However, with deep cleansing you can release and remove old, trapped negative emotions and end the cycle of being triggered by them.”

Wow! I’m reminded of that Scripture that says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s amazing to see how what has gone on in my heart, mind, and emotions can be so connected to my body! Thank you, Lord, for yesterday’s tears, for this cleanse, for purifying me inside and out.

I find it interesting that yesterday’s crying binge began while I did my fight or flight therapy. I’d already had some trauma release with this therapy, but the cleanse seems to be working together with the therapy. I’ve felt no need to cry today, even during the fight or flight therapy. Yay! I think yesterday’s emotional purge was good for me, though.

Happy news of the day: Jerry and I walked together again. I went farther than I have since the June 5th car accident! AND I ate LESS than 1200 calories today and didn’t feel deprived!