Tag Archives: perseverance

Lessons from Sam and LOTR: “There’s some good in this world.”

The things we do for love.

Some of them aren’t so hard. My sweet Sam, still recovering from surgery and growing increasingly tired of being tied to crutches, requested a Lord of the Rings Marathon. Extended version, of course.

After 12 plus hours of immersion in the trilogy thoughts continue to surface.

Yes, I’ve read the book. Watched the abridged versions of the Peter Jackson movies. Even watched the extended movies all in one day before. (Sam’s request one year for his birthday.) But with something as deep as Lord of the Rings it seems there is always a new take-away.

One of the things I’m pondering is this scene:

Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

When I watched this part of the movie, what jumped out at me is “There’s some good in this world.”

Not great revelation, but don’t we sometimes forget?

Life can grow dark. My mind can dwell on the darkness. Perhaps this tendency fueled my journey of recording 1,000 gifts. 

Writing my gratitude all over the basement walls changed me. Not that I live every, single moment in gratitude.

But I look for the good. Notice it more often.

Like Sam I know good exists. The darkness must pass. The sun will shine out all the clearer because of the darkness.

20140729_153036I read recently that perseverance alone is not enough. That true persistence is waiting on God with joyful anticipation.

Much of my life has been persevering with clenched fists instead of joyful anticipation. But maybe I’m learning. And part of my new understanding is that to embrace joy in the hard times I must remember there is good.

It shows up in simple places. The beautiful green after rain. The deep-throated guffaws of my boys, now all young men, shoveling down dinner while they crack their jokes. The feel of my husband’s hand upon my waist as I drift into sleep. Fresh strawberries. Friendship.

His gifts are everywhere. Even in the shadowed times there is good. Sometimes it’s a fight in my heart to see it.

But good is worth fighting for.

Until next time,

moldenhauer signature3

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.

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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.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ WANTING Change

san diego 6Do you know, way down deep, that you are loved?

Take it a step further:

Do you know, way down deep, that you are loved JUST AS YOU ARE?

Entering the weight loss journey is better if you start from a foundation of love. (So is life!) We change not to seek love, but because we ARE loved, and we are worthy of a BETTER situation.

So have you thought about this?

God loves us JUST AS WE ARE, and He loves us too much to LEAVE US just as we are.

Whether in physical/weight issues or inner emotional/spiritual junk the God of Love wants to see us progressing toward freedom, joy, health, and strength.

One thing that gets in the way of my weight loss/health goals is indulgence. Indulgence isn’t the occasional planned treat. Indulgence is eating without restraint, especially repeatedly. It is ignoring the need to be mindful of how we treat our bodies.

Here are reasons I indulge:
-Because I want to, plain and simple. That looks good, I want it, I have no restraint.
-Because I feel sad or empty and try to fill with something besides God
-Because I’m tired of being “good.”
-Because I’m feeling deprived somewhere else in life
-Because I’m angry
-Because I feel rebellious
-Because I’m feeling stuck creatively
-Because a treat is available that usually isn’t
-Because I act mindlessly, focused elsewhere with too much food in front of me
-Because I’m stressed out
-Because I feel hopeless

Why do you indulge?

That definition–to act in an unrestrained way– came from the Made to Crave Devotional. It really convicted me. Nowhere else in life do I think it is okay to be unrestrained, mindless, or indulgent. Why have I felt it was justified when it comes to food?

The author, Lysa TerKuerst, said, “We have to see the purpose of our struggle with food as something more than getting to wear smaller sizes and receive compliments. Shallow desires produce shallow efforts . . . The process . . . has to be about more . . . It’s about recalibrating our souls so we want to change for the right reasons.”

And so I ask myself why I want to change, and my answers are shallow AND deep. Here’s a list I made when I was about halfway to my goal:
-I want to wear a smaller size
-I want to have more stamina to do the tasks before me
-I want to walk without being winded
-I want to get out of a chair without it being hard
-I want to be healthier
-I want to be stronger
-I want to reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
-I want to honor the memory of my friend, Phyllis, who died of cancer. She admonished me to lose weight as the cancer she had was statistically higher in women who were overweight. She wanted better for me.
-I want to give God the throne of my life, even in my body
-I want honor God by caring for His dwelling place
-I want to be the size God intended when He created me
-I want to be closer to Him, to turn to Him when I long and crave
-I want to live in greater joy, not because I’m skinnier, but because my body is being treated as it was meant to be treated and because there is joy in moving and connecting with God in my body, not just my mind and spirit and heart
-I want to bring greater joy to my husband. I had no idea how much I had deprived him of until I started losing weight, and he was so happy.
-I want to have energy for my children

Why do you want change?

Knowing the why helps us have the strength when we are tempted to indulge. Maybe you could make your own why list and post it where you’ll see it. You might also want to journal about what triggers you to indulge to help you become more aware as you endeavor to make healthy choices.

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Knowing the WHY helps us overcome.

Carnival Mirrors and Mocking

Pretty much any time we step out into new territory we are opposed.

If you haven’t experienced this, please let me know. I want your secret.

Several years ago I began a weekly devotional called Soul Scents. It wasn’t long before I got hate mail telling me all the reasons I wasn’t good enough or holy enough to write about spiritual things. After a few tears and lots of prayer I kept going. How? I clung to the truth. I didn’t have to be good enough. The only way anyone is that good is because they are covered by the blood of Jesus. That writing experience was one of the best of my life, and a few thousand came on the ride with me.

What if I’d listened to the critique?

Fast forward to now. I’d known for a long time I was supposed to offer videos on my blog. A few weeks ago I finally stepped up. I felt exposed and nervous, but that first Monday Makeover was a personal victory! It wasn’t perfect, but I said what I knew I was supposed to say. I DID it.

But after a day or two the opposition started.

This time it wasn’t from people; it was an oppression that became so tangible it was as though the very air I breathed cried out, “hopeless,” telling me there would never be true success, that I would never really influence this world for the better. Even the air around me seemed tinged gray.

I pushed through videoing my second Monday Makeover, sharing Truth I absolutely believed, but speaking out of a determination to move forward, not out of free-flowing joy.

That Monday was awful. Tuesday morning was not much better. I read my Advent devotional determined to embrace the beauty. While it shined pencil light into my darkness, I still felt I was suffocating.

I tried to journal, to talk to God, but instead of free-flowing conversation there was confusion and an overwhelming sense of condemnation. In my mind I saw a strong man standing before me, glaring at me, arms crossed. I cried out, “Lord, this is not the True You, the Loving God You’ve revealed to me.” I think the last thing I wrote in my journal is that I felt powerless and needed Him to rescue me.

I went on with my day, attending my critique group. When it was my turn for advice on my manuscript I asked for prayer instead. My friends surrounded me.

It wasn’t long before one spoke up. “I believe the Lord has given me a picture that reveals what you’re dealing with. I see a “fun” house full of a maze of distorted mirrors. Over a loud speaker comes mocking laughter, playing over and over. You’re fighting to look in a true mirror, but you can’t find it.”

She was right. Those three women began praying and before I went home that day the gray film no longer suffocated me.

I knew who I was. A daughter of the King.

Maybe I’ll tell you the whole story someday, but for now my message is simply this: You will be opposed when you move forward; but you will NOT be defeated.

Believe. Keep walking forward. Grab your friends for prayer and encouragement. Ask God to rescue you. Read TRUTH.

IMAG0288

The darkness wants to destroy all that is good in this world, to keep us captive to despair and doubt. To tell us we are unimportant, ineffective, and unable to succeed.

But the Good News is “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness does NOT overcome it.” (That’s from the Gospel of John.)

I hope to hang some lights later. If you happen to drive by my house know that I’m shouting victory to the world with their every twinkle.

The LIGHT shines in the darkness, and the darkness has NOT overcome it!

Victory over the Carnival Image

Monday Morning Makeover ~ Ruts

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

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?

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Breaking Up With Poor Choices

The Shrinking Middle

weight loss beginning and end

11-2-12 and 5-19-13

The middle continues to shrink!

Yesterday I put on my skinny shorts, and they had become my fat shorts. Too big, they made me feel heavier than I am.  The pounds are crawling off now instead of dropping, but my body continues to reshape.

I’d like to take credit for this, but honestly since the wedding a month ago my exercise routine has been up and down, and my calorie intake has had the same inconsistency.

But my shorts are still too big. Lucky me!

Giving credit where credit is due, one of the promises of the Benew system is that it shrinks fat cells.

That said, just being thinner is no longer enough. I want to be stronger. I’ve tapped into a new, healthier lifestyle and don’t want to let it go. I’ve slacked off, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up! Every single choice made for health is a step onto the path of perseverance in this benew journey.

With that in mind I got up this morning, did some stretches and shaping exercises, then walked the neighborhood. All of me benefits from the twitter of the birds, the blue of the sky, and the movement. I walked a ways, then jogged a few short distances. After that I circled a nearby school picking up trash and praying for the kids. I even sang a little. When I rounded the corner for home I spent a little time smelling the roses, literally.

roses pink bush

roses pink

 It cleared the head and heart even as it strengthened the body.

To be even more transparent, I’ll admit my head and heart needed a good clearing.  I’ve slogged through a bunch of stresses lately, and to make it worse I awoke way too early due to an upsetting dream. Thankfully, I don’t have those often, but even when the things we dream aren’t real our emotions feel as if they were!

My walk in the sunshine was an attempt to work out the crud. I also contacted a few friends for prayer, and made a point to stand up to the voices that tried to embarrass me and tear me down.

What about you? Is life digging at you? Is there a step back onto the path of perseverance in your physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual health that you can take?

What does that look like? Exercise? Prayer? A conversation with a trustworthy friend? More water? Resisting junk food? Turning from negative thoughts? Eating an apple? Smelling a rose?

roses red

Whatever it is, I’m saying a prayer for you and me as I close, asking the Lord to show us the next healthy choice and give us the strength to make it.

Share with a friend:

Discover the next healthy choice and do it!

Every  choice made for health is a step forward

Embrace a New Day (Days 118 and 119)

Every morning is a new day to embrace. The sun may set on a day of disappointments, but it rises to possibilities for success!sunset 2

Real life rarely looks like you planned it–at least not at my house.

Earlier this week I blogged about determination and discipline. The posts I found in my journal for today show my reality–some days you’re determined and disciplined and feel close to God, the world, and yourself. Others? Not so much.

Day 118 ~ Worked for the morning. Did 30 minutes of Pilates. Worked for the afternoon. Took a walk just before sunset. I felt drawn to a nearby middle school and circled it several times. Found myself praying a lot for the kids there. A bunch of guys played soccer in a field nearby, and I prayed God would raise a leader who would keep those kids engaged in healthy things, like that soccer game, and away from damaging choices. ~ Feb. 18

Day 119 ~ Another Tuesday without exercise. With my back to back appointments every Tuesday I don’t get it in unless I am very focused.. I am so proud of myself when I get up in time to go outside or do Pilates before my morning appointment, but I didn’t today. I didn’t even try. It was really cold, and I just couldn’t bring myself to face the outside temperatures. And I was in a bad mood, so no alternative exercise. Ugh. Someone with a bit more determination might come home and worked out late in the evening, but by the time I got home it was about 7:30, and I was starving and exhausted and done! ~  Feb. 19

And here we in May. Today was one of those determined/disciplined days when all feels right with the world and my heart. I’ve exercised, made healthy choices, been productive at my work, and enjoyed time with my God, my husband, and my best friend. Had a great conversation with the bride-to-be who, like her mother, seems to be having an all is right with the world day.

You probably wouldn’t have wanted to talk with either of us a couple of days ago, though, when we were still working on wedding stuff at 10 p.m., sitting at Village Inn, stuffing our faces, and trying not to cry . . .

If I were to search for take-away value for today’s blog I guess I’d say that snapshots of real life just aren’t picture perfect. They are . . . real. Some days the sun sets on disappointments. Some days when it sets we feel successful.

The question is what do we do with life’s ups and downs? What I’m hanging onto more every day is that whole idea that perseverance is only one choice away. Success on the weight loss journey, as well as in real life, is not about doing everything perfectly. It’s about getting up each morning and making the choices that lead to your goals. It’s about forgiving yourself when you think you don’t measure up and not letting the down days steal away the successful ones.

His mercies are new every morning.

So . . . let’s take THIS day, THIS choice, and use it to empower us toward success!

Encourage your friends:

His mercies are new every morning.

Real life isn’t perfect, but it is full of perfectly wonderful moments.

Don’t let a bad yesterday steal the promise of a successful today.

Spirit Seeker Sunday 6

spirit 7 stephen

Let His Spirit move you like water in a stream. Fresh. Flowing. Bubbling. (Photo taken by Stephen Moldenhauer on a hike in the Colorado Rockies.)

“We are only one good choice away from being back on the path of perseverance.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst, the Made to Crave Devotional

This has to be one of my very favorite nuggets of truth on my get healthy journey.

Some days (months, years) are super stressful, and I find it hard to CARE about a thinner, healthier body, much less take action. But the good news is that my God dearly loves me whether I’m having a successful weight loss day or not. His love never changes. It is not based on my performance, but in my position as His beloved child.

Every single moment I am only one choice away from returning to my goal. It’s never to late to step back onto the path of perseverance and success. No matter how many days I ignored my goal, in a flash I can be back on track.

Whew! Talk about encouragement!

In her Made to Crave Devotional, Lysa TerKeurst talks about being raised in a culture where food equates love. I relate. My grandmother was a fabulous cook and her love language was feeding you. It wasn’t unusual for Grandma to make fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, AND stewed potatoes–in one meal. She wanted everyone to have their favorite. And she did the same things with the bread. It wasn’t enough to have homemade yeast rolls. She had to make biscuits, too, because I liked them best. And a meal isn’t a meal in the rolling hills of eastern Oklahoma without cornbread. At least at Grandma’s table.

I bought into the whole concept of loving through food. If my boys were to write a book on love languages,  instead of The Five Love Languages, there would be Six. The sixth would be cooking for those you love. Just the other night I made pan cookies at 9 p.m. just because my Seth’s big blue eyes begged. Of course since he works out a couple of hours most days and has the metabolism of a twenty-year-old, those pan cookies don’t affect him quite like they do me. Like it or not, a whole lot of the meaning of family at our house is a big meal or a home-baked treat.

While cooking is a way of loving–an act of service my sons and husband appreciate–food is not love. God is love. Being a part of His family is as simple as choosing to be His child by accepting His unconditional love and forgiveness offered through His Firstborn Son, Jesus. Because of Jesus’s act of Love on the cross, the rest of us have the opportunity to be adopted by the Father. We can be part of the family.

We can enjoy many expressions of love, including someone’s good cooking. But in our journey to know God and in our journey to healthier lifestyles, it’s important to break the idea that we can fill up our love holes with food. The only way to fill up a love hole is with God’s unconditional, always present, never wavering, fully perfect LOVE.

When He looks at us He loves us. It’s that simple.

When we throw our heart and arms open to God’s love, we are more able to go forward in all of life. In our identity as children of the King of the universe we can persevere in the hard stuff–like weight loss–and make that one good choice that puts us back on the path to perseverance. And then the NEXT good choice.

How about you?  Does it encourage you to remember that you are HIS precious daughter no matter your weight and no matter your performance? And how do you feel about being only one good choice away from perseverance?

How about sharing these thoughts with your friends?

When God looks at us He loves us. It’s that simple.

My identity is as God’s precious child; not based on my performance.

No matter what I’ve done, I’m only one choice away from persevering on the path to my goals.