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

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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.

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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.

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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