Tag Archives: prayer

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

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Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Balance and Transformation

san diego 6How are the social situations going for you? Do you struggle even more to maintain your eating goals with all the parties and special events?

It’s super hard to resist the goodies as gatherings with friends, and I grew up in a culture where lots of yummy food equated love. I’m afraid I’ve passed that onto my family, especially our boys. Mom cooking sure seems like love to them.

This is an area where I’m trying to find balance. I want to still bake my mother-in-law’s famous chocolate cake for special occasions, treat the family to homemade pizza or challah bread, or surprise them with homemade cinnamon rolls. In my quest to be healthier and thinner, I’m not willing to give up my love of baking or the joy the family receives from such treats.

But this BeNew journey is about being transformed. Real, lasting change. Lysa TerKeurst of the Made to Crave Devotional said, “short-term sacrifices will lead to short-term results.”

While I’m not willing to forever avoid making my mom’s oh-so-good banana cake or my grandma’s apple pie, I am also learning that there has to be a life-style change if I’m going to be healthy. I don’t make treats as often, and when I do make them I practice moderation in enjoying them. Every day I seek to add in lots of healthy stuff, like spinach and nuts, cut back on pastas, bread, and sugars, and enjoy the goodness of fresh and frozen fruits.

But all of this pondering eating habits doesn’t really get to the heart of the struggle, does it? Lysa encourages, “Every time I make a choice I have to ask myself, ‘Am I being conformed, looking a lot like the crowd and staying stuck in defeat? Or, am I transformed, breaking away from the vicious cycle of defeat by courageously saying no? No more. No thank you’.”

I especially love the phrase, “every time I make a choice.” This journey is on-going. Every single day we make multiple choices, choices that either conform to social pressure to eat (or our own need to fill a void with food) or lead to transformation of our lifestyle and body. For me, this is also a spiritual journey as I draw near to God, inviting Him into my choices, my thoughts about food, my struggles and my successes.

Lord,
Please help us to trample the old ways for good. We don’t want short-term solutions, but transformation life change. Give us the wisdom as we navigate treats and holiday celebrations, showing us the balance of enjoying good things without sabotaging our health. Please pour out your strength and your guidance. Give us new desires for healthy living. We don’t want to make our bodies off limits any more. We give You permission to ALL of who we are. Inside, outside, body, spirit, mind, will, and emotions.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Hope

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talk about meat to chew on!

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

And so I pray,

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

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

Trading in Soul Exhaustion for Hope

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ To be in the Center

IMAG2511“To be in the center of God’s will is to be a woman who is joyful, prayer, and thankful.” Lysa TerKeurst

It’s coming at me from all sides. First a friend talked to me about being intentional to use the weapons of warfare the Lord has given me, specifically to think on all that is lovely, good, pure. She said the enemy tries to steal from me constantly through life’s battles, and one of my most powerful weapons is focusing my thoughts on all that is good. The next day I received an email that said almost exactly the same thing, this time from someone I’ve never met.

This morning I read, “Fullness is our destiny, but emptiness is our crutch.”

As I pondered these words, I came to this passage in the Made to Crave Devotional, “joy is a choice we make, not a feeling we hope to get from our circumstances . . . look for the good . . . celebrate it even in small ways.”

I’m seeing a pattern here.

Much of life battles are won and lost in our minds. Probably most. The battle for joy is connected to where I plant my thoughts. The battle for weight loss is planted in where I focus my thoughts. The battle for how well I treat those I love is grounded in where I allow my thoughts to roam.

Of course we will have down days and days of trouble, but Jesus says, “be of good cheer for I have overcome the world!” And Lysa reminds us that the hard stuff, the temptations to eat (or lots of other stuff like to be negative, hurtful, unkind, etc.) are simply triggers to pray. To turn to God rather than anything else.

Of course the admonition to be thankful goes hand in hand with all of this. If we are thinking on all that is good and lovely, focusing on God and His strength, thanksgiving comes naturally!

I want to be victorious in weight loss and all of life, don’t you? I like what Lysa said, that we are most victorious when we are in the center of His will–being joyful, prayerful, thankful women. I’ve got a ways to go in all of this . . . but I’ve also come a long way, baby. How about you?

Learning to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful.

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

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.

lindsey's wedding

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.

HeartsongChristm.indd

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

Journeying with God and Friends

Perhaps you’re out enjoying a camping trip or a day at the movies, celebrating summer’s end on Labor Day weekend. Since I have no real recreation plans, this weekend I’m re-living an earlier vacation.

This summer was a friend summer, with lots of good moments with folks I hold dear. I got away more than usual, first in Montrose, then Breckenridge, and later at the Broadmoor. I had one more mountain adventure I haven’t had time to blog about. My friends Heather and Niki provided this one. It included great food, amazing views, and late night conversations. (Also a bit of weight gain for the first time in 9 months, but I came home and dealt with that in short order!)

Buena Vista 4

The drive toward Buena Vista includes one of my husband’s favorite mountain plateaus. I usually prefer gurgling streams and lots of trees, but Jerry likes the open valley with peaks around the circumference no matter which way you look. I have to admit this trip through the high plain included some beautiful scenery, like this incredible sky.

Buena Vista 1

The view from the front door

Once we arrived at Niki’s in-laws beautiful home, the views again spoke peace and praise into my heart. This gorgeous home is over 4,000 square feet and built by its owners. I love the rustic feel, the rope trim, the natural wood, the personal touches that create an ambiance all its own. The space reminds me of my uncles’ homes back in Oklahoma, where much of the decor came from their own craftsmanship. It was the perfect place for our mountain get-away. (If you want to move to the Colorado Rockies, this home is for sale!)

Buena Vista 5

I started the weekend with high hopes for healthy eating. The three of us love good food, and Heather purchased several treats, the best Muscato I’ve ever had and my favorite dark chocolate (Lindt) were among them. Niki and I bought melons and I brought along my trusty salad and fixins.

Niki also treated me to my favorite flavors in a wonderful frozen yogurt with raspberries and dark chocolate. This would have all been well and good if I could have resisted second helpings and the bowls of popcorn.

But there’s something about midnight conversations that give way to snacking and another glass of wine.

It also gave way to a wonderful experience with the night sky. I’m a city girl now, but spent several years as a country girl. What I miss the very most about country living is the vibrancy of the stars. As we sat outside late at night, talking as good friends do, I was disappointed by some low-hanging wispy clouds that blocked a more complete view of God’s twinkle lights. I asked Him if He would please move the clouds on out so we could enjoy His handiwork. Smart people like my brother would give the scientific reasons behind what happened, but I’m audacious enough to think the Good Lord didn’t mind blowing those clouds out of the way just for our enjoyment. As the night lingered Niki and Heather continued chatting, but I curled up on the ground, wrapped in a soft blanket, and just stared at the sky, diamonds sparkling on rich, black velvet.

buena vista 7With the dawn of a new day came my determination to cut back on the portions and eat healthy. I even packed a wise lunch, some spinach, apples, pecans, and a small sandwich.

The problem is there was also a bag of my favorite chips: vinegar and sea salt. As I journaled beside a bounding mountain river later that day, the Lord pushed me to deal with an attitude He wanted changed. The angrier I grew, the more chips I ingested.

Sheesh. Will I ever learn?

You’d think after my amazing star experience the night before I’d be filled upon Love, but there I sat, atop a boulder, accusing my Savior and munching potato chips.

There with the sound of the rushing water filling our ears, peace prevailed for my friends, even as the rain sprinkled upon us. Niki held her face to the sky and as droplets of refreshment dusted her cheeks, she smiled.

Me? I got madder.

As the rain splatters decorated the pages of my journal, I slammed it shut and went to the SUV Heather had buena vista 11rented for the weekend. My friends delighted in the gifts around them while I sulked.

Angry words poured onto the the pages of my journal as I sat, shut up in a dreary car.

The Lord had me right where He wanted me. I’d shoved down some stuff that needed dealing with, and He loved me too much to leave me walking around without acknowledging the crud invading my heart and mind.

Someday I’ll write about all that. But not much yet. Suffice it to say it had to do with feeling like I received only trickles of the blessings He’d promised.

buena vista 13

It was several days before He got it through my thick skull that He had a river of blessings He wanted to give, but I had shut down to the possibilities. For all my brave talk and determination, down deep inside I was on the floor expecting scraps when the Master had laid an abundant table. There’s so much more to all that. Maybe someday I’ll be ready to share more, but this post is already twice as long as I typically allow myself, and the subject matter is still too raw.

buena vista 15

Lest you think all my time was wasted at that gorgeous river, I must say I did take some time that day to enjoy the it and the companionship of the best of friends.

buena vista 18

And back at the house, I could still thank God for the beauty of the Columbine, Colorado’s stateBuena Vista 2 flower. I’d never seen yellow and pink before, and I love the way they combine my two favorite colors.

The drive back to Denver with Niki and Heather included some good processing of my river attitude as we splashed through rivulets made by pounding rain on I-70. It took me several hours before I would talk with them about my journaling experience and several more days of processing with other friends, including Jill and Kay, whose weird dream about me had started the probing in the first place. It was actually a couple of weeks later when I got alone again with my journal that all the anger simply disappeared. Funny how it happened. The Lord showed me He was proud of me.

Proud?

Crazy that in all my failure He is still applauding, cheering me on, seeing the good in me. It blows me away.

The wonderful Heather visit concluded with a few special times–overeating at Carrabas, Heather getting me hooked on Downton Abbey (which I had sworn I wouldn’t watch until all the crises were wrapped up with a real ending), and a wonderful time of coffee and chatter with friends.

coffee with friends

Journeying with God and Friends

Spirit Seeker Sunday 4

Spirit 1 stephen

Holy Spirit, be the Water of my life. May I be refreshed by you, surrendering to the flow of your life-giving current. (Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer)

Wow. Urgency, firmness, resolve, consistency . . . I had no idea perseverance packed such a punch!

Perseverance is a good word for me today. I’m emotionally and physically drained. We’ve had some stuff, but in the long run all will be well.

In the long run.

Perseverance.

Meanwhile I face a new struggle with my weight loss and health goals. I’ve come so far and while the products I’m taking have greatly helped me on this journey, I’ve still worked pretty hard. My daughter’s wedding is roughly a month out, and I’d love to shave off that last bit in the tummy before buying that mother-of-the-bride dress. But honestly, I’m tempted to settle.

I’m weary of persevering, and I’m catching myself returning to old habits. Not full blown stress eating, but justifying mindless eating because I’m just so tired.

Where is the urgency, resolve, consistency I felt earlier in the journey? Would I toss all that now?

Everyday I experience the joy of ease of movement, of a normal feeling body, of being the real me in a physical sense.

The journey is WORTH it.

What about you, my friend? Do you have urgency, resolve, and consistency?

Perseverance?

If not, wanna turn where I’m turning?

Father, 
Today I am weak. I don’t want to quit. Give me what it takes to persevere. I’m tired and don’t want to think about the weight loss journey today, but I also don’t want to turn back. I’ve come too far. And Lord, I’m thinking of weight, but I’m also thinking of the other difficult areas in my life, the other places I’ve persevered. Give me what it takes not to give up. Give me a renewed sense of urgency, firmness, resolve, and consistency.

And Lord, I pray for each one visiting my blog today. I ask the same for them. Give us focus. Wills of steel that are resolved to follow you on the weight loss journey. Thank you that, as Lysa TerKeurst said, that You love us where we are, but You love us too much to leave us stuck in a place of defeat. Move us forward. Give us hearts that surrender to Your prompting. Make us strong women who follow boldly. God, we depend on your strength.

What About You?

How did the above concepts hit you? Where do you see Protection, Provision, Progess in your journey? How about firmness, consistency, and resolve?

In the Made to Crave Devotional Lysa TerKeurst says,  “a scale can measure my physical body but never my worth as a woman.” How do you respond to that statement?

*The above thoughts prompted by Lysa TerKeurst’s Made to Crave devotional.

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.)

Snowflakes and a Hard Heart Made Soft – Day 81

snowflake in windo

One of our homemade snowflakes, which I finally took down the first day of Spring, just in time for more snow!

I’m either totally awesome, brave, and strong . . . or lacking in common sense.

I just returned from a four mile walk. It’s 9 degrees, and I can barely move my cheeks. But I feel empowered. It’s a football playoff day at our house. The boys, glued to the TV, are begging for homemade pizza, and I just earned 520 calories of cheesy goodness. Glad I didn’t splurge yesterday just because I was sad. Glad I was intentional about choosing when and how to eat a heavy, high calorie food.

I awoke angry this morning. All those tests stirred up the weird sensations in my head. It was as bad as it was a few months ago. I cried. I don’t want to go back to that level of functionality. I’d found a peace with the last six months. After all, I’ve received much healing in all parts of who I am, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m in better shape than I’ve been in years. I’d even come to the place I could thank God for the process, be grateful I was “benched” so that I would take time to take care of ME.

But not this morning. I was mad at God. Afraid of what the future holds—how many more tests, what therapies are a head. I’m tired of spending so much time and energy focused on getting well. I want to get on with my goals for life!

I remembered what my friend said about my walking, about how it was Eden walks, when the Lord and I walked together, connected like Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden. And I didn’t feel all sweet and good about that. I wanted Jerry to be healthy enough to walk with me. I didn’t want to walk alone, even if it meant an opportunity to walk with God. I was mad at Him anyway.

And of course that attitude made me feel even worse because I don’t like to be mad at God. I want to WANT to spend time with Him. I knew my emotions were childish and petty, that this world isn’t heaven and getting mad at God doesn’t do anything to help me.

Maybe that’s why I was so determined to walk despite the cold: to prove to myself that I choose God even when I’m angry, when life hurts, when my emotions rail against Him. (Well, that and I wanted to enjoy no-guilt homemade pizza with my boys!)

So I took off. I made a goal of walking to the grocery store. I figured that would give me a specific plan and a place to warm-up halfway through. As I walked it was hard to think about anything except how cold it was. But when you walk with God (even if you’re ignoring Him) cool things can happen.

Cool thing #1 is that even though it wasn’t snowing, some flakes from the dusting we got last night jumped from a roof as I walked by and followed each other in a lazy waltz as they descended to the ground. My heart lifted at the beauty, and a song began in my heart:

And somewhere it’s snowing

See the soft drifting down

As the snowflakes surrender

To the hardening ground

Like the good grace of Jesus

That now covers our sin

In the kingdom of heaven

It’s snowing again.

I sang a little as I walked, breathing in the cold and panting between choruses. His grace washed over the hard ground of my heart. I sensed His love, His patience with my bad attitude.

Cool thing #2 happened as I passed a house that always has amazing Christmas decorations. Of course they are down now, but each holiday season I make a point to drive past this house and enjoy the array of Christmas scenes they display. When the kids were little, it was a family experience.  I’ve long treasured the gift the people of this house give the people of mine.

This house is over a mile from ours, so I don’t know these people. I’ve signed their guest book, but never been able to thank them personally. As I walked by a woman was unloading a bunch of groceries in the miserable cold. I rushed across the street and started helping. Of course I’m a total stranger to her, but I just had to do it. It was just a tiny token of appreciation for all the joy they have brought my family and me. It felt so good to finally thank them face-to-face.

Of course you don’t have a unique encounter like that without thinking about Jesus. I felt His smile, and I returned it with one of my own. I’m convinced He orchestrated that sweet moment so my anger could melt into joy.

Cool thing #3 blossomed as I thought about Him again. I thought of how He is with me every single moment, and how I am never alone even when it feels like I am. I imagined Him walking next to me. I thought about what I would say to a friend walking with me and tried to concentrate on chatting with Him like that. I was only successful for short spurts before my mind wandered to whatever caught my attention as I walked past. This frustrated me. I longed for deeper connection, for a true Eden walk.

Then I thought about how it is when I walk with Jerry. Sometimes we talk, and sometimes we just enjoy walking together, letting our thoughts drift in companionable silence. I looked to my left and believed Jesus was right there. I smiled because He chose the side next to the traffic, just like Jerry does. And I felt protected and loved.

Cool thing #4 happened as I warmed up at the grocery store. There was a wonderful woman offering samples. I had walked into my usual lunch time, and my cheeks were stiff with cold, so I paused a moment to accept a sample (60 calories, I checked) and chat while I warmed.

What a woman! Eighty-five years old, she retired from the police department and works at the sample table so she can travel the world! How cool is that?? Just a few months ago she flew with her daughters to Barcelona and the cruised the Mediterranean. What an inspiration! I want to live fully at 85, continue to chase my dreams, find places to make friends and be useful, like she has.

My new friend Norma had a strong faith that shone as we talked. She told me pieces of her story—and isn’t that what life is really about, how we all live in the big story of life and how your story and mine intersect?

I saw her strength, her joy, her willingness to reach out to me, a perfect stranger, in the midst of some incredibly difficult circumstances.  I saw how she didn’t stop living when hard things came, how she found ways to breathe and celebrate and travel all 50 states and most of Europe.

Warmed in the grace of her smile, Jesus and I headed back home. We didn’t talk much. I was so cold I mostly just wanted to walk fast and get to the heat of my very own house, but that whole freezing two miles I knew Him and His presence.

Sometimes life’s journey freaks me out, makes me mad, disappoints me. But today’s four mile journey in the cold reminded me that even in tough situations cool surprises happen.                  ~ January 12, 2013

Real Time:

I’m glad the Lord is so patient with me! I’ve been mad at him again this week. I really hope I outgrow that someday.

What About You?

How does anger affect weight loss. What do you do when you’re mad?