Tag Archives: rest

Tromping on All or Nothing (Again)

Peace in the midst of chaos. Balance. You’d think I’d be better at it. I’ve had ample opportunity to learn.

I think (hope) I’ve made progress in cultivating joy in times of emotional struggle and sorrow. But old habits creep up in new places.

During early marriage there were a few phrases I heard often from my husband. One was, “it’s not all or nothing, honey.”

Here on A Benew Journey we’ve talked often about taking back our lives. I shared my story of how being benched help me learn to care about my own needs and find a healthier lifestyle, prioritizing my emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being.

Enter the new test of balance: Overwhelming Good!

When my husband and I returned  from helping go through my mother-in-law‘s home we were emotionally and physically fatigued. God and loved ones met us with a wonderful surprise. A friend told me she’d prayed for years for an opportunity to bless our family. This came when she was able to gift us not only materials for a face-lift to parts of our home, but also her expertise. Having just remodeled her own house, she knew how to do things we didn’t.

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While we were gone she and our children dug in, pulling down old, out-dated wallpaper, emptying shelf after shelf of books, and reshaping the walls so they would look beautiful when painted.

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Notice the gratitude wall in the hallway . . .

Then my friend ordered the materials to rebuild our ancient privacy fence. These answers to years of prayer overwhelmed me with gratitude. After taking a day to unpack and assimilate, I dug in thinking I’d have a brand-new family room in a week, and that if the boys helped on a week-end we’d have the post holes dug. My friend and I could leisurely add the other boards while my husband was at work.

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It’s not quite what happened. We are on day 19 or 20 of the family room project, and only about half the holes are dug and filled with cement and a new pole. (And that much only happened with several friends pitching in.)

This morning I felt the call to be still. To talk these wonderful (though somewhat challenging) situations over with the Lord. I have other work to do, commitments to keep. I’ve been skipping my walks (isn’t painting enough exercise?) and giving into less healthy food choices out of exhaustion. I want to bury myself in this project. To GET IT DONE.

This morning I realized it isn’t just the bad that gets me out of balance. It’s the good. The exciting projects. The work I love. I felt His whisper, His reminder to be on guard against all or nothing living. (I guess He and Jerry are on the same page.) That what is accomplished in this day is sufficient. That healthy choices are important and pushing too long and hard, even in the good things, is a step backward not only in my physical health journey, but my joy. In my life.

There will always be overwhelming tasks. It is my goal to be a wildly productive woman. But if I forget the moments–If I don’t embrace life on the overwhelmingly busy days, then I’m back to square one, rushing, but not living. Meeting goals without enjoying the beauty of moments well lived.

I painted over my gratitude wall, my 1000 little breathless moments recorded in multi-colored magic marker. (We won’t talk about how many coats of paint it took to cover the marks of the orange sharpies!) As we painted I felt those thanksgivings were the foundations of the new, beautiful space. The color I chose is called “refreshed.” And that’s what noticing life’s good moments did for me, it refreshed my heart, helped it live more fully alive.

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Beneath these beautiful, refreshed walls is a foundation of 1,000 moments of beauty, things noticed by choice, by slowing down and savoring. Gifts from the hand of Creator God who gives all good things.

My BeNew journey continues. When the good (or difficult) things in life bring unexpected responsibilities, when something wonderful happens that requires more hours than I dreamed, I can’t live all or nothing, throwing myself into conquering the project. I’m learning to prioritize life. The moments. The beauty. The healthy choices that keep me strong for the next project.

Two days ago I completed bookshelf #1. Non-fiction neatly alphabetized and housed in cases of misty surf and calming celadon. (blue-gray and green)

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Do not be deceived. This bookcase is now full!

Tomorrow I’ll paint and hang a homemade bookcase for my fiction collection. Or maybe that will wait until next week. But it will get done. And I will chose to sleep. To be responsible with other commitments and not just bury in this project. I will take time to make Sam homemade biscuits. I will pray. Enjoy the outdoors. Breath the fragrance of fall and actually notice it.

How about you, my friend? Are you resisting tunnel vision? Are you living life, breathing in the breathless moments, or just conquering time?

As you work, embrace joy. See the faces of those you love. Hear their words. Taste your food. Have a little fun . . .

IMAG0586Until Next Time,

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Spirit Seeker Sunday ~

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Photo taken in the Rocky Mountains by Stephen Moldenhauer

Funny how something that sounds so simple can be such a profound journey. The first snippet of Scripture I learned as a child was probably, “God is love.” Yet my life journey is somehow about discovering that love, believing in that love, receiving that love, living from that love.

Sometimes I get it. Several years ago I was thinking through all kinds of worries, stresses, and questions. Then suddenly they all just vanished. I thought, “None of it really matters. All that really matters is God loves me. He LOVES me. I AM LOVED.”

The years since have included a lot of testing of that ideal. It’s too easy to get into the mindset Lysa TerKeurst pointed out in her book, the Made to Crave Devotional, “When I’m trying to be loved, I wonder why God would allow trials.”

Or what about this one: “When I am loved, I can cast all my anxiety on Him. When I’m trying to be loved, I cast all my anxiety on my performance.”

Living from a place of knowing, deep down, that I am loved changes my whole perspective on life. It builds my ability to trust God. It gives me hope in trials. It makes me stronger when I am tempted. It takes the churning of life and changes it to peace.

Let’s focus these thoughts on weight loss: When I’m trying to be loved I look to the scale or others for validation. When I’m trying to be loved I am hard on myself, angry with every step backwards. When I’m trying to be loved I am angry and fighting the food cravings, trying to fill a void. When I’m trying to be loved the weight loss journey is about my performance. I seek to prove myself to God, to others, to myself.

But when I’m loved I rest in love. The scale and other’s opinions can bring joy or frustration, but they don’t validate or invalidate me. I am already validated by HIS love. When I am loved I can forgive myself when I am not perfect and draw on love to do better next time. When I am loved I can eat for sustenance, not to fill an empty emotion. When I am loved I can lose weight to embrace God’s gifts, seeking to be all He created me to be. My sacrifices of calories or sugar or fatty foods can be offered in praise and done to honor Him, taking care of my body because it is loved and because it pleases Him when I value the body He gave me.

How About You? Can you think through one or two phrases that contrast When you’re trying to be loved with when you ARE loved?

When I live in Love I eat for sustenance, not to fill empty emotion

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.

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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?