Tag Archives: Spirit Seeker Sunday

Spirit Seeker Sunday 8

Spirit 12 stephen

Let His Spirit move you like water in a stream. Fresh. Flowing. Bubbling. (Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer)

“I am made to live the reality of God’s promises.”

Wow, Lysa, do you have to step on my toes every time? 

Such were my thoughts as I read through Day 9 of the Made to Crave Devotional. It was a few months ago, but I thought I’d share my reaction. You might relate to what I wrote then:

Here’s the honest truth. I’m struggling today. Fighting to focus on God’s promises, to believe His heart for me in the midst of disappointments and stresses. And somehow that all snowballs into not wanting to care about my eating choices. I did a lot of compromises today–eating without being mindful. Eating because I was in a bad mood instead of because I slowed down, thought it through, and chose what to eat.

What’s bugging me as I read today’s devotional is how hard my heart can be even as I read one of my favorite verses, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).

Oh, Lord! You have given me blessing upon blessing. You have cared for me, showered me with your love, met my needs time and time again. Yet I so quickly let my heart harden, throw my little temper tantrums when things don’t go the way I want, and forget that abundance is from you. I forget all that destroys is not of your hand at all. Forgive me for my lack of faith, for listening to the lies of the enemy, for neglecting instead of embracing all the abundant, life-giving facets of my relationship with you. Come! Fill me with your hope! Take the blinders off my eyes so that I can see the abundance and have life and live it to the full!

Jesus, help me to live in the reality of your promises, not the weakness of compromise.

As I process where I was a few months ago, a couple of thoughts come to mind. The first is how my weakness in compromising, my decision to eat mindlessly to fill emotional pain, is of itself a tool of the one who destroys.

How twisted is that? I reach for food because I’m not looking to the Giver of Good Gift. As I fill my body with what it doesn’t need, my emotions don’t get a bit better. But I play right into the destruction of my goals and of the abundant life God wants to give me by leading me to a physically and emotionally healthier place.

The second thought that comes to mind is how even after days like the one I described, there is victory. Turning to Jesus, one day at a time. Choosing not to let a bad day or two stretch into a bad month or two. Reaching for God’s hand up each time I fall, forgiving myself, and getting back on the road to victory. That’s something easier to see as I write this post now in June. The victory is in my physical health, my new clothes size, and on the scale.

I think it’s in my heart, my mind, and my spirit, too. I think I’m learning to look to God, not food. To press on in hardship. To stand a little taller in my identity as one He loves.

I still trip up sometimes. I probably always will. But the new behavior is becoming more natural and so I choose the path forward one step at a time.

How about you?

What does living in the promises verses the compromises mean in every day life and in weight loss?

Are you intentional about looking to Jesus instead of food to fill those empty places?

Can you forgive yourself when you blow it, reach for God’s hand, and get back on the path to healing?

Sharing:

What does it look like to live in the reality of promise, not compromise?

Spirit Seeker Sunday meets God’s Real-life Fairy Tale

hands - three people

 “Two people are better off then one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a tripe-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

When I saw this picture I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but as I pondered the imagery of three people’s hands, I came to believe it symbolized the verse from Ecclesiastes that Sarah asked to be written on the wedding program. For her, the triple-braided cord reminds her that she and David never stand alone, but their lives are entwined with the Holy Spirit, who is always with them and for them.

When Sarah was very small there were a few prayers I prayed often: I prayed she would know and follow Jesus; be protected; and be given a good husband who loved her and who loved God.

Sarah decided she wanted to follow God when she was very young. I think she was only four when she took her little brother aside and explained to him that Jesus died on the cross to pay for all the wrong stuff we’ve ever done and that Seth could chose to live in God’s forgiveness and God would come and live inside of him.

She may have been three.

As a teenager there were plenty of times of angst, lots of hurts and struggles. I watched as Scripture appeared on note cards all over the mirrors in her bedroom and bathroom, on sticky notes all over her room and books, was written on her door with sharpies, and (on particularly trying days) penned on her wrists and forearms.

Sarah pounded out her passions and questions on a blog, writing mostly poems about her perception of life and God. One day she told me, “If I ever meet a guy who cares enough about my heart to read my blog I’m going to marry him.”

Far away in Georgia, David fought his own battles while his parents prayed and fought for him.

And somehow they both grew up and loved Jesus.

They had romantic relationships, and some were particularly painful. Then one day they both decided no more dating until it was obviously something God was doing in and for them.

By this time David had graduated college in Illinois and moved to California. Sarah graduated cosmetology school and worked in Boulder, CO.

Sarah had a friend, Kirsten, who was visiting from Wyoming. During her visit Kirsten happened to get a Facebook message from an old friend she’d gone to youth group with in high school in Georgia. (Are you catching this 5 state connection–starting mostly east and traveling all the way west in the good ole USA?) David jokingly messagedKirsten, “have you found the perfect girl for me yet?”

Kirsten started to reply, “no,” then gasped. “Sarah! You’re perfect for David!” She introduced them on Facebook. They chatted most of the night. Sarah mentioned she had a blog. David stayed up all night, read every post, then put several of his poems on a blog for her to read.

They will both tell you they knew that night they’d met their future mate.

Fast forward roughly a year and a half to last June. David proposed, and they picked May 19th as their wedding date.

It was a practical choice. Sarah was determined to marry in May, the pastor was available only one weekend that month, and Wagon Wheels and Wildflowers had Sunday open.  It also pleased the couple that it is the birthday of David’s grandfather whom his mom Ronda says, “would have loved Sarah.”

After the date was chosen, I noticed that the calendar had “Pentecost Sunday” written on it, but I didn’t think much about that until a few days later. I sat in a Bible study listening to Beth Moore speak via DVD. She related several Christian holidays to their roots in Judaism and explained that Pentecost Sunday fell on the a Jewish celebration of harvest,

Stunned, I felt sure it was no accident that Sarah and David had chosen to get married on a day that celebrated harvest. Their marriage seemed a harvest of all the choices they’d made to seek God in the hard knocks of fighting to adulthood. It seemed a promise to Jerry and me and Steve and Ronda that our prayers had been answered.

I did a little more research:

May 19th, 2013 is Pentecost Sunday on the Christian liturgical calendar.

Pentecost Sunday is the Christian celebration of the day the Holy Spirit came to followers of Jesus. It manifested in a wind that blew through the room and in tongues of fire upon those gathered. That day 3,000 people believed for the first time Jesus was the Son of God, Savior of the world.

For Christians, Pentecost is a reminder of God’s plans, movement, and empowerment. It celebrates the birth of the Christian church. But there’s more! The Day of Pentecost is related to the Jewish celebration of Shavuot. Celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, Shavuot is traditionally a joyous time for expressing thankfulness to the Lord for the blessing of the first fruits of the summer harvest.

On May 19th, Sarah and David reaped an abundant harvest. They harvested the bounty grown from the seeds of parents who prayed their children would follow Jesus and find a spouse who did the same. They reaped a harvest from their own prayer seeds when they asked the Lord for a mate who understood their hearts, who looked to God for life direction, and who wanted to serve others with His love.

The marriage we celebrated on May 19th was God’s gift. It is the first fruits promise of all God will do in and through their relationship. It is a touchstone, a date of remembrance, an altar.

It is a harvest of love, a celebration of the movement of His Spirit, and a joyous day of gratitude to the One who brought them together.

A triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

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.

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 3

water

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)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1: 2 – 4

In her Made to Crave devotional, Lysa TerKeurst encourages readers to “consider the joy.”

I’ve pondered how I can consider the joy of a weight loss journey, and embraced the joy of having self-control, the joy making good decisions, the joy of finding God in unexpected places as I walk this road. These are all joys of the  journey, daily experiences I can celebrate, even before I see the results of my efforts.

Another Scripture talks about how Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. Not the joy of the trial, but the result that would come through His willingness to sacrifice for us. It helps me persevere to consider the long-term joy of the short-term sacrifices I’m making, too. Of course cutting calories and making better eating choices is nothing compared to Jesus’ death on the cross, but they are my little daily trials.

There’s a lot of power in that one word, consider. Much of my weight loss journey since I began on October 24th has just been taking time to consider, like thinking about my eating choices instead of making them mindlessly, or considering how to manage my day to include exercise.

Mindfulness is another word I’ve pondered the last few months. I want to be mindful of my choices, whether or not I move, eat well, drink water, let my emotions run away or reel them in. Being mindful of my needs and moods are part of this. I’ve found that when I’m angry or lonely or sad or sacred a good long walk and conversation with God does a whole lot more for me that a bag of chocolate. In the past I wouldn’t have considered that possibility. I wouldn’t have been mindful of my choices or what I really needed. I might not have even been mindful of where my emotions were in the first place!

Today I’m convicted that in the past I didn’t consider what God wanted in the area of my health. In the big picture I didn’t think about good health or His desires for my body. Honestly, I didn’t want to. I didn’t want conviction; I just wanted to do it my way, which meant not thinking about it at all. I certainly didn’t pause to ask Him about right choices day-to-day choices.

Since October I’ve caught a glimpse of His heart. He wants me stronger and healthier, to be the size He created me to be so that I can have more energy and joy and ease of movement. I’m getting better about dialoguing with Him about the day-to-day choices I make. I don’t ask permission before every bite, but when I’m tempted to eat out of an emotional need versus a physical one, I am learning to pause, to consider the joy of a healthy choice that leads to long-term success, and to be mindful of the Truth that only HE can fill emotional and spiritual emptiness.

Father,
Give us a glimpse of the joy set before us when we feel stronger and healthier. Help us to be mindful of our needs and of how you want to meet them. Help us to consider the options that draw us closer to you, that give us health, that work for and not against joy.

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.)

Spirit Seeker Sunday 1: Good-bye Fear

Spirit Seeking Sunday

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

Do you ever worry about letting God down?

I used to fall into despair often. I could never be perfect, therefore I constantly felt I was disappointing God. One time I was wallowing in defeat, ashamed and confessing my short-comings once again before the Lord.

Then the Lord whispered to my heart, “Did you really think I didn’t know you were going to fail, Paula? Do you really think I’m surprised, shocked, or appalled?”

Through His questions I came to understand the meaning of that Psalm, the one that says that He knows we are “but dust.” (he knows we’re not invincible . . .And a greater understanding of the cross came as well. He didn’t save me once from hell. He did that, but so much more. He saves me not only from my past sins and failures, but from my present and future ones as well.

God knew we couldn’t be perfect. He knew we needed Jesus. And even once we’ve chosen to follow after Him, we won’t do it perfectly. And when we fall the Lord lifts us gently to our feet and helps us walk forward again. He isn’t upset or surprised. He doesn’t feel let down. He just remains as He has always been. Committed to our growth, our success, the remaking of us to become more like Christ.

While I think He aches with us in our failings, perhaps most of us because of the pain we bring ourselves, He confidently points us to Christ, to full forgiveness, and to the Holy Spirit who He sent to indwell us, teach us, and help us change.

Of course all of this applies to all of life. Weight loss is simply one thing in a long list of things where we struggle and fail and try again. And like everything else in life that hurts us, our Lord is on our side, empowering us to genuine and real change. Not only our biggest cheerleader, but the very One who does the transforming work, changing us from the inside out.

I’m reminded of a verse I clung to as I was breaking old patterns of living in fear. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”

I’ve had fear starting this weight loss journey. Fear of letting others down. Fear of failing. Fear of people knowing about my journey. But that fear wasn’t from Him and He gave me (and all of us) the promise that He empowers us, gives us us love, and give us sound thinking.

I love what Lysa’s Terkeurst wrote. Her pastor said, “How can you let God down when you weren’t ever holding Him up?”

Father,
I give to You my fears of failure, of letting You down, of letting my family down. You have not given me fear, but power, love, and sound thinking. I give You permission to break down strongholds in the area of healthy living, and I ask You to give me lasting change and victory in the area of my body. I know I won’t be perfect on this journey, but I purpose to accept your forgiveness and offer forgiveness to myself, then to return to the path of health and healing. Please give me the strength for this, confront any wrong thinking that holds me back, and set me free to walk in victory.
Thank you, Jesus. I pray in your name.

~Paula Moldenhauer

Hey Gang,

For that last few weeks I’ve been writing daily responses to Lysa Terkeurst’s Made to Crave devotional, based on her best-selling book by the same title. It occurred to me I could share them with you. Since I’ve been taking Sunday’s off from the blog, I’m plugging them in here. I hope my processing encourages your own. If you are interested in Lysa’s devotional you can get it on Kindle for $2.99.