Tag Archives: success

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~Voices

What voices do you listen to?

Monday Morning Makeover ~ Ruts

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~

reflection 3

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

Epiphany #5 ~ A Graduation of Grace

IMAG2574Epiphany #5 ended up being good, but it took a lot of tears to figure it out. Here’s the thing. This whole new world of being a business woman was harder than I expected.

For the first time in a long time I was thrust into something very new. I’d worked past the early years of feeling utterly inadequate as a classroom teacher, then as a homeschool mom. I’d even gotten past the panic of having to say the words, “I am a writer.” Now I can even say, “I am an author” without batting an eye.

But after 22 years of homeschooling and 12 years of writing toward publication (and seeing it happen!) I had exactly 3 weeks of taking my role as a Life Force Business Woman seriously.

I pushed hard, making lots of phone calls and setting high goals for myself.

I met about half those goals. Instead of being pleased, I was pretty much mad at the world and drowning in exhaustion and inadequacy.

Enter Ben Mueller. Twice he called at exactly the right time (when I was at the point of tears) and twice he said exactly the right thing.

The second call was when Epiphany #5 kicked in.

See, much of my early years as a homeschool mom were about letting go of perfectionism and performance-driven behavior. Nothing like 4 children under the age of six to help a gal figure out there was no way she could be a perfect mom and live up to her own expectations of motherhood. Then there was the constant interruption, lack of validation, and serving in obscurity without a paycheck. Went a long way toward digging out the vestiges of performance-driven behavior.

Then throw in the God-factor. While I wallowed in guilt over my feelings of failure in motherhood, and trembled in fear over all my inadequacies, He showed up and healed me. I learned to keep my eyes on HIM instead of on my failures. I learned to forgive myself for my lack of perfection. I learned to lean on Him for the strength to move forward and to rest in His plan and purposes instead of living in a constant state of striving.

I mean I learned all of that until He called me to be a business woman.

Talk about miserable!

How dare God call me to a career that made me so unhappy? I mean, He wouldn’t, would He? Doesn’t Scripture promise that His yoke is easy and His burden light? In Matthew 11 He even said, “Are you tired? Worn out? . . .  Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)

Well this whole business woman thing was ill-fitting if anything ever was. There was nothing free or light about it.

Or was there?

Ben’s call helped me understand. The first thing he told me was what a great job I was doing–that I’d done what 70% of people in the business never do. (After I cried a little, I felt better.) Then he asked if I was a perfectionist.

Ouch.

As we talked I realized I’d done it again, slipped into perfectionism and performance-driven behavior. No wonder the role didn’t fit! I wasn’t doing this business woman thing the way God planned. I was falling into old thought patterns and habits I thought I’d conquered years ago.

By the time Ben bid me good-bye hope sprang forth!

Epiphany #5 is that I’ve graduated! God trusts me with a career where performance is the name of the game. Evidently He thinks I’ve learned enough about looking to Him instead of my own inadequacies and letting go of perfectionism and performance-driven behavior that I can do this thing without falling apart.

He’s peeling back another layer of my dysfunction and healing me.

As I let Him teach me how to be a business woman I will discover how to be in this career in a way that is uniquely me. There will be no ill-fitting burdens, only a new learning curve in the unforced rhythms of grace.

Epiphany #4

IMAG2583That whole conflicting with my desires thought from my last post should have prepared me. But it didn’t. I ran off in my merry little sanguine way expecting sunshine and roses. Only what grew along with the roses were tomatoes.

Never saw that one coming.

I started figuring out that things weren’t as easy as I expected when I went to one of my favorite places: A writer’s conference where I was reminded that my new epiphany was really a curve ball.

See, ever since 3rd grade when I wrote a story about a pencil and an eraser, I wanted to be an author. (Oh brother. The tears still spring to my eyes, and honestly I’m tired of crying about this.) Somewhere during high school speech competition I realized I also wanted to be a speaker. For the last 25 years I’ve lived my other childhood dreams–to be a teacher and a mommy, and as the years have ticked away toward cheering on my last high school graduate, I’ve eagerly awaited greater freedom for that dream of becoming an author and a speaker.

Sure, I am those things already. I have two published fiction books, have published over 300 non-fiction pieces, and have spoken for homeschool groups, writer’s groups, and mom’s groups, as well as having taught at writer’s conferences. But that was all in my spare time. Now I was ready to enter full-time into the world of writing and speaking–to take the whole gig to another level. To write the deeper, more complex stories of my heart. To up my speaking opportunities.

I’d waited for so long for this moment.

Then God gives me this curve ball and tells me to learn to be a business woman. I need to mention here that up until this point everything I’ve done in life was connected to a dream. Teacher. Mommy. Writer. Speaker.

Never once did I dream of becoming a business woman.

I spent a lot of the writer’s conference in tears. Not because it wasn’t fun. It was actually amazingly wonderful. Except for the increasing understanding that my next season wasn’t going to be all about my dreams and except for the fact that the keynote speaker said we had to be obedient when God sent us curve balls on our writing journey.

By the time I left I’d convinced myself that God wasn’t going to let me write books for a while. And I was heart-broken.

Thankfully, He then gave me Epiphany #4. I did get to write books. Just not the deeper books of my heart–yet. He wanted me to do what my agent, Rachelle Gardner, had suggested right before that second car accident that left me unable to write books for a year. He wanted me to write genre romance.

The good news is I like romance–both in books and in real life. And evidently I’m pretty good at it because I’ve helped a non-romantic male learn to be at least a little romantic, and my first romance story was a finalist for a prestigious Christian fiction award.

More good news is that genre romance is the kind of thing I can usually write while living with a lot of chaos in my life. It also is light-hearted enough to keep me happy and sane when I write it (unlike women’s fiction, which can bring me into the doldrums as I dig deep).

So it really is the perfect solution to my quandary of how to continue my writing career while learning to be a business woman. And I’m super happy about it except when I’m not. (I’m a girl, ok?)

My agent put me on a deadline to have that next book to her, and I added up word counts. I need to write 1700 words/day, six days a week. The good news is so far I’ve written 5,175 of the 55,000 words I plan to complete by Thanksgiving.

The bad news is I haven’t written any today because I’ve been too busy writing blog posts.

But I will get it done.

And so I’m learning how to swing at this latest curve. Letting go of how I thought this next season would look and embracing a new plan. Most of the time I’m good with it, but then there are those days . . . and I’ll tell you about one of them tomorrow.

To Remember

Reality check.

I came across an old blog post in my draft folder, one I never published. As I read through it I didn’t feel the angst I experienced when it was originally written, but it made me remember.

Let me share a snippet from that post, and then I’ll expound:

It’s a strange morning.

Usually I look at old pictures of me, when I was at least 50 pound heavier, and I just accept them for what they are.

Accept me for where I was.

Usually I feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at those pictures because I see how far I’ve come.

This morning they upset me. I don’t know why I hit a wall and didn’t want to see any more, but I turned away from the computer. “Shut it off.”weight loss beginning and end

I’ve put a lot of pictures up on this site of me at different sizes. Those pictures tell the story better than all the words in the world. I’ve swallowed hard when I post those old pictures. I spent years cropping out most of my body so it didn’t show before going live with a picture, but here I sought to be real. And I thought I was okay with it all.

But today I sit at my computer, a perfectly normal size, and I’m grieving and angry.

Angry I let the pounds creep on. Grieving the loss of energy and activity I put up with. Wondering why I placed myself so low on the priority list that I allowed the weight gain, the loss of quality of life. Thankful my husband loved and accepted me even at 210, but sad I didn’t take better care of my body for his sake. Wondering why I didn’t CARE enough to change.

It does no good to wallow in mistakes. To live in the past only inhibits the future. I’m not going to allow myself to hang out in grief or anger over how I treated my body.

But it is good to learn from the past.

To remember.

IMAG1877-1I’ve been “normal” for a few months now. I’ve hiked in the mountains, hopped out of chairs, gone swimming without the need to hide. I’ve offered myself to my husband in ways I couldn’t with all that weight between us and seen the delight in his eyes.

I’ve celebrated the return of my long, slender legs and stood shocked at the mirror when necklaces are suddenly too long instead of so tight I have to add an extender to get them around my neck.

I taken bags and bags of too big clothes to Goodwill, even dumped shoes that no longer stay on my feet.

I’ve celebrated every 5 pound weight loss, settling in at 55 pounds gone.

Even with all that joy sometimes I forget how important it is. Just this week I returned home after a bad day, emotional and hungry.

I started my snacking with wisdom. Just a small cup of yogurt to tide me until dinner, please. But then emotion took over and self-control left, and suddenly while my hand was in a bag of chocolate tortilla chips this quiet, gentle voice inside begged me to STOP, to put away the snacks, to REMEMBER.

I rebelled at first, stuffing another handful, then another. But then I slowly returned to myself, to Him, to the journey.

My little binge was a lashing out at all that made me unhappy, but its allure paled as I identified it as self-sabotage instead of self-care.

It is time to stand. To remember.

But not return.

Tweet this post:

Self-care or self-sabotage?

Tellin’ My Story Live

Doing something a little different today!

Recently, I was asked (impromptu) to share my story. Hubby captured it on video so I thought I’d share it with you. (And yes, I have on the flowered pants I’ve been teased so much about!)

I wish hubby had recorded the other three speakers. He does, too, but he was too focused on watching me. Good husband. lol

Those speakers were inspiring. One even shared how he was doing yard work last week and didn’t realize his too big shorts were around his ankles! Go BeNew!

Everything was unplanned, so I didn’t know what was going to come out of my mouth, but here’s my favorite quote from that day: “You never know how much of yourself you’ve given up until you begin to return to the size you were created to be.”

I like that so much because I hope it is something you’re hearing on this blog. As you lose weight you’re going to be thrilled with the changes–inside and out!

Tweetables:

Success in weight loss is possible

You never realize how much you’ve given up until you start to get it back

From Lumbering to Flitting – Day 82

jerry - Copy

That man loves to video-tape!

Since I started getting into shape a light often slips into Jerry’s eyes. It’s almost a look of disbelief. It happened as we had an impromptu date at Daz Bog’s coffee shop. I’d hopped up to grab a napkin, then flitted back to my seat when he got that look. He started to speak, then paused to reshape his thoughts.

“Just say it,” I said.

He grinned. “I can’t believe how you’re moving. If I had a video of you walking three months ago—”

In my mind I replaced the word walking with lumbering.

“—and a video of you walking now, you would be blow away by the difference. I could see it happening in a year or even six months, but you’ve done it in three.”

And in that moment all the work—all the resisting food, the exercising when I didn’t really want to exercise, the times I drank herb tea when I wanted an evening snack—was worth it.

Sarah called to let me know she’s been putting mother-of-the-bride dresses on Pinterest. I browsed her choices and thought, “Wow. She thinks I can pull this off?” Later she told me that with my body back I can wear things I don’t think I can.

Instead of dreading shopping for the mother-of-the-bride dress, I’m getting excited. But I still want to lose  more before I shop!                                                                        ~ January 13, 2013

Real Time Update:

I did lose more weight after the above was written. I’m stalled at a new low, 40 pounds down. The last few weeks I haven’t counted calories. Just tired of the discipline of it, I think. But I’m considering returning because I wouldn’t mind shaving another 8-10 pounds super quick before I go shopping!

What About You?

Today’s post is mostly a celebration. Do you have a success story?

Thank God They Didn’t Say It Then (Day 74)

Click here for more graphics and gifs!

Been laughing at the things my family says to me lately.  They mean these little jewels as compliments, but they are quite telling. Seriously, I laughed.

“Wow, Mom! Your double chin is gone!”

“Honey! There’s no more cellulite on your legs . . . ”

“You know, you were starting to be kind of round, but now you actually have a shape.”

Gotta love ‘em.

All I can say is I would have been devastated had they voiced those thoughts back when it was the other reality. I didn’t spend my days paying attention to the double chin, cellulite, or round body. I mean I noticed things were going downhill, but it would have hurt to have my loved ones pointing out the decline.

Thank God they didn’t.

Real Time Update:

About a month after I wrote the above one of my sons did something even better than make one of those comments. He didn’t recognize me! He’d gone to church with his aunt, and I was supposed to pick him up afterwards. I arrived early, so I decided to slip inside rather than wait outside. I sat next to my sister-in-law. Stephen was on the other side. After church his eye grew wide, “Wow, Mom. I didn’t know that was you. I just saw this thin blond lady and thought she was a friend of Auntie Anne’s!”

Talk about affirmation of change!

What About You?

What backwards encouragement do you get at your house for weight loss? Or affirmation of change?