He was 3 ½ and finally at that age where he understood what Christmas was all about. Or at least that’s what I thought! When I woke him up that Christmas morning…..yes, I’ve actually had to wake up kids on Christmas morning….he took one look out the window and decided I had completely pulled his leg.
“Mommy, it’s not Christmas! There’s no snow!”
He actually then attempted to crawl back into bed! Yep….not making that up. My 3 ½ year old child had to be coerced into traversing the stairs down into the living room where Christmas had exploded all over the place. His first “sign” of Christmas had failed. He had no reason to believe Santa had actually shown up because, well, how in creation would Santa’s sleigh traverse the dry, dead grass that covered our yard and everyone elses. He simply needed to see to believe.
Faith had yet to give him vision.
Four hundred years had passed. No word from God. No burning bushes. No parting seas. No visits from angelic strangers. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. This world was God-silent for 400 years. Y’all…that’s a L O N G time!! It’s many, many lifetimes. Many generations. I’ve gone through periods of my life where I felt God was ignoring me or wasn’t there…..but it was a period of a few months. Not years. I always managed to crawl my way back to Him only to find He really never left my side. During that 400 year period so many years ago, God was just silent. I can only imagine how the people during that time felt. And I don’t imagine it was pretty. How many let their faith completely fall because there was no evidence of God’s presence ? How many worshiped other things since God was not around? How many lead lives desperate for something more, something Bigger than them?
Faith needed to give them vision.
And I have to wonder, how did anyone manage to hang on to the faith of their predecessors with so many years of God silence? It would be so much easier to slip into the ways of the world and totally forget the things of faith.
But then it happened to a family who had somehow managed to not let too much of their world sneak in and damage their hearts. A family who had managed to hang on to their faith and find favor with God…
“The time came quiet…
All the glory had been left in heaven.
And the face of God turns one last time in the waters of the womb, and the membrane breaks and the amniotic fluid leaks and the skin of God slips naked and small into holy hands He made.
The birth of God – who can find words?” ……(from The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp)
The years of God silence were broken by the cries of a baby. And our faith was given vision once again. Through a baby who would be King. A baby who would save. A baby whose life would show the world for the rest of eternity how to love…how to hope.
On this Christmas, know that whether there is snow on the ground or not, whether there are copious amounts of gifts under the tree for you or just one, whether you are surrounded by family or it’s just you, the only true sign of Christmas is all around us.
Emmanuel…God with us. God around us, waiting with open arms to lavish his love on you not only this Christmas but every…single…day!
I’ve been so quiet on my blog this past year. I’m not sure I’ve added one brand new post all year long. But you should see my list of started posts. It’s lengthy! Words about travel, faith, health, weight loss, politics, random stories all left unfinished and unpublished for one reason or another. The stopper in me is strong, I tell ya. So it’s amazing to me that my little corner of the written blog world added new subscribers and readers. Thank you new blog reading friends for the attention. It encourages me to write more.
Where to start though after such a long break? As I write this, the Christmas season has begun. I’m deep into both an Advent devotional and a full out Advent bible study. Through this early morning time with my cuppa Christmassy flavored coffee and my bible, I’ve been reminded of a super long break God took from the people many, many years ago. He was silent for 400 years. I can’t even imagine. How many generations felt nothing from God? Not a glance their way. Not a whisper with a comforting word of reassurance.
But God in His infinite greatness had a plan. It was a great plan, perfectly timed. He knew He wouldn’t stay silent forever…though come on. 400 years was plenty of someone’s “forever”. Bless it! He would make His great come back with a baby. A sweet , swaddled up newborn who came to be King. Jesus.
Jesus who would be the Light of the World , the Resurrection and the Life, the King of Kings, the Messiah.
Hold on there! Do you ever see something, hear something , smell something and you’re transported back in time to a memory? Lots of things do that for me. But right now, it’s the words “King of Kings” and “Messiah”. Right there, together, side by side. I have the sweetest childhood memory that involves those words. Let me take you back there with me , Dear Reader.
I was 7 or 8. Maybe 9 or 10. Who knows? It’s been over 50 years and who can remember all the things anymore? I may not remember how old my little self was but I do remember exactly how I felt when my mom asked me to help her play the Hallelujah Chorus for a performance of Handel’s Messiah. My mother has been an incredible organist for as long as I can remember. I was a little girl just beginning to learn to play the piano. But she had full confidence that I could play three little notes for her and be the needed third hand she must’ve desperately needed . Or maybe she could’ve done it and just wanted this mother/daughter moment. Whatever, it was a confidence booster for her novice, nervous piano student.
At any rate, my shy, timid little self (don’t be fooled by this photo that makes me look far more outgoing than I actually was!) set out to make my momma proud playing those three little notes behind the words “KING OF KINGS”. Actually, it was six because those same three notes accompanied the next words in the song, “LORD OF LORDS.” As a full grown adult woman, I sing a lot. Humming around the house, music playing in my home 90% of the day. I can feel confident that this habit likely began in those days when I was practicing for my big Messiah moment with my momma. I can almost hear my little voice, humming or singing the notes that went along with “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
Names of Jesus on repeat in my young, impressionable head.
Did my mother know the impact this would have on the entirety of my life? Did I? I don’t know. She was probably hopeful I’d develop a love of piano playing and maybe become a great organist one day. Maybe her love of music would develop in me. I’m certain she was hopeful I’d love Jesus forever. Some of these things stuck.
Jesus. He stuck. In my young and impressionable mind, those weeks of practicing my part in the Hallelujah chorus, singing through those names of Jesus over and over again….it was like the beginning of super gluing Him to my heart. I just wanted to do a good job. I didn’t want to mess up or embarrass myself or my mom. I’m sure that’s all it meant to me at the time . But those words, unbeknownst to myself in those moments, were speaking life into my soul.
The words we say to ourselves have power.
Choose them wisely! Your words to yourself should mimic the words your Creator says about you. You are loved, able, perfectly created, healed, strong, forgiven and so on! And if you’re a parent, choose the words you say to your children even more wisely! They’re gonna stick, whether they’re great affirming words or life sucking words. I say again, choose those words wisely!
I’m so grateful I was raised in a home by parents who loved me and spoke well to me. They never ever even cursed in our presence. But piano seems to be one of those skills you lose if you don’t use it . I recently had the chance to spend an entire week with my parents. Just me and them. It was fabulous. My mom still has a piano in the living room so, of course, I had to sit down on the piano bench and see if any notes would come back to me. I searched Mom’s music for something I could play with my right hand. I can still bang out a pretty decent treble clef only song. I found a hymn…of course…and started playing it. It didn’t take long for my mom to come into the room, taking over that pesky bass clef part that I couldn’t for the life of me play at the same time my right hand was playing. Playing piano with my mom …again. Creating a song together. Another sweet memory. We were both so excited that we could make out the song we were playing in spite of the fact that it’s been a good long minute since I played anything.
I guess I figured out where to start again after my rather long writing break. Jesus is always the right answer! Maybe now I can go back and address all those unfinished blog stories!
Until next time…which I hope is sooner rather than later… keep JOYFULLY clamoring!
As My Man and I quickly approach our 25th wedding anniversary, I suddenly felt that nudge to celebrate that fact on my blog. Because a 25 year marriage is something to celebrate and talk about and share stories from. It’s something to honor! Not because we’ve done the past 25 years so perfectly and y’all will learn so much from how we’ve so grandly done marriage. But sorta the opposite! We’ve been so IMPERFECTLY perfect at most things over the past 25 years that someone is bound to see a bit of themselves in us and think “Shew! I think we can make it too!” Because as lovely as marriage is, it’s just hard at times.
So I’ll start from the beginning…because why not?
Valentines Day 1994 found me drinking a glass of champagne with a ring in it. Because I’m NOT the romantic one in our relationship, I had actually forgotten this detail of our engagement . Shocking, right? How could I forget any details of my long awaited engagement? Even though I longed for this moment when My Man would finally pop The Question…for real this time…I was probably so exhausted from single momming our seven month old son and my two young daughters that this memory likely got caught behind night time bottles, diaper changes and homework !
Hey wait a minute! Back up a second!! Hold please while I rewind this a bit…….
Late November 1992 found me not drinking a glass of champagne. It found me drinking nothing but water. Because I was pregnant. And not married. In the early 90’s, being unwed and pregnant wasn’t as hip and socially acceptable as it is in 2019…at least not in my church going, Jesus loving, God fearing mind. As a 29 year old divorced mom with two young children, I was still not fully grasping how big and deep and enormous God’s love for me was. So while I fully accepted and already loved the baby I was carrying, I felt shame for doing things backwards. I knew I needed to be married…and soon. So when My Man and I digested the news that we were going to be parents together, it was just sort of decided that we would get married. No grand gesture of a proposal was made . There wasn’t even a ring. There was just the decision that we’d get married over Christmas break. We invited my family out from Texas and we’d have a small, intimate ceremony…somewhere. But it didn’t happen quite like that.
My family did come for Christmas that year. But it was mostly to help me lick my wounds from the broken engagement that really never happened in the first place. My Man wasn’t ready to get married. And while I saw ALL the reasons TO be ready to tie the knot, somehow he was able to see the wisdom in not getting hitched right then and there simply “because we had to.” He had no raging hormones coursing through his body at the time to make him feel the false urgency I was feeling! Pesky old hormones!!
Sometimes God tells us “Not yet”. He stalls us with a “holy hold on” because HE sees the big picture! And He simply loves us too much to urge us down a path we’re not quite ready for. There was so much for us to grasp and learn in the journey to the day when the love we had for each other was true and real and not forced because we had to. There was so much God in the journey that got us to that Valentine’s Day in 1994 when I almost drank my engagement ring in a glass of champagne!
We trusted the journey and in the process we learned a valuable life lesson. One we’ve clung to many, many times in our 25 years.
WAIT ON THE LORD!!
Isaiah 40:31 tells us“They who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”
If we had run ahead of God and gotten married too soon, I can only imagine the added heartache we would’ve endured. We both feel certain we would’ve ended up divorced after just a few years because we would’ve married for the wrong reasons. If we had gotten married too soon, we would not have built up the strength to endure the inevitable hard times. We would’ve fallen short of making our marriage fly. We would’ve grown weary of doing the right things because in the back of our minds, we would’ve always been doubtful that we had even started with the right thing.
Our marriage is certainly a mix of questionable decisions mixed with some excellent ones. Whose isn’t? But I have to say that NOT deciding anything in the heat of a moment and truly waiting to hear from God has been one of the excellent things… something we’ve gotten good at. We may have gotten off to a slow start but God took that…our humanness…and He made something beautiful.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
I have more to celebrate and I’ll do that here over the next many weeks leading up to our big day. So until my next tale…
What would you say is the greatest gift you’ve ever received? Maybe it was an item of some sort you’d been longing for. Maybe it was a relationship you had been praying would work out. Maybe it was a lesson well received and needed.
I’m currently living in the middle of one of my greatest gifts … healthy life lessons learned. Progress towards a goal I never thought would happen. New habits formed when I thought the old ones would never die. Seeing God do things I. KNOW. I. COULD. NOT. DO. ALONE!!
LESSONS WITH FOOD
I love to eat. The only food I’m allergic to is walnuts. So you can keep those nuts of death but pass me everything else. And therein lies one of the deep roots of my weight problems. You have to eat to live. But I have spent so many years living to eat. Cheese, bread, sugary treats, buttery goodness… I did not have a grasp on healthy portion sizes. I didn’t have a desire to avoid things I knew would pack on the pounds faster than a cheetah racing to his next meal. Nothing felt off limits to me.
“”I have the right to do anything”, you say – but not everything is beneficial.”I have the right to do anything” – but not everything is constructive.”
1 Cor 10:23
Over these last two months , God has shown me the enormity of this lesson. I had been living life “high on the hog” , exhibiting my right to have anything I pleased. What He’s shown me is that by doing that, I was putting way too many things in my body that had ZERO BENEFIT to me.
Not only has He killed the great Sugar Beast that was always raging inside of me, He has shown me that I don’t have to have 4 slices of bacon on my sandwich to enjoy it. One slice is good enough. When I break it up and spread it out, I still get a taste of bacon in every bite and isn’t that the goal of bacon anyway? Also, bread isn’t always necessary! This grilled chicken sandwich from a nearby fast food restaurant was delicious wrapped in a leaf of lettuce! Truly! Who knew?? See the bacon? And the yummy sauce? Still very WW friendly and low point when you take off the bun!
He’s also shown me that there’s more than one way to enjoy old favorites…in a more beneficial way. I’ve discovered pancakes that are different but so delicious. Sugar free maple syrup, warmed up, and in a small portion…not dripping off my plate…is good enough! And just look at this cheesecake. If you were to walk in on me eating this, you’d likely think I was having a “cheat day” or that I’d decided to heck with this diet thing. But nope….this one piece of cheesecake is exactly zero WW points , made with non fat Greek yogurt, sugar free pudding and eggs. Crazy huh?
Lessons with Exercise
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
1 TImothy 4:8
Did you know the bible actually talks about exercise being good? Valuable even! I’ve gone through phases in my life when exercise was important to me. Fun even. But for the past 14 or so years, exercise was nowhere on my radar. Working out became boring for me. Then it became difficult as I put on more weight. I’d get winded way too easily. I’d break a sweat. And neither of these things was even remotely desirable for me. But that’s what happens when you become content with “Fifty, Fluffy and Fabulous”.
But as God has been transforming the way I look at food, He’s also done a work in me on the importance of MOVING MY BODY!! Our bodies were made for motion and quite frankly, walking to the chair on the back porch or to the car in the garage is not enough!! So as I began this journey, I had to tell God “Exercise is H A R D and I don’t want to do it . But I know it’s important so PLEASE HELP!! I’m sending out an S O S !!!”
And just like that, He heard my plea and answered! In this second month of my journey back to healthy, I’ve embraced the fact that I need to bump up my workout routine. I’m not a “go to the gym” kind of girl right now. So Jesus and I have been meeting 5 days a week in my living room and He’s been getting an ear full from me as I’ve started jogging and carrying weights and high intensifying myself into an hour long sweat fest! Oh He’s had His work cut out for Him with me, that’s for sure. Slowly but surely, though, I’m starting to enjoy each day’s time with whatever “walk leader” is on tap for the day and , of course, any time I can “cry out loud to my Ultimate Walk Leader ” is time well spent. “Oh Lord do we really need to do this? Can’t you just zap me into physical fitness? Please keep my legs from buckling and the sweat from blinding me. And oh yeah, please don’t let me die!!” And what do you know…I’m still alive and kicking and ready to do it all again tomorrow!
Lessons with Attitudes
When my thought process was… “I’m over 50. I don’t burn calories like I used to. My metabolism is shot. Menopause has my hormones whacked out. I’ll never lose weight again.” …I was right. Nothing happened anytime I attempted to lose weight. When my attitude shifted and I began to let hope sneak in to those dark places of “I can’t” and my thought process became ” I absolutely CAN AND WILL do this! To heck with my age” , I was also right.
Working on getting healthier is a good thing. Moving easier is a good thing. Not being controlled by my appetite for junk food is a good thing. Losing weight is a good thing. This I know to be absolutely true… “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (James 1:7)
So my attitude when I have a slow week and only lose a pound or less is one of extreme gratitude! THANK YOU LORD!! Every ounce I lose at this stage of my life is a G I F T!! It should be harder than it is. But it’s not. And I know it’s because my attitude is in the right place. My faith is on point. And my Helper never leaves my side. I had a goal to lose 20 lbs in 2 months. I did it. Or I should say “we” did it. Because I know I didn’t do this by own strength.
As I close this post, I’d like to offer a prayer for anyone reading this who may be struggling to lose weight or to just have a better mindset about food and exercise.
Lord, we can do all things with You by our side. You are our strength when we feel weak. You are the Yes You Can to our No I Can’t. You are our biggest cheerleader , always on our side. Give us eyes to see the things that are beneficial for our health and help us to walk away from those things that aren’t. Thank You for the gift of Your presence as we walk this road of healthy living. In Jesus Name…Amen
So Happy Tax Day Y’all! Today may find you sitting pretty, spending the giant refund you received back in February because you filed your taxes so stinking early. Are you enjoying that new couch? Have you planned and paid for the perfect summer vacation to paradise? Or you could be biting your nails today hoping you can get it all done before midnight, weighing out the likelihood that you’ll just go ahead and file an extension. Raise your hand if you’ve ever filed an extension and still waited until mid October to get ‘er done! Cue the wah wah music…
I spent my E N T I R E weekend debating whether I should get my taxes done on time or hit that “File an Extension” button looming over on the left side of my TurboTax screen. I mean, it would’ve been much more enjoyable to sit on my couch and binge watch seasons 6 and 7 of Game of Thrones. I like doing things that don’t involve hours of digging through paperwork to prove I really spent “xyz” on this , that and the other. I don’t like mileage logs or documents with number/letter names or any of that jazz. I like having fun on my weekends.
But I put on my big girl pants, grabbed my bottle of Motivate , said a prayer , and commenced on the 10 hour journey to find how much I had to “pay to Caesar”. Oh Jesus, I wish you had said “Then give bubble gum to Caesar because he loves it” or “Then give Caesar a pat on the back for a job well done” or anything else . But scripture is full of references to why we must pay our taxes so journey on fellow American tax payers.
But that’s enough serious tax talk. It is what it is and I figured today we could all use a little bit of humor. I have scoured the Internet and asked Comedian Google for her best Tax Day Jokes. So I now present to you some of the best funnies I found .
From Jimmy Kimmel…”The IRS suggests filing early to reduce the chance that someone will steal your identity and file before you. Honestly, if somebody wants my identity so badly they’ll file my tax return, go crazy. You can mow my lawn while you’re at it, too.”
From Tom Lehrer…”On my income tax form 1040 it says “Check this box if you are blind.” I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away!”
From some anonymous dude… ” Taxes. Of life’s two certainties, the only one for which you can get an automatic extension.”
Me to Siri…”Hey Siri, tell me a tax joke” Siri………. Again Me to Siri…”Hey Siri, tell me a tax joke” Siri…… All I got was dead air. She had nothing for me.
Until about 5 minutes later, my phone randomly starts talking to me and Siri finally has a joke. Why don’t koala bears hang around with all the other bears?…Because they don’t meet the Koala-fications.
I guess Siri knows that there’s nothing to joke about when it comes to taxes. So today my tax procrastinating friends, trudge on. Smile whether you want to or not. Find something to be grateful for. Know you’re not alone in your delay. Take a deep breath . Be thankful you have another whole 365 days until you have to do this again! And if you can find that “Check here if you’re blind” box, please let me know if you check it three inches away!
How many times in my life have I said these words to myself? How many times have I caught myself with a child’s leftovers in my mouth? Because you know, nothing screams “Eat Me I’m Yummy!!” more than pasta or a muffin or a cookie that’s been poked, prodded and used as jewelry by a toddler.
How I’ve survived all these years as a “food addict” with a house full of messy toddlers is beyond me! Because the germs alone should’ve had me curled up in bed, clutching my achy stomach on the daily! I don’t know how many times I got to the end of the day and realized all I had for lunch was a few bites of the one year old’s spaghetti and a couple Goldfish off his tray. Thank You Jesus for the germ protection when my own inner toddler seemed to be screaming, “If you have it , it must be good enough for me! Gimmee! Gimmee! Gimmee! ” (insert gigantic eye roll here…or maybe a good old toddler foot stomping tantrum because if the shoe fits and all that! )
Bad food habits obviously include way more than just eating three desserts after a pizza feast! Or sitting down with a full bag of a chips while you watch a movie and the chips are gone before the movie is over !
I love how 1 Corinthians 6:12-13 reads in The Message. And by “love”, I mean that it steps all over my toes! If you need your bad eating habits stomped on , continue reading. If being convicted over your poor eating habits isn’t in your plan today, skip over the next paragraph!!
“Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims. You know the old saying, ‘First you eat to live and then you live to eat’? Well it may be true that the body is only a temporary thing, but that’s no excuse for stuffing your body with food…”
As I move further down the path of improving my health and losing weight, I’ve found that confession is just good for the soul. Putting a voice to all my secret bad habits causes them to lose their authority over me. So yes, I’d eat toddler leftovers right off their tray. I’d eat a dozen cookies without blinking. I’d fill my pantry with complete junk food and somehow convince myself it was somehow healthy. I’d put sugar plus sugary, extra creamy creamer in my coffee . I’d stand in the kitchen with an open container of ice cream and a spoon and blindly eat it while standing over the sink and watching TV. And all the exercise I ever got while destroying myself with all this garbage was basically walking from the living room to the kitchen. Gosh,I should count it a blessing I only gained 80 lbs and not twice that!
Over this last 4 weeks of living in the loving conviction that God threw in my lap, I’ve discovered and overcome many things…
1. My morning coffee was a major culprit in my weight gain game. A month removed from drippy sweet coffee has made me see that all that sugar and cream in my coffee just wasn’t necessary! A protein shake added in a decent portion size does wonderful things for my coffee. I can get my coffee my preferred shade of light beige and enjoy the fact that it doesn’t taste like dessert! And now the thought of the coffee of my past makes my teeth hurt. Yikes!!
2. I can bypass brownies, cobbler, cookies and cakes without even feeling a twinge of desire for them. There is nothing God can’t do!!
3. I LOVE cottage cheese and fruit! Like I crave it now! Also, fat free Greek yogurt. Same story! I eat this now and instead of regular ice cream. And I’m OK with that!
4. A carton of blueberries is more delicious than a bag of chips. I can sit down with my blueberries in front of the TV and if I eat them all before the movie is over? So what? No biggie!
5. Exercise can be fun! My preferred work out right now is good old Leslie Sansone Walk at Home videos. THERE ARE SO MANY!! While I used to make excuses that I couldn’t exercise with a house full of kids or at the end of the day or because something was achy, I can say now that I’ve thrown those excuses out the window. It delights my heart to watch the one year olds work so hard to get all the moves right as they exercise alongside me! And all those aches can just take a hike!
6. No more toddler leftovers! This week I actually bagged up their leftover muffins instead of mindlessly stuffing them in my mouth!! And God as my witness, when they still hadn’t eaten them by the end of the day, I threw those rascally scraps of deliciousness in the garbage!!
So toodleloo LIES I’VE BEEN TELLING MYSELF AND BELIEVING! I am leaning into TRUTHS now!! I AM able to do this because“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”(Phil 4:13) When I feel weakened by old cravings or by my desire to just sit on the couch, I know “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and He helps me.” (Psalm 28:7a) . When I feel unworthy, I know that I can praise Him “because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” ( Psalm 139:14)
If you are believing any lies about your own abilities to overcome weakness and you need help finding the truths to grasp on to, grab your bible and start pouring God’s truths about you into your heart and soul! If you need help, let me know!
Until next time…let’s keep eating to live and not vice versa!!
ps…in 4 short weeks, this 55 year old, with the weight loss obstacle of menopause firmly in my path, has lost 10 lbs! And for that, can I get a big old Hallelujah!!
I’ve heard from God about my weight problems exactly twice in my life now. The first time was in January of 2003. 7 months before my 40th birthday. I knew I didn’t want to be “fat and forty”. I hate the word “fat”, coincidentally, but I was distressed about approaching my 40th birthday and being overweight so I wasn’t thinking in nice terms! And I was frustrated because I hadn’t exactly had a great amount of luck losing weight in my past. I could look in the mirror and the size tag on my clothes and knew I had quite a bit to lose. This wouldn’t be pretty. Or fun. But I was lost as to where to begin.
So one day as I was driving home…probably with a giant cheeseburger and fries in my lap…I began crying out to God. I knew I was hopeless trying to tackle this giant in front of me without Him. And I knew that whatever approach I took to losing the weight would literally have to come from God’s lips to my ears. So I opened my ears to hear Him, hoping He’d have something to say. Like “Becky, you are so amazing . When you wake up in the morning, you will be 80 lbs lighter. You won’t have to lift a barbell or ride a bike or walk 10 miles a day. You won’t have to eat broccoli or salads every day . You’ll just wake up fit and thin. And you’ll stay that way forever! You’re welcome!”
But you know what? He didn’t say that. He’s not a genie in a bottle handing out three wishes to every one who calls His name. He’s also not Santa with a bag of goodies to pass out.
I didn’t hear anything.
But in that moment , I looked up from my drippy , greasy cheeseburger and on the side of the road was a billboard. It was bright and flashy. Like literally flashing! And in neon green letters were two words….Weight Watchers. My first thought was “Wow, Weight Watchers has gotten so fancy with their billboard advertising!” My second thought was “Maybe I’ll try Weight Watchers. There’s a meeting in town on Thursday night.”
So I joined Weight Watchers on a cold January Thursday along with hundreds of other New Years Resolutioners. I was determined to make it work but I wasn’t terribly hopeful. Until my first weigh in. I had quite a large loss in that first week ….and in the second. And suddenly I was a Weight Watchers “super star” knowing with full confidence that I would lose every pound I needed to. And I did. My before and after pics were up at the local gym. I’d be stopped in the grocery store by people who recognized me from those pics and they’d offer their words of awe and encouragement. This happened back in the day when AOL was still a great thing. Their Lifestyle and Health people contacted me for permission to share my pics and a few words about my journey in their little corner of AOL. I paid all this forward and worked for Weight Watchers as a leader, helping other people to achieve their goals.
Why was this time different from all the other hundreds of times I attempted to lose weight and be healthier? Hmmm…BECAUSE GOD. I became certain my bright green neon flashing sign was from God when I was driving down the same road a few weeks after that January day and it wasn’t there. Oh it hadn’t been replaced with another company’s advertising. The billboard itself wasn’t there. It didn’t appear that it was ever there based on what I did see there.
Yes, I know it sounds weird. We often wish for God to speak to us in obvious , crystal ball, flashing billboard ways. But that doesn’t happen often. Why He chose to lead my path and speak to me in that way is beyond me. I know this though…
“I, too, give witness to the greatness of God, our Lord, high above all the other gods. He does just as He pleases – however, wherever, whenever.”
Psalm 135:5-6 (The Message)
God can do whatever He wants, however He wants, wherever He wants. He can be big and flashy. Like when He gave me the literal flashing sign. Or He can be quiet and whispery. He can come in like a marching band or He can gently tap you on the shoulder to get your attention.
I mentioned at the beginning of this that God had spoken to me twice about this one subject. The second time wasn’t so big and flashy. In fact, it was just a still , small whisper.
A couple weeks ago, I found myself praying about our upcoming 25th Anniversary Vacation Extravaganza. I’ve already been praying for nice west coast weather and calm, smooth seas. I’ve already been praying for the provision to make this trip financially easy for us. But when I realized how out of shape I was…how overweight I truly was AGAIN…and how much walking would be required to get the most out of this trip, I added a few things to my prayers.
It went something like this…”Lord, you know how hard it is for me to comfortably walk or stand up for extended periods of time. You know how out of breath I get with too much activity. You know how wimpy I’ve become with a weak back and bad hips. So Dad, could you please make sure our cabin is near the exit of the ship so I don’t have to walk too far to get off the boat to begin our adventures each day. …..” I had much more to add to this oh so eloquent prayer but in that moment, I felt it. God’s answer was nearly immediate.
That Still, Small Voice was whispering to me. I felt it in my spirit and I knew exactly what the “Hmmmmm…” I felt meant. I could just imagine God standing there, arms crossed, giving me the side eye. Then looking the other way and getting a good laugh out of my oh so humorous request. That “Hmmmmm” said so much to me. And as the voice of God so often does, it changed me. Right then and there I felt the inner conviction I’ve been begging to feel for years. All the failed attempts to keep the weight off since it started creeping back on in 2006. All the weak efforts to be at a healthy weight again as I approached my 50th in 2013. Nothing worked for me because I did not feel that inner conviction that only God can give me. But with that holy “Hmmmm” , that conviction came rushing back to me.
I knew exactly what I needed to do. God had helped me do it before. I knew it was time to return to where God had lead me in the past. It was time to let go of the old frustrations in overcoming my weight battle and remember that God is always in control!! That I do so much better when I GIVE GOD ALL CONTROL!
“And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
1 Peter 5:10 (ESV)
My “suffering” has been gaining every bit of that 80 lbs back. My “suffering” has been joint issues because of the weight…bad back, bad hips. My “suffering” has been feeling like an 80 year old every time I get up out of a chair or have to walk more than several feet at once. I’m only two weeks into my God lead journey back to better health and I’m already feeling a difference. I have a long way to go. But I know that HE will restore me. He will make me strong and firm. And I will be steadfast on this road far beyond reaching my goal.
I try to only share head shots of myself. My weight isn’t as obvious from the neck up! But to stay transparent and honest here, I share this photo that is now my “before” shot. I like my dress. But I cringe a little when I look at this and can see how far off goal I am. I trust, though, that God is leading me . I trust that He will hold me tight to this road. My good health WILL be restored. I can’t wait to share my progress over the next many months!
ps…this is in no way an endorsement for WW. It’s just what works for me and is part of my weight loss journey testimony!
It all started when I was a 3rd grade kid. I loved making a Valentine box to sit on my 3rd grade school desk. Paper hearts…glitter…glue. All things pretty and sparkly. But that’s where the fun ended. I rarely ever got as many Valentines as everyone else did. Back in the day, we weren’t required to give everyone in the class a cute little card covered in hearts and puppy dog tails. Nope. We just gave cards to whoever we wanted to declare our undying love and friendship for. My box was light. But to not totally dis that class full of fellow 8 year olds, they may not have even known I was in their class. I was so shy…I rarely spoke to anyone.
Then there were all those horrific teenage Valentine’s Days. You know the ones. You really like him, but he really likes her. And you’re not her. Notes are passed and you hold your breath hoping and praying he checks “Yes”! In all my teen years, I remember getting a Valentine from a boy exactly once. He got me a cute little stuffed bear I named “Buff”. This boy liked me because I looked good in a bathing suit. Ugh!
Then there are the adult Valentine’s Days. “Singles Awareness Days” are brutal. All your friends have dates and you’re home alone with a sappy movie and a gallon of Moose Tracks, thoughts of the perfect man running through your pretty head. Even after we find Mr. Right and live out our days happily ever after with him, we often become painfully aware of Mr. Right’s imperfections…(and just to be fair, he very likely becomes all too aware of our imperfections as well.)
I wonder if we are just hard-wired to always be seeking the perfect one so that we’ll ALWAYS be seeking that Perfect One? Hmmmm…..
You know the one? He’s truly perfect in every way. And I don’t
mean to brag, but y’all, I’ve found him and he’s taken a bit of the
“humbug” out of my hard Valentine heart. He’s mine and I am his. At
first glance, you may not think he’s all that…but let me assure you, he
is truly beautiful!
He loves me just as I am…..flaws and all. In fact, he proclaimed his love for me well before I did the same. He pursued me like crazy and never gave up on me. His love is relentless and pure. He says he’ll NEVER give up on me…and I believe him.
And now that he has me, he hasn’t marked me off his list of “claimed
pursuits”, pushing me aside for the next best thing. He will
faithfully love me forever. In fact, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully
understand how deeply he loves me. He tells me all the time that nothing
can ever separate us. Nothing I do will ever make him love me less.
He doesn’t care if I’m grumpy or hormonal or “look fat in that dress”.
He just loves me.
He always takes care of me…always. He does this because I love him…but mostly because he loves me so much. He’s the perfect provider and he never has to guess what I need. He just knows. He’s my “knight in shining armor”, keeping me safe and protected. I feel so safe with him.
If He had been in my 3rd grade class, He would’ve stuffed the little
box on my desk full of little heart shaped cards with Snoopy on them.
The “Yes” box would’ve been checked .
Quite simply, He’s the perfect Man. Nobody will ever come close to His perfection. He’s the best “Valentine” I’ve ever had or ever will have……and I don’t mind sharing Him one bit!
As she strained to open her eyes , I wonder what she was thinking. Was she confused? Disoriented? Did she immediately know what was going on? Was she astounded by the love I’m sure she saw in the Eyes that gazed upon her first? She was created into a world without flaw. The beauty before her must have been breathtaking. Did she even realize that?
Luscious green gardens that grew magnificently regardless of her lack of knowledge in caring for them. Flowers she never had to water or plant for that matter. No bugs to eat away the leaves . The nearby river never overflowed nor did it show any signs of pollution. I bet the fish from this river tasted so amazing they didn’t need any Panko OR garlic! I can only imagine!
When her Creator took her to meet Adam for the first time, I wonder what she thought? I mean they were naked! Unless you are a nudist by nature, can you imagine how awkward that must’ve been!! Where did their eyes fall? Nothing was covered.
In spite of this, they felt no shame. She wasn’t worried about cellulite or extra weight in her belly. He wasn’t concerned with his six pack or lack thereof and, if he had back hair, he simply didn’t care. They were just perfect.
EVERYTHING was perfect!
Until it wasn’t.
Enter the serpent and that oh so appealing tree with the fruit they just had to have a bite of. Suddenly they realized that knowing everything wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If the fruit was actually an apple, I wonder if a worm crawled out of it as Eve took that first bite and suddenly realized her toes were weird and she was jiggly in places she didn’t like to be jiggly! As she sought out the biggest fig leaf she could find to cover herself, I wonder if the perfectly lush grass under her feet all of a sudden had weeds poking through.
All that perfection. Gone with one moment of self indulgence.
“The human heart was created in a context of the perfection of the Garden of Eden. But we don’t live there now. This is why our instincts keep firing off the lie that perfection is possible. We have pictures of perfection etched into the very DNA of our souls.”
“It’s Not Suppose to Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst
When I first heard Lysa Terkeurst talk about “life between the Gardens”, it was such a WOW!! moment for me. I had never thought of how our lives are book-ended with the perfection of the two gardens. God’s intention for us at creation was for us to live in His perfectly created world with no shame, guilt, anxiety, endless etc’s! And His intention for us at the end of this life on Planet Earth is the perfection of the New Heaven and the New Earth . Another garden riddled with perfection!
The time we spend between the two is a constant seeking for the perfect. I’m sure that looks different for each of us. What I deem perfect, someone else may declare sloppy. We search for the perfect in so many things…spouses, homes, vacations, food, friends, pictures of ourselves! Yes, my current Facebook profile picture is totally filtered!
See. This is exactly how I look! I mean, this is how AirBrushed me looks with sparkly white teeth and a flawless complexion!
There’s not one thing wrong with seeking to do all things well. But in our pursuit of perfection, are we doing ourselves any favors? When we airbrush our profile pics , do we feel a stab of disappointment when we look in the mirror and there’s no AirBrush app to take out the coffee stains on our teeth before we head out for the day? Are we making ourselves and possibly all involved crazy seeking the illusion of perfection? Because, really? Is perfection truly even possible this side of heaven? The perfectly clean house is just gonna get dusty again and those amazing vacuum marks are gonna get walked on. The perfect vacation may get rained on. The perfect hair color is just going to turn gray again! That perfect friend is going to say something one day that hurts you to the core of your soul. And that perfection you worked so hard to achieve is going to vanish like a cloud of vapor.
When we seek perfection on our own, in our own power, we will never find it. We’ll be like dogs chasing our tails that we can never catch. But here in this life “between the gardens”, we have been given a Great Gift that will bring us that perfection we seek so savagely.
“And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” …Hebrews 5:9
What if we sought after Jesus as hard as we fight for the perfect anything else? What if we just surrendered our desires for perfection to Him and just admitted that we can do nothing with true perfection without His help, without His guidance, without His love?
He IS the perfection “between the gardens” that will fit into the heart shaped hole we keep trying to stuff a square shaped peg into! So if you are a self proclaimed Perfectionist currently making yourself nuts because perfection is hard, can I encourage you with this last thought? Release yourself today from the pressures of the illusion of perfection. Grab on tight to the perfect peace that is yours when you keep your mind on Jesus and trust in Him! Work hard and do your best but leave the perfection to the only One who can and who has ever achieved perfection!
You are loved by Him in all your glorious imperfectness!!
It’s inevitable. Worry will hit you out of nowhere. Even if you’re basically not a worrier, life will often throw things in your path that will cause you stop and worry. Even if you KNOW that God has all things in His hands and you’re super great at handing Him your worries, sometimes you’re just not and worry sneaks in.
“Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Thank you Matthew 6:27 for reminding me that the obvious answer to this question is …
N O !!!!
Nothing good is added to our lives by worry! Worry is a struggle. It can make you feel like you’re being strangled; like it’s choking the very life right out of you. What does worry accomplish? It DOES have some side effects you need to stay aware of. In my best “commercial voice-over” voice, here ya go.
Worrying may cause sleepless nights, belly aches, constipation, diarrhea, frequent vomiting, big zits to appear smack dab in the middle of your face, overeating, under eating, sweaty palms, the shakes, an uncontrollable desire to incessantly text the one causing worry, smeared mascara, drippy down your face mascara, heart palpitations and an overall sense of doom.
Bad side effects or not, can we all admit there are times when it’s just hard to not get consumed by worry? I admit, I worry about things way more than I should. It could be caused by legitimate things…like the poor health of a loved one. Traveling on icy roads and your car has bad tires. Worry can be caused by things we have no control over…like decisions other people make. Regardless of how anyone else may deem our worry, in the moment the worry is very real for the worrier.
By no means, have I figured it all out. As I said, I DO worry about stuff way more than I should. I have, though, discovered some ways to not become consumed by worry when it hits me! So if I may, allow me to share a few ways to help you combat the worry…the legit and the not so legit.
Distract yourself with something positive. What do you love to do? What are you good at? Maybe a good mindless Netflix binge would help. Find a good show that will make you laugh and forget about your worries. Turn on your favorite music and sing at the top of your lungs like nobody’s listening. Dance like nobody’s looking. Getting lost in a good book can also occupy your mind and help you forget the worrisome stuff. THE Good Book is an amazing choice here. The Bible is full of sweet advice to help ease your mind.
Speaking of The Good Book, after you’ve picked it up and read some of it, you are sure to have found many, many verses that address your needs. Write these down. When I am in a period of deep soul worry or concern, I love to see scriptures in the places I look every day . So I’ll write verses ,such as Psalm 55:22 , on sticky notes. “Give your burdens to the Lord and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” I’ll stick these to my bathroom mirror or my kitchen cabinets . Anywhere I know my eyes will fall during the day. This helps so much to get God’s encouragement into my heart where it belongs. The more my empty places are filled with God’s truths, the less space there will be for worry.
Take a few minutes to just be by yourself and scream out loud. It’s OK! Cry! Stomp your feet !! Be mad at the fact that whatever it is you’re worrying about is taking up so much head space!! This release is strangely helpful.
And that takes us right into the next thing. While you’re screaming and crying in your “by yourself place” , cry out to God. PRAY!! If you’re worried or anxious about something and you think it’s His fault, He already knows that! So you can scream your worries to Him. They won’t surprise Him. He’s not gonna love you less because of it. You can cry out to Him for help. He’ll be there. He’ll listen. 1Peter 5:7 reassures us with this“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.” Let that sink in. God, the One who created the universe, CARES ABOUT YOU! So why do we worry in the first place?
Do something kind for another person. Serving others turns our focus off ourselves and on to them. When your mind is consumed with worry and concern, shifting your focus to the needs of someone else will take your mind off that worry! And turning your worry into something good and kind is a win!
Finally, TRUST GOD! This is the beat all , end all of how I cut out the worry. I trust that God has it. Whatever I’m worrying about, He’s on it, taking care of things in better ways than I ever could. Whoever I’m worrying about, He loves more. My self proclaimed life verse is Proverbs 3:5. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Oh how this verse has gotten me through a ton of angst. I don’t have to understand why things are as they are. I just need to trust God. It’s a choice I make daily.
Worry, concern, anxiety…they’re all just one way the enemy of our souls tries to distract us from the Lover of our souls. If the enemy can cause our thoughts to stray from God and onto ourselves and our worries , he’s winning. Yuck! The devil is NOT the one I want winning anything in my life!!! So promise me something. The next time you’re consumed by worry, scream out to the devil “NOT TODAY!!” Then do one of the things I suggested (or one of your own fool proof worry stoppers) to stop the worry in it’s tracks.
I’m leaving you with a song today. It’s one you can sing at the top of your lungs as you let the worries and concerns consuming you melt away. I hope you’ll listen. And sing it out loud and strong. I’d also love to know YOUR “beat all, end all” ways of stopping worry in its tracks. If you’d like to share your thoughts in the comments, your way may be a huge help to someone reading this today!