Once upon a fair

ferris wheel

Losing weight is one battle but maintaining a 100 + loss is a lifestyle I refuse to give up on.  I’ve worked hard to get here but also it takes hard work to stay here.  There was one county fair I remember I wanted to eat everything in sight.

It’s fair time and that brings all kinds of fried food images to my mind.  There was a year that something happened where I knew I would never want to go back to my old way of unhealthy choices plus God gave me a more determined way to live healthy.  I got nauseated on a merry-go-round ride.

I saw a reminder of how chained I was to food at one time.  As the painted ponies and I were spinning fast, my eyes stopped at one of the carnival workers.  She had just sat down to a plate of sugary fried food and a giant thermos mug-full of Mountain Dew.  I had to look away.  There was something about seeing that mound of fried goop that make me feel sick plus the fast propulsion of the horses.

I immediately came under the conviction of the Spirit.  “See what happens when you open your life to this idea?”  Now don’t get me wrong I know God blesses us with good food to enjoy but I had an eating problem and God knew it.  There are many pitfalls along the way of losing weight for sure, so that’s why it’s important to practice wise choices.

God gave me a “warning” that I will always remember.  My appetites really do go that deep for me.   If you know that about yourself then why would you tempt yourself with even the thought of it all?  You wouldn’t.  Next God cemented the deal with this verse I had read earlier that day:

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these…from your lips.”  Colossians 3:5, 7-8

I used to walk alongside a funnel cake but now have removed them from my life.  Because I now make good heath choices, that I have gained so much freedom by putting my focus on pleasing Him in this area over my past wrongful behavior.  I am grateful for His kind plate spinning to freedom.  I’m living free from a bondage of food.  That doesn’t mean I don’t think about it however.

There are things in this life that cause us to slowly spin away from God.  For me, food was one of those things.  But now those ideas are behind me and today finds me grateful for His goodness.  He has helped me be successful in the freedom from food.  Thinking about funnel cakes gets me to notice them, but I am learning to take a positive spin on my actions instead of letting my feelings dominate my actions.

It’s worth the effort to let God draw you back to where you need to belong.  Getting over habitual sin is liberating when you realize that God wants so much more for you.  I set my mind on NOT being tempted plus I have to guard myself against those old thoughts.  In my dependence on God, comes my independence from an issue that used to weigh me down.  That’s God at work, and that’s my best life of freedom from a lifelong stronghold.

It does get better but it’s not always as easy as you would think.  When I’m grateful for this deliverance, it helps me over the hump of wanting something I know I shouldn’t have.  What sin do you need to let go of?  If it’s habitual, how do you deal with it?

Filling in the gap

gaps bridge

It’s so easy to loose sight of what God wants to do in us and through us, especially when there are gaps in the plan.   We want to fill the gaps with some kind of sensible understanding, reasoning, worry and purpose.  Let me tell you that if you feel this way, you are normal.

God often teaches trust, dependence, and awareness of the Spirit’s control in those gaps however.

I find myself depending on God more in this writing season.  I am waiting for God to move as I present my best work.  Waiting upon God is letting His perfect timing have its way. Waiting with peace brings a closure to the gaps.

Waiting with expectancy is different than waiting with expectations.

The less wondering I do about it all, the more the gaps are filled with patience, peace and provision.  My worry gaps are filled with peace and trust bridges over troubled waters.  My questions are bridged with understanding and His verses speak holy patience into my heart.  My empty gaps are filled with more prayer and seeking God in my empty places.

Pressing myself through those thin places to see more of who He is.  By doing this I give myself more opportunities to seek Him in a new way over old habits of fretting.  If I rely on my own strength or dependency I often I miss Him.

Have I told you that I don’t make a very good “waiter”?  The gaps help in my being more diligent in the time.  I think that waiting upon the Lord needs to be my constant thing.

My gaps are filled with His fullness.  I’ll take His fullness over my emptiness any day.  How about you?

I have stopped dragging my impatient heart with my list of dreams along.  God has been reminding me that His changes are right, good and needed in His perfect time.  I have to trust that He watches over me from His position of goodness.  Why would I want to run from that?

Don’t miss the gaps with your heart full of selfish expectations but rather come with an expectancy in your heart.  God has heard your anxious words.  God has heard what your soul can’t say.  God sees you, He is in control and knows what is going on with you and me.  When I think about how nothing catches Him by surprise, then these gaps that we could be experiencing are holy pauses that are well timed by His hand.

Ever think about how God creates gaps so that we will spend more time asking the Giver of our days?  There is power in making one change at a time when you are letting God have dominion over your life.  I laid it all out on the table again, letting God have my entire dream timetable.  In doing so, I have dropped my need to see the details and bringing God to the forefront.  I must practice letting Him bear His fruit in my life.

I can trust Him with fruit bearing in the perceived gaps.  It’s not what it looks like from here, the distance is shorter that it appears.  Yet i know it takes years to realize.  There is a divine order to things over what the world teaches within it’s shallow mentality.

Deep calls to deep in gaps of high places, low valleys, and all the in between.  There are those of you who are looking for a deeper walk.  That’s where I am headed.  Follow along if you are bold enough to trust where I have been.  I can’t go the ordinary way any longer.  I’m headed for virgin territory.  The problem with gaps is the closure, the ending.  The problem with an unclear vision, you can’t see the results.  The problem with the gaps is that God is still working on yours.  The problem with waiting is that we can’t see where there is hope.  The problem with us is that we want to escape change any which way we can.

The problem in seeing God in our changes is we have lost sight that He is Hope.

Changes train us to be set apart for more changes.  One change at a time is a binding and training ground, and stirring of our hearts for more changes.  A transformation happens when you believe that His changes will be made in His time to bring His fruit and to be set apart for his service.  No turning back to see what gaps are closed or what gaps are ahead.  Just keep looking forward.  There are no gaps in a focused hope.

How do you wait best?

The simple lesson from the blueberry

blueberry

I love blueberries.  I can remember a time at my grandmother’s house that we picked ‘June” berries from her giant hedges on her lot.  My fingers turned purplish-blue and they were so sweet to eat right off the branch.  We would spend hours picking them so my grandmother and mom could turn them into a wonderful concoction of sweet June-berry pie.

I often eat blueberries every morning, not only for the natural super-food qualities but because the blueberries remind me of the time I was a child picking them for my grandmother.  Eating blueberries remind me of the changes I must have been praying for during that time.  With all seeds there’s a germinating, planting, harvesting and reaping of the crop you are tendering.

God reminded me this morning of the simple lesson from a blueberry.  This might sound a little odd to you but when you eat a blueberry there is evidence of the consumption on your lips, your teeth, and every inch of skin or kitchen counter top.  There is evidence of the super-food that has been taken in.  The blueberries leave a tale-tale sign.  Just like picking the June berries at my grandmothers house it was obvious where I had been and what I had done.

When you immerse yourself in God’s word, by prayer and petition, it will show.  The wonderful part is how it changes the way you see God.  I call this evidence of the Spirit working by walking slowly in the garden with Him.  Don’t we all need to slow our walk with the Lord?

I read an update from one of my African missionary friends and she told of a story of a traveler saying the biggest change for her on while spending time in Africa was that she has learned to “slow down.”  Yup, I know that feeling.  Africa will arrest your heart, or rather the evidence of God working through Africans will move you.

There are people everywhere who are hungry to know God.  But you have to slow down to see them, you have to slow down to see God moving them, you have to slow down to see what God wants to do inside of you because He’s shown you something.  Then you have to let it germinate, grow deep, then bear fruit, then allow yourself to become the outward evidence of God’s love, life and hope.

Growing in God is never a fast process, faith is a perfecting of your evidence of God’s word inside of you.  What exactly are you keeping pace with?  God’s word or the world you are living in?  As faith is the evidence of things unseen, think of this as your soul always being in consumption mode.  Our spirit craves for God but your will determines what kind of diet you will take in.  What you take in will feed you or defeat you.

Are you feeding on things, people, ideas that are not super-good for you?  It’s often when we check ourselves with this question do we realize that we can get so distracted with our daily agendas, diets, and menu plans.  Our hearts are the most deceitful part of us, so guard them carefully by what you take in and consume.  It will be obvious.

The evidence of God in you will be obvious like the stain of eating blueberries.

I don’t know where you are in your walk of faith.  But it has become obvious to me that we are in a hurry-scurry world of a ridiculous fast pace.  Some of you are trying to catch up, some of you are trying to catch on, and some of you just need your flame fanned.  Whatever the case, what you take in will be evidenced in your life in many ways.  Like the blueberries that stain my lips may God’s word be imprinted on my heart to live a daily life of delight in following Him.

When you have a heart that seeks God, loves God and responds to God, the evidence is clear and it will show.  Daily we are challenged to allow God’s love to be evidenced in our life.  Daily we get the opportunity to share God’s character with a hurting world.  Daily we GET to slow down and listen to God be evidenced in our life.  Daily we have to slow down to hear His whispers.

Daily we must slow our walk with the Savior.

Let the word of God invite you, clean you, but also change you to see His goodness everywhere you look.  Let’s God’s truth set you free friends.  Let the gospel stain your life so that others may know.  Let the light of His love be the evidence that you share.  Let it bloom full inside of you.  Find delight in the slowing of your heart before Him.  Nothing will change you bigger than the consumption of the supernatural!

Can anyone hear me?

iPod nano

This morning, I woke up at 2 a.m.  I couldn’t get a thought off of my mind from yesterday.  I got up and made my coffee the same.  But this morning instead of sitting in the same place, I declared war on a space that needed a victory.  My voice.

In case you haven’t seen the movie The War Room, I won’t spoil it for you.  But if you have seen the movie, then you will know that we have things worth fighting for.  For me, it’s what I have wanted had for a long time.  And it’s something that the Enemy also knows the power of.

My voice.

I woke up with the thought that no one was listening to me, I was even screaming it in a dream.  I jolted awake at 2 a.m. with the thought that no one was.  I have come to realize we need to yield more voices to fight the good fight.  We are equipped to fight many things that the world throws at us.  We are stronger than we think we are, and we have it within us to fight for the things that are important to us.  The best weapon I know is the Voice of God by the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word.

There is another thing that is important to me and worth fighting for.  The right to be heard and being a constant source or a place for a positive voice to speak in today’s mixed up world.  A voice that is taken seriously.  His Voice is what I’ve taken seriously and have allowed change in my life to be change around me.  A good voice that speaks truth into people’s lives. His sounds in my life remind me that God is still sovereign and mighty.  The Voice of Heaven calling out to His children to gather people in unity and love.  A sound consistently on repeat with words of love, joy and the ways of peace.

What are you reading?  What are you hearing?  What are you learning? Can anyone hear me?

Yesterday, I started out to run 6 miles, and I remembered a day when I couldn’t walk one.  I’ve changed this habit by putting one foot in front of another consistently.  I have adopted something helpful when I start out to take my mind off of the pain that floods my body and think upon a voice that super-charges my soul to run forever.  I tune into the voice of God.  I listen to podcasts that give a voice of truth which speaks volumes from my little iPod Nano.  Listening to great teachers that inspire me to grow in faith has helped me get not only physically fit but also spiritually fit.  I might as well listen to something that inspires me while trying to improve myself.

Yesterday, I had to slow my run to a walk so that I would listen better to the message flowing through my headphones.  I literally crept home as not to miss a word.  The Voice of Truth is always worth listening to.  This morning at 2 a.m..I had to confess to God that I wasn’t heard in a conversation between my husband and I yesterday.  I had to stop my words and ask the Lord if I was listening to HIS VOICE correctly in our recent rooms of conversations with each other.

I believe that’s why He woke me up at 2 a.m., to take another listen to His voice from my heart of love because Jesus and I, we talk and I listen too.  Part of speaking anything with your voice is tone, and if your heart is somewhere other than a place of love then, it needs to remain silent until you can speak with love with whatever you are wanting to voice.  I recognized that even though I am awkward at saying what I really want to say, I am awkward at listening too.  That is really the root issue of most people to people conversations and this morning God reminded me His voice of truth comes in the stillness, when I am best at remaining silent and at a slow pace.  The way to listen well is from a heart of love.

After writing and talking it out with God, I vowed to not be caught off guard anymore.  I will remain in a silent state when listening to God alone and work on improve my listening with a more open heart.  Not for the sake of wanting to be heard or validated by how it feels, but to know His heart of love for me in a deeper way.  I don’t need the world’s affirmations, validations or confirmations to know that one purpose set before me is to be a better representative of His voice, including and unto my own life.  Speaking of guarding, well I need to remain on guard of what goes into and comes out of my mouth but also what I allow into my heart and out of it.

May I always hear the question that heaven is asking all of us, “Can anyone hear me?  If so, then love everyone, in every way, and with every voice I have given you.”

When you need a little more confidence

writer girl

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E.L. Doctorow

For most writers, what our hands produce is an expression for what we feel in our hearts.  Sometimes though it gets a little mixed up in there I’ll admit.  For the most part, if you let a thought simmer long enough it will produce something that can be moving or thought provoking.  For me areas around me have to just about right to get my mind to settle on what to express on any given day. Such as it is all artists, we need things like we like them, handy accessible or within reach at least.

This weekend I spent some quality time in a room where I formulate thoughts and articulate them in a blog.  I was surprised by what I found on my dusty shelf.  A full, actually overloaded basked of blog thoughts, ideas of thought provoking posts and many unfinished blog concepts.  Most of them were only half started and looked like a scribbly mess.  I remember those days when I was a firestorm of ideas.

I still have a lot of ideas for blogs but lately God has been focusing a lot of my efforts on writing a book.  I am making great momentum in that project.  The point of my mentioning a lot of half-scribbled notes about blogs is two ideas:  1.  What did people use before the invention of Post-it’s?  2.  Do you think Paul had a stack of half scribbled notes surrounding him while writing from prison?

When I found the overload of the scraps of paper I had to wonder why I didn’t take time to write some of them out.  I recognized that I have a great ability to start a lot of great and awesome projects around here and my kitchen table is paralyzed right now with about 10 craft projects that I want to pin to a board someday.  I realized “someday” needed to become a bigger priority to actually finish any of the projects.  Was my need to accumulate a lot of stuff by crafting or was I just wanting to cover my table to make it literally unusable for the purpose it was intended for?

I think it’s because we tend to find value in what our hands produce and receive our worth from the false sense of productivity to gain value in our lives.  I’m pretty sure Paul, the writer of over half of the New Testament, didn’t have a craft table or 10 projects laid out on it.  I am pretty sure he didn’t have a basket overloaded with chapter ideas either.  I pretty sure that Paul had a lot of time to articulate his thoughts.  Take a read some of his latest releases called the New Testament Bible.

I am pretty sure that Paul didn’t always have the cleanest of areas to work in.  I’m pretty sure there were days when Paul didn’t see the light of day or get out into nature to inspire him to put pen to paper.  I’m pretty sure that Paul didn’t over analyze his work nor have doubt about what his calling in life was.

Do you think he was disappointed with how his life turned out?  He wrote about contentment a lot.  He wrote about praying a lot.  He wrote a lot and remained focused on truth.  He kept his mind in check and could have let it stray to dark places but he didn’t.  What did Paul have in his life that other writers didn’t?

I think in his “knower” that he knew.  Paul wrote to churches that needed encouragement, teaching and preaching the truth, and showed how to love first and foremost.  Paul wrote about some “hot” topics too.  Paul was known as a passionate person who had been radically changed by an encounter with God along a dusty road.  Paul didn’t question his ability to write, he just knew that it was God who was empowering him to share the Gospel that still inspires us today.

He just knew.  And there was no doubt that was what he was supposed to do.  If there was any lack of faith it didn’t show.  Am I the only one or do you get stuck in the “how” of God’s ways and try to figure things out before we let Him have His way in us?

I have gotten stuck in the “how” details were going to happen, or if my dream would ever happen.  I stacked my little notes on a shelf thinking if I’m better I’ll write that, or if I have time I make that a great post, or if there is no one else out there that will tackle this subject, then I will.  How often I think I have nothing to say about something?

This stack of unwritten blog ideas has changed me a little to think I only need a little more confidence to focus on if I should write it at all.  Focused confidence was what Paul knew as his purpose and it came from the Author Himself.  I often find myself reminding God what I don’t have to do what He has asked me to do.  He has confidence in me, so why can’t I have confidence in me?

All that changed this weekend.  No, I don’t think I can write all those scraps into a post, because it’s not about the quantity number of posts that I write but the confident quantification that I write from.  If God is in your unfinished pile of projects then don’t give up before He has had a chance to add a little confidence to your mind and heart.  It will do you a world of good to throw away a bad idea.  It’s okay, no one knows about those silly ideas anyway.  Focusing and letting God sort your ideas will help you become confident and know which ideas to put effort towards.  Who knows you could be the next Paul creating something for a generation that hasn’t even been born yet!

If whatever creative stroke is consistent in your life then seek God in the middle of it and ask Him to be your confidence.  He will bolster your faith in a way that won’t make you over-productive but will help you produce what He has put inside of you.  God cares about those details too!

Where do you need more confidence in your life?

Oh How He Loves!

fathers love

As many times as I have been to summer camps as a camper, counselor, and dishwasher, I know enough about camping with teenagers to know some things.  And it’s inevitable that every time I go, God speaks.  Little did I know that I needed to really be the learning camper girl over the adulting camper girl.

At summer camp, when with a bunch of preteens or teenagers for a week coupled with multiple showers, random underwear and emotions are all flowing, it’s in those times you really lean in to hear.

Imagine God bending down right now and asking you “What can I do for you?”  That’s the way He comes with a willingness to hear from you.  My response to God surprised me a little after His initial opening.  We simply chatted though one of those summer afternoons in a really quiet spot.  I asked if He could show me what He liked about me, my body, and the image that was made in His likeness.  I was astounded.  I didn’t get the answer I was expecting and it came through my friend Kat who is losing weight too.

“I don’t like the way you are treating my friend Janelle.”  I teared up a little.  She was right I’ve not been kind to me.  I might have been a little too hard on myself, quite honestly I have been a little strict on my regime. It’s because I know the cost of a gain.  And I don’t want to go back to where I was…ever.  No seriously ever, never, never.

The constant battle in our minds with those of us who have a lot of weight to lose is this:  “Do we have what it takes to stay at or around our goal?”  Personally this has been a HUGE fear that God has revealed.  You just don’t know the thought processes of a chubby girl’s mind unless you have been there yourself.  Fear comes dressed in all kinds of sizes and the Enemy knows exactly which button to push to get you to think about food, eat something with a lot of regret later, and worse yet push you to binge for a week on absolutely everything that is not healthy or green.

Kat reassured me that I could let up on myself a little.  She was right again.  How could I possibly love me like He loves me knowing what I had eaten or crammed down out of stress or guilt or flat out pleasure?  God really hit it home when I asked my question of Him.  There is something that we tend to believe about God is that He doesn’t really care about how we treat our bodies says my new blogger friend Laura, she was right too!  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our bodies are a house in which His Spirit dwells, moves and has a life inside of us.  There is something about the lie of false humility that leads us on a path of self-depreciation but leaves us feeling super spiritual to think less of ourselves.

There is also something about growing up without the verbal affirmations of a father that somehow and ironically transfers to our Heavenly Daddy to make us think that God feels the same about us as we attach to those “loser” feelings of value and self-worth.  I am writing a book and dedicating a whole chapter on the emotions that come with gaining weight and losing weight and everything in between.

Back to my summer chat with God.  He gently reminded me to show His full love to others, I had to receive His full love for my body including all my wrinkles, crinkles, and unmentionable parts too.  His house that is on the inside of me and you.  To experience His fullness, I had to grip the reality that His love is the kind of love that dwells from within is enough to cover my years and years of mistreatment and abuse by food to my own personal piece of property.

I am His and He is mine.  We have ownership rights.  From that day forward I vowed to appreciate myself in a new ways that helped me see God’s bigger picture of who I really am.  This is a process friends and doesn’t come overnight, but I am being kinder to me, once God lined it all out for me and took time to explain it in a way that really helped me.  And it all happened in the middle of overloaded hormones and sweaty pre-teens pits.  Appropriate homework at my adult age that I missed from my summer camp lessons.

God thinks more about me and you in ways that you can’t imagine.  We can’t comprehend the deep love He has for us how He shines His glorious light when we let His love engulf us.  When the rigid walls come down from the inside out, it was like a soft gentle, healing rain upon my scarred over heart.  God even showed His sense of humor, as I was stationed in the snack bar all week.  I never touched so many sweaty palms and was met with so much indecision as I was this summer.  I was surrounded with all kinds of temptations and treats that could send me into a sugar coma that would last all the way next year and God gave me a way out of each and every temptation.

To know God’s love for others, you  have to fully realize His love for you and inside of you. If you are alive right now and breathing you have so much to be grateful for and still have plenty of chances to make some smart changes that will get you back on the right track.  The truth is God does care about you, each and every detail of you.  You are fearfully and wonderfully woven by His design to have the body you have.  So love you and stop beating yourself to a prison that keeps you comparing to others.  It’s a liberating way of experiencing true and unmeasurable freedom, and I promise you will never be the same.

For extra encouragement, read Psalm 139.