You Can Go Now

I wrote this two years ago when my youngest child went to college. But since he just left for his junior year, and it’s the first day of school near my home, the theme is current.

Even In This

On the first day of school, student laughter drifts across the street like melody to my ears.

And along with their glee, three grown children unknowingly pluck my heart strings from afar.

How long does it last…this forlorn desire to rewind time?

Or must I remain tethered to the memory of my children the way they were?

DSCN3024

My mind’s eye sees them standing on our front porch. They’re dressed in new outfits, their backpacks filled with freshly-sharpened pencils, colored markers, and wide-ruled paper.

 I fumble with my camera while they moan, “Hurry up, Mom! We don’t want to be late!”

Within two weeks, I’ll shoo them out the door, “Hurry up, you’ll be late!”

They rush down the driveway with my voice vibrating like a helicopter…helicopter mom

ü  “Do you have your homework?”

ü  “Did you remember your lunch?”

ü  “Don’t forget to hand in your…

View original post 357 more words

Self-Condemnation not Allowed

You’re a horrible person. When will you ever learn? How can God love you?

Those are some of the nagging, ugly voices in someone’s head who wrestles with Self-Condemnation. They’re stuck. Unable to let go of their mistakes and sin. Or they view themselves as an ongoing failure.

I’ve been there, and I wonder. Did Eve live in condemnation because she listened to Satan instead of God, and ate the forbidden fruit?

11960325_10153050009825913_2080950678_o

  • Did Eve justify her sin and continue to blame Satan?
  • Feel bitter towards Adam who blamed her when God confronted him?
  • Beat herself up whenever she thought of that fruit which was pleasing to the eye, but didn’t live up to Satan’s promise?

Or did Eve recognize God’s grace and praise His name? Aware that God could have struck her dead and taken another rib from Adam to create another, more perfect woman.

Instead, the Lord loved Eve and sought her while she was hiding in the garden. He listened to her explanation. Then—despite Eve’s guilt—God sacrificed an animal to provide skins to clothe her. And He promised that one day, her seed would bruise the head of Satan.

Did she receive God’s forgiveness…and forgive herself…even though she bore the harsh consequences of her actions?

I regret words and actions that happened decades ago. But there’s no place for loathing myself or living in self-condemnation. It’s also not good to overlook our wrong behavior with a flippant attitude that “nobody’s perfect.”

Even so, the enemy loves to wag his finger and lying tongue at us.

You’re a failure. Nobody loves you.
How many times will God forgive you?
You’ll never reach your goals.
You’re a horrible excuse for a wife and mom.

The only way to stop the lies—and condemnation—is to take our every thought captive. Then squash negative thoughts and emotions with God’s Word as we rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to transform us.

Barb Ravling’s book, Renewing of the Mind Project, helped me. It’s filled with introspective questions to reveal what we think and believe about God, ourselves, and our circumstances. She also provides tips and ample scripture—God’s Truth—so we can gain victory over our negative emotions and debilitating habits.

  • “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 8:1)
  • “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:35)
  • “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

Condemnation is an insufferable place to live. So is bitterness, anger, worry, stress, and emotional eating. Barb Raveling says, “If we want to be victorious over our habits and emotions, we need to take time to renew our mind.”

IMG_0977

After all, self-condemnation is “condemning someone God loves very much…even in this moment…YOU!”

 

I’m Just a Girl Who Can Say No

A few weeks ago, I decided to participate in Thin Within  which is a grace-based approach to losing weight and healthy eating. I have a weekly blog on their website, but wanted to include it here. Perhaps readers will find something valuable to apply to their own lives…

Sun rises on a new day, but I’m still a creature of habit. I roll out of bed and head for the scales which draws me like a Siren.

Surely there’s a mistake. I wiggle my feet on the scale’s cold glass, but the digital numbers remain the same.

So I drag myself to the kitchen for my next habit—coffee. While it’s brewing, I open the refrigerator to get Half and Half. The carton sits on the second shelf next to last night’s leftovers.

“What should I make for dinner?”

My husband hates that question at 7 a.m., but I have to plan ahead. Thaw the meat; buy the ingredients. Meals don’t just happen. If I was the only one in the household, I could eat a bowl of cereal. Pop some popcorn. Have an apple, but I’ve others to consider.

After I’ve been caffeinated and studied the scriptures mentioned in my Thin Within Workbook, I drive to the grocery store. My irritable stomach grumbles. Are you nuts? How dare you take me here when I’m a zero. Look at all this food. You’re killing me.

I pat my belly. Behave yourself. You can have some peas and carrots when we get home.

IMG_9906

I weave the shopping cart among the vegetables and fruit. Avoid the ice cream aisle. I came for fresh produce, eggs, and chicken breasts, but a bag of Fritos sneaks into my cart.

I frown, but then I’m reminded: “Just because You’re losing weight doesn’t mean Hubby stopped eating snacks.”

Good point. I head for the check out line…before I’m tempted to visit the cookies…and set my groceries on the counter’s conveyer belt. 

While the female clerk rings up the food, I notice I’m conveniently hemmed in by two metal racks. Candy on my right. Magazines on my left.

One offers worthless calories and a quick sugar high. The other offers me recipes and a fast pass to lose weight. I study the headlines which are designed to bait my vanity.

“New Water Cure—Drop 8 lbs in 7 days”

“Lose 10,20,30 Pounds—in Just Weeks!”

I’d buy these magazines in a heartbeat if I thought losing weight were that easy. Only, I know better. The female models on the magazine covers are string-bean thin and half my age. I suck in my gut. I can lose weight, but I’ll never look that good. 

 Time for a Truth Card. “God doesn’t look at my outer appearance, but on the heart.”

The clerk pauses. “Anything else?”

I glance at the candy bars in their brightly-colored wrappers. My stomach begs me like a spoiled child sitting in a grocery cart, “Can I have one? Pretty please with a cherry on top?”

I remember 1 Corinthians 6:12 from Thin Within’s introduction.

“Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me – but I will not be mastered by anything.”

“No, thank you.”

My stomach sinks. It’s not used to hearing me say, “NO.”

I pay for the food and escape the store waving my receipt like a victory banner. Who knew? Renewing my mind with God’s Word really works!

But my smile fades fast because my belly’s turning somersaults,  and it won’t give up. “Yippee. Let’s eat something to celebrate! Got any Fritos?”

When Perfection is Too Much Work

Stark naked and vulnerable. That’s how I felt…during a heart thumping, voice-quivering moment…when I took off the pretentious mask of perfection in front of my friends.

13681006_10153710372110913_8530645286265706199_n

 

I didn’t plan to bare my soul. However, emotions came to a head…stripping my polished veneer. Exposing the real me. The moment was sobering even for my friends.

Remember Eve in the Garden of Eden? Instead of a mask, Eve tried to cover her shame with fig leaves and hide from God because “she was afraid.”

Afraid of what? God’s reaction and the consequences of having her own way? Or hearing the disappointment in His voice.

Daughters of Eve, have you been there like me? Hiding behind a protective mask..afraid of  what others will think?

We tend to sweep our imperfections beneath a rug and stand on it so no one peeks. Pretend to have it together, and play at the perfect Christian.

We aim for control? Believing if we….

Keep our children in line, our house clean, our faces powdered, our marriages together, our skeletons in the closet, then we’ll appear and feel more….What?

Perfect? Better than?

Be honest. How many of us show up at each other’s homes, secretly relieved, when we find dust bunnies and a ring around the tub? Have you ever opened someone’s refrigerator and smiled. “Is that green mold on the creme cheese? Good! It’s not just me.”

Or we learn to evade our friends’ white-glove inspections and raised eyebrows. Instead of opening imperfect homes and serving second-rate food, we meet our friends at a safe, neutral place where…

We discuss the price of milk, the latest gossip, and exchange recipes…while the whole time…we hold our sticky game cards close to our chest. Let them think I have a royal flush, but not a bad hand.

Even our personal best seems flawed when we’re listening to the enemy’s lie. Isn’t that what happened to Eve?

Why do folks exhaust themselves playing Perfection if nobody can win? Wouldn’t life be easier if everyone admitted…we’re human? (Want to hear about toilet paper stuck to my shoe?) Let’s get real!

Only, nobody wants to go first. Either we’re embarrassed to reveal too much of ourselves. Or fear wagging tongues. Please don’t tell.

13903162_10153710372155913_906446115323153008_n

Authenticity is difficult, but let’s face it. Sometimes we have to take a deep breath,  remove the mask, and allow our “ego” to skinny dip in front of our friends before they feel free to do the same.

Thankfully, my girlfriends are solid. They covered my naked, trembling heart with their love and prayers. And showed me, I’m not alone.

Even in this.…masquerade.

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8)

Photos: Karen Foster

Craving Comfort?

As I waited in my car at a traffic light, tears came. My heart ached for my friend who had shared sad news. I also toyed with vain imaginings. What if that happens to me?

My mood darkened. And a strong craving stirred deep within me like a gluttonous creature waking up after a winter’s sleep. Restaurants on each corner of the intersection beckoned me.

“A coffee frappucvino would lift your spirits.”

I shook my head. “Too many calories.”

“How about a hamburger with fries or ice cream?”

IMG_7895

“I’m trying to lose weight!”

I turned left and drove towards home, never realizing how many restaurants lined the main highway in our small town. My mouth watered as advertisements for tacos, footlong sandwiches, and barbecue pulled pork vied for my taste buds.

“You should treat yourself to a personal pan pizza. Think of that warm mozzarella cheese…

I clenched my teeth. “Stop obsessing over food. I’m going home where I can control what and how much I eat.”

True story!

If I hadn’t signed up for Thin Within last week, I probably would have eaten the frappuccino and the pizza. Why?

Because in that moment, I would have gladly satisfied my deep, ravenous craving for a few minutes of delectable joy.

I realize now—hunger wasn’t the issue. As my friend, Heidi, says, “I wanted food to alter my mood.”

Funny, I never thought of myself as eating for comfort. Other folks might eat a quart of ice cream when they were depressed, but not me. So the Holy Spirit used my circumstances to show me the truth in Thin Within’s Lesson One.

I learned experientially that consuming a quart of ice cream is no less emotionally driven than grabbing the Almond Joy just because I FEEL depressed, lonely, or sad.

Sorrow is part of the human experience. When I feel like a hurt child, I want to crawl into Mother’s lap and rest. Rub my back. Kiss my bruise. Make me all better.

Only, I’m not a child and it’s necessary to deal with life’s pendulum of emotions by resting in the Lord rather than acquiring self-destructive habits like overeating to numb my pain.

It’s just like Satan (who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy) to entice people to search for comfort in anything or anyone other than God, the Father who loves us.

God knows we need comfort. He tells us, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you….” (Isaiah 66:13 NIV)

Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless….” (John 14:18)

God longs to comfort aching hearts. However, unlike a mom who might comfort her child with an animal cracker, the Lord doesn’t lure our sweet tooth to produce a smile. He satisfies our deepest cravings with Himself.

Comfort means “to ease someone’s pain,” it doesn’t ensure the Lord will remove the problem that pains us.

Instead, God comforts us with His strength. For the word “comfort” is derived from “fortis” which means strong.

“His strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

  • Strength to endure pain and sorrow.
  • Strength to walk on feeble feet down the path that leads to abundant life.
  • Strength to abstain from creature comforts that might sabotage our efforts to eat healthy.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25–26).

Now, isn’t that a comforting thought?

Photo:http://www.jennywrede.com

Patience & Perspective

Love is patient, but I’m not.

Oh, I can patiently wait in a grocery line.
I patiently listen when my son discusses the latest video game.
I’m patient while I hold the door for an elderly person who walks at a snail’s pace.

But I’m not patient with myself when it comes to losing weight.

That’s because if I’m going to “suffer” (the meaning of the Latin word patient) during a diet, I want to see immediate results. And I don’t want to suffer long. So it makes sense that long suffering is another word for patience.
.
Last week I had two options: Lose weight or buy bigger pants. Only the thought of counting points, calculating calories, and avoiding certain foods left me nauseous. I decided to try…..

Thin Within which is a grace-based approach to losing/maintaining weight. Don’t eat until you’re truly hungry and then stop eating when you’re satisfied based on a 0-10 scale. Zero is true hunger, five is a satisfied tummy. Ten is stuffed.

I didn’t expect Thin Within to focus on Bible study questions and knowing God’s character. However, if that’s the secret to losing weight, sign me up for the twelve-week ride.

Day One: I patted myself on the back for answering the workbook questions, and waiting for an empty stomach before I ate. I even did leg lifts and sit ups for good measure.

JWP-10

(No, those aren’t my legs in the photo).

Day Two: I gulped water to appease false hunger pains and chewed my bottom lip instead of consenting to a snack. May I recommend strawberry lip gloss?

Day Three: I bit my white knuckles. “Are we there yet?” Twelve weeks might as well be twelve months.

I also stepped on the scale—although it’s verboten—and groaned. I hadn’t lost an ounce. Doubts crept in. Does Thin Within work? Or is the Bible Study designed to get my mind off the size of my derrière?

I decided to burn calories to make things happen faster. I walked for three miles in the heat of the day. When I stepped on the scale, I’d lost a pound in one hour. Thanks to sweating profusely!

You see, Thin Within isn’t something to try on for size and discard if there aren’t immediate results. It’s a life-long journey that requires patience and a new perspective. That’s because weight loss and toning muscles is a process.

JWP-11 (1)

And that process doesn’t happen overnight any more than spiritual sanctification.

Years ago, I became tired of being a performance-oriented Christian. I wanted to know God more intimately, and ask Him to use every circumstances in my life as an opportunity to transform me into the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29)

Suffering succotash! Talk about a slow, painful process.

Thin Within is designed to help people lose weight by renewing the mind with God’s truth. Total makeover.

In less than a week, I’ve had to re-examine my expectations and long-term goals.

Thin Within can be a twelve-week sprint where I arrive breathless, red-faced, and a few pounds lighter.

Or this can be the starting point of a life-long journey where I learn to cope with disappointment and stress without depending on food as my ally. Or having an edible idol that enslaves me.

May sound like a tall order, but if I can be patient—suffer and show self-restraint without getting upset—then I can shed pounds naturally, AND grow more in love with God in the process.

Photos: www.jennywredephotography.com

 

 

 

Do You Talk to Yourself?

I’ve been absent for a month—meandering in the wilderness.

I won’t ask if you missed me but, if you haven’t noticed, my last three blogs were guest posts. I value what each of them had to say, but I also shared their words because I had nothing to say.

desert

Spiritually depressed, without apparent reason, I wondered if I’d ever blog again.

Have you been soul empty? Lost the joy of the Lord?

Earlier this summer, I warned readers of Taking a Vacation from God which can lead to spiritual apathy. That wasn’t my case.

Spiritual blindness sprang up overnight. Blinded to the cause, I begged for a lifeline out of the miry pit.

Read my Bible, but His Word didn’t register.
Prayed, but my words fell flat.
Went to church, but the manna only nourished me for an hour.

I couldn’t blame my current circumstances for life was sweet. Or a lack of spiritual meat because I’d been studying God’s names; in awe of His love for me.

So I waited for the cloud to pass. My only hope in Him.

woman-1006102_640

Then Pastor Joe referred me to the book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.

The author said the cause of spiritual depression can be someone’s temperament, physical ailment, or unbelief. But another cause can be a reaction after a great blessing or exceptional experience such as Elijah in 1 Kings.

Made sense. After weeks of preparing a talk, He Knows My Name, my spiritual high came crashing. Is that how astronauts feel when they return from celestial heights to Earth?

What’s the cure? According to Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Psalm 42 is the antidote.

The Psalmist, King David, is depressed by his circumstances, but instead of commiserating, he talks to himself.

“We must talk to ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to talk to us.”

Lloyd-Martin explains. “Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. They start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc.”

Do you listen to the voices in your head? Is the main voice talking your Self?

We need to learn how to handle ourselves.

“You have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’—what business have you to be be disquieted?

You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’—instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way.

Remind yourself of God. Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.”

Ending on this note: “I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.

Is this cure sure?

Well, I wouldn’t be writing this post if I hadn’t found the joy of the Lord even in this…..

 

Wilderness  photo: www.JennyWredePhotography.com

Depressed woman: Pixabay