Custom Search

Viewing entries tagged
Christianity

1 Comment

I Am Fat....

Today, I am not going to talk about children or adoption or mental health. Today I’m going to talk about myself. (Ok, so maybe a little mental health then.) But I want to address an issue that led me to near-tears in Target just this morning. I say “near-tears” because I refused to cry a pathetic cry in front of my toddler. (Well, my toddler and the twenty-something Target employee who was gracious enough to look the other way while her 36-year-old customer had a near melt down… again, near.)

I have PCOS and I am fat. I am fat because I have PCOS (and because of Oreos… but mostly PCOS). Now, this isn’t something I just realized today – although shopping for curvy pants in a skinny-jean world certainly drove the message home loud and clear! My fatness has been a long time coming. I can actually remember the week when I realized that I could no longer put my arms all the way down next to me because my arm fat and my back fat created too much squishy resistance. (Now I walk around everyday trying to smile more because my natural arm stance looks as if I’m ready to take someone on in a sumo fight.)

I also took note of when I first rolled onto my side to fall asleep at night, only to find that I was short of breath. This was because my boobs and my stomach rolls teamed up and decided to kill my lungs by squishing them to death. And then recently, the only 3 pairs of jeans I have left (all 3 pairs of my previously labeled “fat pants”) decided to rub clean through in the upper thigh area. I now have holes, far too near my crotch, and had to go pants shopping (which, other than swim suit shopping, is the worst thing in the world – just in case you’re Miss Skinny Jeans and didn’t know this already).

Despite these dreaded things happening to my body, I didn’t cry. Crying over my weight is something I gave up in my twenties – back when I still had a faint memory of my metabolism, and before the PCOS hormone imbalance completely had scarred my view of self. Now… I just don’t look at myself anymore. I mean, I look in the mirror to do my make-up and hair (which I’ve kinda let go anyways), but I feel as though I’m looking through myself instead of at myself. I see the absolute “musts” that need to be seen before rushing away and immediately forgetting what I look like. My survival instinct is to remember myself at 30 – back when I was overweight but still somewhat healthy. I feel like it’s a compromise between the old me and the new me. This lets me get through the day without the tears spilling over, even when my big girl undies refuse to stay up over the tummy rolls.

I’ve seen so many doctors and had so much blood work – I’ve tried all of the diets and exercise routines there are. I mean I stick with them. But nothing works. And if one more medical professional tells me that I just need to cut my calories one more time, I will likely end up behind bars… as if I’d never thought of that! Two degrees and a decent IQ and it never even occurred to me to just “cut my calories”! In fact, I call BS on all the P90X and HCG plans, all the 5:2 diets and anything else that is too hard not to be given a name… just a dumb set of letters and numbers and punctuation marks. And as for all this Crossfit, Acefit, Kinofit nonsense… I just want my freaking pants to fit! (PS if a loved one tells me that my face is “still pretty” one more time, I will likely go postal, because all you’re saying is that I’m fat AND there’s a time limit on how long the front part of my head will hold up before it goes, too!)

Like I said, I try not to let this get to me on a daily basis. I don’t even use the “f-word” around my kids because I want them to grow up with a healthy sense of self – I want to be an example to them that shows that you can be happy and healthy, even if you’re wearing the “wrong” size. But today was pants shopping day. And Target was my safe place back when I used to have money to buy new things, so naturally that’s where I ended up.

After trying on 40 pairs of pants in women’s, plus size, and maternity, I still walked out with two pairs of jeans that make me feel old and frumpy. No khakis, no dress pants, no capris. There was nothing that worked on any level for this weird body of mine. In fact, between the tears that threatened to pour out and the horrifying lighting, I decided that even my knees are now fat (knees… things that are literally made of bone and cartilage and tendons… they are now fat. And old. I have old, fat lady knees which I didn’t even know about until today while attempting to find shorts.)

I stood there half naked in a Target dressing room, contemplating my looser, pale skin. My stretch marks and cellulite. My hair crimping around my neck from sweating under the fluorescent lighting. The stubby nails and the wrinkly hands. The decade old shoes that I keep getting fixed because they don’t hurt my arthritis like the trendy high heels do. The redness that’s creeped into my eyes, accompanied by the dark circles underneath them. The chin hairs… oh, the chin hairs!

Can getting old give you PTSD? Just wondering…

It was a very lowly and pitiful 2 minutes of reflection – a time in which I looked AT myself instead of through myself. Dinosaurs growled in the background from whatever my son was watching on YouTube. I started to giggle at the fact that I was in a posh town where every other woman in the store was super put-together, along with their toddler in tow. And there I was, in Target’s dressing room, looking at my life from such a physical sense, realizing that the theme song to my life would, in fact, be the soundtrack to DinoTrux. It seemed fitting.

I decidedly put the 38 items back while purchasing my two pairs of jeans. I re-layered myself in the clothes that I wore in, doing my best to cover the lumpiest parts. My toddler and I drove home quietly – away from the trendy city and back to our humble town filled with dollar stores and cows.

My life is not glamorous. I am not glamorous. But something that has been resounding with me lately is this: Identity. Who am I? Not “what” am I, but who? I decided that if I were going to allow the time to actually look at myself, I wasn’t just going to go over my flaws. Because that’s not WHO I am. I am God’s Child. I am a Queen. I am Loved Unconditionally. I am Chosen. I am Appointed and Anointed. I am Called. I am Covered in Grace. I am Forgiven. Redeemed. Made in a Holy Image. A Fighter. An Advocate. Fulfilled. Precious. Beloved.

And as ridiculous as it sounds, the words “thin”, “trendy”, “youthful”, and “glamorous” don’t even make the top 100 of my thoughts. They’re not even part of my goal when I think of my identity! That means that the war that the enemy tried to have with me back in Target this morning was over things that don’t even hold a candle to who God made me. I am not in my twenties. I am not thin. I am not perfected.

And I don’t care.

I am loved by God who created me. And that’s all I actually need.

our worth.jpg

1 Comment

Comment

Goodbye, Darkness

            I don’t know about you, but life has been all rain clouds and no sunshine these days over in our neck of the woods. Perhaps that’s because it’s January. But I have a feeling it’s more than that. I suspect that the clouds have been due to darkness fighting light in a ferocious manner. Darkness does that, by the way. It likes things to stay dark because light threatens its very existence. Don’t believe me? Even our eyes want to stay closed when our alarms go off in the morning. We enjoy our slumber and the dark tremendously! Our body aches at the thought of someone throwing the light on and interrupting our precious night.

            But the same can be said for things that aren’t of this world. The things that are beyond this singular realm are also filled with light and dark. There is a spiritual battle that takes place all around us – while we do our daily routines and our errands, while our kids attend school, while we go to our jobs and our churches and PTO meetings. Every second of every day, the war continues. Darkness tries to claim souls while Light fights back for freedom for those very souls.

            What is your darkness? And before you start to think that I’ve lost my mind, or that I’m a religious zealot, remember that you are made up of a body, a mind, a spirit, and a soul. Just because you’re only consciously aware of one or two of those things, it doesn’t mean the others cease to exist – no more than the stars cease to exist while the sun is shining.

            My darkness takes many forms. Sometimes it appears as anxiety or depression. Other times it takes the shape of a bad habit, a sin, or a stronghold. But however it chooses to appear, it’s goal is always the same – to claim me as its own and to hold me captive, away from the light. And that’s darkness’s aim when it comes to you, too.

            You’re worthless. You’re a failure. Can’t you ever do anything right? What if everyone found out that you did that? If people REALLY knew you, they’d see you’re a fraud and a hypocrite. You can’t change. Your life will never amount to anything more than this right now. Your finances, your health, your job security, your house payment, your broken car, your broken family, your broken marriage… all of it means nothing. YOU mean nothing.

            Ever felt any of these things? Since most people usually aren’t always optimistic and the rainbows only shine after a bit of rain, I’m guessing at least part of this rings true to you, too. So what’s the answer? What do we do when the clouds are all around us and the darkness closes in? Do we give up? Do we hunker down and wait for the darkness to pass us by? Because I assure you, if that’s what you do, you will fail. Trust me. I’ve already tried. You see, the dark is not satisfied unless it’s victims stay in one place, eyes held tightly shut, refusing to let the light breach their clouds.

           And I, for one, refuse to be a victim.

           To battle the dark, we must call it like we see it. Sure, you may feel silly standing in your kitchen talking to the imaginary forces at work for your soul… but if you want to win, you’ll get over the foolish feelings rather quickly. You must let the enemy know that you’re calling him out – that you see his game and you’re aware of his plans for you. And if you want to test this theory, call out the dark and then wait.

           It won’t be long before darkness tips his hand and shows his cards… because as soon as you call him out, he will retaliate. Watch as an unexpected bill comes your way, as you get sick, or as you find yourself too busy with mundane tasks that suddenly appeared, leaving you no more time to question the darkness. But friends, don’t shy away. It’s just part of the game. You call him out, he responds. However, your work is just beginning.

           The devil will call “Check!” and you’ll be forced to move in order to protect your queen in this weird game of spiritual chess. No one who plays the game in real life would walk away from the table if their opponent called “Check”… no one would throw their hands up and call it hopeless. No, they would move.

           Move. That’s what you do next. You called out the darkness, and now you move. You refuse to be defeated – to stand still. You refuse to sit and wait for it all to pass you by. Instead, you call in the light. You find what you’re doing right in your life and you keep pressing on. Obviously the darkness is fighting you for some reason, trying to hold you back from the good you’re doing. But the light is there to shine through the clouds and put the darkness in its place – to give you just enough strength, day by day, to accomplish the good works you’ve begun.

           Call out the darkness. Refuse to stand still, MOVE. And look to the Light.

           If all this makes you think I’m a whack-a-doodle, then I’m actually okay with that. In fact, I ask that if you have no idea what I’m blubbering about, that you ask. Email me. Call me. Let’s get coffee! You can tell me about your darkness and I’ll tell you about my Light. Together, we can call darkness’ bluff and tell him just where he can go.

 

Romans 8:35-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Comment

Comment

Encounter - A Book Review

It’s not everyday that I feel quite so blessed by the eloquence of young people. My heart leaps in my chest when I see children interested in reading and writing - compelled to tell the stories of their vivid minds in ways that show a unique perspective mixed with intelligence and creativity.

And that is exactly what I found when I came across 12-year-old Cooper Lafreniere’s book Encounter. Earlier this year I had the privilege to read a book by his younger brother to my children. Cody and the Hairy Thing soon became a household favorite and the children were anxious to see what Cooper had to bring to the table in Encounter. And as I expected, we were not to be disappointed.

In his book, Lafreniere shows great attention to detail, grabbing the attention of young males straight from the get go. With topics of camping, nature, and building rafts, any young boy would be drawn in straight away to the captivating tales shared in Encounter. My own son began pestering me to start constructing clubhouses and fishing poles before we were even halfway through the book! And anything that inspires that kind of creativity in my child is something that I support.

Cooper goes on to address heart-warming themes such as a beautiful depiction of a loving father-son relationship, overcoming immense fear, and heroism. As his young character, Jack, faces his greatest worries, he is guided by his earthly father to find security and trust in his heavenly Father as well. Even as an adult, I found myself moved to tears as this young boy showered those around him with respect and, ultimately, as he took on an adult role in order to protect those he loves.

In our society, children are often looked at as small or incapable of doing great things. And yet every child dreams of doing something with the biggness that is inside of them. In this book, Lafreniere allows his character to rise to that occasion and tackle obstacles that show that children are just as capable of greatness as adults. With childlike faith and strong love, anything is possible.

 

Comment

Comment

If You Could Change One Thing... Do It

Have you ever wished you had the ability to change the world? I mean really make some drastic changes? Naturally, we all dream of winning the lottery (even those of us who don’t actually play) or of becoming successful for one reason or another. But those aren’t the kind of changes I’m talking about.

If you had the power to do one amazing thing for the world - one   completely incredible task that would change mankind - what would you choose? 

To cure an illness?

To relieve the suffering of the mentally oppressed?

To end war?

To make sure every orphan gets a home?

To eliminate the national debt?

To save each woman and child being trafficked for sex?

To bring equality across races and genders?

To change the educational system so that each child can learn the way he or she does best?

To preserve the arts?

To end animal cruelty?

To help every home across the globe Go Green and save the  environment?

To provide relief to those facing natural disasters?

To deliver each person from homelessness or hunger?

To change our society’s rape culture?

To create programs that better support our law enforcement?

To abolish all hate crimes?

To rid our neighborhoods of the perpetual cycle of abuse that currently plagues them?

To put an end to genocide?

To release all prisoners of war?

To completely change the human condition?

Which would you choose? When you take into consideration all the amazing things that could be done if we had the power to do them, which one would you choose? Which group of people would be worthy of saving? Which cause is more deserving than the others? 

And how would you make your decision? Would there be a pro-con list or would you take into account which change would effect the greatest number of people? Or maybe would you choose something that means a tremendous amount to you on a personal level - something that’s touched your life in a real way?

My guess is that if we polled 1,000 people, each one of those individuals would have a different answer with very few repeats. I would also wager that you and I may choose a different position depending on what day we are asked, depending on what circumstances we’re currently facing.

Does that make us enemies? Does it make the other causes less noble? Does it mean that we have no love in our hearts for any other movement? No. Of course not.

In recent months there’s been a very “all or none” mentality going on. Agree or you’re my enemy. Offend me and we are no longer friends. There’s such pressure to sign a petition, join a protest, head up a fundraiser, or “like” a Facebook status just so that those around us know we are on their side - because having different life goals has, in and of itself, become too controversial.

While we’ve been so busy getting all politically correct on one another, we’ve completely missed out on the fact that we have all been created for a purpose. And guess what? That purpose is not the same for any two people. There is only one of you. There is only one of me. And thank God for that. Because we’re all screwed up enough that getting our own jobs done is already hard, let alone with all this bashing going on from one another as we attempt to follow the paths that God created us for.

The beauty of creation is that we are all SUPPOSED to be different! You are capable of something that no one else is capable of. And it’s YOUR job to stand up and fight for your position. If you’re passionate about ending obesity in children, then that’s what God has put inside of you and He’s equipped you to help motivate the next generation to be healthy. 

So Do It.

If you’re up at night couponing until your hands are sore, then God’s created you to be a leader of financial responsibility to your children and your spouse. He’s given you the knowledge to see bargains and to grab them, spending your money on what’s important and not what’s frivolous. 

So Do It.

If you constantly feel the ache inside to visit hospitals and nursing homes, so that those toward the end of their lives never know the agony of loneliness, then God has created you to pour into those lives with everything inside of you. 

So Do It.

Is your mission more important than another? Of course not. Does the environment need our attention? Absolutely. Do black lives and blue lives and all the lives matter equally? One-hundred-percent YES!

So answer me this one question.

What are you doing about it? 

Because if you say “nothing”, then you’re part of the problem. You have to be doing YOUR part - the part that was created just for you by a God that can see the big picture. He knows which mountains need to move and He’s placed all the players in the correct positions. But if those players refuse to move, then so do the mountains. 

If you don’t do your part, no one will be there to pick up the slack for you. And if you think your part is to criticize and fight with everyone around you about how you don’t like their movement or their giftings, then REALITY CHECK... YOU’RE the problem!

Life was never meant to be about getting up each day, going to work, fitting in social calls, getting people from point A to point B, and then going to bed. Those are things we need to do, yes. But that’s not what life is actually about. So today, I challenge each of you to find your passion. To get off your computers, your phones, and your T.V.s and get on your knees to ask God exactly what you were created for. Because I assure you, there IS a reason. And it’s supremely important that you start living like it.

Jesus came for us all. He suffered and died for us all. He covered my sins and yours with blood that is so sacred, so pure, that it has the power to bind us to our Father and protect us from our deserved punishments. It’s through this amazing grace that we find the ability to rise above insults, to overcome petty disputes, to walk in love instead of hate.

Because at the end of the day, to do anything less is a waste of life itself. 

If I could choose any one thing to make the world a better place? It would be to put an end to spiritual death so that each person can live the life God created them to live.

So Do It.

Photo by  Phanuwat Nandee

 

Comment

2 Comments

What To Do When There's Nothing Left To Give

In life, we get many choices. One of those choices is if we want to be “all in” or not. We decide how much effort we are willing to exert based on the priority of needs we are presented with. Some people may choose to give 50% of themselves in any given circumstance. And I don’t judge those people. Not anymore. It is the Halfers that are capable of self-preservation – protecting those vulnerable, deep down parts by not giving their all.

Halfers know that by risking all they have, they could also lose everything. They weigh the pros and cons, list the checks and balances, and move on accordingly. This particular group knows how to hold back when necessary. They’re capable of watching as things that don’t work out roll somewhat easily off their shoulders. They’re able to rebound with speed and at least half of their reserved strength.

These people are survivors.

And then in life, there’s a second group – the group that makes the choice to go 200% in. The Doublers. These people are the ones that aim for the stars instead of the clouds. They give all of themselves in all of their exhibitions. When things go well, they double their strength and fly high until the next time they lose. And when they lose, they are left with nothing. They are broken and exhausted. There is no hidden reserve of care or energy, no speedy bounce back. Recovery is long and it is dreary and it is awful.

Doublers fight to the death, give away their last slice of bread despite their own hunger, and sweat blood. There is no self-preservation – no bodily armor to protect them as they live each day.

Doublers are not survivors.

I have no idea which category you fall into. You’re probably like most people… individual circumstances allow you to choose which team you will play for.

Grocery-shopping? Halfer. Math homework? Doubler. Making time with friends? Budgeting money? Resolving spousal conflicts? Your own personal health?

You see, there are no rights or wrongs. You pick your battles and choose to accept the consequences. Most of us tend to go halfsies on the smaller matters in our lives and double up on the main events, am I right?

Except here’s the problem. Sometimes, everything in life seems to be a main event. Sometimes, everything requires 200% of us. There are some of you reading this right now who feel that you are gambling so much of yourself that the consequences may even prove fatal. The risks are too great and you have no idea if you will survive.

Let me explain what a Doubler’s lifestyle may look like when everything requires them to be all in:

You are raising a special needs child. You are caring for aging parents. You are a work at home AND work out of the home parent. You have more bills than you have paycheck. You or someone in your immediate family has a life-altering health concern and doctor’s appointments are a full-time job. Your career is in a field that requires you to care for the physical/mental/emotional/spiritual health of other(s). You are married. You are single. You have a hormonal or mental health imbalance. Your children outnumber the adults in your home. You have therapies, sports, early intervention, Bible study, something that needs to be baked for charity, laundry that hasn’t been done in weeks, lab work, vet appointments, meetings, and grocery shopping all in the same day because you CANNOT serve ketchup and crackers with canned fruit 2 meals in a row.

Have I described you yet? Are you sitting there saying to yourself, Oh my gosh, I’m Doubling on EVERYTHING because there is simply no other choice! If you are, then you know you are playing Russian Roulette with your own sanity. You’re driving full-speed at a brick wall, believing that it can and hopefully will move. You’re holding onto a breaking heart so tightly, fearful of losing even just one small piece.

I know this because I, too, am a Doubler. Sure, I’ll go halfway when I can. When the house is only somewhat deplorable and I’m sorta sure we’ve got enough money in the account to put gas in the car… and even then, maybe I’ll only put in a few bucks, just to be safe.

But everything in life… it all feels so important. There’s so little that I can lay aside or put on the back burner. My kids with their mental illnesses, I can’t half that. My son with his kidney disorder and all the things that trigger it, that has to get my all. My advocacy for a foster child that was taken from me and placed into an abusive situation – how could I ever do only 50%? My husband, my church, my clients, the finances, my health, our family… who gets cut?

And what do we do when there’s nothing left to give?

I have faced this same dilemma so very many times. Because all the things in my life deserve more than all that I can give. And that is how I know that Doublers are not survivors.

They are world changers.

For every person that finds themselves so close to the fire that they can feel the heat burning their skin…

For every person who battles to the death for a cause that is noble or to save the ones they love…

For every person willing to lay themselves on the line in order to keep another life going…

You may be too exhausted to see it, but you’re changing someone’s world.

If you fought to keep your wits about you when your child was screaming in your face, when you hold the hand of someone as they lay dying in a hospital bed, if you never stop loving even when you’re being thrown through the wringer – then you are changing the world.

I know you’re tired, friend. So am I. I’m so tired it hurts. But take comfort in this:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day comes, you will be able to stand your ground – and having done everything, to stand.”  Ephesians 6:12-13

Picture from Central Christian Church

Picture from Central Christian Church

This is not just another spiritual cliché. I’m not here to boost anyone up with feel good words and fluffy analogies. But when your child is in your face, remember that it’s not him that you’re battling. And when you’re holding your loved ones hand as they near death, it is not their spirit that is dying. And when you’ve loved with your whole heart and feel that it’s been given back to you time and again, wounded and shattered… then you know you have done everything. You have doubled up, given all that you could, and fought against all that is wrong until you’ve taken your last step.

And when you can go no further, just stand.

Because the key to changing the world is doing all that you can, then stepping aside and allowing God to finish the fight.

Be a Halfer when you can, be a Doubler when you must, and rest in God always.

If any of this hits home with you and you're looking for some extra support, click here to read about joining the Mommyhood: Striving for Sanity Membership Program.

 

2 Comments