Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 88

It's been a long day. I am in Monterrey and I miss my family terribly. I knew I would but I never realized how much. It was a stressful trip due to snow and ice and delays. My luggage didn't make it. Then I had a hard time finding a calling card and my phone which was supposed to allow me to call out and text won't do either. So I found my anxiety level rising.

I began to second guess myself and wonder if I was doing the right thing even though Brian and I felt that we had prayed through this decision to have reconstructive surgery. This journey has been about me focusing on God and less on others. About finding myself alone with God and not running from the quiet my soul longs for. I don't think this is just a coincidence that God started talking to me about this journey of solitude in early September then I plan to have surgery at this time - close to the end of this ninety days. God knew I was coming here. Being alone and relying solely on God was apart of his plan. Previously fear has just ruled my life. I've been scared of dying, scared of living, scared of being authentic, scared of being out of control, just plain scared of everything.

And in the middle of all this I thought of Salem. How on earth will I ever help her not live in fear and anxiety if I still do the same? I don't want her constantly afraid of everything and constantly second guessing herself. I have to face this fear head on. God has to help me defeat it. I don't want to just provide lip service and tell her how not to be afraid. I need to live it. I need to show her.

The reality is I am not alone. God is right here with me. I am ok. After my panic was over I calmed. I rested in God. I prayed some but the rest was more important. Sometimes it's necessary to be quiet and just rest in the Lord.

Today's Reflection: Lord I believe all will be ok tomorrow. I believe you are right here with me. I do not want to be afraid anymore. My hope is completely in you. You will be right here with me even if I am physically alone. I believe you have a plan for my life that doesn't end tomorrow. My fear today has actually had very little to do with the surgery but more so about being so overwhelmed at being alone. Lord show me right now that you are here with me. Envelope me in your presence. Comfort me with your love. Encourage me. Free me. Let this be the start of something new. I am never alone. I rebuke fear in the name of Jesus. I thank you lord that you have given me a sound mind. You are my peace. You are my hope. Remind me that the comfort and love of family, while so very precious, can never replace the love and intimacy I share with you. I want more. Give me more Lord.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 87

It's that time of year, when I tend to look back and see what I've accomplished or failed at the past year. I'm definitely a girl who makes resolutions. I know many people groan, roll their eyes and say really? But yes - really. There is something forgiving about the past year's mistakes and hugely inspiring and positive about a fresh new year. What I didn't accomplish is completely in the past and if it is something that is still on my radar I try to find a new way to make it work. My mind whirls with anticipation and excitement as I dream of my new goals for the new year.

And what about those things that I didn't accomplish? Well what about them? It's the past. Get over it already. In 2008 I bought a gym membership for $500 and only went twice, but so what? In 2009 I lost 90 pounds and worked out 5-6 days a week for 10 months. Things are often hit and miss. Sometimes its due to our own self-sabotage but if we don't have a goal in the first place what are we aiming for?

Breathe. Relax. It's a fresh new year. It gives me fresh perspective and helps me feel hopeful rather than hopeless. We have to stop, assess and regroup, look up to God for forgiveness and guidance, redesign those resolutions and start again. Making a resolution doesn't mean you won't have grace if you screw up. Isn't being a Christian all about grace and mercy? But it truly is a beacon of hope for many people. Even if you choose not to make a resolution - start fresh and be optimistic about 2010. We all have obstacles. My life is full of issues. But I am trying to center my focus on God. That doesn't make those issues resolve easier or magically disappear but it does help me handle them better. It helps me not be overwhelmed and to search for and embrace the right solution. It helps me dream about something better.

Life is too short to live a mediocre life filled with regrets. I am almost 42. I want to see God at work in my life - in my accomplishments and by helping me through my failures. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Have you ever wondered what that hope and future is? I do - almost everyday. Will you join me in seeking God in your resolutions for 2010? I want to be who God wants me to be. I want to live a life of no regrets.

Today's Reflection: God what do you want from me in 2010? What do you want me to say and do? What do you want me to concentrate on and what should I leave behind? What pleases you? Show me. Help me dream again. I want to know what you want from me. I want you to define it. I want to be in awe of you in every moment of every day and see you in all things so I can pray continually, worship fully and live joyfully.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Days 85 & 86

I was feeling rather sorry for myself when I wrote my last post. I have done quite a lot of work emotionally and spiritually and honestly I have felt somewhat abandoned lately in regards to two specific issues in my life that simply have not changed. In some ways they've even worsened. It's disheartening from an emotional standpoint. But again I find myself looking at these two areas and basing my happiness on what I see or don't see, rather than finding joy eternal in God in spite of that.

I know the answer is joy. The word clearly says the joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). While doing some brief study on joy I also found this scripture:

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17.

How can I be joyful? I believe that many times joy starts as a complete act of faith. Even when nothing seems like it can work out - be joyful. Joy aligns me with God and if I pray with ceasing and am continually praising and worshiping the father, even when by the world's standards I should be caving, joy turns my focus off my circumstances and gives me an eternal perspective. Joy always supersedes the moment. When the dark times come, I must lean further into God. I have to have that intimate connection with God. I will not worry or be anxious and will sin less when I am intimately connect with God. And if I am intimately connected with God, how can sadness and depression dwell there?

Today's Reflection:
Father, I want to be so intimately connected to you, that you become more and more a part of me to where eventually there is more of you in me than there is of me. Lord you are mighty to save me. Mighty to deliver me. Save me and deliver me into joy. I want to live in excessive joy. As I lean into you, fill me. Let me overflow with joy, quiet joy, effervescent joy, bittersweet joy, joy in all occasions...complete, eternal joy.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Days 83 & 84

I really did have a beautiful Christmas Eve and Christmas. It was very laid back and unbusy for the first time in years. I was able to watch my children enjoy snow in West Texas, sleep late and enjoy Christmas Day with just Brian and the little girls. Thank you Lord for the blessing of helping me slow down. I crave it now. I realize how vital it is to my spiritual and emotional wellness. But days like today, doubt creeps in and I feel rather helpless in a couple of areas.

I do have a wonderful life and great things to be thankful for - a husband who love me, great children, a nice home, a business that supplies our needs and then some and wonderfully supportive friends. But on the fringe of all that's good I see these areas that I realize I am just helpless to change. I don't want control. I know for the most part I make things worse when I try to fix them. But more importantly, I want God to have control. I do realize that by giving God control, it means allowing myself to hurt. These issues probably won't self-correct and may get worse before they getter as I can only be responsible for my own reactions and corrections. But I want to believe that God's hand will touch these situations I am helpless in. I know in the advent season especially, I am reminded of the hope that came with Jesus' birth. Hope for salvation and eternity as well as hope through trials and tribulations.

Today's Reflection: Father thank you so much for the gift of the cross and Christ's ultimate sacrifice. Please remind me daily that I am not hopeless. My confidence is in you and that you have a plan for me. A plan to prosper me (emotionally, physically and spiritually) and not to harm me. A plan to give me a hope and a future. I believe that plan calls for reconciliation and deliverance in areas that I have no control over. I obviously do not have your insight. You know what is best God. Please shut doors that cannot be opened and open doors that cannot be shut. I do ask that you heal my broken heart. That you help me not let that hope inside me die. That it will blossom and something glorious will come to fruition.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 82

First of all I am a day behind on posting. I was going to rush this morning and try to get caught up so tonight I could post day 83 and I decided what does a day's post matter if it's stressing me out? I will just add another day and end the official 90 days on December 31st. How fitting is that? I am not sure what will happen January 1. I know this journaling has been therapeutic so I am sure I will keep it up. But I know God purposed something in my heart for these 90 days so I am excited to process and understand where I started and where I finished at the end of this 90 days. It's somewhat humbling to lay all the cards on the table and process everything out this way yet it's wildly freeing as well. So who knows what God has planned. I will simply follow.


After posting last night I got a text from a dear friend who I no longer get to see much since she is now in Pennsylvania and I'm in Texas. What she sent me really encouraged me and I want to share it.

"I just read your blog and for the record I don't think you have it all together. I do, however, think you are a beautiful mess. And I admire the fact that what you are going through is hard, but you're doing it anyway. And that you are allowing yourself the time and energy to do it. You deserve that. Not to be overly encouraging, but I am proud of you."

Thanks Judy. That's just what I needed to hear. She and a another friend know all of my stuff that stays hidden from the world at large, so they have a good idea of what I deal with in therapy and through prayer, etc. So I loved this response. I know she "gets" me. It made me realize that people close to me see that it's all not sunshine and roses, but they do see my growth and the positive forward movement.

I think God sees me as a beautiful mess as well. He created me to be this beautiful unique being of infinite worth and potential. He values and loves me beyond my comprehension. Yet somewhere along the way, the beauty he created was corrupted. Now I am struggling to find that beautiful girl he created. She's still in there. I get glimpses of her and God reminds me continually that she is who he created me to be. She's just covered in the mire of this world. But she is coming out and being renewed. She may have scars, but she is there and God has this amazing plan for her. I want that. I want it now but I know I am in a process to get there and find her. Sometimes I just put the cart before the horse in my hurry and excitement.

Today's Reflection: Lord as I strive to be closer to you I often feel less worthy to be in your presence. I know that is an attack from the enemy and I refuse to allow myself to go back there. But on the other hand I don't want to think more of myself than I need to. We've talked about this before Lord - balance is such a fine line. I know you are right here holding my hand and helping me balance. If I get stubborn, please remind me that I can't do it on my own. I need your guidance, your touch, and your presence not to fall off. I treasure where I am at today Lord. I often want to finish this journey and get to where you want me to be, but for today I don't want to miss where I am at while looking at the long term prize. I don't want to miss the beauty that is right here in my life today. Thank you Lord for this life (and even for the little girls who interrupt with screaming while I am trying to finish this blog. Off to be the mom).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 81

The more I embrace and experience my feelings the more out of sync I seem to feel. I think this is key to my emotional wellness because when I stuff and react I feel in control. But when I allow myself to experience and simply be I don't know how to respond. I feel as if I am sinking but I'm really not. It's such a paradox.

I don't want to be a control freak. I try to let the little things go. I try to really slow down and think through my responses and sometimes just not respond rather than respond in anger. But there has to be something in between nothing and anger. What is it? How I can let someone know they've hurt me or I am concerned about something without them seeing it as an attack? They've seen the old Leah for so long that even my gentle, considerate responses are often met with hesitation. Sigh. I feel as if I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.

I am this big emotional mess inside at times (more often than not these days) and people still think I have it all together. The ironic thing is the more I try not to pretend that I have it together the more people applaud my efforts and encourage me and thing I do have it together. It almost drives me crazy. In fact the further along I walk on this journey the less together I feel. The only thing holding me together is God and his presence and his grace. And I think that's how it's truly supposed to be. God's grace is truly sufficient for me.

Today's Reflection: Embracing emotions is so tiring Lord. It is so much easier to avoid or blow up even though I know long term it will destroy me. Some days I really want to give up - especially when I have to deal with conflict. I've always been one to tackle conflict head on. Now I hate it pure and simple. I want to be kind and encouraging but sometimes confrontation must happen but I often feel it's not well received so I avoid it. That puts me back in my old pattern so I can't keep doing that. Lord please walk before me like a banner so people will see you in me. Please let nothing in me be reminiscent of the old Leah who is dying to self. Let them see you in me so I may find favor in those situations where I need to confront or talk about a really hard subject. I don't expect people will always receive what I say or be in complete agreement, but please show me how to approach them so they will hear me, acknowledge me and love me regardless of how much or little they agree with what I say.

Days 79 & 80

It's been a tiring but fun weekend. It feels nice not to run around like a chicken with my head cut off. I don't have anything wrapped but I have plenty of time for that. I've had a good couple of days. Korie is here and we've had fun shopping and spending time with the girls.

One thing I have realized is that I am fairly sensitive these days. My feelings have been hurt deeply twice this weekend. I've really processed both of these incidents through and both times I really hadn't done anything to justify receiving such rude words. In the past I would have gotten angry and then in my anger and sinned and yelled or said something cutting in an effort to defend myself. Instead these times I didn't say anything and walked away. I am not sure that is the correct response either but I didn't feel safe confronting it and saying hey you're hurting my feelings. Both situations were in front of other people. I was embarrassed as well as hurt and wanted the entire situation to die.

The more I think of it the more I realize I should have said something but with a kind hurt. There is such a fine line between being angry and hurt and sinning in reaction to that anger and hurt. I am not sure what would have been the appropriate response? Ideas?

Today's Reflection: Lord I am at such a loss at times. For every step forward I take I often feel I take 10 steps backwards. I feel as if I just don't know how to be. I almost detest this rush of emotions I feel in dealing withe these emotions. But stuffing them as I did in the past didn't help so this is better but not quite where I need to be. Please show me how to be safe in my emotions. I want to feel emotional freedom to be sad or angry or depressed but not stay in it. I want to express those feelings and process them so I can move on. What would have been the appropriate responses? Show me Lord.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 78

Live life on purpose. That has really resonated with me and buried itself down deep in my soul. Yet it's puzzling - how can I live on purpose? What am I doing with my life today that will last forever? What am I doing to engage the darkness?

It sounds so lofty and idealistic. I am just a mom and a wife. Some days I feel as if I am barely treading water and it would be so much easier just to stop. But God encourages me to keep moving.

My ultimate calling is to be a Godly wife and a mom. Everything else is gravy. If I am godly wife and mom I will raise my daughters to know God and lead a holy life. Hopefully they will not struggle the way I did. Hopefully they will be blessed and encouraged by their mother and not provoked to wrath. I often think of the Proverbs 31 woman and to be honest in the past I've often been intimidated by it. In January I am going to start a study on it. But for now I know it doesn't mean to be super woman.

And speaking of being super woman - one thing I know for certain is I have no desire to be super woman. This week completely brought this hope. It was a chaotic week at best. Monday was MOPS and errand day. Tuesday Salem had a dentist appointment that did NOT go well and then Raina had speech. Wednesday we were back at the dentist office for her to be sedated, then Raina had an eye glass appointment and then we had a huge outreach at church. Then Thursday we had marriage therapy and OT/Speech after school and hosted a Christmas party. Then Friday Salem had a Christmas party, errands, Raina's Dr. appointment to get her stitches out...and in the midst of all this tried to do bible study pray, run errands, do Christmas stuff, had a house to get and keep clean since we were hosting two parties, had business stuff to do, a Dr.'s appointment for me, along with 2 chiropractor appointments, and more.


Yesterday I realized that this was reminiscent of how I lived my life last year. For the past 78 days this has been the exception, but pre-fall this was my norm. I was always totally busy and overwhelmed and doing doing doing. Some weeks like this past one are unavoidable. Sometimes things pile up and we have to get through it the best we can. But I know busyness doesn't bring out the best in me at all. I tend to get grouchy and all I can think of is that endless to do list. Add back pain to the mix and you might get an idea of my attitude this week. For the most part I did keep it in check but the thoughts and feelings were on this inside and I struggled to meditate and pray them through. I also know that for the past 78 days I've tried to live in peace and solitude and weeks like this show me how precious solitude is. I missed the solitude and totally resented the busyness that invaded my life. I longed for rest and peace.

So how could I have lived on purpose throughout this crazy busy week? I could have been less agitated even though I am fairly proud of how well I handled it. Sometimes busyness is unavoidable but I do believe I handle it with a good attitude. I could have remembered to bring my earbuds to a couple of appointments and used that time to listen to sermons or praise and worship music and use that as down time to quieten my mind and recenter and refresh my spirit. I could have done more deep breathing and meditation. I could have purposed in my heart to find someone to bless.

Today's Reflection: Lord I am not entirely sure what living on purpose means in my life. I know you have called me to this blog thus I am writing it and being obedient to become authentic and transparent. I know you have called me to be a Godly wife and mother. But I am sure I miss opportunities everyday to live on purpose and engage the darkness and push it back in other people's lives. I want to be a blessing to those around me. I want to stop and care rather than getting trapped in the busyness of life. Teach me in this next week to meditate on you more fully. To focus on you and what you would have me do in this life. I want to live on purpose for you. Show me what to do.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 77

Tonight we had friends over and we ended the evening in prayer and as they prayed the only thing I kept praying was thank you Jesus.

Thank you Lord for the gratitude I feel welling up in my soul. I am eternally grateful to you for this life. Thank you Lord for the relationships you've brought to me this past year. For defining and healing relationships in my family. Thank you Lord for my sweet Brian who loves me no matter what. For my family who even though they may not understand me - they love me. Thank you Lord for using my girls, Ty, Julia, Judy, LaRae, Tammy, Amy, Jason, and Bethany to help me learn how to build relationships. Thank you lord for helping me build true relationships and for showing me it's ok to be authentic and transparent and to not live in fear in shame. I was not meant to live life alone, isolated in fear of what someone may think. Life is about relationships.

Thank you Lord for Kathy and healing her from cancer. I am just astounded when I think of the doctors report that her her stage 4 cancer is gone from her spine and lungs and smaller on her live. PRAISE THE LORD.

Thank you Lord for Matt Chandler. The joy of the Lord is truly his strength. I want that Lord. It's not a gift especially for him. I can live in that joy as well. I do pray for his healing and his family and that you would sustain them with peace.

Thank you Lord for this life - including the trials. Thank you for helping me persevere and fight and push back the darkness. Help me continue to engage and push back the darkness that fights to take over in my own life and in the lives of those around me.

Today's Reflection: I love you lord. Thank you for this life. For your deliverance and your healing and for complete wholeness. I am only here for you.

Day 76

The precious life is passing by at such a fast rate that it makes my head spin and I feel as if I cannot catch my breath much less do everything I want to do. I want to slow it down but I can't. I've lived for so long dreaming of the perfect future that I have missed the perfect now. I no longer want to live dreaming about the future. My life is not a future event. What am I doing with my life now that will last forever? What is my labor for? Where is my hope? My time is going to eventually end. My days are numbered. What do I want to hear when I get to heaven? I want to know I did what God told me to do. I want to testify about the light. I want to engage the darkness FEARLESSLY and to live on purpose.

Today's Reflection:
Live on purpose. What a concept. When I heard Matt Chandler say it I almost didn't catch it but the Holy Spirit quickened me to pause and rewind the podcast and I heard it again. Live on purpose. Lord I want to live on purpose. I want to live each day cherishing this gift of life I've been given. I want to live fearlessly and engage the darkness that long chained me for so long. I wish someone had relationally engaged the darkness with me and helped me through it - discipling me, living life with me. I cannot change that. The past is what it is. But I can learn from it. I can recover and be renewed and help someone else through their own darkness. The enemy cannot win if we engage the darkness. Lord teach me to live on purpose.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 75

The joy of the Lord is my strength. That is my mantra today. It's been a long yucky day. I am tired and honestly can't think of a lot to say except to embrace my feelings as they are, vent them and move on.

A week after my grandmother died I had a wreck. I was at a complete stop and a guy hit me going 40. I've been going to the chiropractor since my then. It's really helped my neck a lot but there is still a lot of tightness. Originally the x-ray showed it was straight rather than curved. But because it's still SO tight we started decompression therapy last week. Two days after starting the decompression therapy, I misstepped off a curb and while I didn't fall I felt it in my back immediately. We were going in to Salem's Christmas program and I had to stand during most of it. I went to the chiropractor the next day and it was swollen and he referred me to the doctor.

So after a painful weekend I had an appointment today. After 2 hours there we found that I have a compression between C6-C7 in my neck and arthritis in my neck. The good news is the curve is coming back (it was VERY straight after the wreck). I also have degeneration in the lowest lumbar vertebrae. This was not caused by the wreck or by stepping off the curb but it was exacerbated by it. More than likely it was largely due to my being overweight my entire adult life. My tummy tuck will help this some. Even though I am 90 pounds lighter, I have about 4-8 pounds of skin that just hangs and that causes back pain and pressure.

But there isn't much he can do until after I heal from my tummy tuck. I am not sure I want to do steroid treatments - I don't want to gain any weight. So I am going to talk to my PCP for a second opinion and do some research. He did give me a RX for tramadol and a muscle relaxer and a tens unit (I was borrowing a friend's dads). But I can't take the pain killers and muscle relaxers during the day and drive and such. Brian does have an inversion table so I'll try that that as well.

I am so disappointed and discouraged. I can't work out the way I was working out and that is frustrating on multiple levels. It leveled out my emotions, it empowers me and it usually makes me feel amazing physically. So that is discouraging. I can't remember getting the the same feeling from yoga and walking. It's exercise - the benefits are there. But it's not what I want. The pain is also VERY intense. I have a fairly high pain tolerance. I didn't as a young adult but I have since my first pregnancy and this pain is debilitating. I don't know what to do with it. I don't want to pop pills all day to maintain.

I don't want to be super woman. But I want to feel better. I want to know I can be healthy physically as well as mentally and my back pain is incorporated into that. And I am fully aware that it will get better. I am working on letting the joy of God strengthen me. But I am tired and weary and just want rest emotionally and physically.

Today's Reflection: Lord I am tired. Please replenish my joy. Strengthen me and heal me. Let your healing oil flood over me. Help me handle the pain with grace and dignity. Please help me keep my attitude in check as I work through all this. I am so grateful for your presence and I love you Lord. I know you are hear with me. Please remind me every moment how much I need you, how much you are there and that you have a plan for me that makes this pain irrelevant. You are more than this pain. You are GOD! You are the God that has delivered Kathy from cancer. Her spots are gone from many areas and the lesion on her liver is smaller. You ARE THAT GOD. You are the God that has delivered me from sin and has revealed himself to me in so many ways. I know you are there. Help me focus on you and not let the enemy tempt me to stray my focus. If I stray from looking at you I will sink. Help me walk on this water Lord.

Day 74

I feel out of sync...with pretty much everything. I don't know what it is. Life is good - relationships are better. My emotions are fairly even. But I feel out of sync. It's hard to even explain. Maybe it stems to my back pain and being unable to work out like I normally do. Perhaps it's Brian's long hours and doing it all by myself so much. Maybe there really isn't a great reason.

Today's Reflection: Lord fill me with your presence. Remind me of your hope and your grace and your mercy and help me see you in everything. It really doesn't matter if I am out of sync in life as long as I am in line with you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Days 72 & 73

How on earth do you love your flaws? I find myself struggling with this a lot lately, even though I know it's important. It's brought to reality when I hear Salem tell me she hates being little. Being only 7 I really don't emphasize how small the geneticist says she'll be - 4'11 at her tallest. I do tell her that God created her little for a reason and what a big blessing he has in store for her. But if I don't apply this to my own life and to my own traits that I don't love, how do I help her apply it to hers?

I really do want to love my flaws. Physically that is easier to do since I have lost weight. My issues are more with my personality traits. I have found that there is almost always a kinder, gentler side to every personality trait that I have that I tend to want to run from. My desire is for God to turn my biggest flaws into my strongest weaknesses. It doesn't mean I should accept the negative as an excuse to say this is just how I am and thus be rude and abrasive (as I have been in the past). I need to be mindful of and make amends for mistakes I make out of my weaknesses. But I also can't stay in those mistakes and get stuck in self-flagellation. For me that just lends fuel to shame.

It's all about about balance. If I lean too far to the left I slip into condemnation and shame. If I lean too far to the right I slip into rude condescending behavior. To be honest, this tightrope is hard to walk, but it's important that I not give up.

I've often wanted to change my personality traits but really I am pretty much stuck with them. Thus, my goal should be to change how I deal with them and use them to relate to others as well as channel them in a Godly manner.

It starts with being mindful of how my personality traits affect others. It's ok to have a strong black and white personality. It enables me to be a strong advocate for my children. It gives me discernment but it's not a license to be rude, disrespectful or judgmental.

In my mind's eye I'd love to be laid back and the life of the party. The one that makes people laugh and puts them at ease. But in reality that's not who I am. I am sarcastic at times, have a dry wit, am opinionated and strong willed as well as straight forward. I seldom keep quiet. When I look at those characteristics outside of my own personality I can see that they have a wonderful ability to be used by God. But when I relate them to my own self I get frustrated because often I don't channel them appropriately. I am learning to accept that it's ok to be black and white and straight forward. It's how God made me and he plans to use that somehow for his glory. I have to trust his plan.

Today's Reflection: Lord I want my greatest weaknesses to become my greatest assets. Show me how to develop and use my dry wit and sarcasm to make people laugh rather than make them uncomfortable. Show me how to be a strong advocate for you and the kingdom as well as for my children without alienating people. Show me how to temper my strong will with compassion and empathy. You have created me with these personality traits for a reason. Help me embrace them rather than resent them. Show me how to be the ambassador of Christ that you would want me to be. I don't need to be quiet spoken to be used by you. Help me find that balance on this tightrope. I want people to see a true reflection of you in me.

Day 71

As I work on my shame issues I have to figure out where they stem from. My T suggested I answer these questions to start working on where to process this from.

Do I accept my body as it is? No I do not. After losing 90 pounds I have realized to what extent I was destroying my body. I do plan to have a tummy tuck. I have exercised hard core for about 10 months and have spoken to two plastic surgeons. This skin will not retract. My skin is about 9 pounds in and of it self. At first I dealt with a lot of selfishness regarding this. But then I decided I feel beautiful regardless of the skin which is usually true. But like a meth addict whose teeth may be destroyed by their addiction, my stomach is destroyed. It affects my running and the skin infections I have to deal with. It's restoring what God created my body to be.

Do I feel as if I am not attractive enough? Perhaps occasionally but generally I am happy with my looks.

Am I embarrassed about how I am aging? No. As I have researched plastic surgery I have seen a lot of weight loss patients dealing with creating an entire new body in their quest for wholeness. I don't need or want a face lift or tons of lipo or botox. I am happy with where I am at physically, mentally, spiritually and how well I have aged. I am almost 42. I can't reverse that.

Do I judge myself for being too heavy and not physically fit? No. I have in the past. And I do think I should and can work out more but my back injury is what it is and it's not a huge shame factor. I just wish it were different.

Do I accept my mind as it is? I don't judge myself for not being intelligent. I am fairly smart. I do wish I were more humorous or light-hearted or interesting. I feel boring and would love to be the life of the party. I long to have natural fun conversation with people and I think my sarcastic wit tends to turn people off. But for the most part I am finally learning to love who I am - sarcastic wit and all and am trying to learn to use it constructively.

Am I critical over obsessive thoughts? Yes. I tend to be very over anxious and obsessive and it drives me nuts. I want to be laid back. But I always want to be who I am and channel these things positively but I don't know how. I try to be mindful of why I am anxious and obsessive without bringing judgement into it.

Am I ashamed of bad thoughts? Yes

Do I consider myself bad at meditation, bible study or prayer cause my mind wanders? Yes at times.

Is it ok for me to cry and to be insecure and vulnerable? I will admit I do NOT like this. I cry a lot in therapy but it's one of my few safe places. I am learning to be ok with it and just be but I feel ill at ease with it still. It tends to make me feel weak and unsafe.

Do I condemn myself for being depressed? Sometimes when it doesn't seem to make sense yes.

Am I overly critical of myself for being impatient, irritable or intolerant? Yes. I find no good excuse for any of that but I try to be mindful to see what brought me there as opposed to being angry at myself.

Do I feel that my anger or anxiety is a sign that I am not progressing spiritually? Yes I do feel that way at times but usually I am better at being ok with it. Most of the time I know it's because I am not working out or taking care of myself and so I know what the solution is. Being mindful helps me remember that.

Am I ashamed of my past? Yes usually

Do I hate myself if I act self-centered? No - I usually am not self centered. So if I do find myself in that emotion I just try to correct it.

Do I feel as if I am falling short in relating to family and friends? Yes. I am a fixer and right now I feel quite alone on this journey that no one else seems to get. I want people to "get me" and when they don't I feel condemned and want to fix that.

Do I feel selfish if I don't put others first? Spiritually I know there is a time to put yourself first and a time to help others at all costs. What I struggle with is finding that balance.

Today's Reflection: Lord on this journey towards wholeness I am often frustrated at how long it seems to take. I want to be whole NOW. And right now at that.
I don't often want to acknowledge that it took me 40 years to get here. And I seldom reflect on how far I have come in a year. But it's been an amazing year. You have done great things in me and I am still amazed at your grace and mercy. It completes me. Help me remember that in all things I must give thanks. Your plan to heal me and restore me is a step by step process. You have a plan to prosper me and not to harm me and to give me a hope and a future. It may not be as instantaneous as I want it to be but its very real. Help me not lose sight of you and concentrate on what I lack. Let me look towards you and concentrate on what I have. I have salvation - priceless eternal salvation. I have a beautiful relationship with my heavenly father, a wonderful husband, beautiful children and loving friends and family. All things will come together in your time.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day 70

When I think of clutter I get a little antsy as that usually means I need to go through, sort and get rid of things. For the most part I handle this well after I get started. I just dread the work and actually getting started. But once I am started it usually goes fast and isn't as hard as I thought it would. Actually I go through the girls toys and clothes and household stuff on a fairly regular basis. At least 4-6 times a year. There is such a feeling of calmness after I declutter. I seem to be able to breathe deeper and more fully. I am deeply relaxed. It's almost better than a massage.

So I started thinking about this yesterday after reading my friend Marcy's blog post. It got me to thinking because while I have way more stuff than say my sister or a friend that I have that I label a minimalist (which is a good thing), I really don't hold on to things or would consider myself a pack rate. I let go and give away things fairly easy. So how does this apply to me? I didn't know at first. All I knew was that it did resonate with me on some level - it just took some time to figure it out. I ruminated off and on about how this applied to me all day. I started looking around my home - which needs to be cleaned. But aside from that while my office is definitely cluttered it's stuff that I need to file - rather than get rid of. We went through the girls clothes and toys a couple of months ago and won't need to again until after Christmas. So my house is fairly in order. So why was this in the forefront of my mind?

I went back and ready Marcy's blog again and focused on this quote by Peter Walsh in the Summer 2006 edition of "Simply Perfect Storage" magazine. Peter said: "People hold on to things because they think they may need them one day or they are afraid if they let go of something, they will lose the memory. Clutter holds you in the past. It robs you of space to live."

Sigh! OK this definitely means something to me but was far less literal than what Peter or Marcy were talking about. What am I holding onto? Physically my photos and scrapbooks and a few cherished items like my crystal angels are important to me. But other than those few personal mementos I tend to get rid of things easy. So I started to try and deconstruct Peter's quote to make it apply to my life. Here is what I came up with.

I hold on to the past because I am scared to let it go. Letting it go means I cannot hide it. It means I cannot control where it goes and who finds out and what their response might be. Letting it go means giving it completely to God to throw away or use in whatever way he sees fit. Cluttering my mind with shame and secrets holds me in the past and robs me of life. It keeps me hidden from the journey God has planned for me. Oh lord I am tired of hiding. It's lonely there and I like being in your light and feeling your presence and knowing that your grace and mercy cover me.

I know this shame thing is a big deal and I am working on it but this really made an impact on me today. Reading that paragraph out loud several times makes me realize what I fool I've been. Ignorant yes - but ignorance does not negate foolishness. There is no benefit to being so emotionally guarded about the past. It only adds fuel to shame's fire.

Today's Reflection: Lord my past is yours. Do with it as you will. If the world must know - the world must know. Please slap my hands if I try to take it back. Remind me that I want to grow and not stagnate and I cannot grow fully to become what you want me to be if I hide in shame. Shame is not of you. *Lord you have made me to be a unique being filled with infinite worth and potential. I am loved and valued beyond my comprehension. My worth doesn't change with my moods or circumstances. I am not my accomplishments or my failures, my strengths or my weakness. These are merely expressions of my deeper self that you created me to be. Please help me not lose sight of who I am in you. You are the Lord of my life, my creator. You will use my strengths and my weaknesses for your glory! Thank you Lord.

*Noted prayer during Today's Reflection is paraphrased from a meditation by Stin Hansen.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 69

I have to admit that I am actually quite proud of myself. I am usually not one to pat myself on the back, but I made myself look back on this past year and see where I've been, where I've gone and where I am now going.

By the grace of God I started this journey last year. Self inspection and awareness is hard. Even though it's ultimately destructive, it's so much easier to hide yourself in denial and not work on anything. I did that my entire adult life and I regret it but it is what it is. I can't change it but I can change how I lead the rest of my life. I am so glad God got my attention.

Thank you for providing a way for me to lose weight and keep it off and encouraging me to exercise. I now love it (for the most part). I've also learned to eat right. It becomes habit if we allow it to.

Thank you for sending me to T to help work through my issues. I appreciate the therapeutic Godly counsel and his unconditional acceptance. His acceptance of me just as I was helped me look to God for that acceptance.

Thank you Lord for Brian who EVERY step of the way has been so supportive even when he just so completely didn't understand anything I was going through.

Thank you Lord for friends and family who were supportive no matter what. Even when I started driving 2 1/2 hours to Lubbock to continue therapy your support has been amazingly uplifting.

I am proud of what I have accomplished this past year by the grace of God:

  • Lost 90 pounds
  • Learned to like exercise & especially running
  • Chilled out - I've had a much easier time controlling by anger and my temper and my control freak tendencies.
  • Learned to say no - I don't have to do or be everything
  • Practiced what I preached. Before I had the words down but the actions not so much.
  • I've learned to trust in God - even when my control freak nature wants to hurry him along or fix it myself. I am learning to sit back and relax and - yes - wait...
  • I'm learning to embrace the past even the things I want to ignore. I am learning that embracing doesn't mean I look at it in affection but it helps me start processing it and dealing with it
  • I'm learning to love myself. I am still working on this one but it's easier everyday.
  • I'm learning to love time alone. I don't run from solitude as I used to. I am not scared of hearing what God says to me or my own reflections.
  • I'm learning not to walk in shame and to trust in the gospel for my EVERY need.
I am excited to see what God has in store for me this next year.

Today's Reflection: Today was a simple day. I was busy but you were there right beside me. Thank you for staying with me, helping me through issues that played out in my mind and comforting me and encouraging me when I felt most alone. You've done so much in my life and I am so thankful Lord. Thank you for loving me enough to fix what's been broken in my life rather than letting me self destruct and throw myself away.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 68

Have you ever really needed the complete emotional and physical support of someone? You just wanted that touch and their emotional stability. You almost needed it even. Part of that I've never experienced in most of my adult life. I am somewhat of a touch-me-not. I don't feel instantly connected to people by a hug or a pat on the back. I tend to buck up inside and feel on edge. Yet I've always used touch to connect me to people because I felt it was expected. For instance as a teenager I was fairly promiscuous. I did so in a search for connection - for love. But most of the time I was disappointed and eventually grew to hate the actual physical part of it all. I just continued to search for love and connection that way because it's all I knew.

To be completely honest I pretty much dislike this about myself. I want to be open and less guarded. I am much more at peace with this now - but in the pas there have been times when I literally had to practice physical touch with my spouse and children. With my kids it's become second nature. With Brian it's definitely better. But it's still something that's not completely natural for me. And rather than disliking it about myself I want to accept it as a part of who I am. Acceptance will not mean that I cannot change it but I firmly believe that acceptance is the first step forward even in attempting change.

I know the touch-me-not side of myself is there for many reasons. Some of those reasons I've explored and some are lurking in the shadows and will be acknowledged and dealt with eventually. But for now I am choosing not to feel guilty about it. I used to give hugs because I felt I had to. Now I don't purposely try to avoid it but I don't seek it out because I feel I have to. (Again this is apart from Brian and the girls. God is definitely healing me and making it much more easier with them).

So with all that said - I've found that by leaning into God I am becoming less guarded physically. I feel God's presence physically even though of course I don't see him and cannot touch him. It's as if my physical and spiritual being are completely intertwined and what I feel on a deep spiritual level connects to me physically.

I feel less anxious spiritually thus my stomach is less upset and I don't have as many headaches. I feel less tired emotionally and spiritually thus I have more energy even if I have a busy day and haven't had much rest. I feel God spiritually embrace me and it relaxes me and makes me want to reach out to Brian and the girls.

It's amazing how completely fulfilling God's presence is when we truly give in to it and rest and lean into him. I never truly realized before how communing with God consistently could heal so many areas of my life. I knew and believed it could happen for others, many times felt I didn't deserve more of God than I had or I felt I had so much compared to what I deserved why ask for more? Both are ridiculous. God wants us to lean into him, to totally become dependent on him. It's how we learn to simply be with God. I've made it so difficult over the years by doing. I am really learning to relish being.

Today's Reflection: Thank you Lord for your presence in my life. For loving me and cherishing me. For encouraging me and even disciplining me. Your presence is healing my entire being - mind, body and soul. I love feeling your presence so completely in my life. As I continue to lean into you - fill me. I long to overflow in you.

Day 67

The advent of Christ brought hope to the world. Hope for a savior, hope for a deliverance and hope for redemption. That hope is still here in the midst of this crazy chaotic life we lead especially at Christmas time. Hope. God wants us to stop and remember what this season truly means. It sounds like another hokey catch phrase but Jesus really is the reason for the season. It doesn't matter that his birth date may or may not have been at this time of year. This is when Christians celebrate. So as Christians what are we doing to celebrate Christ's advent?

This is a hard one for me. I am all about Christmas decorations and music and presents and so forth. Yet I try to balance it with giving and loving and serving. I try to teach that to my kids when we go shopping for those less fortunate or when we go through their toys to give to others. But no matter how hard I strive to maintain balance - if my heart is not in the right place it doesn't matter. Everything I do this advent season should be about serving Christ. Not because I should serve Christ but because I can serve Christ.

It doesn't mean I can't give gifts - but I should give gifts that mean something. It doesn't mean I can't decorate - but it does mean I should check my attitude about my stuff and not freak out when the kids touch it or when it looks askew.

How can I make this Christmas different for me and my family? I can worship fully through prayer, sacrifice, offerings (perhaps a sacrifice of time or service) and obedience. I can rebel against mainstream society's idea of Christmas and be counter cultural. This doesn't mean anti cultural. For me it simply means I won't live in chaos and stress. I won't overspend or stress out looking for Zhu Zhu pets (which can't be found without paying a ridiculous price). I will enjoy good times with friends and family and focus on people rather than doing.

I don't want Christmas yet again to be about consumerism for my family. I can buy less gifts and give more away. I can choose to celebrate Christ rather than the marketed version of Christmas. I can give. And the way I give should reflect how God gives to me. He gives to me completely. He gives to the least of those and meets obvious, specific needs. He gives gifts that bring the receiver closer to him.

Today's Reflection: Lord this journey on solitude seems to change so often I can barely keep up. One day I barely leave my house and spend all day in prayer and reading and other days I have to focus on the stuff on my list but hopefully with a different attitude and a sense that you are always right there with me. I pray that you give me insight in what has to be done and what I can let go of. He me spread the hope of Christ this holiday season. I am so blessed that my family is well and together, that our business is thriving, that we are growing spiritually and that we do not lack for anything. Lord help me never take for granted anything. I have been homeless, disadvantaged and poor. Please let me always remember those days I lived in my car during the spring of 1994. Help me always see people through your eyes.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Days 65 & 66

It's been a very trying weekend with my girls. I think all children go through this but my 7 year old has decided to become disrespectful and defiant and my 4 year old is following suit yelling at me - right now mostly.

Our Saturday morning started SO sweet. Together we all three cuddled up in the recliner and watched Frosty the Snowman. Then it started - fighting, disobedience and downright defiance. By the time Brian came home at 1:30 I was packing up EVERY toy in their bedroom. Seriously. He climbed on board and it's all out of sight in the attic. It seems extreme but nothing else has worked. They still have art paper and crayons and books and that is it. Today they got to watch a Veggie Tales Christmas DVD but that was the only TV. Brian

We are also in the process of having Salem write, "Salem obey your parents as unto the Lord for it is right. Ephesians 6:1." For a 1st grader this is helpful on multiple levels. She's gotten to 40 and the goal is a 100. Every day she will write this at least 10 times until we hit a 100. Then we will start writing the fruit of the spirit.

So you can imagine how the rest of Saturday and Sunday went. A lot of complaining and meltdowns. It's almost as if we had to punish ourselves as well. But it's the right thing to do of I am certain. So we'll see where we stand in a few days.

Sometimes I think I am in WAY over my head with mothering. But God has entrusted them to me and I feel I have to be consistent. I read a study somewhere that I can't quote now that says inconsistent parenting is WAY worse than permissive or strict parenting. Of course I want to be balanced and not be too strict or too permissive but I definitely want to be consistent even when I am tired. That's the key - to be consistent even when it's hard for me personally, when I am tired or emotionally worn out or even sick.

As I struggle with parenting my girls I remember that God loves them even more than I can possibly love them even though that is incomprehensible for me to understand. He has a plan and a purpose for them just as he does for me.

I found this scripture while reading Max Lucado's Fearless. "Pour our your heart like water before the face of the lord. Life your hands toward him for the life of your young children. Lamentations 2:19.

Father I pour my heart out to you. I pray for Raina & Salem's salvation. I pray that you reveal yourself to them in a deep and tangible way even now. That they will feel your presence, that they will know you. That they will always want to serve you and lead holy loves. SAVE THEM LORD from the enemy's snare. I pray that we keep them focused on you and do not overindulge them. We want them to grow up blessed but more compassionate and giving than anything.

Salem the Peaceful - I pray that Salem will be a banner of peace. That the peace that passes all understanding will embody her spirit and she will bring peace to all she encounters. Even now her compassion and empathy are far past her physical age. I pray as she grows older that her compassion and empathy will continue to grow and as a minister of the gospel of peace she will bring people to reconciliation through you.

Raina the Joyful - I pray that the joy of the Lord will always be Raina's strength as she journeys through this life. As she giggles and makes us laugh now at even the slightest thing - let that joy grow with her and become deeply ingrained as a part of her character. Let your joy radiate from her as she grows up. Laughter is a precious medicine and I pray that you will use it to heal people through her. I pray that she continues to be light-hearted and cheerful in whatever ministry you put her in.

Today's Reflection: Lord enable me to be the mother you want me to be to these two beautiful girls. I want to be a consistent disciplinarian yet have that be tempered with patience, love and encouragement. Show me how to nurture them at every stage in their development. Let my mothering be embodied by your love for them. Love them through me. I want them to grow and lead holy Christ-centered lives. Show Brian and I what we need to do and put it on my heart to always lift them up to you in prayer. Even on days like yesterday and today when all I want to do is cry, run and hide instead let me feel your presence and fall on my face and plead for them before you. Let their special needs be addressed without being indulged. Thank you Lord for the gift of motherhood. Please help me not screw them up. Quickly reveal to me when I make mistakes so I can apologize and do what I can to correct my wrongs. Thank you Lord for the grace and mercy that flows from heaven above into my life and the life of my children.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Days 63 & 64

Feed your fear and your faith will starve
Feed your faith and your fear will starve

That's a quote from Max Lucado's book Fearless. It seems so simple doesn't it? And actually it is. I make it MUCH harder than it is. Therefore that's what I am working on. I am not even working on facing my fears but facing Jesus. When Peter faced the tumultuous waters he began to sink but when he focused on Jesus and Jesus alone he walked on water.

That's what I am working on right now. I am tired, struggling with a sinus infection and long days since Brian is in the final week of Christmas light installations and is working a lot. I've realized that when I am tired or physically ill, I have to found that I am more susceptible to the attacks. Thus I am trying to pray more, study more and look at Jesus and not at the circumstances around. It's not about facing my fears - it's about facing Jesus and not being sidetracked by the circumstances around me whether it's cancer or death or finances or family issues. The rest will come together. The word says - All things come together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

I will share more about this over the weekend but I am encouraged by Matt Chandler's words before he went into surgery Friday. Please read them, be encouraged by them and pray for Matt and his family as he recovers and they wait for the pathology report.

My Heart Is Full...I Am Thankful (Click on the link for the complete post).

The last seven days have been some of the most interesting of my life. I have felt anxiety, fear, sadness and a deep and unmovable joy simultaneously and in deeper ways than I have felt before. I am grateful for this heightened sense of things. Today at 10:45 a.m. CST I will have a good portion of my right frontal lobe removed. I head into that surgery with a heart that is filled with gratitude and hope.

Today's Reflection:
Your perfect love oh Lord casts out all fear. As I lean into You I feel Your presence envelope me, Your love nurture me and unmovable joy strength and encourage me. Fear cannot coexist with Your love. Thank You Father for loving me and delivering me. I am so thankful for Your love and hopeful for the future You have given me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 62

My biggest struggle right now tends to be fear. I really am just a scaredy cat inside. Most people who know me in real life probably wouldn't know this but I am simply afraid of so many things real and imagined. But then I wonder do I really hide it that well? My 7 year old has been developing some anxiety based fear and we've been working through that with scripture and prayer and I've been praying against that generational curse. Thus I need to deal with my own fear in order to help her deal with hers. I don't want fear to become a stronghold in her life the way it has in mine.

What am I scared of? Everything both real, potentially real and ridiculously unreal. It's borderline ridiculous at times. I've become better at taking the thoughts captive but I want more. I want the thoughts gone or at the very least I want them to be barely a blip on my radar. I want to rebuke it, turn to God and move on. I don't want to give fear even one foot in the door of my heart and mind.

Yesterday I had a hard day with some fearful thoughts. I struggled with it - prayed and thought about it. I knew I needed to fight this battle head on and not run from it as would be my first instinct. I was still pondering all this today when a friend called me. She had a dream about me. In this dream I was in a boat and paddling somewhere and was entranced by the beauty of fireflies around me. All of the sudden alligators were there and I could no longer see the beautiful fireflies. I instantly knew what this mean. The alligators were my fear and my fear is hindering me from the beauty of everyday life.

Fear stomps out that beauty. Fear keeps me surviving rather than living. I've got to get this stronghold broken out of my life. I've come too far - God has brought me too far - to backslide into fear.

I also started reading Max Lucado's Fearless. I agree with him when he says fear feels dreadful. Fear sucks the life out of the soul, curls us into an embryonic state and drains us out of contentment.

I know what God's word says. I know by grace I am saved through faith. I know that God has not given me a spirit of fear but of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND. Thus really it's foolish, stupid even, for me to continue to exist in fear. I want faith to be my default reaction. Jesus says this is possible. Jesus I believe - help my unbelief.

Today's Reflection: Lord I want to be free from fear. I want to be able to ignore fear knocking at my door. I want to ALWAYS remember the promise of Christ and to not be afraid. Even in circumstances that are real and not imagined I want to default to faith. Your word tells me in Matthew 6:25 not to worry about everyday life. Lord help me. Deliver me - heal me. Show me the way through this.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 61

I am quite tired today. A sinus infection has worn me down. Raina and I headed to the doctor's office today as she's been sick too. The doctor checked us out and I got antibiotics.

In the past I would have ignored my symptoms. I would have carried on and not took the rest my body needed. I look back at that and shake my head. It's so foolish not to take care of ourselves. In affects our physical body of course but it also depletes our emotional and spiritually wellness and strength.

Thus - I am going to bed and resting.

Today's Reflection: Lord my mind is busy thinking of the laundry I need to do, the accounting work I need to complete, the Christmas presents to wrap, and I could go on and on. But for now I am going to rest. The stuff will still be there tomorrow and Thursday. As I rest I pray that You would heal and strengthen my body. I long to rest in You Lord.

Day 60

A year ago...

A year ago you wouldn't recognize me - not physically, spiritually or emotionally. I was 232.6 pounds with high cholesterol and diabetes, awful knees, a broken heart and a destroyed spirit. I was an empty shell simply existing and doing. I was surviving life rather than living it.

I am not even sure how I ended up there. There is such a delicate balance between being a wife and a mom and working and ministering and still maintaining a sense of self. Add family issues to the mix, throw in an aging, frail grandmother and two special need kids and for me that was all it took.

I don't regret helping taking care of my grandmother. She was an amazing influence in my life. And I do not regret my girls. I love them. But I was consumed with doing. I didn't live in the moment. I lived by doing, by my to do list. Thus I do regret how I lost myself along the way. I became so focused on doing and taking care of others that I lost sight of myself. I never learned to be and live in the moment. I almost ceased to exist in many ways.

I seldom nurtured my body or my spirit. I hit rock bottom. I wasn't sure what to do different but I knew that my life needed to change. I started looking into weight loss surgery as well as Christian therapy. God led me to Ty and I had my first therapy session the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

It's been a hard year at times. But it's been precious as well - even those hard moments are precious. I've looked at myself for the first time ever. It was terrifying at first. But I am continually learning to love and accept myself. Therapy and self-reflection is intensive emotional work. You don't just learn the good things - you have to face the wickedness and sad and hurtful things in your life as well. There were days I cried driving to therapy. There were days I didn't want to work out. There were days I wanted to drown my sorrows in food. But God kept propelling me forward.

In a year I've realized a few things about myself:

1. I am a unique and glorious creation of infinite worth and potential. God loves me beyond my comprehension. I repeat this to myself often and I usually believe it.
2. Garbage in/garbage out. I didn't tune in to God thus my spirit had nothing to sustain me. In relation to food - the crap I ate simply destroyed my body and gave fuel to my mental fatigue.
3. I am a great wife and mom but I have learned that I cannot be all things to all people. I am Leah. I am strong but I am human and I make mistakes. I don't let shame overtake me. I am learning how to be what God created me to be. I am learning to say no. I am learning to keep firm boundaries in place yet not build walls.
4. I have a life outside my family. That's a hard one for me. Especially with my little girls. I am just not lost in them as I was last year. I am called to be their mom and to nurture them and help them grow spiritually and into maturity. I want to raise powerful women of God. I pray for their salvation daily. I pray for their future and I see God already at work in their life. But I can do all this without being lost in them.
5. My physical body and the shape I was in was hugely a part of how sad and depressed I became. I am not a health nut. I don't want health and fitness to become a God in my life. But I feel SO good about myself. My almost 42 year old body looks better but more importantly I feel better. I have energy. I can do things. I understand the importance of staying active and being careful of what I put in my body. I had weight loss surgery - a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. It's a tool that employs restriction only. I still have to eat well. If not I could still eat 3000-5000 calories a day and regain the 90 pounds I lost. My food issues were a symptom of my heart issues. As I get closer to God and work on the issues down deep inside - the desire to self medicate with food leaves me. And as I work out and eat better - I feel better physically and emotionally.

Its been quite a journey. A holistic journey. I have lost 90 pounds. I have normal cholesterol and triglycerides. My diabetes is gone. I have more patience and am less angry and frustrated. I am sinking into God's presence rather than turning away in shame. I am finding Leah - for the first time in 40+ years. I am becoming the Leah that God meant for me to be the entire time.

It's never too late. If you're like I was - find hope. Remember there is a difference between being hopeless and helpless. I needed help and finally turned out of my stubborn will and found it. It's NEVER too late unless your dead. Live a life of no regrets.

I would love to hear your comments and your own thoughts and struggles. Sometimes I blog and wonder does what I have to say, but then I remember that God told me to do this. While I would love the feedback ultimately this is an act of worship. An act of obedience. Perhaps it's just a way for me to learn to be authentic and even transparent in a safe environment before I am turned loose on the world. It simply might be for my own benefit. But I hope this blog is helping someone, somewhere.

Today's Reflection: God Your grace astounds me. Thank You for loving me at my worst. I want to be who You have created me to be. I long to serve You. Thank You for delivering me. I am excited to see what You have in store for me this next year.

Christmas 2008

Christmas 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Days 58 & 59

The more I lean into God, the more I realize the wickedness of my heart. That's not me lamenting in shame, rather it's a simple reality that I am thankful for as it leads me to repentance.

I am not a big "keeper". I like to shop and tend to gravitate towards nicer things but I also tend to give away and declutter fairly often. I keep the girl's toys and clothes weeded out and usually at least once a month I fill up bags to take to the Mission or Love and Care. There are VERY few things that mean the world to me but those that do I am firmly attached to. This is where my "stuff" matters more than it should.

It started with three simple crystal angels given to me by a friend 7 years ago after I gave birth to Salem - my surviving triplet. I plan to keep Salem's and eventually give her the ones for Brynna and Angel. I have so few physical reminders of them that for some reason these crystal angels have taken the place of what I do not have. I don't have pretty pictures or tangible items. I have memories of Brynna. I can see her in Salem everyday as she and Salem were identical.

I also have the memory of holding Angel, the many ultrasound pictures of her and Salem together and the pics the pathology department took yet I cannot share as they gruesome (long story I'll share another time).

So for some reason these simple yet beautiful crystal angels took the place of the lack of a physical reminder of their presence in my life.

Somehow they were not packed away properly as normally they would have been. This was during the time I had my weight loss surgery and it would be very uncharacteristic of me to have packed them away so unpoorly. So I began playing the blame game in my head. Thankfully most of it stayed in my head but it definitely effected my heart and I got angry and had to leave the house a while.

I made it to the van and cried. I was literally broken hearted. And I was SO angry at the carelessness that could have broken them. Grief consumed me. After a few minutes I realized I wasn't as angry about the literal angels as I was at what they symbolized. They symbolized my daughters. My daughters that I miss every single day. I usually don't let myself grieve enough even though I am trying to be more aware of this need. Then I realized as important as those beautiful angels were - they didn't replace my husband or Salem or Raina or even Brynna and Angel. The crystal angels didn't replace the simple memories I had. Their loss would have hurt but ultimately I will see Brynna and Angel again in heaven. Those angels are simply "stuff". Important yes - but stuff none-the-less.

I am not saying I didn't have a reason to be upset. I could even have been angry at the situation. But in my anger I sinned. (Ephesians 4:26).

Today's Reflection: Lord please forgive my anger. Help me be less attached to the things of this world. It's wonderful to have nice things but they won't bring me closer to You. They won't replace Angel and Brynna or make the grief less. They won't edify my soul or soothe my spirit. Only You can. Thank You Lord for the many blessings in my life. As I concentrate on those blessings, I pray that the cares of this world would slip further and further away.

***Note: Day 60 is a big post and I am tired. I will post it Tuesday as well as day 61.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 57

I am still quite sad and a little overwhelmed by the emotions I am feeling. A lot of these emotions are bringing my fears to the light. If I am afraid of anything it's losing this life or losing someone that I dearly love.

Our life is a brief and fragile and an extremely amazing gift from God. Without God I don't think we are truly capable of understanding how precious life is. I know I've been a Christian since 1995 but only recently have I truly realized how precious life is.

I write this blog with Raina sitting in my lap. Right after I started typing she came up to me and said, "Hold me like a baby mama." How can I refuse such a sweet request?

Once upon a time I might have shushed her away and told her I'd hold her in a minute if I was busy working or even playing online. How lost I was. :( She's wearing a new Cinderella dress and it's scratching the heck out of my knees, but right now at this moment I want nothing more than to hold her like a baby for as long as she'll let me. I want to freeze this moment in time and just be with her.

Today's Reflection:
Thank You Lord for this precious gift of life and especially motherhood. I am overwhelmed by the responsibility but am up to the challenge of being the mother You have called me to be. Thank You Lord for my little girl's health and wellness in spite of their own struggles with Noonan Syndrome and Pervasive Development. I am blessed that You called me to be their mom. Thank You Lord for Salem and Raina. My miracle girls in more ways than one.

Day 56

Happy Thanksgiving. I am so wonderfully thankful for this short fragile life. It's been a hard few days and my emotions are raw but I am going to allow myself to feel them because they make me remember how precious and fleeting life is.

Rest in peace Evan - he died from conditions related to Noonan Syndrome. As you may know my 7 year old has NS so this really hits home.

Please pray for Skipper's family - she's a 28 year old sister-in-law of one of our employees and she died the day before Thanksgiving after unexpectedly collapsing.

Please pray for Matt Chandler - the preacher at the Village Church. He had a seizure on Thanksgiving day and a MRI showed a small mass on his frontal lobe. He'll have more tests and see a neurosurgeon soon.

Please continue to pray for Kathy. She has her 6th chemo treatment soon and hasn't been sick at all. She's dealing well and spending time with her family and enjoying life.

And my last thoughts go to Diana and Nick as this is the first Thanksgiving without Regina. My the peace of God sustain them.

What are you thankful for? Realize it, grab it, hold on to it. In all things give thanks.

Today's Reflection: Thank You Lord for my beautiful children and my husband. I am not sure I can come up with the words to say much else but this Thanksgiving day I am just truly humbled and thankful to be living this life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 55

I went to bed early last night so I had planned to post some other thoughts that I will share for another time. Today I want to post something that happened today.

I was SO excited today to realize that I didn't have to do ANYTHING for Thanksgiving. For the first time in 5 years I am not hosting. I am bringing items to my sister's house and will help clean up after, but I don't have to do the big stuff or clean my house before and after. I was feeling very free.

Then I got a call from Brian this morning that totally burst my bubble. One of our employee's 28 year old sister-in-law collapsed last night and is now on life support. It doesn't look like there is any hope. She has young children as well. So my wonderful husband instantly offered to help prepare Thanksgiving dinner for them.

Shamefully I must admit that my first thoughts were of resentment. Then God not so gently slapped my heart. I could literally almost feel it. I sucked it up, repented and said ok let's get this worked out. Then I put out a facebook message to some friends and so far we almost have a complete Thanksgiving meal to take to a grieving family.

I have so much to be thankful for and my heart hurts for this family's loss. I will blog about this some more tonight but I just wanted to share this with on this blog. I think it's easy to want to hide our sinful thoughts but when we expose them safely we really allow God to work in our lives on our deeper level.

Today's Reflection: Lord thank you for forgiving my selfishness. Thank you for rebuking my selfishness and reminding me our precious and fragile our human existence is. I am saddened at her family and especially her young children's loss. But I am reminded that You are faithful and all things come together for good to those that love the Lord. I pray that your peace will sustain them. As I grow in you I pray that you excise selfishness from my heart.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 54

I am feeling quite convicted about how I live my daily life - or rather how I don't live it. From the world's stand point I would probably be considered a good person. I care about my family, I work hard to be a good wife and mom, I help people, etc.

But would I live differently if I knew when I was going to die? Would I say yes to all that I say yes to, even the good things in life? I What would really matter? I keep thinking of the scripture in 1 Corinthians 6:12 that says, "Everything is permissible for me but not everything is beneficial." (NIV)

I am fully aware that God has called me to solitude and in that solitude I fellowship with God through prayer, worship and study. But at times I still let myself get trapped by things that are permissible but not beneficial. Today was one of those days. I trapped myself into something I should have said no to. It was something benign but I had a busy day thus it was one of the few windows I had to spend time with God. But I didn't. I am realizing that once you start spending regular time with God - your soul begins to crave it. I didn't feed my soul much today.

Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. (Psalms 39:4 NIV).

Matthew Henry's commentary regarding this verse says: Therefore let us pray that God would enlighten our minds by His Holy Spirit, and fill our hearts with His grace, that we may be ready for death every day and hour.

Am I ready to die at this moment? Will I leave unfinished business? Of course something would be unfinished. I am not even near to perfect. But if my heart and soul seek to follow Christ and I endeavor to do what He leads me to do then I believe that all things will come together for good for those I leave behind.

I've heard many Christians, including my husband and father-in-law, often say they would love to go to heaven today. To be honest I have to admit I am not ready to die today. I want to be a mother to my daughters and a wife to my husband. I want to be a minister of the gospel of peace. I am almost 42 years old and am JUST now starting to get things right. I want time. I want to serve God and have a long life. But rather than concentrating on what could happen I pray that God will sustain me with peace and guide and direct my steps so that each day fully counts. I want to live a life of no regrets. I want to live and love fully. As my pastor often says, live to love.

Today's Reflection: Lord help me live in the moment and engage the life You have called me to. Show me how to turn my intentions into actions and not be satisfied with sitting back and letting others do what I am called to do. Help me see the world through your eyes. Help me not neglect the daily opportunities that are right in front of me. Let me throw off everything that hinders me and the sin that entangles me so I may run the race laid out before me with perseverance. Lord thank You for Your conviction that sets my soul on fire and doesn't allow me to stagnate or become lukewarm. I want to live to live - to live with no regrets.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Days 52 & 53

Early in my journey towards spiritual, physical and emotional wholeness I often wondered who I was. Literally I felt lost. I was Brian's wife, the girls mom, the MOPS Coordinator. I felt as if my existence meant little and that anyone could do what I did. I think this is why I struggled with anxiety and the fear of dying. I know that's morbid but I think we all want to stamp our brief existence with something beautifully memorable.

But rather than creating something beautiful memorable, I felt as if I was lost in doing and being rather than being found through doing and being. I'm not sure if that makes sense in words but I literally felt defined by what I did. Now I realize I need to be defined by God and by allowing Him to define me and choose what I do - I am found.

I think it's very easy, for women especially, to lose their identity. God does call many of us to be wives and mothers. I believe it's one of the highest callings we can fulfill. But He never meant for us to become lost in our families. If we become lost in them or the other things that we do, they have become ultimate and God has faded to the background.

I didn't do this on purpose. It simply happened after years of infertility, IVF, a problem pregnancy and losing 2 triplets and then having two special needs kids. Everything else faded to the background. I am not saying my focus shouldn't have been on my kids and their needs, but my vision tunneled and all I could see was them and their needs. I lost sight of God, myself and even my husband.

So who I am? I am finally realizing that understanding my identity in Christ is absolutely essential to being successful at living a joyful Christian life. It is what should define me. I think I felt such shame at who I had been that I let that isolate me from God. Then I became subconsciously determined to be the best wife and mother I could be and while those are beautiful goals they left out the most important part - God. I couldn't fulfill that calling of being the wife and mother I was called to be without Him. I can only be accepted, secure and significant and therefore the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and minister of the Gospel of Peace I can be if I am fully dependent and enmeshed in God.

In my search for significance I found these scriptures and try to meditate on them:

The bible says I am accepted.
I am God's child. John 1:12
As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ. John 15:14
I have been justified. Romans 5:1
I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit. 1 Corinthians 6:17
I have been bought with a price and I belong to God. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
I am a member of Christ's body. 1 Corinthians 12:27
I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. Ephesians 1:3-8
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. Colossians 1:13-14
I am complete in Christ. Colossians 2:9-10
I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ. Hebrews 4:14-16

The bible says I am secure.
I am free from condemnation. Romans 8:1-2
I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances. Romans 8:28
I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God. Romans 8:31-39
I have been established, anointed and sealed by God. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
I am hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-4
I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me. Philippians 1:6
I am a citizen of heaven. Philippians 3:20
I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me. 1 John 5:18

The bible says I am significant.
I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life. John 15:5
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit. John 15:16
I am God's temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16
I am a minister of reconciliation for God. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm. Ephesians 2:6
I am God's workmanship. Ephesians 2:10
I may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

God can do all things without me but I am tired of sitting on the sidelines. I long to be significant for Christ and be used. I long to be close to God and to feel His presence each moment of each day.

Today's Reflection: Lord I long to be who You created me to be. I am a wife and a mother and I am proud of that calling. And in the world's eyes I could be a good wife and mom without You. But I am fully confident that I can only be the wife and mom I am called to be through You. I also believe that you are calling me to ministry. As You work in me - create in me an understanding of what that calling is. I will completely submit to Your plan. Thank you Lord for accepting me, securing me without condemnation and making my brief life significant as I follow You and serve You.

Note: I found the above scriptures on a website quite a while back but didn't not save the link. When I got ready to post this I couldn't find that website that I found it on but if that person reads this or anyone knows please contact me and I'll be sure to post the reference.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 51

I saw a movie on Friday that I've been waiting to see for AGES. The movie itself was great but as much as I enjoyed it all I could think about the entire movie was a line said toward the beginning. It has since stayed with me all weekend.

"Sometimes you have to love what's good for you."

There is so many ways to interpret this. We might interpret it to mean that loving what's good for us isn't fun or loving what's good for us isn't what we want. Why is it hard to love what's good for us? On my Day 33 post I think I touched on this some. I previously wrote: I have often been that one sheep that God ran out searching for. He always came for me. He always held me and nurtured me back to spiritual and emotional health. And along the way I finally realized that if I embraced the fences, life would be so much better.

If I embraced the love of God and the boundaries He places in my life, then that would ultimately be the best love I could ever embrace. Joy will follow. Peace will follow. Intimate relationship with God will follow.

I've been on the other side of that fence thinking I wanted what I shouldn't have was so much better than what I did have or even lacked. But I found out the hard way that the grass was seldom greener and the consequences were much harder and costly than I had anticipated.

I think loving what's good for us parallels itself into many aspects of our lives. On January 5, 2009 I weighed 232.6 pounds. I simply loved food and had very little will power in controlling what I consumed. I was also a Type II Diabetic with an A1C that was barely normal and my cholesterol and triglycerides were dangerously high. The previous October my Dr. had told me that I had a 20% chance of having a heart attack in 10 years. I started trying to diet and work out but I had zero discipline and no strength or stamina. I was miserable but I kept eating. It comforted me, yet it was destroying me. I loved what was killing me. The food itself wasn't evil but how I used food to comfort me gave it a place of ultimate control in my life. Rather than finding comfort and peace in God. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol or sex, I turned to food among other things.

I decided I had a short amount of time to fix a problem that I had developed over my entire adult life. I went to what many may consider an extreme. After being overweight for over 23 years I had weight loss surgery - a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. I certainly wish I could have had the discipline and willpower to do it on my own but I didn't. I needed a tool. My sleeve gave me the tool. It gave me restriction to where I couldn't over-eat and after losing a mere 30 pounds I had the energy and stamina to work out and eventually started running. Less than a year later I weight 144. My diabetes is gone and my cholesterol and triglycerides are normal. I have my life back. I don't regret anything - except not taking control of my life sooner.

The same can be said of my relationship with God. I turned to God and was saved at one of the worst points in my life. It was 1995 and I was definitely at rock bottom. I don't remember having this miraculous epiphany or even feeling God's presence but I did believe in God. During this time, I met another woman at this time who had even worst circumstances than I did and she was so joyful. She often say the joy of the Lord was her strength. One night I told God that I wanted to be happy and at peace like Betty was. That was my beginning. I only wish that I had been discipled at that point. But I was fairly isolated and I thought I could do it on my own. I didn't realize that I needed a tool that would lead me into a deeper relationship with God. I stayed a baby Christian and fed on milk long after I should have been eating meat. I just didn't use the tools given to me.

Almost 15 years later I am using those tools. As well as the Holy Spirit guiding and directing me, God's word is a tool. Praise and worship music for me is a tool as is prayer. I am learning to love these tools and use them daily. I am learning to love what's good for me.

Today's Reflection: How simple it is to love what is good for me yet I made it so hard. My stubborn will gets in the way at times. Lord help me crucify my flesh on a daily basis so I can see You and not be distracted by the enemy's schemes. Your word says that whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things (Philippians 4:8 NIV). Help me take captive thoughts that would lead me away from Your love. Help me redefine what I think and what I choose to be a part of. I want to love what's good for me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 50

Recently I have felt a lot of release from fear, shame and anxiety. I think the anxiety is one of the things I haven't touched on. I can almost remember when it started. Raina was about 7 weeks ago and all the sudden I couldn't nap with her anymore. I remember being anxious that something would happen. The house might burn down or Salem might be awake without me knowing it and hurt herself. I existed on a ridiculous amount of sleep. Even when I could sleep, I seldom did easily or restfully. Anxiety was growing deep within me. I think this sleep deprivation unearthed a secret fear at the lack of control that I had.

I became untethered. I fell asleep in a car wash. I couldn't get work done. I couldn't concentrate. I wasn't spending quality time with my 3 year old. I was just shuffling through my day trying to get the endless things I had to get done completed. I can remember having vivid thoughts and dreams of me and my family being killed in horrific circumstances and thoughts of me leaving my precious girls behind or them leaving me behind. I felt as if death were stalking me. I grew terrified to go anywhere. I worried when Brian wasn't at home. I had always been somewhat of a control freak but it truly grew within me during this time. It was a completely earth shattering time. I wasn't centered at all and I felt hopeless. The earth shattering feelings came about because God wasn't ultimate in my life and because I didn't turn to Him as the author and perfecter of my faith. And the enemy took full advantage of that.

In an effort to survive and make it through this anxious time, I started stuffing away my fears. I soon started turning my emotions off because I felt so out of control when I felt them. Thus, if I couldn't control my circumstances I would control my emotions. Later I realized that this was a reoccurring theme in my life. I have packed away so many fears and emotions over the years that I imploded from the inside out. Now for the first time in my life I am learning to experience and express those emotions and not be afraid of them. I need to acknowledge and even embrace them so I can let them go. That doesn't really sound like it makes sense, but how can you let something go that you never touched? You can't. It just stays around hovering looking for a place to be and take hold. But perhaps if I embrace it, see where it comes from and then let it go it will realize it has no place to be and will stop looking for one.

I am not sure if this is biblical but I don't think it's un-biblical. To me it makes sense. I can't deal with or push away something that I don't acknowledge or embrace. I literally have to look it in the face. Actually, most of the things I am terrified of aren't based in reality, or if they are it's a distorted reality. Thus when I acknowledge and embrace those fears and emotions, then I come to face to face with what it really is and I am no longer afraid for the most part.

The bible says that God didn't give me a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV). He gives me the power to meet difficulties and dangers. He gives me a spirit of love to give me peace and carry me through opposition. He slays my fears if I allow Him to.

The importance of this has become hugely apparent as I am working on this same issue with Salem. I repeat this scripture to her daily and I pray it over her as well. She tends to worry and be anxious over many things. It's hard to temper her fears and questions with peace and faith without acknowledging them. I have to let her talk them through, not passively put them away by saying don't worry honey everything will be ok. The latter is like a band-aid on a gaping wound - there is no healing value. It leaves her with more questions but feeling as if it's wrong to ask them.

Instead, I try to engage, listen and let her talk. Sometimes it can go on forever and it's hard not to grow frustrated. But I have to remember she's only 7. So we talk and I try to listen and listen well. She already has 2 Timothy 1:7 memorized so we repeat it and then pray. That helps. She feels safe knowing I will always listen to her and I am continually confirming in her that God is always with her and He is the source of her peace. I think for the most part she just needs to verbalize her fears.

If Salem needs to verbalize those fears, I probably need to as well. Even if they seem absurd. And some of them really do seem ridiculous. Yet how can God comfort me and give me peace if I don't turn to Him? He can't.

Today's Reflection: I long to walk in peace continually and to do that I must not walk in fear. They cannot coexist. Your word says to be bold and be strong for the Lord my God is with me. You are here right beside me - in moments where my anxiety is based in nothingness and in moments when fear is reasonable due to my current reality. Lord I pray that in the moments where my fear is based in nothing that You would show me how to take those thoughts captive. I pray that You would help me process them and see where they are coming from so I can deal with them, but then to rebuke it and get rid of it. Please deliver me from fear. Let it not root back down in my life. And in those times that fearful circumstances are my reality, I pray that You will strengthen me and sustain me with Your peace that passes ALL understanding. You have not given me a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Leah's Other Blog

My "other" blog is more about day to day life with my husband and kids and rants and raves about a variety of subjects. Hope on over.

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