Sunday, April 29, 2012

Faster than a Speeding Bullet...

  I’m the type of girl who can jump from zero to sixty in less than a second….especially when it comes to my health.  Ever since my brother-in-law passed away from cancer, I’ve been afraid I might get it too…or something worse.  So, when I get a headache, I think it’s an aneurism…..if my back hurt, I think it’s kidney disease….if my leg is sore, I think it must be a tumor….the list goes on and on! So the other day when I noticed a “bubble” in my gum, I jumped to the conclusion that it must be an abscess that was obviously ready to pop and at any moment could send an infection right to my brain and kill me!  I told you…ZERO TO SIXTY!
  Well, I hadn’t been to the dentist in over ten years…I had a HORRIBLE dentist as a kid that basically scarred me for life and made me deathly afraid of them….but the idea of dying scared me enough to get me to call a new dentist, get an appointment, and go in for a checkup.  Turns out I’m not dying…not even close!  Actually my abscess is really just a cavity irritating my gums enough to make them swell…Something that they can and will fix in less than an hour later this week. Oops!
   But the whole situation got me to thinking about all the other things I jump from zero to sixty in and I realize it’s not just a symptom I portray in regards to my healthy, but it also something I do in my relationships and in my faith.  Even within this week I can count numerous times where I’ve assumed someone is thinking the worst of me, or jumped to the conclusion that something that was said carried a much meaner attitude with it.  I’ve even done the same thing with God, where He’ll be speaking something to me and I’ll jump in with my twenty point plan of how to make it work, or the nineteen million reasons it won’t work, before He even finishes His sentence!
  Why do I do this?!?!  Am I alone in this?!?!  Is it all a part of the human condition or just part of my overly analytical mindset?!?! ………………So many questions, so little answers!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The snarls and Knots of life...

  When I was a little girl I hated to get my hair brushed. My mom and sister's would do it for me and be sure to get out all the tangles, but that came at the price of having my hair constantly pulled by their lack of gentleness, so I quickly learned how to comb my own hair.  The only thing bad about that was I wasn't nearly as good as them with getting tangles out.  You see, I was afraid of the pain of picking and pulling at my snarls, so I just avoided them.  That seemed like such a great plan too, right up until the moment I discovered that if I just put my hair straight into a pony tail the moment I got up that I wouldn't have to brush it at all!
  So for weeks, as a little girl, I went around with a bumpy pony tail on the back of my head that probably would have been cute if not for the fact that it was hiding a deep dark secret.  You see for all the effort I put into not hurting myself while coming my hair, I was rewarded with a nice big, completely twisted snarl that just grew bigger and bigger.  I knew if I told my mom I would be in trouble and she would immediately go back to combing my hair for me, so I didn't say anything.  I just hid it in my messy pony tail until I couldn't hide it anymore.
  That day came much sooner than I was hoping for when one summer afternoon my mom piled us all into the family station wagon and took us down to supercuts to get our pre-vacation hair cuts.  To say I was terrified would be an understatement.  I remember thinking that maybe the best course of action would be to just cut out the knot before we left, but in my attempt to do so I realised I would be cutting a huge chunk of my hair out, making it extremely obvious I did something wrong.  So instead I chose to say nothing and pretending like everything was perfectly fine, right up to the hair dresser apologized to my mother and said she would not cut my hair until we worked out the matted mess I had going on back there.  Six hours later, after having my head doused in detangler and constantly pulled and picked at while my mom worked out the knot, I finally had normal hair again (and a new appreciation for my mother's ability to put up with my ridiculousness!).
  You'd think an experience like that at such a young age would be a constant reminder to me to not only NOT try to avoid pain, but also to admit my sin and get help the minute I sense a problem.  Sadly, that's just not the case.  So often I avoid the snarly parts of life.  I push things off, important things like repentance, because I'm afraid of people seeing my sin.  It's like I forget that every knot eventually shows it's self and that although it's painful coming out, it's always for my betterment.  As I walk out my faith, I want to remember to walk in the not be afraid of the discipline of God or the correction of others.  I want to be willing to admit my sin and know that I serve a God who can work out even the biggest knots I can snarl at a time.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finding God in a Different Kind of Book....

   I love to read…totally a statement I never would have thought would have come out of my mouth about ten years ago, but is totally accurate in the here and now.  However  there is usually so much I want to read that most books either end up on my “To read” list or join the pile that sits on my night stand for months while I spend an hour or so each night reading a few pages from each until they are all complete.  Every now and then though, I come upon a book that grabs my attention and doesn’t let go until I finish it….which usually only takes a few days!  I came across such a book the other night, when I decided at bed time to start reading Michelle Aguilar’s book “Becoming Fearless” before going to sleep.  Let’s just say in the past two nights I haven’t gotten much sleep as I’ve stayed up way past my bed time reading her story like it was a letter from a long lost friend.
  Now I don’t know Michelle and I will probably never meet her, but like hundreds of other American’s I watched part of her story unfold during the 6th season of the Biggest Loser and I guess for that reason I already felt some sort of connection with her before even picking up the book.  Plus a few months ago I watched almost every video on the “I am Second” web-page and after seeing her story felt even more connected in knowing that she is my sister in Christ.  But her book brought that whole feeling of connection so much deeper for me.
  If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time then you know that not only do I talk a lot about my faith, but I also originally started this blog to talk about my weight loss journey.  But I’ve never been quite able to reconcile both into one blog post.  The two things have always felt like completely opposite ends of the spectrum (looks and vanity on one side with God and self-less-ness on the other).  Reading Michelle’s book opened my eyes to the very real connection between both.
   You see, Michelle’s book helped me to see that my faith in and commitment to God should and does infiltrate every aspect of my life….not just the spiritual, mental and even emotional parts, but also my physical being.  Everyone knows that when you are severely over weight those extra pounds represent more than your love of food.  In fact carrying excessive weight is an obvious sign that there is something powerful and overwhelming hard going on in someone’s life that they can’t quite get a grasp on…which is why they turn to food in the first spot.
  For me, my weight has always been kind of like my shield….it keeps people at bay and allows me to sort of reject them before they can reject me.  And as I have shared in other posts, for most of my life my faith walk has been all about saying and doing all the right things….my fool proof plan for making people and God accept me!   Yet when I strip that all away….all the opinions of man and trying to be all things to all people and even trying to prove my worthiness to God…..I realize what I’ve really tried to be is God!  Instead of just resting in Him…trusting Him….leaving my life in His hands…I’ve demanded the reins and tried to captain my life in a way that protects myself.  But God has so much more for me!  I know….I sense it….I’ve felt Him drawing me to it even over the past few months and years as He’s flipped my world upside down. 
  I am accepted and loved by God…GOD!  The one who create the whole world and holds time in his hands….the one who brought me to life and has formed my inner-most being….the one who sees into the depths of my soul, with all my questions and doubts and wrongs…that God, he loves me!  So why do I spend so much time trying to get others to do the same?!?!?
  I think that I’m starting to come to terms with this….to realize that I don’t have to be in control anymore…I don’t have to live a set way or be perfect to get people to accept me….I can relax and let the weight of the world fall off my shoulders and into the very hands of my God.  And although that may seem like it has no connection to weight loss, it has everything to do with it for me!  You see, not having to control my own life anymore….not having to try and make everything work out as I think is best, means I don’t have to spend my days protecting myself anymore…I can let my shield down (or in this case lose the weight) and not pick it up again because God’s my shield! So thank you Michelle Aguilar for sharing your story so openly and for allowing God to speak through you!  Your story has surely allowed the door to open for God to continue His work in me!  I am greatly appreciative!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Leap of Faith...

  A few years ago now I went sky diving.  It was an exhilarating experience, but much different than I expected.  While the initial jump out of the plane sent fear through my body, the actual fall was more like flying and turned out to be quite delightful!  Deciding to take that jump was a process though.  It bounced around as a silly idea in my head for months before I ever voiced it.  Then once I voiced it, I laughed it off as some silly thing I was just joking about.  Until it became something I knew I had to do.  Even the day of, as I signed my life away on a release form, I knew I needed to take the leap even though it scared me.  And although that initial step onto the plane made me want to puke, I was more afraid to miss out on the experience than I was of the unknown this jump could take.  Years later I still remember that experience and I wouldn't change it for the world!  The funny thing is, everything I went through to take that jump....all the emotions, all the fears, and finally the faith to just do it....remind me a lot of what it takes to follow God.
  I don't know about you, but I haven't ever actually heard the audible voice of God speaking to me.  Instead I feel His tug on my heart leading and directing me where to go.  Sometimes it's easy to follow the's a choice I would have made anyway, a decision that completely fits my lifestyle, something that I can easily glide my way into.  Then other times....well.....I freak out and my response to God's "voice" is much like my initial response to the idea of jumping out of a plane....NO WAY!  An idea will begin circling around my heart....something completely not of me and so perfectly formed by God and I  wrestle with it.  For months I will let it continue swirling...wondering if this really is God, could He really be saying to do this?!?!  Then when I can't deny it anymore....when it doesn't go away and I can't quite get a grasp on it.....I test the waters, by throwing it out there to a few people as a silly little idea.  It's not like I intentionally do just happens.  I can't hold it in anymore so I turn to my friends with the absurdity that is going on within me and ask them to pray (usually that God will make it obvious that what I'm about to do is of Him and thus take out all the road blocks and basically make the choice to step out completely fail proof ...or for Him to just shut it down completely before the idea gets out of hand).  And then before I know it, whether I like it or not, God begins to answer prayer.
  Months ago this process began in my heart and played out just as I explained and before I knew it, it was absolutely obvious to me that I was suppose to apply for and go on a missions trip this summer.  Although the idea scares me....because just like jumping out of that plane, I can't control the outcome....The fear of not stepping out with God in this is much greater than the fear of the unknown.  So I am going (I'll be sharing more about this in the up coming days and weeks).
  But if you're like me and you thought the story stops there, you'd be wrong!  Cause you see, once you take once step of faith out in God, He then leads you to the next and to the next!  I would have thought He would have waited until I at least returned from my trip this summer before starting to stir more stuff up within me...but apparently that's not how He works.  So I'm back to square one again....wrestling with the complete absurdity that I think God might be leading me to next and wondering where all this silliness will lead in the long run!
  Please pray for me.  I want to honor fact He is what my life is about, the sole purpose for my being....but I'm human, and fearful, and sometimes too practical to trust in the overwhelming good and completely capable hands of God.  So pray.....Amen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In the Words of St. Francis....

  I am a bit of a hypochondriac and so I don't mean this to be offensive in any way, but over the past several years I have often thought if people had been as easily diagnosed when I was younger as they are in today's society with being somewhere on the autism spectrum, then I might have been put on there.  I don't know why it is, but I struggle so much with social anxiety and feeling comfortable knowing how to interact with people.  I want friends.  I want a community.  But at the same time I find it to be the very thing that scares me. Instead of running to it, I run from it.  Instead of relaxing in it, I tense up.  I could be talking to my best friend of ten years and feel so stressed about what to say or how to act....and that scares me.
  However, if I were really honest with myself, I would know that my problem isn't a lack of social skills or a missing piece in my make up....really what's wrong is this self-centered desire in myself to be accepted and loved and to matter to others.  I worry and stress about what to say and how to act not because I can't clearly think of what to do, but rather because I want to be sure to say and do all the right things that will get others to like me.  I'm afraid that if I don't agree with people, if I disappoint them, if I hurt them...they will reject me...and that will only validate the little voice in my head that always tells me that I'm not good enough.  So I stress myself out...over analyzing every situation and word....trying not to do the wrong thing but only tripping myself up in the process.
  The reality is though that...I'm NOT good enough.  I never will be.  And seeking to get other people to tell me that I am is a losing battle.  Instead I should be spending my time seeking God.  He's the only person that has ever looked at my life...all my non-sense and missteps and intentional miss-givings...and still says "I love you.  I accept you.  You matter to me".  God knows I am not perfect and He loves me anyway.  I don't have to put on a show for Him and worry about taking the one wrong step that will get me kicked out of His kingdom.  I am fully and completely loved by God....right here...right I am!  I think if I fully understood that then I would be a lot freer in life.  Instead of worrying about being accepted, I could just accept people.  Instead of striving to be forgiven, I could just offer forgiveness.  Instead of desiring to be loved, I could just love.  All because I know I am all of those things in Christ!
  There is a prayer by St Francis that goes like this... 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love. 
Where there is injury, pardon. 
Where there is doubt, faith. 
Where there is despair, hope. 
Where there is darkness, light. 
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, 
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; 
to be understood, as to understand; 
to be loved, as to love. 
For it is in giving that we receive. 
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

....That is the prayer of my life.  That I would find myself so secure in God that I could sow love, offer forgiveness, stand in faith, show hope, bring light, spread joy, console others and understand.  That my life would no longer be self centered...but rather God centered and others focused.  That I would be lost in Him and found to be His hands and feet in this world. Amen. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Have no Fear, Underdog is here....

  When I was a little girl, I was a huge fan of the animated TV show “Underdog”!  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it was a cartoon about this dorky shoe shiner’s heroic alter ego (aptly named Underdog) who would step in each episode to save “Miss Polly” who was always being terrorized by some type of villain.  Underdog always spoke in rhyme and his catch phrase was “Have no fear, Underdog is here”!  I loved it!  And as a kid there was nothing better than getting up super early, throwing on my cape (aka a bath towel)  and watching Underdog save the day!  Then I would spend the rest of the day pretending to do the same!  So, is it really any wonder, that I grew up to be someone with such a savior mentality?!
 Now, it’s not that I really believe I can “SAVE” anyone, but rather when I see people hurting, or in trouble, or just needing a helping hand, I can’t help but want to step in and save the day!  I want to make it better, make it right, fix it!  I want to be the “Underdog” in their “Miss Polly” moment!  But…one thing I am learning more and more, as I invest myself more deeply into the relationships in my life, is that I am nobody’s savior…NOT EVEN CLOSE!  I can’t heal their scars.  I can’t fix their brokenness. I can’t make something out of nothing for them.  Because honestly….I can’t heal, fix or change myself!  I can only offer to them what I know for myself is true….That there is a God in heaven who loves us, will accept us, and will make all things new!  A God whose very presence teaches us to not fear, for our savior is here!