Inviting Him In

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Almost two months ago I was completely motivated to make some changes. I had discovered a recent 15 pound weight gain, which had followed a previous 10 pound gain about a year before that. I believe God is teaching me the need for self-control in my health, money, and in my mental activity. Both to honour Him and to honour myself.

After a month and a half of eating so much better (cutting out all grains again, don’t think my body agrees with them; a treat every 5th day, a massive improvement from one everyday) and exercising more, I have not lost a pound. Not one. In my hubby’s encouraging words, though, at least I didn’t gain any more! I also take my measurements and with some inches lost and gained in different areas, I’ve still only shed 1 inch overall.

Talk about completely defeating.

With negative thoughts and feelings threatening to choke me all day long, such as: ‘what’s the point’, ‘my body is so broken’, ‘I’m so trapped in this fat’, ‘you’re doing all the wrong things’, and the worst, most powerful underlying belief is ‘my worth is in my body’, I’m refusing to give up. I also realized that certainly continuing to walk on the path I’m on is good for me, and choosing not to and to revert to old habits of continual self-indulgence is only bad for me.

I had a light-bulb moment yesterday while I was exercising, and I realized that every time I’ve tried to lose weight in the past 25 years, it was motivated by a very negative belief that I’m a complete shame when I’m fat. So I’m learning to say to myself that I choose to exercise and eat healthy foods in order to nurture myself, to celebrate doing good things for my mind and body, and not try to change all the things I don’t like about myself. This is really difficult to do because I don’t always believe it. But from now on when I exercise, I will say to myself that I do this because I want to care for myself. And instead of checking off another step towards frantically wishing to lose weight, I will pay attention to how I feel a little stronger and that I feel SO much better for loosening up tight muscles and that my mood and energy levels lifted significantly after a workout.

I also don’t want to ignore that my measurements showed that my body IS making some changes in response to my efforts. I did lose a little of something almost everywhere. And my past track record over my adult life has shown me again and again that my body is slow to respond to my healthy choices. Funny how my body has no problem to easily and quickly gain weight. Hilarious.

As I was struggling in my misery earlier today, I was trying to turn over my problems to God. I want to trust Him, I want to follow His lead. I need His help. And as I was just trying to let it all go into His hands, which didn’t feel like it was working because I still felt alone and choking on my negative thoughts, God came close and asked me to invite Him in to my space instead. Just invite Him in to the thoughts and emotions that were strangling my confidence and hope.

So I did.

And I’m stunned by how His comfort wraps around me. I’m amazed by His compassion for my pain. He whispers to my spirit that I’m so much more than my body. He gently turned my attention to my teeny son who was chattering about his Lego while eating his breakfast and showed me that there is so much more loveliness in a person than our physical appearance. That I have a purpose to love, teach, and nurture my son and my ability to do that has very little to do with how fat or thin I am.

I’m reading a book called Parenting the Wholehearted Child by Jeannie Cunnion. Lately, God has been beautifully prompting me to just keep my eyes on Him. Whenever I feel like I’m just itching to do SOMEthing, anything, that surely God doesn’t want me just hiding at home cooking and cleaning, God has consistently called me to rest. Again and again. It is hard for me to accept, and harder to do, because I want to prove that I’m worthwhile by all the wonderful things I do (which doesn’t work by the way … because by those standards a person isn’t worth much when things don’t succeed or get accomplished) but God wants me to rest in Him. And I’m talking about a kind of rest where I’m in a place fully trusting Him. Yes, it’s good (and needed) to physically do something restful, but I’m learning to have my mind and heart at rest in Him through the day. Learning being the operative word! God had done some prep work in my heart so that when I read Jeannie’s words in black and white ink bare in front of my eyes, I was ready.

“He wanted me to rest in his selflessness, in his patience, in his goodness, in his wild love for me. And he knew that only when I realized that by grace alone I am not only saved but also accepted would I find peace and rest and real joy.”

His love for me, and you, does not change. I repeat. It does not change. His love stays the same when you’re on the top of your game and in your worst day. It’s because He IS love. What incredible freedom and joy there is when we start to grab a hold of that!

And He doesn’t want me believing all the negative criticisms running through my head. God doesn’t teach using shame, criticism, and judgement so those kinds of thoughts aren’t even from Him. If they’re not from Him, then I don’t want them to hold any value for me. In my journey to self-acceptance, the only place where I can feel its beginning is in God. In a place where I’m loved no matter what size I am, and in spite of any good or bad I do, I start to see my worth. My worth being a product of creation by the most incredible Artist. And the efforts and struggles I used to bring to my life start to unravel and fade away as I let my Creator fold me into his arms.

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Tethered to the Cross

You have no idea how apprehensive I am about ‘religious’ language. It comes off as lofty and detached from real life. When I finally let God catch up to me once again, I told Him that things always have to be real. Messy. None of that goody-goody, fake Christian crap.

I was saved by Jesus’ love when I was 17 years old (because I knew I needed Him) but I spent at least a decade of my adult life shutting Christianity out. I was burned out by Christians being so, well, so annoyingly perfect. I tried that life, and it’s a lie to live like that. God doesn’t want us to live like that, either. In fact, He knows we can’t … that’s why Jesus on the cross matters so much. Only grace can save us, nothing we can do will ever be enough to earn our way to God’s love.

Thank God that He never loses His sheep (ya, that’s you and me … baa).

 4“Suppose a man has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the 99 sheep grazing in the pasture and look for the lost sheep until he finds it? 5When he finds it, he’s happy. He puts that sheep on his shoulders and 6goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says to them, ‘Let’s celebrate! I’ve found my lost sheep!”
– Luke 15: 4-6 GOD’S WORD Translation

I have felt the call of Love in my heart countless times. So many times God has spoken to me, and nudged me in a new direction that I would NEVER have done on my own. I have often questioned and doubted His presence in my life, because it can look so crazy to those who don’t know Him. But if it weren’t for God’s love, I honestly think I wouldn’t be here. Depression and anxiety are not small things to live with.

And yet that is what saves me. Brokenness. Coming to the end of myself. Knowing that I need something more than just myself to make sense and meaning of this life. I searched and tried out different types of thoughts or belief systems to try and fill this nagging void inside me. Nothing fills me up like the love of Jesus on that cross. Nothing gives me joy like the victory over death that He won for us.

Nothing compares to the love of a God who would do that for us.

Now I’m at this point where I want to love God back. I want Him a part of my everyday life. How do I do that without being fake? How can I do that without talking religious mumbo-jumbo?

I do it by surrendering myself daily to the grace of the cross. It’s a choice. That’s the only thing God left up to us. He’s done everything else. We just choose Him or don’t choose Him.

I so easily get caught up in all my shortcomings. I have been attending church more and it’s so easy to get this ideal Christian picture-perfect life embedded into my expectations for myself. I struggle with this like you wouldn’t believe. I choke on my own failures regularly.

But then God’s Spirit comes close and shows me (once again) that it isn’t what I do that makes me worthy. It’s not even His agenda for my life the things I think I should be doing! Otherwise what Jesus did on the cross is worthless. If I could do all sorts of amazing things with my life and prove myself to others and to God, then I wouldn’t need Jesus. But I can’t. No one can. It’s what Jesus does that matters. A king who left His throne, was separated from His Father’s presence, was tortured and died for sinners like us who might still end up rejecting Him anyway.

“I don’t reject God’s kindness. If we receive God’s approval by obeying laws,
then Christ’s death was pointless.”
– Galatians 2: 21 GOD’S WORD Translation

God has been showing me to learn to follow His agenda. And it always, always, always starts with Jesus’ grace and love. My last post was about me learning self-discipline (once again haha) with regards to my physical health; learning to set limits and create some daily goals. I am learning to do the same with my emotional and mental health. I have to set boundaries on what I allow my thoughts to dwell on. You have no idea how fast I can travel down a negative spiral of choking anxiety, fear, and resentment. That is not God’s agenda for me, nor you in whatever you struggle with. Daily, I practice focusing my heart’s eyes on Him, that I’m His through the grace of Jesus.

I will always need His love. His grace. I will never get past the point of needing Him. My eyes often stray from Jesus and I lose sight of what He’s done for me on the cross, but thank goodness that I can never get too far away from God’s reach. Gladly I ‘restrict’ myself by throwing my tether to Jesus. It boggles my teeny mind how a restriction can in turn give freedom!

Inside the Boundaries

Anyone who has anything to do with children will hopefully understand that teaching them rules and consequences is good for them. When I taught, I had the odd kid come through my classroom who obviously was not held accountable for their actions. It’s not pretty, and in my mind, borderline disgusting. Being completely self-indulgent isn’t a pretty picture. Bringing up a child letting them have free reign will have long-lasting and disastrous consequences. Discipline, understanding right from wrong, and how to treat themselves and others around them are critical skills in growing up into a functioning adult. Being accountable to one’s actions and taking responsibility for what we’ve done helps us to be better people and to continue to learn.

Boundaries are needed throughout our lives. We understand to get a paycheck we have to show up for work. We know that to keep a spouse, we have to sacrifice sometimes what we want in order to help the other. We know that indulging in cookies everyday will at the very least make our insides feel gross, let alone the possible consequences of weight gain (been there, done that). And a parent knows all too well the many sacrifices of self (time, money, and energy) in our efforts to raise a child.

I’ve got some of the basic ‘boundaries’ in my life in control. I set my alarm to greet the little one I babysit for. I grudgingly go grocery shopping and prepare good food to feed me and my family in the best way possible. I’m quite faithful in my exercise practices, to varying degrees, depending on how I slept through the night.

But with the recent weight gain, something isn’t working. Some rules need to be readjusted. I had let up on a strict paleo diet and allowed non-gluten grains back in; my son has much better poops with more starch in his diet so I also used that as an excuse to include it in mine (even though it did the opposite for me, so constipated <!!!> … and I believe it’s the main culprit for a recent 15 pound weight gain). I’m also horrible with sweets; I open the door a crack to let a little in and before I know it, an avalanche is ripping the door off its hinges.

No excuses. So often I hear people say they just ‘can’t do that’. If you want something bad enough, you will make it happen. If you want better health, then commit yourself. Period. I say this to myself and I say it to you.

Ever since my 2-month streak of clean paleo, sugar-free eating back in the fall of 2013 that resulted in no weight loss and the worst streak of insomnia I’ve ever had, I was discouraged (to say the least). But I’ve learned since then that those with adrenal fatigue quite likely need higher carb diets since it’s hard for their bodies to use fat as fuel. I’ve also learned that the key to any health endeavor is to first deal with mental and emotional stress. Either way, I used that perceived failure to let me eat whatever I wanted to. I did also notice that including more sugar in my diet meant I slept much better through the night, so it’s been tricky finding a healthy balance and deciding on what sort of sugars (a direct hit or more fruit or more starchy veggies). I have a hard time moderating. I do much better with a ‘NO SUGAR AT ALL’ approach rather than just a little in a day. Somehow a dollop of honey in my tea leads to eating half a dozen cookies. Sigh.

Time to reign in and set some new boundaries. No more non-gluten grains. Ever. I’ve done this for a month now. Even though another reason for allowing them back in was for some easy-prep food, I’m surprised that I’m happier not eating them anymore. It means for more prep in the kitchen, but it’s a boundary I’m content with. Another boundary I’ve made is borrowing from Teresa Tapp’s God-made/man-made food plan. The basics she lays out is eat God-made food (unprocessed whole food) 2 days, then treat yourself on the third day with something more processed. She firmly believes in not depriving yourself for long-term success, and I agree with her. However, for myself, 2 days isn’t long enough before a treat of some kind so I am doing 4 days ‘on’ before I get a treat of some sort. And all of this is within the bounds of paleo. My treat is some sort of paleo baked good or a smoothie of some sort. This has been the perfect challenge for someone (ahem, me!) who has indulged in whatever I wanted for half a year, short of eating gluten (my arthritis simply does not tolerate that all all). I also find that I’m content with a much smaller treat than I’ve noticed myself doing in the past.

Another thing I’ve been able to do more of is exercise. Hopefully this is a sign of me crawling out of the depths of adrenal fatigue, but I also attribute it to Teresa Tapp’s methods. I went from not being able to walk more than 20 minutes due to horrid consequences of fatigue, a horrid night’s sleep, and arthritic flare-ups to being able to walk over an hour and be fine with it. I can do a T-Tapp workout 5 times a week and feel really good. Teresa takes the rehab approach, emphasizes the lymphatic system, and creates exercises that work with the body and not against it. There’s nothing wimpy about her workouts, I’m sweating like a pig after each one! My goal has been to step things up to try and build more muscle mass.

I’ve been going strong for a month now, though I think twice I pushed my exercise too far. I have not weighed myself yet as I think my body’s response will be slow. I don’t want to discourage myself from a number on the scale when I can feel a new confidence and strength returning to my body. My body has often been slow to respond in the past (except when I first went paleo) and I accept it’ll be slow while in the grips of adrenal fatigue.

Making boundaries for myself is a way of showing myself respect. That I care enough and that I am worth it. I’m much more happier following reasonable rules with goals for myself, than compared to when I just ate whatever and didn’t push myself a little while exercising.

Funny how that works.

An Inheritance Like No Other

If you wanted to adopt a child, it is lengthy, challenging, and often very expensive. I looked into it a number of different times when I was younger and to go through with it would’ve been an all-encompassing, life-changing, committed process. Even before I actually received a chosen child!

When I read the following Bible verse, the word ‘adopt’ jumps out at me:

“Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ.
He freely chose to do this.”
-Ephesians 1:5, God’s Word Translation

God went through the lengthy (centuries of planning), challenging (we can be quite block-headed and not see His love), and very expensive (Jesus suffered on the cross and was separated from God the Father) process of adopting us. It is easy to overlook the sacrifice Jesus made for us, and some of us have heard the story many times. We get a little numb to it because of it’s familiarity. And we know the ending, if we believe, that Jesus won out over death; it’s easy to overlook its significance.

Sometimes, even daily (maybe moment by moment?!), it’s good to stop and take in what God has so generously given. God Himself, left His throne and clothed Himself like us. God didn’t need to do this. We’ve sinned against Him, and we’re broken because of it. But He did do it. He made a rescue plan and carried it out. Through Jesus, who had no sin in Him, we are given grace to cover all of our brokenness. It is nothing that we’ve done to earn this, it is freely given. All you have to do is choose to accept it.

If you adopted a child into your family, that child becomes yours. You would do whatever you could to train and support and love that child just that the same as a child of your blood. Furthermore, that child will receive your inheritance. By law and by your heart, that child is now yours.

God has done the same for us! Before accepting Jesus, we are spiritual orphans. But once we admit our deep need for Him, He gives us Himself. The Perfect Parent. The Lover of our Souls. The One who has Limitless Grace.

I’m learning to fight my way out of depressive, anxious thinking patterns and this means identifying the old ways and replacing them with new ones. I can’t do this by myself. God is the only One who has ever convinced me that I’m worthy of new ways. His love is without bounds and it never stops chasing me; the beauty of His grace is the only thing that makes me forget myself. He’s the only One who is able to heal me.

Daily, I’m claiming my inheritance through Jesus Christ:

  • I am God’s child. John 1:12
  • I am hidden with Christ. Philippians 1:6
  • I am given God’s glorious grace lavishly and without restriction. Ephesians 1: 5, 8
  • I am forgiven. Ephesians 1:8
  • I am included. Ephesians 1:13
  • I am not alone. Hebrews 13:5
  • I am set free. Romans 8:2, John 8:32, Galatians 5:1

These are rich gifts and ours for the taking. These are His promises. Through His death and victory on the cross, we become a part of Jesus’ glory as His children, which reaches out into eternity. To go from a spiritual wasteland, which is what it felt to me compared to what I have now in Him, to a place where the soul is truly quenched is something I don’t know how to put words to.

“God is a father who graciously adopts believers in Christ into his spiritual family
and grants them all the privileges of heirship. Salvation is much more than forgiveness of sins and deliverance from condemnation; it is also a position of great blessing.”
- “Adoption” from Bible Study Tools

It’s Just A Matter of Perspective

I have two full-length mirrors in my house. In one of them when I look into it, there’s a window and its natural light is behind me. In the second mirror in a different room, the window’s light hits me on the side and front. And guess what, I don’t look so bad in the mirror where the light is coming from behind me, but as soon as I check myself out in the second mirror, all my flaws are crystal clear. The dimples, the bumps, and the rolls are glaringly obvious. Funny how just the minute before in the first mirror, I was feeling not so bad about how I looked … even kind of liked my outfit. And the next minute I’m frantically changing my clothes.

Almost a year ago, I decided to stop weighing myself because I was trying to teach myself that my self-worth isn’t in that number on the scale.

The training failed.

Right around that same time I had lab results come back that I was deep into adrenal fatigue and at that point I had already gained back almost 15 pounds since going paleo (I had initially lost approximately 30!), but I stayed at that ‘extra’ weight for about half a year. Chronic stress leads to adrenal fatigue, and the body puts on weight in this survival mode; I just want to make this clear because I don’t believe eating paleo has led to my weight gain, it’s the adrenal fatigue. Even with eating super-duper clean paleo last fall for two months (no added sugar even!), though, I didn’t lose a pound. I was so sick of that scale measuring my success so I cut it out of my life.

It gets worse in my little world. None of my clothes are fitting me. Not even clothes from just six months ago. I can feel the weight packing in on my tummy. It makes me cry. I feel so frustrated and trapped. So I sucked it up and weighed myself finally to finally just see. And I have gained back all my weight that I lost two and a half years ago.

No more denial. No more looking into that mirror with the light behind me and thinking things aren’t so bad.

My very first instincts were what to do, how to plan, how to change. However, I had a good friend give me the beautiful reminder to take this time to just love myself. To show kindness to myself. To not make a plan and try to change myself. With many tears, and sometimes a moment by moment conscious decision, I’m learning to do this.

In spite of this needed advice, it is very hard to not make a plan.

With adrenal fatigue I have to be very careful with how much I exercise and what sort of exercise I do because I WILL crash with fatigue that can take up to a few days to recuperate from, or I get so crazy wired I have a brutal night of sleep. I currently exercise as much as I’m able to without creating very bad consequences.

I did have a light bulb moment though! This last 15 pound weight gain corresponds directly to when I started allowing non-gluten grains back into my diet. I discovered that they didn’t bother my arthritis so I allowed an easy food to prepare back into my diet (cooking paleo from scratch is a LOT of work … don’t let any paleo blogger out there fool you otherwise). These non-gluten grains do make me quite constipated though, but I ignored that little symptom (which really isn’t little – we need to poop) for the sake of an easy breakfast. Oh how I love Udi’s cinnamon raisin bagels with honey all over them! I was also eating popcorn 1-2 times a week. In the evening. Not the greatest idea. I am cutting out all grains again from my diet and adding in more veggies, one of the very few changes I’ve made.

Not weighing myself for almost a year did nothing to improve my self-worth because with this weight gain, I’ve been devastated. Embarrassed. Frustrated. It’s very painful and challenging to separate my body image from who I am.

I’m learning it’s about choosing to see myself with kindness, acceptance, and love even in what I consider a despicable state. That I’m still Marni, the same person from before I knew officially my new weight gain. The same person when I weighed 30 pounds less. I can look at myself in one way and only obsess about my flaws or I can look at myself in a new way and start valuing myself as a person, whole and imperfect. This really is a choice. Just like walking from one room into a different one and choosing which mirror to look into.

Learning to Walk Again

When we suffer hurts, daily disappointments, or chronic illness it is so easy to strike out at God. Why would a good God allow such pain?

A loving God didn’t create robots – we have free will.  We ‘broke’ our world when we chose to live for other things instead of God: money, ‘be my own boss’, food, human love, … name your thing. Remember Adam and Eve? We were born into a broken world and we continue to break it when we live without our hearts and eyes on the One who created us. Our God only wants you to be with Him when you choose to be with Him. And only He can mend the brokenness we long for.

I looked to human approval, food, weight loss, paleo, T-tapp, DYT to fill the void. As if each one of those things could complete me. Set me on the right track. Point the way! Live my life as if ‘I’ve arrived’.

Only God can reach deep into my broken places and give me what I’m desperately seeking. Nothing soothes like God can, everything else leaves me searching for more. Restless and unsatisfied.

I’m not saying that relationships, eating, taking care of yourself are bad things. The problem is when we use those things to be the ultimate answer. I’ve done it my entire life! Can I be whole and worthy when I finally lose the weight and keep it off? Can I be worthwhile when I center my world around living a paleo lifestyle? Am I finally valuable when other people accept me? These are shaky things to build my self-worth on. Trust me, I’ve tried. And each of those things fail miserably when it comes to filling that hole inside me.

What is the most bizarre revelation to me is when I finally admitted to myself that I’m sinful. I do and think hurtful things. I have run my entire life away from that scary truth, trying to prove myself. I have always striven for these unreasonable ideals of perfectionism and resisting my reality and shaming myself because I cannot reach them. I can never attain what I think I should. I can never earn God’s approval outside of Jesus. When I finally let go and admit that I can never reach these expectations, it’s surprisingly a big relief. When I finally go to the cross and agree with God that I’m a sinner, that I desperately need Him, and nothing can save me but the grace of Jesus, it’s like coming home. It’s here where I find my infinite worth. A breath of fresh air through my soul. A thirst is finally quenched by Living Water.

I love T-Tapp, it’s an excellent exercise program. Teresa has developed moves that work with the body, not against it. I recently have been practicing her walking workout and WHOAH! Who knew that walking could be so challenging lol! Well, it can be for those of us who have sloppy posture and years of lazy habits. Anyway, I’ve been trying to apply her teachings of proper forms in my normal life. And it’s hard. It is a mindful effort because my body slips back into sloppy form effortlessly; it’s the default position. Yet my body feels better already for my efforts in spite of some pretty sore calf muscles the first few days. The tense muscles in my upper back ease up a bit when I, well, use the proper muscles to hold my body up instead. But this takes a deliberate effort and I often forget throughout my day.

I’m finding this is the same thing with my faith in Jesus. Without a deliberate effort to trust in His promises for me, I easily slip back into old habits of thinking. Of needing to prove myself. To find my value somewhere. Repeatedly, I bring myself back to the cross where He already proved my worth. Where I least deserved it I receive the healing, all-encompassing love that I long for.

Learning to walk in a new Way and my burdens are lifted. Even in this broken world.

God Doesn’t Make Promises Lightly

She was sick for 12 years. She saw every specialist, tried everything and anything to find a cure, and spent all her money. Nothing worked. She must’ve been exhausted. Not only was she sick, but she was considered dirty by the people in her day; everything she touched was seen as contaminated. She could not participate in family and community events. She was completely isolated.

I can sort of connect with this woman in Mark 5: 21-34.

Sick and tired of nothing working. Feeling dirty and unworthy. Yet she never gave up hope and had enough faith to chase Jesus through a crowd. I can’t help but think that she must’ve been struggling with some shame, yet she knew a good thing when she saw it. She couldn’t let Jesus go without one more try. Desperate for His goodness, believing He was true, she still tried to access Him without Him noticing her. Just a touch of His robe …

I’ve always been curious about that part in this story: how Jesus healed her without being aware of it about to happen. In verse 30, “Jesus felt energy discharging from him. He turned around to the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my robe?'”  God gave me a loving nudge (oh how I love those nudges) telling me that His promises for us are wide open. It’s open access to those who believe. He’s waiting for you and me. Ready. We just have to believe and walk on through that welcoming door. Just have to reach out and touch His robe.

Sometimes I really struggle with this big love God keeps trying to show me. It’s mind boggling. Sometimes it feels like a terrifying (Hes’ so big) joy (He’s so full of love). He’s just so impossibly huge, there’s no way I can make sense of it. I struggle with cynicism. I struggle with my doubts. I even like to choose the little bits of God that are kind of nice, and leave the rest to the categories of “that doesn’t make sense” or “that is not for me” and fill in my own blanks.

With that sort of belief system I find no comfort and often find myself at a dead-end. Empty. I have yet to find anything of real substance besides of the love of Jesus on that cross, and thank God He keeps leading me to that place.

God finally put it to me straight. Either I believe in all of His promises or none of them at all. Either He’s the real deal or just a sham. Why would He come through with some of His promises and bail on others? Either He died and rose from the dead to save us from our sins and connect us to His heart, or He didn’t.

I am going to side with the God who is bigger than our universe, who orchestrates creation, and loves with a love I can’t fathom. Because there is a reverence humming deep within me that sees God even when my eyes can’t.

I’m going to wait upon His promises of Light even when sitting in the dark. Because His “Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out” (John 1:3-5 The Message).

I’m going to reach out to touch that robe.

 

Looking Back To See What’s in Front of Me

Sometimes life just seems so random, messy, and more often than not, downright exhausting. It’s so stupidly easy to be busy with a to-do list, losing sight of what matters. For myself, I get caught up in ‘what needs to be fixed’ both in myself and in my life that I don’t see what has changed.

And I forget where I came from and where I want to go.

Recently I shared a testimony of my faith, and afterwards it was like God gave me a little loving nudge telling me to practice doing that again. If whatever I share can bring one person closer into God’s incredible presence then I better start working out what I need to say. So here I am. Practicing.

I grew up in a home where we went to church regularly and I remember warming up to Jesus even when a young child. But I never really ‘got it’. However, my upbringing laid a strong Biblical foundation and some understandings of who God is.

In my late teens, I had several friends who were Christians and they shared their faith with me. The way they talked about Jesus seemed so alive to me; I could see they had something that alluded me and I was very drawn to it, whatever ‘it’ was. There was a unique joy and a love that I don’t ever remember seeing before. When a friend told me that I could have it for myself and what I needed to do, I asked for Jesus’ forgiveness of my sins. I accepted His love and grace given to me through His death on the cross and His victory in His resurrection.

I will never forget the light that bloomed from deep inside myself that was never there before.

What followed is a bit of a blur to me now, but I remember the love of learning more about Jesus and His Word. I got involved in a church and it was exciting to be surrounded by fellow believers. I attended a year in a Bible college and daydreamed of being a missionary so other people could experience what I found, too.

Over the next 9 years though, I took what was an amazing gift given to me only by grace and through a powerful Love, and somehow, very gradually, twisted it into a very legalistic and judgmental Christianity. Little by little, I boxed myself in by boxing others in with black and white thinking. I have strong tendencies to be harsh with myself with perfectionism and that leaked all over the place in my faith.

I remember begging God to forgive me at the end of each day for all the horrible things that surely must be inside me. Even though I had accepted Jesus’ forgiveness and grace, I still somehow missed the point. I was still convinced that I wasn’t worthy of His Love, that there was surely SOMEthing I needed to fix, get forgiveness for, that God might find out and finally convince Him that in the end, I just can’t be forgiven after-all. I was still walking in a place of great shame where I thought I was outside of God’s grace. Somehow I got messed up into thinking that I was responsible for ‘fixing’ myself, meanwhile pointing the finger at others telling them they need to be ‘fixed’ too.

I thank God He wasn’t done with me yet. I also raise my hands in praise that He never let me go.

When I was 26 years old, I did a complete 180 from Christianity. Strangled and choked by my version of it, I couldn’t live like that anymore. Keep in mind, I had no idea what I was doing to myself at the time. I thought that the faith I was practicing was what I was supposed to be doing and I was done with this Christian God.

Over the next decade, I did a lot of searching. I never let go of the belief that we have a Creator, that there was more to this life than what we can see with the naked eye. But I looked and looked for meaning, and I always came up empty handed in the end. Nothing completely made sense, nothing stuck to me, and I always felt like I was missing something.

I was listening to a podcast by who-knows-who and I was enjoying a lot of whatever this speaker was saying. But then this speaker lumped Jesus into the category with all the other ‘great teachers’ like Buddha, Ghandi, … and all sorts of red flags went up and my internal brakes came to a screeching stop.

There’s no way I’m lumping Jesus into that category because even in my abhorrent views of Christianity at the time, I just couldn’t do it.

I knew to the core of my being that He is more than that. There was an important shift in my searching and I realized that maybe I might still call myself a Christian, but I was determined to be an open-minded Christian. I was stepping very carefully and tentatively towards God, and holding Him at arm’s length. I still held onto the more open-minded views of the world and welcomed different belief systems in my life.

The next big shift for me was reading The Shack. I was so overcome with this amazing Love that the book teaches. It finally landed me at God’s feet, comforted by His great mercy and Love. For the first time I saw that He is the Ultimate Parent and the Giver of good things. And that I needed Him.

Still. My ‘open-minded’ belief system was in reality tangling my feet up. I received some counseling from a pastor and he taught me to be careful of creating my own version of God (which I was doing … a mixture of my own stuff and the truth). When I felt so lost in my struggles and tried to reach out for more divine guidance I was grasping at the air. My version of God didn’t exist, which is why I couldn’t get the help I thought I was seeking. Which is why wherever else I searched, I never found anything of deep substance. Where else do we find a King leaving His throne to walk in the muck with us? To befriend us? For our own sake?

I felt convicted to start learning about who God really is, and it’s a never-ending journey. Sometimes (often) it’s a very messy journey. He is mind-boggling huge and amazing and beyond anything we can imagine. I feel like I’m chasing Him, but in reality it’s Him chasing me.

Turns out that God isn’t a big fan of judgmental-ism, strict religion, and shame either. I never scared Him off with my uppity judgments nor my slamming the door in His face. I was always His lost, wandering sheep and He never stopped searching me out.

And it always lands me at the foot of the cross because that’s where it begins. I can never ‘fix’ myself. I can never make myself presentable for God. Only the blood of Jesus can do that. He bore my cross and died the death I should’ve died. By grace and by grace only am I accepted into God’s presence. What sort of Love is that? One that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

A few years ago I recommitted myself to Jesus and it was a breath of fresh air through my soul. But I told God, “this time it’s gotta be real”. I’m sure I heard God laugh for joy and responded with a “finally!”.

When I look back now, all I see is me stumbling, crawling (bawling in the mud) my way to finding God’s Love. Little by little He wipes the mud from my eyes and all I see in front of me is His shining Love. I’ve come to trust that His grace reaches into my darkest places and I’m never too far beyond His reach. Jesus’ victory over death makes sure of that. He didn’t make any exceptions on the cross, “this is for everyone … oh, except you, you and you.” His suffering and victory is for everyone. Period.

This is the truth for me and for you, too.

Lighting A Candle

There are a number of resources that have made a significant impact on my life. Resources created by people who have let their light shine, which really did let in some rays of hope into my dark places. I want to share them with you.

candle

Picture credit: Inner Guide Empowerment on Facebook

Maybe a little light will shine on you, too.

You won’t regret looking any of these up for yourself! Nothing but goodness!

In the spring of last year, whenever I tried to exercise, I would end up fatiguing myself and sparking off arthritic flare-ups. These were regular exercises that I had been doing for years, including just going for a walk. Down the road, I discovered this was because I was deep into adrenal fatigue. It’s been quite a journey since then! Part of what has sparked off my healing journey is the T-Tapp exercise program. I cannot say enough good things about Teresa Tapp! Her exercises are built on rehabilitation and alignment foundations, and are the only ones I can do without negative repercussions. When I do one of her workouts, even after almost a year of doing them, I am still surprised by the lovely energy I feel afterwards. After taking my beginning measurements and pictures, I am rewarded by the gradual changes that I see happening. There’s something in her programs for everyone, from the young to old, and from those who have serious health problems to the pro-athlete.

I have been so blessed by Carol Tuttle, and her work has been the most inspiring and life-changing for me. She has amazing insights and knowledge into human nature. She says that each and every one of us leads with a certain type of energy, and this isn’t about personality typing. It’s all about your natural movement and expression, inward and outward. What she says makes so much sense to me! The same Hand that created our earth is the same Hand that created us … it’s all connected and a part of the same expresion. Carol teaches that the same 4 categories found in nature (air, water, fire, and earth) are also expressed in us humans, and each of us has a dominant one. Type 1 is Air, which is light, random, free. Type 2 is Water: soft, flowing, and subtle. Type 3 is Fire: swift, active, and dynamic. And type 4 is Earth: structured, still, and regal. She has a TON of information available for free and loads of YouTube videos; her books are in the public library, and you don’t have to buy from her store to learn from her, though you just might want to as you learn more. It’s a process figuring out your natural energy movement, and it can be really challenging for some, especially because we have all 4 energy types in us. The challenge is to discover the one you lead with, your most dominant one. What’s worse, is that some of us have been shamed for using our dominant movement in the past, so we try to ‘hide’ it. There’s no hiding it.

For me, it was a little confusing at first because I have a very strong secondary energy, type 4, but as I learned more from Carol I realized that I’m dominant type 2, no doubt about it. I didn’t want to be type 2. Type 2’s strengths were what I thought were my horrible weaknesses (sensitive, soft-spoken, slow to respond). But over time, and a lot of tears, I’ve accepted that I’m a type 2 and realize it is God’s Hand in designing me just this way. There are no words to describe how healing this was. A type 2/4 person has a very deep inward movement and I’ve always thought this was a horrible way to be (why can’t I just be happy and social, dammit?! … which is a type 1 energy, btw); have even tried to change it off and on throughout my life. It doesn’t work. Suppressing it just makes a person depressed. I now can step into a new situation and realize it’s ok to hang back and take it in. I’ll move and react when I feel comfortable and ready.

Carol’s teachings are life-changing, and at first glance you might think it’s just about the clothes or make-up you wear, but I promise you, it goes way deeper than that. And once you start understanding and accepting yourself more, you’ll start looking at the people in your life in a whole new way.

Plus, you’ll be amazed at how nice you feel in your natural colour expression! Colour is energy, so again, it just makes sense to me. Now that I’ve been dressing in my dominant energy type’s colours, I feel SO relaxed. Like my skin is breathing and happy, weird, I know. But still, I feel more lovely and confident. Like I can move easier.

Another resource that involved a lot of tears, healing ones of course, is Max Lucado’s book God Will Carry You Through. Max has a down-to-earth style that I love and this book is built on Joseph’s story from the Bible. Loads of encouraging biblical references and real life stories. It has strengthened my faith and healed my sore heart. I will be re-reading it.

Sometimes, more than we realize, we just need some outside help. I’m so thankful for people like these who’ve taken the time to teach and share what they’ve learned.

“Don’t let the crisis paralyze you.
Don’t let the sadness overwhelm you.
Don’t let the fear intimidate you.
To do nothing is the wrong thing.
To do something is the right thing.
And to believe is the highest thing.”
– Max Lucado

 

 

 

Choose and Believe

What is it that you’re telling yourself at the heart of your soul? Deep within at the center of your being? What is it you’re allowing yourself to believe about yourself and how you shape your perspective on your life?

I’ve discovered that no matter the extent of my anxiety or the depth of my depression that what I’ve allowed into that sacred space at the core of who I am is the cause of it. I cannot possibly deny that there are physical reasons for depression and anxiety, such as eating a poor diet, stress, or hormone imbalances because I’ve experienced the healing benefits of a nutrient-dense diet. And I know that when my irritability starts shooting through the roof or a weight of hopelessness hangs over me that I need to lay off the sweets and remember to include more veggies (funny how one replaces the other!).

But a person can still eat cookies and not be depressed. The root cause is what you believe about yourself. As Brene Brown says, it comes down to whether you believe your are worthy of love and acceptance, or not. That kind of decision happens right at the heart. And the consequences of your decision spread to every aspect of your life, intertwining and connecting everything you do and think about in your life.

When I’m anxious, and I am able to take a closer look at what’s going on under the surface, there’s a whole lot of fear going on. Like I need to stay on guard for the worst thing to happen, be prepared. And underneath that is a deep layer of belief that I need to do this because good things are taken from me since I’m not worthy to have them in the first place.

When I’m depressed, and I just stepped out from under a very dark cloud of it, it is coming from a place of great shame. That I’ve horribly screwed up and am essentially a very bad person. I believed the shameful lies and that I am indeed worse than the average person. Somehow impossibly defective.

The most brave thing I’ve ever done is stepping out in faith and believing my Creator when He tells me (again and again) that I’m worthy. Worthy for Him to die on a cross to take my place. Worthy of His enormous, amazing, beautiful love that no words can ever describe. And that His grace and promises do really cover me in my failings and screw-ups and defective faults.

That He created me and am in a small way a reflection of Him. Anything good and lovely in me stems from the Hand that made it.

Dressing Your Truth helped me to see this. It is not just about what clothes to wear or how to cut your hair. It’s about accenting your true nature. Carol Tuttle has an incredible insight into how us humans have been created and her program has helped me in a powerful way. I won’t go into it too much here, but she says that there are 4 different types of energies in people, and that we each lead with a dominant type of energy. We are each a mix of all the types, but in all her experience, she firmly believes that each of us lead with one and it is instilled in us even before birth (ask any mom who has has more than one pregnancy about the movement of her babies!).

I grew up believing that I’m too sensitive and too shy. I was always on the outskirts, often looked over and this carried on into my adult life. When I finally had to admit that I was the soft, subtle woman (Type 2) I was so down on myself; I felt like that was a very bad way to be. But I’ve come to accept it and through Carol’s teachings, am starting to appreciate it. And let me tell you, when I wear the colours recommended for Type 2, it really does feel like freedom! Amazing how our clothes have an energy all their own. Carol Tuttle teaches you to accent and flatter your natural beauty, based on your dominant type, that is already there, and ultimately accepting and loving yourself for what you truly are.

This led me to be more open to God’s love for me, to understand myself better, and that He made me just this way.

It has allowed me, at the core of my being, to choose and believe that I’m worthy. Just as I am.