Dreams

I’ve stepped back this week from exercise a little bit, even had to rest from physical therapy because I have had some back pain and have been advised to take it easy. For the most part, I’ve been okay with this, but of course there have been a few times where I’ve beat myself up too. I’ve been a bit anxious too over some stuff, so I kind of hit a wall this morning overwhelming myself with some of the commitments I have made recently. But, a few days and it will all be behind me. One thing at a time. 

This week I have been concentrating on replacing old lies that I tell myself with new truths, and connecting it to scripture. I have 4 of these new truths that I am seeking to engrain in my head.  I’ve also been reading a spiritually based book on negative self-talk.  Some hard stuff to swallow. 

I’m taking this afternoon to rest and reflect, and for some reason I have gotten it my head to make a “fitness bucket list”–all the things that I want to achieve for my body. So, here goes:

  • Walk a 5K
  • Walk a 10K
  • Run a 5K
  • Run a 10K
  • Run a half marathon 
  • Complete a yoga class without modifying any of the poses
  • Do 10 pull-ups (mind you, I have never had any semblance of arm strength)
  • Defeat the stairmaster 
  • Learn how to do a handstand and a cartwheel 

There’s no timeline on any of these, except the first one, my goal on that is the Color Your Sole 5K on September 12.  It’s just kind of fun to think about the things that I want to achieve with a healthy body. I don’t think any of these things are out of the realm of possibility. Just what’s on my mind today…

Motivation, Discipline, Determination

So, yesterday’s blog post was pretty negative.  That wasn’t my intention.  I have a great desire for transparency on this journey of wellness.  Some days aren’t always going to be sunshine and roses.  I share not out of selfish gain or ambition, but rather to have a living testimony of the work that God is doing in my life.  This is an opportunity for me to share my blessings and my struggles along the way of striving to be the woman of God that God sees in me.  This blog, my (abundant) facebook posts, and the like, serve as a vehicle of motivation for me.  And if it happens to inspire (or convict) someone else along the way, well, the Holy Spirit is doing His job too.

Motivation is important when discipline isn’t exactly disciplined.  I’m learning discipline. Motivation keeps my mind and my heart on track of the lofty godly goals that have been set forth as I learn and apply the disciplines needed to stay the course. I am determined.  I haven’t always been a determined person.  This is new territory for me.  And this time, I’m getting what I want–because it’s not just what I want, it’s what God wants for my life.

There have been few times in my life where I have known without a doubt, without a hint of hesitation, the exact part of God’s plan for my life at that particular time.  The first was my calling to the full time ministry that I am a part of.  It’s the only vision that I’ve ever encountered and it came at a time when I had sworn off God altogether.  It took me several years of my heart changing and doubt before I experienced another nudging of the Holy Spirit to accept my calling that would change the course of my life forever.  Another dramatic experience of discovering God’s will in my life was when I began dating my husband.  It took me a long (long, long, long) time to reconcile in my heart being a single person in the ministry that I am a part of and go forward in faith knowing that I could do it.  I’ll spare you the (absolutely hilarious!) conversation of how my husband and I started dating, but the moment he turned my face to him and kissed me for the first time, it was instant peace in my soul that he was the man I was going to marry, the one created just for me.

And that brings us to my current unwavering knowledge of God’s plan for me.  I am not living the plan that God has for my life.  I am not living life abundantly in His blessing because I am in sin.  It’s not laziness, it’s not busyness, it’s not neglect–it’s sin.  That’s hard to swallow.  But thank God that’s not the end of the story.  The Holy Spirit has placed a strong conviction on my heart of the several blatant sins in my life that are holding me back from freedom, from a full relationship with God.  I can’t ignore it anymore.  I can’t run from it anymore.  It’s time to team up with the One who is right and change for the better.

They say (whoever “they” is) that change is like peeling an onion.  Layer by layer, more is exposed, and the work is never done.  I acknowledge that the work in me will never be done, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be doing it.  Each effort, each goal, changes me more into the image of God, to be the person He created me to be.  I don’t know what the future holds, and it’s probably good that I don’t, but I do know this–it’s going to be awesome.

And it’s not just about the end result, it’s about the process too.  Finding joy in the changes.  Feeling success in the little things. Asking God for forgiveness of my neglect of His creation.  Showing God my obedience to His will. Learning how to be obedient, and not living my will.  Even the bad days, and there will be some, all have lessons to be learned.

Isn’t life amazing?

The Day I Wanted To Quit

I’ve got to be honest.  The last few days I’ve really been struggling.  I can’t help but think how much easier it is to simply not care, as I have for so much of my life, which has gotten me to right where I’m at.  All this work I’m putting in to better myself is just that…it’s work!  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit weary on the journey.

A few days ago, a story hit the national media that at first I didn’t pay attention to, thinking it was just tabloid smut, but as the information unfolded, the story grew, and many people are sitting with their chins on the ground asking a lot of questions.  Other than a sunken feeling in my heart, I have had a really hard time reconciling this news story in my mind and heart.  I honestly have no idea how to feel.  This story unlocked one of the recesses of my mind that holds some pretty ugly stuff that I’ve had to process and deal with in recent years.  I started to go to a scary place in my mind, a place that I thought after all the work I had done to heal from would not be so bad…but it’s still there, waiting to suck me back in.  I won’t get sucked into it though.  I won’t go back to that broken place where I could barely get out of bed because I was so consumed with everything surrounding the issue.  I know better ways to deal with the feelings.

Problem was, I didn’t use those better ways.  I ate more.  I didn’t go off the deep end or anything into a full-fledged binge, but I ate more than I needed to.  Shockingly, it didn’t make the bad feelings go away.  It made me feel worse.  Instead of just taking it as information that I needed to deal with feelings and not food, my mind went into “all or nothing” mode.  Well, if I overate, then I might as well not go to physical therapy, because, you know, if I’m just going to balloon back up and keep gaining weight, then there is no point in healing my back. (I still went to PT)  Then it was the same thoughts surrounding going to the gym. (I still went to the gym).  Then it was beating myself up because I went more slowly than usual at the gym.  I wanted to walk away from everything completely.

And I wonder why I grow weary?  I can’t shut off my head! That’s why! I can’t just “be.” I can’t just take something small and leave it as it is, I have to blow it completely out of proportion and let myself be consumed by it.  I am truly my own worst enemy.

I’m frustrated.  I lose sight of God’s perfect will for me and get stuck on my own agenda.  I look at the weight loss graphs and instead of seeing a perfect downhill slope, it looks like a staircase–losing, maintaining for a few weeks, losing some more.  I start to research all of the things that I’m possibly doing wrong scientifically so that I can correct them.  I let little setbacks become giant stumbling blocks in my path.

God didn’t allow me to come this far (and in the grand scheme of things, I’m not that far yet) to allow me to fail.  It’s a reminder to come back to my first love.  To rely solely on Him.  He will guide me.  He will comfort me.  He will calm my anxious heart.  He will show me the proper reaction to a situation–if I seek Him first. I have to come back to God, first and always.  It’s a simple but sobering answer to all of my problems.  There’s no quick fix, there’s no mathematical solution, there’s no timetable.  There’s just God working in my life to get me to not rely on me for what I need.  This is where faith steps in.  I have to have faith in the things unseen, unknown, not proven to me.  The only way I’m going to see the result of fully relying on God is leaning on the promise that I don’t have to have all the answers, that I’m not alone in this.  It’s an interesting place to be.

So, for today, I’m trying to be a little bit gentler and understanding with myself.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  It’s okay to be frustrated, and I am, but I know it won’t last forever.  And I’m not quitting.

An Inside Job

“It is possible to rise up, do battle with our issues, and, using the Lord’s strength in us, defeat them–spiritually, physically, and mentally–to the glory of God.” -Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave Devotional, page 47

I’ve had some strange looks in conversation with folks, especially lately, when they make a comment about my weight loss or weight loss in general, and I make sure that the first thing out of my mouth after an awkward “thank you” (I so don’t take comments/compliments well) is that I reference this is a whole person effort.  It’s not just weight loss.  Yes, that’s the easiest external tangible result of all of this process to discern and I’m learning to take some humble joy in that, but as I’ve said and will continue to say, it’s a spiritual, mental, and physical journey. They all need work.  So what does all that mean?

Spiritual: I am not a disciplined person by nature, and as such, my spiritual life–my relationship with God–suffers.  If nothing else on this journey, this is the area that I am seeking the most improvement.  I let the “things” of life get in the way of my relationship with God–busyness, laziness, the amazing allure of a new TV show, food–the list could go on forever.  But here’s the key of the issue: all of these “things” become idols.  Each one of them become their own little god that draw my attention, my love, my worship, my adoration away from the one true God.  I’ve come to a point where all these little idols are really on my nerves!  Yes, I believe the fundamental truth that God should come before all things, but that does not reflect in my actions.  Spiritual disciplines need just that–more discipline.  I need to read my Bible more.  I need to be in the fellowship of other believers more.  I need to pray more.  I need..I need..I need.  I need to get the heck out of the way of myself is what I need to do!  I don’t believe this is a work done alone, however.  God has convicted me of this reality that I need to be in closer walk with Him.  He will help me.  His Holy Spirit will guide me to what I need to be doing, when I need to be doing it.  I need to listen and obey.  Teamwork.

Mental: I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, because, well, my skeletons aren’t any of your beeswax.  Just know they’re getting their exorcism.  Maybe I’ll touch on them someday, maybe I won’t.  As I have shared though, part of this change will be how I treat myself and how I speak to myself.  The negative self-abuse in my head has to stop.  It’s not respectful of me, it’s not respectful of God and God’s creation, and it’s just plain mean. This I consider to be the area of second greatest need for improvement.

Physical: Important, yes.  The most important? No.  I believe physical change is the byproduct of the two above changes.  Now, will weight just magically disappear? Of course not.  Intentional efforts around healthy eating and exercise are necessary…I don’t get to defy the laws of nature just because I’m working on other stuff.  It all works together.  The reality of life is that I am not a healthy weight.  I am putting my body at risk for disease.  That is not honoring to me or God’s creation, and that’s unacceptable.  I’m not going to be flocking to the beach in a bikini, um, ever–but I do commit to my goal of weighing 180lbs. (still high in some people’s view, but I have a lot of peace surrounding that number)

The key to all of this is that it’s a process. It’s a process. It’s a process.  It will take time.  I cannot wave a magic wand and wake up tomorrow totally changed. I cannot put it on a timetable. I don’t have an expiration date for self-improvement.  I have my immediate goals, that will follow with more goals, and the cycle will repeat itself over and over.  We never stop changing and growing–but that changing and growing for me will go in accordance with God’s will and guiding.  I guess if you think about it, I’ll always be under construction–because we never really “arrive.”  Yes, there will reach a point of physical completion, but that also requires maintenance.  In all things, I will continue to learn, implement, and grow from all the days of my life.  That’s okay.  Surprisingly, I am okay with that.  In the end, what matters is my faith and obedience in/to the One that created me for His purpose.

Greater

For as long as I’ve ever been able to remember, music has been able to put into words what I cannot convey.  There are songs that come into my mind and spirit for a time to encourage me, to lift me up, to make me strive for greater things, to soothe me, and to comfort me.  I still hold firm that the anthem for this period of my life is Casting Crown’s “Thrive.” but this song by MercyMe, “Greater,” has been really spurring me on lately.

This song is positioned on my 5K training playlist right now at the point where I am ready to quit going forward.  The words and the beat spur me on the last stretch to meet my walking time goal.  When I reach the end of training for my 5K, timed accordingly, this song will be ending just as I am crossing the finish line. (Yes, I have it planned to be that exact).  This song has helped me to grasp the truth of 1 John 4:4-6 that says, “ You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (NIV, emphasis mine)
What lies of the world have you fallen prey to today? What have you overcome today?  I bet you’ve overcome more than you think.
Greater (MercyMe)
Bring your tired
Bring your shame
Bring your guilt
Bring your pain
Don’t you know that’s not your name
You will always be much more to me

Everyday I wrestle with the voices
That keep telling me I’m not right
But that’s alright

Cause I hear a voice and he calls me redeemed
When others say I’ll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world
In the world
In the world
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world

Bring your doubts
Bring your fears
Bring your hurt
Bring your tears
There’ll be no condemnation here
You are holy, righteous and redeemed

Every time I fall
There’ll be those who will call me
A mistake
Well that’s ok

Cause I hear a voice and he calls me redeemed
When others say I’ll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world
In the world
In the world
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world

There’ll be days I lose the battle
Grace says that it doesn’t matter
Cause the cross already won the war
He’s Greater
He’s Greater

I am learning to run freely
Understanding just how he sees me
And it makes me love him more and more
He’s Greater
He’s Greater

Extremes

Holy Moses.  I think we’ve already established the fact that my head is a scary, scary place to be.  But just in case we haven’t, let’s use a few situations over the last two days to cement the idea:

Unhealthy situation #1: The PT clinic did not follow my infinite wisdom and intentional pre-planning efforts to attain authorization for more PT visits before my current authorized visits ran out so that I didn’t have to miss scheduled visits waiting for insurance to approve more visits.  I was fuming when I went in for my last authorized visit on Monday and they told me they had just done something that day that I asked them to take care of a week ago, that I had already gotten the go-ahead from my doctor for them to do.  As I was doing my PT routine, I was so frustrated that they hadn’t listened to my concerns about getting authorization in a timely manner that I seriously was ready to walk out and tell them that I was finished with PT altogether.

How I should have reacted to situation #1: Suck it up, buttercup.  That’s life.  Yes, you’re probably going to have to miss one or two PT sessions waiting for insurance authorization.  Your body will not fall apart as a result.  Keep doing the home exercises and your exercise program in the meantime.  The doctor ordered 3-4 months of PT, you are not cured after 1.  Don’t harm yourself because you’re frustrated at the process.  Just let it be.

Unhealthy situation #2: The weight watchers site and app went down, so I could not track my food.  Contact the weight watchers IT folks and find that it will be several hours for them to fix the problem.  I just won’t eat.  Okay, that’s a bad idea. So, I ate a few low-point foods and wrote them down on an index card to enter into the app later when it was working.  End of story, yes?  For a sane person, maybe.  Nooo…I sat there and obsessed over it.  I could not stop thinking about food and the fact that I hadn’t made myself accountable for it by tracking it and that I was going to somehow gain all forty-five pounds back in the course of an afternoon.

How I should have reacted to situation #2: Suck it up, buttercup.  That’s life.  Technology fails.  You did your best by making good choices and writing it down to enter later.  That’s all you can do.  Move on with life.

Unhealthy situation #3: Skipped going to the gym and took a nap.  Feelings of guilt and shame overwhelm me because “I’m giving up.”  And again, because I did not exercise for one day, I am going to gain all forty-five pounds back in the course of an afternoon. But now that I’ve skipped one exercise session, I’m going to tumble down the slippery slope of skipping more and more.

How I should have reacted to situation #3: Suck it up, buttercup.  That’s life.  Cut yourself a break!  You were exhausted.  You needed to rest.  That’s part of a healthy lifestyle too.  One missed exercise session in the grand scheme of life is not going to make a difference.  You are not going to throw away every effort of weight loss from now on because of one choice.  Just make sure when you are making the choice, you’re looking at the legitimate reasons for making the choice and it’s not out of laziness.

Phew!  Are you exhausted yet? I am!  I have no idea where in life my thinking has gotten so twisted, but man alive…if I was ever this hard on someone else, I’d be up on inhumane torture charges in a heartbeat.  Why do I do this to myself?  When did this kind of self-talk become acceptable?  Why do I automatically jump to the worst possible conclusion at the drop of a hat?

Fear.

Fear of failure.  Fear of not being successful.  Fear of not meeting my goals.  Fear of disappointing myself.  Fear of disappointing others.  Fear of the future. Fear of disappointing God.

Whoa there, back up the train.  Fear of disappointing God. How? By trying your best? By committing each and every action to Him? By seeking His guidance? By committing in His power to change your life for the better?  You better check yourself, missy.  God doesn’t just care about the end result.  He cares about the process–how it’s changing me and molding me to be the person that He created me to be.  God doesn’t approve of this self-destructive behavior to glorify Him.  What example am I showing a non-believer of Christ’s love and grace if I cannot extend grace to myself and cut myself a little bit of kindness?

Ouch.  Something to think about today.

I’m not God, and I don’t play Him on TV

I’ve spent this morning waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I’ve been waiting for the phone to ring and the person on the other end to tell me what a horrible person I am and how dare I abandon them in their perceived hour of need and how I let them down, thus perpetuating the shame spiral I have already started in my own mind.

You see, I have this great ability to not place healthy boundaries with people that I provide assistance to.  I don’t say “no” enough, even when no is the greatest help that I can provide a person.  I want to save them.  I want to fix them.  I want to be able to meet their every need. (notice all that “I’s”?  Yeah, me too…)

That is wrong on so many levels, I realize that.  First of all, I’m not God–I can’t meet one’s every need.  Second, I overextend the level of assistance that my ministry is able to provide.  This is not good because it creates an atmosphere for disaster–yes, every case is unique and will receive different types of help, but there need to be consistent basic standards across the board. Third, I sacrifice myself, my time, and my sanity to unhealthy levels–which damages other things in my life, my relationship with my husband, and ultimately, my health.

Yesterday, I put a hard line boundary in place.  I was not going to drop everything I was doing at a moment’s notice to go and save a person stuck in a situation that they put themselves in.  I had a long day.  I worked hard.  I was in the middle of something that yes, I could have stopped doing, but in the long run would have hurt me by walking away from what my attention was on.  In the moment, I didn’t actually believe the words coming out of my mouth, saying that I would not take action in this situation.  For a split second, dare I say, I even felt a little empowered by my choice.

But immediately, I was flooded with guilt.  What if this person didn’t get the help that they needed right then? Would they be safe? Would someone else take care of them?  The questions reeled around in my mind a million miles a second.  I admit, the guilt overtook me.  Unknowingly to the person in need, when I finished what I was doing at the time, I went to check out the situation to see if help was still needed.  And it wasn’t.

I didn’t have to be the savior.  I don’t have to be anyone’s savior.  I can’t be anyone’s savior.  That’s not my job–it’s way above my pay grade.  That’s a hard lesson to swallow.

This tied right into the devotional that I read this morning about the double standards that I live.  How dare I counsel someone one way, and yet live my life in another.  I am not above God’s counsel.  I’m human.  I make mistakes and have to learn from them.  I have to make earthly boundaries to protect myself from earthly things–from the entrapment of becoming my own little god.  I have to remember to whom I’m accountable, humanly and heavenly.

Surprisingly, just putting this out into words has slowed the shame spiral I’ve been riding since last night.  This too shall pass.  And, if that phone call comes, well…it is what it is.  I’m standing in what I know to be the right choice for all involved.

(and in other news, I lost another 5lbs.–45 total gone now, YIPEEE!)