Posted in Battles, Death, Experiences, Grace, Healing, Hope, life happens..., Loss, love, My Journey, Prayer, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

The Battle Belongs to Him…

Life feels hard right now. Nationwide, people are angry. People are afraid. People are confused. The next four years feel very unsettled. Social media has exploded with all of these feelings and emotions pouring out everyday. I’ve tried hard not to let myself get too caught up in emotion.

Then there is the next layer of heartache.

For some life is hard right now because of very personal battles they are fighting. Their own battles or battles of loved ones. Some are being fought and some battles have been lost. Some are in limbo… waiting. Illness, relationships, death.

These past few weeks I’ve found myself standing in the gap on behalf of many… most I know and a handful I don’t know but have committed to pray for them. I asked God to break my heart for the things that break His. He came through. Daily I’m on my knees interceding for friends and loved ones and strangers… calling on Jesus to bring each one of these precious people just what they need at just the right moment. Peace. Comfort. Healing. Strength. Closure. Grace. Hope. Tears. Laughter. Memories.

At times I’ve felt so helpless, wishing I could do more. Wishing I could be there to give them a hug or sit and listen. I’ve prayed for them to be able to praise the heavens amidst the storm. I’ve prayed for their memories of their loved one to be sweet and comforting. I’ve prayed for healing. I’ve prayed for the stakeholders in the lives of the suffering, for those people also feel the affects of the heartache. Many times all I can do is pray for God’s will in the situation.

As I’ve been interceding on behalf of others, I’ve been reminded of the battles I’ve fought over the years. Difficult battles. Life-changing battles. Lost battles. Battles of loss.

A few of those battles felt as if I’d never recover. Life would never be the same. I would never have joy again. For when I am in the middle of a battle it is easy to lose sight of the other side. I forget that it is being fought by the greatest Warrior of all.

The battle is already won. Is it the outcome I want? Perhaps not. But the God of Hope will be our warrior and bring us the peace and comfort needed to sustain us as we venture on this earthly journey. The older I get and the more battles I see, the more excited I get for eternity. For this life is temporary and heaven is eternal. One day none of this will matter.

But in the meantime… we need to hold on to the hope of Christ.  No matter if our struggles and fears are for the state of our nation or closer to home… there is hope and the battle belongs to the Lord.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

Posted in food, Grace, Growth, Healing, Health, Hope, Intentional Self, My Journey, Prayer, The Journey, Uncategorized, wellness

The Journey Continues…

With 2017 comes a renewed sense of hope and a journey to better health.  For several years now I’ve been doing more wellness things and have seen a great change in myself and my life. As I begin the new year I realize that the journey has really just begun. I didn’t get unhealthy overnight and I won’t get healthy overnight. So,  as my journey begins (or continues), I’m more hopeful than ever that it will bring lasting changes so I can live out the next 30-40+ years of my life healthy and whole!

I love food. I love to eat. I eat when I’m happy, sad, angry, frustrated, anxious… the list goes on! Last year I read through a book that was very powerful and helped me begin to look at food differently. The book is called Thin Within – A Grace-Oriented Approach to Lasting Weight Loss by Judy and Arthur Halliday. It is a grace-based approach to food and weight management. It does not involve diets or pills or quick fixes. It’s meant to change me from the inside out. Over the years I’ve lost weight and then found it again!  Obviously I did not get to the root of the issue as to why I eat. I have often prayed and asked God for help. This is a book full of tools and God’s Word to help me on my journey.

I mentioned above that I’ve already read this book. Yep, it was great and I was looking at things differently… until one day. I can’t even pinpoint that moment in time when I threw it all out the window. I think it happened gradually over time. So, as the new year begins, I’m committing to walk this journey again and would like to share it along the way with you! Perhaps you have food issues… or maybe you don’t. It’s still solid biblical ideas that help us to put food in it’s correct place.

As I read Chapter 1 this morning, here are the nuggets of truth that I came away with that are very encouraging to me at the start of my journey…

  • You will find yourself drawn closer to God, the lover of your soul and the designer of your body, the one who purchased your liberty. He longs for you to see His handiwork displayed in a most miraculous masterpiece – YOU. 

(Wow! I’m His most miraculous masterpiece… and so are you!)

  • God is crazy about us! God loves us exactly the way we are! 
  • God is able and willing to lead us to freedom from food and to the abundant life!
  • I want to “release” weight… not lose it. When you lose something you are always hoping to get it back!  (I don’t want it back!)
  • I am ready for my heart to be set free! 

There are some simple keys to conscious eating which include only eating when my body (not my heart) is truly hungry and stopping when I am satisfied… not full but satisfied. That is NOT the way I was raised and have lived most of my 53 years! Next is to eat in a calm environment and reduce distractions… like social media and TV. Eat when sitting down! Eat when my body and mind are relaxed… invite the Lord into the meal. Eat and drink things I enjoy… no guilt while listening to what my body craves. Pay attention to what I’m eating… eat slowly, actually enjoying the taste of the food I’m eating, and STOP before my body is FULL.

Sadly, these are counterintuitive to the way I was raised. We ate three times a day (and many snacks in between) whether we needed it our not. We ate at specific times each day. We ate everything on our plate because there were starving children in Ethiopia. As a teenager dealing with my parent’s divorce, I ate to heal a broken heart and never even paid attention to any sort of hunger.  I don’t think I was ever actually hungry. I lived to eat instead of eating to live. I also have strange ideas about what a meal must include. I grew up in a large family and learned to eat quickly in order to get seconds.  As a teacher, I also eat quickly to get on with the business of teaching! I have always eaten beyond the meal… food sitting on the table as we visit, putting it away and even as I prepped the meal. I’ve consumed WAY more food than my body has or ever will need!

I know that these keys to conscious eating are powerful and work… when I use them and make them a part of my day. So, here’s to round 2 of this grace-based way of thinking about food! I’m worth it and have a very grace-filled Papa on my side who has designed this plan for my benefit, to give me a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

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It’s a new day and the sun is shinning!

And my windows are very dirty!

Posted in Circle of Life, Experiences, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Intentional Self, Lessons Learned, life happens..., love, My Journey, Prayer, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

2016… What a Year!

2016… oh what a year! It’s one that will go down in history for so many reasons. I’ve managed to NOT let the stress of things of the world get me down.  I’ve felt sad about the losses of well-known people who have passed away… people I’ve grown up with. I’ve managed to keep my emotions out of the presidential election. All I can do is pray for the days to come. I have no control of the worldly events of the past year.

All I can really control is the events of my life… and even those are not always controllable.  I can think about the past year but can’t change a thing that has already happened.  The story is written and published.  All I can do it reflect on the words on each page, take what I can that will propel me positively into the new year and then close the book, placing it carefully on the shelf with the other 53 books.

2016 was a year. A year of hard work, new relationships, loss, struggle, new memories, career challenges, laughter, tears, loving, choosing to love, growth, new beginnings, dreams lost and dreams being realized…

There are some definite things I can take away from 2016. While I’d like to take away only the positive, I realize that it’s some of the tough things that will change me and motivate me in the coming year.

Here are my take-aways from 2016:

  • I have infinite worth! Enough said!
  • I am the only one that can determine how my day will unfold. It’s not the responsibility of my husband, friends or co-workers… it’s mine.  I choose my attitude towards the day.
  • If I don’t include God in my day things tend to go south. Unfortunately I’ve allowed this to happen one too many times.
  • Everyday is a gift – wrapped with a beautiful bow. I get to choose how I open it and what I do with it.  Some gifts can be large and fancy, while others might be little and seemingly unimportant. It’s up to me to look at each gift and cherish what it brings… not wishing and hoping for more or different. Gifts are all around us and sometimes we miss them. It’s the tiniest things that can bring the greatest joy!
  • Just when you think you’ve loved something so much and losing it will leave you empty forever… think again! Be bold and risk loving again!
  • Two kittens are better than one! Just saying!  sleeping-kittens-12-31-16

As we move into 2017, my prayer for everyone is that we will all believe in our infinite worth and value.  I pray our lives will reflect that.  For me that means taking better care of myself… believing that I’m worth investing in.  Even when that investment is difficult but necessary. I pray we all have others in our lives to share the journey. I pray that we can all do the two simple things that God asks of us… love God and love people. This feels more important than ever with the coming months and changes in our nation.

May 2017 bring abundant love, grace and passion in each of our lives. I leave you with this prayer.

“And now may the courage of early morning’s dawning,

And the strength of eternal hills at noontime,

And the peace of open spaces at evening’s ending,

And the love of God abide in your hearts now and forever.” Amen.

                 – Harry K. Zeller, from the BRETHREN HYMNAL

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Posted in Circle of Friends, Circle of Life, Experiences, Generations, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, Miracles, My Journey, Prayer, Prayers, Quiet Pleasures, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

Resiliency and Growth Over Time…

today, tomorrow & every day  – THOUGHTS ON LIVING A BRAVE AND REAL AND GORGEOUS LIFE.  Written by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Jill Labieniec.

Here are my continued thoughts on this amazing book I received as a gift.

She hadn’t always been this way.                                                                                                                         She hadn’t always been as strong and resilient and brave and joyful.

Like any garden or work of art, it had taken her a long time to make things the way there were.   To learn.                                                                                                                                                                                  To arrange.                                                                                                                                                                    To rearrange.

Sometimes, she grew as such in one year as others do in five.                                                                                      It showed in her spirit.                                                                                                                                                                 In her laugh.                                                                                                                                                                          It looked and it sounded like wisdom.                                                                                                                         And she liked it that way.

 53 years.  I’ve come along way. The change really started noticeably happening when I turned 50.  But seeds were planted long before that.  Life events that required me to be strong and resilient and brave… and joyful…regardless.

At times I stayed the same for many years.  Other times I grew more quickly.  I can look back now and see those moments in time.

  • Moving away from everyone and everything I knew and loved, to teach in California at the ripe old age of 23!
  • Moving back home to WA to pursue a job near family and not having success… back to CA I went!
  • Living alone in a strange house during a large earthquake.
  • Getting married at the age of 34… step-parenting with an ex that hated me!
  • Moving to a new city in CA and getting a new job… starting over.
  • Caring for my step daughter as she recovered from a horrific accident and a traumatic brain injury. (This one made me brave and strong and resilient and selfless)
  • Divorce… everything I ever believed about myself was challenged and questioned.
  • Sold my condo and moved back to WA.
  • New job… again.
  • Bought a house on my own.
  • Married the love of my life… step parent to three young children.
  • Lost both parents and one of my sisters.
  • Turned 50 and said, “The hell with it! I’m done trying to please everyone!”

Now I continue on this journey to live a brave and real and gorgeous life!  I’ve got a lot of scars and old wounds to heal, as well as many wonderful memories to hold on to! I’ve listened to many people who have shared wisdom and counsel with me. I’ve shared my experiences with many… passing along the same. I’ve also talked less and listened more. I was recently told by someone very special to me that talking to me brought her peace. That must be what wisdom looks and sounds like. Jesus in skin.

How have you changed over time? What has happened your life to make you strong and resilient?

Posted in Circle of Life, Gifts, Grace, Growth, Healing, Hope, Intentional Self, Lessons Learned, life happens..., Loss, My Journey, Prayer, Questions to Ponder, Seasons, Struggles, The Journey, Uncategorized

today, tomorrow & every day…

I recently received a very beautiful book from a friend.

today, tomorrow & every day                                                                                                                      THOUGHTS ON LIVING A BRAVE AND REAL AND GORGEOUS LIFE.                                                 Written by M.H. Clark and illustrated by Jill Labieniec.

Aside from the powerful content of the writing, the book itself is beautiful, filled with illustrations and photographs.  It is put together in the most amazing way visually.  I read the words on the pages and was brought to tears.  This book is speaking to the very place I am in my life and the direction I am heading.

I decided to share it with you… a little bit at a time accompanied by my personal reflections.  You will get to experience the words, but will have to envision the pictures as your heart and mind see them.

It starts like this…

One day she stepped back and took a look at her life.                                                                                        A long, close look. As though it were a city she loved and she was flying high above it,                         so high that she could see the whole thing. 

And she realized something:                                                                                                                                   She liked what she saw.                                                                                                                                           She liked where she had been.                                                                                                                                     She liked where she was going. 

When I read these first two pages, I paused and didn’t really want to turn the page.  These words were rich and powerful. I closed my eyes and imagined looking at my life.  I was overwhelmed. My mind went to more negative thoughts at first, but I was able to change my perspective. I “flew higher” and looked at the whole big picture. I was not completely sold on “liking” what I saw… thus the negative perspective. I realized that I have some work to do! I want to like what I see.  I want to like where I’ve been. And I really want to like where I’m going.

And so the journey began!  I didn’t realize until I opened the pages of this book that I am right here on this journey… at age 53, longing to live a brave and real and gorgeous life… today, tomorrow and every day.  I don’t want to wish away days until something better comes along or changes. I want to be real and courageous today!  I want to live out this life well.

As I unravel years and look closely at my life, I hope by the end I WILL like what I see, where I’ve been and where I’m going. This journey won’t be possible without Jesus, my family and amazing friends.  I have all of those and I’m blessed.

Come along on this journey with me and begin today by stepping back and taking a look at your life.  What do you see?  Do you like it?

Posted in Circle of Friends, Grace, Hope, Prayer, Seasons, Standing in the Gap, Struggles, Uncategorized

Standing in the Gap…

I love to pray.  I love when people reach out for prayer and I can intercede on their behalf. I don’t take prayer lightly.  When I say I will pray for someone, I pray.  I stand in the gap for them.

A friend recently asked me what I meant by “stand in the gap.” She had her idea of what it meant, but she wanted to know what I meant by it.

I once heard “standing in the gap” used and I liked it.  It was a different way to say I’m praying for you. It originates from the Bible verse in Ezekiel 22:30.

I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land.  I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.  (NLT)

The wall in this verse refers to people united in there efforts to resist evil. It was unsuccessful because it was built on religious rituals and messages not founded on God’s will. The people were crying out for spiritual reconstruction. (Taken from NIV Life Application Bible Commentary)

When someone is hurting and in need of prayer, I like to stand before God in that space where the enemy resides as he tries to intervene and destroy.  Cries for prayer send the enemy into action. He slips into that gap between the person and God.  I like to stand in that gap and keep the enemy out, calling on God on their behalf.

When I’m reaching out for prayer, I’m not always at my strongest spiritually.  I love knowing that I can reach out to others to stand in that gap and keeping that space holy and sacred… keeping the enemy out.

Standing in the gap…

When we pray for someone we are doing just that. It’s not a fancy version of praying or better than praying.  It IS praying.  We all do it when we reach out and pray for another soul. This brings me great comfort.