Archives for February 2014

Where Are You? {Not in a Good Place, But He Loves Me}

Right now…where are you?

Sitting at home?  at work?  In your car waiting for practice to end? Or at the doctor waiting for “the news”?

Longing for what was or might have been?  Delighting in the life you’ve been given or yearning for a new one?  Stuck between the two, waiting on change or new or better?

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Beth Moore ask me this question in my Bible Study this week:  Where are You?  And, I answered honestly in the margin…getting a divorce, no permanent residence, overweight, and living life up in the air.

Uncertainty.  Buckets and buckets of uncertainty.

(Side note:  I am a planner, so uncertainty is My.  Worst.  Enemy!)

Ugh.  Just reading that seems a bit hopeless – even to me.  I’ll admit: I live in a state of “getting through each day.”  A friend said to me that she’s noticed I don’t find much joy in life anymore. I go through the motions.  Get up, get ready, make breakfast, go to school, come home or to job #2, cook and clean, do laundry, finish the to-do list, and then to bed.

Sleep.  Repeat.

On weekends I catch up on the list and begin again…and if I am not able to “catch up”?  Heaven help my Monday.  I don’t like being behind.  I don’t like leftovers on the list.

But, then Beth told me…Just as God sought the fellowship of His first children in the garden, he chooses you.  Right here and now.  Whatever state you’re in. The God of the universe is seeking you.

Really?  Right now?  Whatever state I am in?  Yes.  Yes.  And yes.

I know this truth; I bet you do too.  But, something happens to us when we begin to struggle and perceive life is falling apart – or at least life as we’ve known it is crumbling.

My heart says, He loves me.

My head screams, FAILURE!

And while I have failed in some ways, that’s not the end of my story when God abides in me and I in Him.

The first question God asked Adam and Eve after they sinned in the garden:  Where are you? 

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  Genesis 3: 6-9

[This is where I say to myself…oh, Lord.  Like you didn’t know where they were.  As IF we could every hide from you behind fig leaves and lies.]

After Adam explained and God cursed Adam, Eve, and their ancestors (us)…21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

The innocent, blameless animal was killed and its blood shed to cover their mistake – their sin.

And thousands of years later, an innocent, blameless man was killed and his blood shed to cover my mistakes.  My ungratefulness.  My joyless living.  My obsession over all things certain.  My to-to list.  My desire to get even.  All my junk.

So, when my Creator speaks to my heart and asks, Where are you?  He’s asking me to stop and evaluate where I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  He’s calling on me to return to what I know instead of slipping into pity.  MOST of all…

He’s reminding me…I care.  I love you.  I am seeking you – wherever you are.  Whatever state you’re in.  No feelings of failure are too great for the Him.

Where are you? 

Struggling like me in the valley?  Or sitting high atop the mountain?

Regardless, He’s seeking you. I pray you’ll answer Him.  _________________________________________________________________________________

These are some of my favorite posts from the past few weeks.  I hope they help you to grow closer to Him – wherever you are:)

In Crooked Love, Angie Smith shares her internal dialogue that says, “No one really likes you.” This is for those who are standing in the middle of self-doubt and insecurity.

Yet in Our Weakness by Lindsee at Living Proof Ministries encourages us (as women) to unite, not divide.  To capitalize on one another’s strengths, not weaknesses.   Where are you today? Easily lifting up others, encouraging and applauding their gifts?   Jealous?  Insecure?  Pointing out flaws?  Jesus will meet you here too.

from the post:  Especially as social media continues to grow wider and bigger, we as a society, and we as women, do a really great job at pointing out one another’s weaknesses. It’s sad, really. We can go day in and day out and talk all about how this person or that person struggles with this or that and we never once mention the strengths the Lord has given them and the good they do. Without the fruit of self-control, our tongues are killing each other one by one and we’re okay to let it slide. If we were brutally honest, we could admit that it’s easier to talk about what one is lacking out of our jealousy, insecurity and pride rather than what one is thriving at. Not only does it make us feel better, but it allows us to keep our distance without getting called out. Ouch. But can you imagine what unity we might take back if we capitalized on each other’s strengths instead of weaknesses? 

The Things We Do for Love by Renee Swope:  Are you feeling unloved?  Unwanted?  Renee reminds us of God’s unconditional love:  Unconditional love? I didn’t know there was such a thing. Then God whispered into my soul: You’ll never find the love you long for in anyone or anything but Me. I AM the unconditional love you’re looking for.

In Why You Really Matter:  An Anthem for Women, Ann Voskamp shares an experience from the IF: Gathering and reminds us that we matter.

from the post: They were right next to me — all these women rejected for the size of their pants, the size of their house, the size of their family, the size of their callings, the size of their workWomen brushed off because they live too large or they live too small, because there is more of them than people know what to do with. Because they can’t or don’t or they won’t fit into someone else’s box…We are the women who are the real sisterhood: Girls can rival each other. But the Real Sisterhood of Women revive each other. Girls can empale each other. But the Real Sisterhood of Women empower each other. Girls can compare each other. But the Real Sisterhood of Women champion each other.

Where are you?  Rivaling or reviving? Empaling or empowering?  Comparing or championing?

Perhaps you’re ready for change, for a new beginning.  Ready to press into God in a new way.  In The Rebirth of Lent, Barbara Rainey begins to prepare our hearts for this season of sacrifice and renewal.   Henri Nouwen also has free Lent resources as you prepare for the season.  His free Lenten Book  Discussion begins March 5.

Much Love,

Loving Me for Me {Delaney’s Journey to Lose 105 Pounds}

This is the story of my friend, Delaney.  We met a few years ago through Women of Purpose, a women’s ministry team on which I serve.  As I have gained weight this year, I’ve watched Delaney lose it.  And, she has never stopped encouraging me, sharing resources with me, believing in me, and loving me.  Her faith serves an example to us all.   I am blessed to do life with her, and honored to share her story.

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I was always the biggest kid in the class.

I was fat and tall, so I was a giant in all areas compared to everyone else.

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Growing up, I was always made fun of for being fat. I woke up lots of days nervous to go to school because I knew someone would make fun of me. I still remember getting off the bus one day after school and the junior high guys sitting in the back of the bus (the boys everyone was always scared of) were yelling at me out the window as the bus drove away, making fun of me.

And from that day on, I hated getting on the bus in the mornings for fear of having to sit with someone because I figured no one would want to sit with the “fat girl.”

I simply feared being made fun of by someone.

I was always worried about who the teacher would sit beside me in class or who I was going to sit by at lunch. I HATED gym class because no one ever wanted me on their team and our gym teacher made fun of other kids in our class, so I was positive that he was making fun of me when I wasn’t around.

I wanted to be like every other girl.

I wanted to be in girl scouts, so I tried that. I wanted to cheer, so I tried that. I wanted to play basketball, so I thought about that. I wanted to be like all the other kids.

I felt like I was forgotten a lot of the time. Or people just included me because they felt bad for me. Heck, I still feel that way a lot as I am sure many others do.

In 6th grade, my parents decided it was time to go to the doctor to see what was happening in my body,  making me want to eat so much. We went to a doctor that specialized in diabetes, thinking I had pre-diabetes.   Basically, if I didn’t do something about the way I was eating and taking care of myself, then I was going to end up with diabetes.

I did NOT want to hear this at my age; I was in 6th grade,  I didn’t care, and I didn’t want to have to watch what I was eating. It was so embarrassing to watch your friends eat whatever they wanted while you counted carbs for everything you ate.

We continued to go to that doctor, and he put me on medicine to help control my insulin levels. I hated every minute of it, so I stopped eating like I needed to and started to emotionally eat even more than I had before. My peers encouraged me to eat healthy and lose weight, but I just didn’t care.  I didn’t want to be “that kid.”

Then,  I went to high school, scared to death on the first day, wondering what the other kids were going to say as I walked down the hall or as I sat at the desk next to them. For the most part,  poking fun at me settled down when I got to high school, but then there was a whole new problem at this age:  Dating!

Every girl in the school was talking to some boy, and they really liked each other – blah, blah,  blah. I began struggling with the fact that the boys were crazy about all my friends, and I was the girl all the guys just wanted to be friends with.

I HATED THIS!

Maybe you’re reading this thinking God has someone out there waiting and he is going to be perfect.  I knew and know this, but it is so hard. I just wanted to be the girlfriend for once instead of the really good friend. Throughout high school, I just wanted to find some boy that liked me so that I could be his girl.

But, this never happened.  I started questioning if I was ever going to be good enough. Is anyone ever going to love me for me? I’d look around and think…if I could just take her face and put it on her body that would be perfect. He wouldn’t have a choice but to like me then.

This questioning and searching followed me to college.

It was my senior year of high school, and  I had decided to focus on growing more in my relationship with God, knowing he was planning to bring me someone one day. And, that’s when my journey began. I had returned from a trip to Honduras and had gotten sick while I was there, so I was visiting the doctor for that illness. While my mom and I were at the doctor’s office, the doctor sat us down and began the talk that many doctors had had with me in the past…

“Delaney, you really need to lose weight. You are not going to have very good health when you get older. You need to get the weight off while you are young and have more energy. Blah, blah, blah!” I tuned them out in anger.

I DON’T WANT TO HEAR THIS!! People should love me the way that I am!  Why does it matter what size I am?

But something changed in my heart a few days later. I knew something had to change; I couldn’t continue to live my life this way. I was so unhealthy, and I wanted to do this for me.

Not for the doctor, not for my parents, or my friends. I wanted this for me.

So in October of 2010, I began my journey.  I joined Weight Watchers, which I loved because I could eat healthier and still enjoy time with friends on Friday nights at the football games. When I had gone to the doctor in 6th grade, I had lost some weight – about 20 pounds – but had gained it all back plus some. So, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But, this was working perfectly.

Soon after I began my journey – in the spring of 2011 – two big changes happened in my life.  My youth minister decided he was being called to move on, which meant leaving the church and our awesome youth group. The youth group was my life; I didn’t know what I was going to do.  And, I graduated from high school. I was super excited about this.( I never thought I would make it through all those years of schooling!)

But, this all meant something huge that I didn’t know at the time:  saying farewell to a ton of friends that I spent every day with. That was so hard –  we were all moving on to bigger and better things. It was time for our paths to split. We didn’t have  to stop talking to each other, but we just lost contact as some moved away.

That summer my youth minister’s time at the church was done, and I decided I would start searching for a church on my own, feeling like God was calling me somewhere else. In all this, I lost my youth group – a huge part of my life. I had gone to school with many of these kids and we hung out a lot. So in just a few months, I lost most of the peers I had seen every day for the past 13 years, and I lost my youth group.

Life got hard.

I didn’t want to turn to food.

God gave me the strength to continue my weight loss journey. I  prayed for strength, and he continually provided it. I then started my first year of college. I had decided to stay in the area and go to a community college in hopes that I would be able to continue my weight loss journey with the support of my family.

I thought that by deciding to stay locally, going to a community college, and looking for a new church, God would place a man in my life –  the man of my dreams. I also thought I would meet all these new people and make new friends because a lot of my friends had moved away, and I didn’t really have any friends in the area anymore.

But, that was not God’s plan or timing. I am in my third year of college – still at the community college –  and haven’t met “the man of my dreams.” I don’t have a bunch of friends. It has been the hardest three years I have had, but the best three years I have lived.

I moved into an apartment with my best friend for the first year of college. That was so much fun, and it made our friendship even stronger. Then, she decided God was calling her to Nashville to finish school and start life there. God continues to bless our friendship even though we are miles apart and her life is in Nashville. I still don’t have friends that I call on everyday to hang out or just get together and talk with. But, looking back at the journey I have been on since October 2010, I would have never been able to leave and get this far. I know that God had me staying locally in the plan, and He has taught me so much.

In all the time I was trying to keep my head above the waves, God continued to bless me with his strength. I had set backs for sure, but he never stopped showing up like he has always promised.

I don’t really know the reason I was so overweight. I was overweight as a kid, so I knew no different. I feel it started with me being bigger than others, and then I was made fun of, which got to me, and I would eat to take away that pain. But, eating your pain away only takes it away for a couple minutes and then it comes right back.

When I started my journey in 2010, I thought it was just about losing the weight. But I was so wrong. I have had to work through so much within myself. I continue to learn to forgive the people that made fun of me growing up. I continue to realize that I have always been beautiful.

More and more every day I learned that people were loving me for me, but I wasn’t seeing that because I wasn’t loving me for me.

We are beautiful in Christ no matter our shape and size. But, I was not living to the fullest because my weight was holding a lot of me inside. I was always shy growing up, and a lot of that had to do with my weight because since I have started my journey I have come out of my shell so much.

I wish I could say that I have completely healed from all the struggles and the past. But, I haven’t.  Those things still come back up and hurt just as bad. Still, I am working through the hurt. I wish I could tell you that I am so strong that I don’t have setbacks anymore, but that isn’t the case. Struggles still come as do setbacks.

In the times that I have been eating healthy and doing well on my plan, God has taught me so much.  He has also taught me in the times that I am sitting still – stalled, not losing weight, not following my plan.  He continues to teach me about who I really am in Him and how to forgive.

I have lost 105 pounds since I started my journey, and God is calling me to help people that also need to get healthy. In August 2014, I will be moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I will attend Cornerstone University to receive a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science.   I will also work toward becoming certified as a personal trainer.

He has not brought me this far to let me sit back and be quiet about his work in my life. So, I plan to go out and make disciples of Him by allowing Him to work through my story and through me training others, showing them who they really are in Him. I would not change my story if I got the chance to.

All glory and praise to Him for how far I have come and how far I will go.

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Thanks, Delaney!