Sep 272012
 

Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.”

~Henri J.M. Nouwen

I am both relieved and reviled by this quote.

Generations of over-achievers have gone before me on both sides of my family. We don’t do things poorly. We push through until we get it right. Where we are weak, we work harder.

So I chafe hard against the idea that in the area that counts the most, that of love and relationships, I will not reach my standards for myself; I will not meet my own expectations.

And yet these standards and expectations exhaust me!

I am a limited, aging, needy, distracted human being.

This fact is a daily disappointment to me. But because it is the unavoidable truth, what a relief that it’s not perfection but forgiveness that is the “great work.”

Much of my time is spent running around cleaning up after people—their dishes, socks, crumbs, spills, careless words, and impulsive actions. The other day I stopped in my tracks, dirty socks in hand, as it hit me that this is how God spends much of his time as well.

“You restore the wasted years, you build the broken walls, your love replaces fear, your mercy makes us whole. Adopted, healed, and lifted…” (Aaron Keyes, I Am Not the

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). Tears sprang as I heard this song and was overcome by the sweetness of a God who runs around cleaning up my messes, fixing and repairing what I have broken. He is not above janitorial work.

Sometimes when I’m in the darkness of disappointment over a painful parenting moment or missed opportunity, a little light comes on. It dawns on me that the sting of regret doesn’t have to be the end of the story. The

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episode is still unfolding, the “great work” is yet ahead.

I pray under my breath for an opportunity to go back and ask forgiveness or give it, talk about it or listen. I pray for a chance to be present in the way I would have like to have been the first time around. I am amazed and humbled by how many times I get this chance.

Leonard Cohen sings, “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Do you have a story of a time when you loved poorly, and then saw

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the light and love of God come in a fresh way for you or your kids?

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Sep 262012
 

As long as I can remember I have struggled with negative self-talk and condemnation. Never believing I was good enough. The simplest mistake would start the tape rolling. “I’m stupid, bad, a failure, I shouldn’t have ever tried.”

It only got worse once I became a mom. Fear of “doing it wrong” plagued my mind. Almost every time I lost my patience or the situation was difficult, I would hear “you never should have become a mom, what were you thinking?! You weren’t meant for this!”

By the Grace of God and being intentional with my thoughts my negative self-talk is a lot quieter. It still pops up from time to time but it no longer has control.

What is negative self-talk? It is self-blame. Self-condemnation. Self-limiting messages. Breaking this habit is possible, though it takes effort.

Some common negative thoughts:

  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’m ugly.
  • I’m too fat/tall/short/young/old.
  • I’m stupid.
  • I am not lovable.
  • I am a bad parent.
  • There is something wrong with me.
  • I never have enough time.
  • I don’t deserve …
  • I can’t …
  • I’m a failure.
  • I’m not worth it.

Negative self-talk can be automatic. Often we aren’t even aware our tape is playing.

Do you experience negative thoughts? The first step in changing negative self-talk is recognizing it.

The second step is discovering what triggers it. Over the next few days pay close attention to your thoughts. Is there a tape of negative self-talk that starts when you are upset, frustrated or something has gone wrong?

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Sep 252012
 

There used to be a a small area in every book store where a section of carpet had been warn in front of the bookcase… it was the Diet and weight-loss section.  I’m sure I had warn out those carpet spots all by myself.

When it comes to trying fad diets and trying to make my body morph into the shape I thought it should be, I’m a  pro.  I have tried it all: low carb, no carb, high protein, low fat, low cal, no sugar, the juice diet, the detox diet, “clean eating”, the list is endless and exhausting.

It has been a long and often un-beautiful path to where I am today.  Finding peace with food has not been a journey marked by ease or comfort.  Rather it has been marked by pain, confusion and discovery of my weaknesses.  Through my expertise in fad dieting and through getting my BS in Dietetics, I’ve come to a few un-conventional beliefs that have shaped my view of food.

The Un-Conventional Food Stance:

  1. Everything is OK in Moderation.  No.  I’m not giving you the hall pass to eat twinkies all day long… No.  Most of the food we consume should be unprocessed, whole foods.  I am telling you to enjoy life and be free of the guilt that comes with eating “no-no” foods sometimes.  Don’t eat the whole cake.  Have a small slice, enjoy it and move on.
  2. A Plant-based Diet is a Healthy Diet.  I’m not trying to convert everyone into a vegetarian.  I truly believe eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and less “other stuff” is HUGE.  Fruits and vegetables are packed with beneficial nutrients.   They are what help your body stay strong, be energized and fight off disease.
  3. God Should Not be Excluded.  When talking to others about food and weight-loss, I often find people want the control when it comes to their body.  God?  Well… He belongs squarely in another hemisphere.  I know, I did this too.  As I’ve reflected, my battles with food very often tell me something about my relationship with God.  Overeating can tell me things about my trust in Him.  Or, I’m pushing Him away in order to numb myself to an area He wants to bring healing.  Depriving myself can tell me perhaps I’m not being thankful for His creation (Me!).  Or,  I’m punishing myself for something He’s already forgiven.  Obsessing over food can tell me where my mind and heart are at… That food is #1.
  4. It’s Not Always About the “What” but Often About the “Why”.  So very often, we obsess over every little morsel that enters our lips.  Does it follow the steps, the guidelines, the rules???  Food items become “good” or “bad”, “off-limits” or “safe”.  Sometimes we may even approach our food mindlessly, grabbing whatever is the most convenient in the moment.  Words like nourish, strengthen, energize and life-giving should be some of the positive reasons why we pick the foods we do.  Yet some of us need to be brave and go a little deeper:  what is the real reason you are at war with your body or with food?  Is it a deep wound from someone’s words or actions?  Maybe it’s because somewhere, you began believing you, yourself, the person God created just isn’t good enough?  If you’re willing to look a little deeper, our story with food often can teach us a great deal.

Which one of these connects with you or speaks to you?

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Sep 242012
 

I GUESS I AM OFFICIALLY WHAT YOU WOULD CALL A RUNNER.  A GIRLFRIEND ASKED IF I WOULD TRAIN FOR A RACE ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF AGO.  Her job of convincing me to do this was even tougher than if you have ever tried to manage/entertain multiple toddlers.  On a plane.  For 5 hours.  Alone.

I reluctantly said “Yes”.  Mainly because I thought she was pretty great.  Quality time with a girlfriend is like a chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven.  Sweet.

And it was.  My friend and I talked and ran together.  We held each other accountable to fit in our runs for the week. We would say, “You go girl!” for encouragement during a hard run.

There were day’s when my friend’s “You go girl” was the only thing that kept me from quitting.  I was having to work hard.  At something I wasn’t very good at.  Not fun.

I dug out my journal from my bottom dresser drawer and began to write about my running journey.

Well, we made it to race day.  We finished the race.  No record times.  But not last.  I was so proud of what we had accomplished.

This marked the beginning of a new season in my life.  Running, writing, encouraging, and leaning into God.

5 Reasons Running Changed My Life:

  1. It gives me a consistent exercise schedule
  2. It gives me alone time with God
  3. It compels me to write
  4. It gives me opportunities to love and encourage others to run their race well
  5. It helps me grow mentally, spiritually, physically and emotionally

When’s the last time you said “you go girl!” (or something within that vein) to a friend?  And this time I am talking about encouragement outside of the exercise setting.

Just like my friend and I desperately needed each other to run our race well, we also need other women to encourage us as we run our race of life.

  • The toilet overflowed again.  The creativity for dinner is gone.  American Idol is over.  The rain is constant.  The children can only make messes.  The husband is doing fantasy football.

Shared experiences = empathy.  We are all in this together.  We all need a little motivation to not give up when things are hard.  We share the goods with the bads.  We don’t have to run our race alone.

My prayer for you this year is that you would be inspired to grow in your love for Jesus.  That you would always be ready to give a “You go girl!” to encourage another woman.  That you would find hope, grace, and love in His Word.  And that you would train for a race.  (okay, the last one is not for real.  But I wouldn’t talk you out of it if you were inclined to give it a go.)

A VERSE TO PONDER:  Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

  • SHARE YOUR STORY.  CONNECT WITH OTHERS.   What things encourage you when you are having a tough day?

 

 

 

 

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