May 072013
 

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

I had an eye-opening moment.  One that has made me pause and consider doing a little soul searching as to what I’m letting into my heart.

Last week, my husband and I found ourselves sitting on the floor of our bedroom closet doing some grueling sorting for our move.  We had to decide which clothes would accompany us to our temporary residence and which would go into storage until we purchase a home.  My job was even more agonizing, having to also decide which clothes I will fit and grow into over the next several months while I finish out my pregnancy.  If you’ve ever tried to predict what size you’ll be as your pregnancy progresses, you know how difficult this can be.  Not to mention our move entails a change of climate.

It was in this moment I caught a true, unfiltered glimpse into my heart.

And it was brutally disappointing to me.

My husband asked how my decision process was coming.  I quickly explained which piles were which.  My husband pointed to a handful of my favorites clothes still on their hangers, “what about those ones?” he asked.

What was my honest reply?  “Oh, I won’t fit those ones until I’m all done being fat.”

The words came out sharply, disgustingly and with far too much ease.  I quickly covered my mouth with both hands, eyes wide with shock.  Like an adolescent who had just said her first swear word in front of her parents.

“I mean, until I’m all done being pregnant…”  was all I could muster out to correct my previous response.

I sat there, baffled as to how that could have been my response without hesitation?

My first pregnancy was a surprise.  Due to my past struggle with food and body image, I immediately began meeting with a therapist.  We worked on this very concept.  Whenever I thought, “I’m getting fat” or “I’m getting big”, I was to practice replacing those demoralizing thoughts with the truth: “I’m growing a baby.  A beautiful baby”.

This is now my third pregnancy, not my first.  How could I be back to what feels like square one with this concept?  Giving myself such little grace? Wearing blinders as to how beautiful a baby in the womb really is?

In reality, I know I’ve made progress over the past five years – I’m not truly at square one.  But my comment sure lends itself to an awakening as to what my internal, subtle thoughts are about myself, my body and my baby.

What kinds of things am I thinking deep within as I get ready in the morning?  Am I being a critique or speaking truth to myself?  I’ve learned that the things that come out of my mouth in an argument or when I’m frustrated are a good gage as to the contents of my heart.  The private thoughts we store up in our hearts, eventually come out.

This is a continuous area I am asking and relying on the Lord for healing.  I can not do it on my own.  I need His truth, His perspective, His eyes to fill up and overflow out of my heart.  My intentional step to speaking truth to myself this week is to tape these verses to my bathroom mirror.  To remind myself to let truth, love and grace saturate my heart.

“As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects man.” Proverbs 27:19

Have you ever said something that reflected something surprising in your heart?

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Jan 182013
 

My first experience with vulnerability was a train-wreck. I believed those around me who had told me vulnerability would bring connection and healing. Instead, it offered me a lethal blow and left me in pieces for over a year afterwards.

My eating disorder had gotten so out of control, I could no longer function properly and I could no longer hide it.

So I told my boyfriend of 4 years that I had a problem. I needed help.

He told me he could never marry someone as weak as me. We broke up about six months later.

It wasn’t until about four years later I realized I had turned my back on vulnerability. I had built major walls. And I was terribly lonely deep within because of it.

At just the right time, God gave me a growth group leader who would change me.

As is typical with a new Bible study group, many of us did not know each other well. Trust and vulnerability had to be earned and cultivated over time.

Our leader came in every week, wearing her heart on her sleeve. She shared her struggles, her hurts, her joys. She creatively thought of prompts and exercises to help us each open up. Some of us did, some of us didn’t. But she never let on that she was disheartened. She just kept on being vulnerable with us.

Week after week, I watched in sheer amazement at how our leader was able to bring out the “realness” in others. Even if they weren’t planning on sharing, they would. She asked pointed questions, but more importantly, she let us into her soul. And revealing her soul wasn’t usually the easy version either.

I never got to the point of true vulnerability in her group. I never was able to let them into the parts of me that were eating at my soul. But in my heart, I loved and admired her ability to share herself. At times I was envious that she could be so brave. How would I ever be there too?

Through her interactions with our group, she lit a flame inside of me. I wanted to be this kind of person. To be someone who could draw out others, by sharing my heart. To be someone who breaks down the wall of superficiality and prompts sharing stories that run red. To be someone who doesn’t turn her back on vulnerability. To be someone who believes and trusts that vulnerability touches souls.

She touched my soul. She was one person who God used to send me down a very different path. Her example marinated in my soul and has shown me what vulnerability can do.

Our being vulnerable can impact others deeply and have a lasting effect. Even if we don’t see it right away. Even if we never see it’s effect. We must trust it is in sharing our hearts – our joys, our hurts, our fears, our pasts, our futures – we open ourselves up to God’s love, healing and gift of meaningful friendship.

What does your relationship with vulnerability look like today? Have you turned your back to it? Or are you open to sharing your story in order to help others?

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Jan 152013
 

My sweet girl,

Today you turn four.  Four.  Your body is still so tiny, but your spirit is larger than life.  Reflecting an unhindered version we adults have mostly lost touch with.

Yesterday, your Mimi handed me a button that said, “Bearly 4 today!”  It’s the very button my daddy gave to me on my fourth birthday.  I wore the button on the lace collar of my floral, navy blue dress.  He took me to lunch, just the two of us, and I got to play on the playground while he looked on.  I felt so special.  Loved.  Adored.  To be on that date with just my dad.

Four is the first birthday I can vividly remember.  Four was the year our family moved into the house I most remember from my childhood.  Four was the year I became friends with Jesus.  Four was when I started a few important childhood friendships.

Four is a big deal my girl.

As if I didn’t believe it before: Every memory holds impact.  Every interaction shapes your character.  Every little thing that pours into you will eventually come out.

It is my prayer, on the harder days… the days when your faith falters, when your heart breaks, when you wonder your worth… you’ll remember your mama’s prayers for you.  That you’ll remember Jesus holds you close.

  • I pray your spirit will never be dampened.  That you will never allow others to smother the radiant light God has put inside of you.  That your joy, which makes your eyes sparkle, your dimple on your cheek to appear, your laughter to light up the darkest moment… will never be erased.  “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”. Matthew 5:16
  • I pray you will hold onto hope, keep it high as the heavens.  That you will believe life is worth living with everything you have.  No matter how faint your heart feels from circumstances, new beginnings are always possible.  Put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption”.  Psalm 130:7
  • I pray the Lord protects your beautiful, beautiful heart.  Keep it soft towards growth.  Keep it open to love.  It is the most vulnerable, most real part of who you are.  Others will tell you it’s about your beauty, your face, your body… that’s not true my girl.  “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
  • I pray you will overflow with love for others.  Love for anyone God puts near you.  Love for the hurting, the weak, the lonely, the invisible people.  A love that transcends differences.  Don’t overlook the importance to love yourself as well; to be kind to yourself.  “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love”.  1 Corinthians 13:13
  • I pray your eyes will look to Jesus.  In this life, you will have to navigate successes and failures, weather storms, carry burdens.  Jesus can make these moments so much lighter, if you let Him.  People will come into your life who you will think are special.  But remember they are not perfect.  Jesus is the only one who cannot disappoint.  “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” Hebrews 12:2
  • I pray no fear, no shame, no insecurity could ever make you feel unlovable.  Nothing could cause your dad and I to close our hearts, eyes, or arms to you.  Better yet, Jesus has loving kindness for you, always.  “But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your loving kindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress.” Psalm 59:16
  • I pray if someday you feel stuck in life or find yourself bound to a hurtful habit…  that you’ll remember true freedom is within grasp.  Jesus can break any bondage you may find yourself within.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
  • I pray you find the beauty and meaning in the very hardest, perhaps impossible, things to understand.  This has been hard for me.  But this will be the bravest, most real and meaningful path you could tread.  “…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…” Isaiah 61:3

These are just a glimpse into your mama’s prayers for you, Harper.  Keep these things close to your heart.  I love you forever, my sweet baby girl.

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Jan 082013
 

In years past, January 1st often found me committing to a resolution which would be impossible to carry out.  Most of these resolutions represented unrest with my weight, body image or perfectionism.  None of my resolutions fell into the “attainable, realistic” category.  All of them left me feeling discouraged, not good enough and like a failure.

Perhaps it’s age and time that takes us to a place where change has deeper meaning…

Perhaps it’s the burden of past heartaches and turmoil giving way to enlightenment…

I no longer set out to accomplish resolutions or goals that take on the check-list mentality.  I don’t set out to count calories, weigh myself daily, or workout a certain number of times per week.  Although these actions can be powerful, even helpful, in executing a healthy life-style for many… these do not get to the heart of change for me.

I’ve come to realize my battles with body image, with food and even with my purpose in this life always indicate deeper roots.  My weight, appearance, career path, successes… I’m learning have more to do with giving control over to God, my spiritual identity in Christ and my ability to extend grace and kindness to myself – over and over again if need be.

God has turned my definition of change upside down.  It’s no longer about the superficial worries of my past.  It’s about my heart being willing to reflect His.

I have a fire burning within me, longing for deeper, authentic change in my heart.  I want to go into the scary, sometimes dark places that ache inside.  The caverns hidden away because of my shame.  The parts making me human.

Why?

Because it has been in facing my fears, in bravely going to the scariest places in my soul, where I have seen God prove the most real.  The most un-plastic.  The most loving.

My old check-list resolutions used to keep me stuck.  Used to keep me defeated.  My old check-list resolutions have always lacked two things:

  • Starting Over.  Check-list resolutions and goals leave no room for grace, starting over, or being kind to yourself.  No matter what we set out to do, we will never accomplish perfection because we are human.  We can begin to breathe and find ourselves a little less stuck when we can extend to ourselves a chance to start over.  A writer whom I love, Leeana Tankersley, recently wrote on this very topic – the power of allowing yourself new beginnings.  I also love Lamentations 3:22-23 for this very reason, “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
  • Anything.  Check-list resolutions keep our hands grasped on to control rather than keeping an open palm stance before the Lord.  I recently wrote a bit about keeping open palms before the Lord.  If change is about our hearts reflecting Christ’s, then we must be willing to keep open palms and lean into saying “I’ll do anything Lord”.  A dear friend of mine recently recommended that I read Anything by Jennie Allen.  Little did I know this book is exactly what the Lord has been stirring in the hearts of my husband and I.  Saying, “anything Lord” is what I want my heart to be practicing.

My 2013 is about throwing out the superficial, the defeat, the feeling of stuck.  Instead, I want 2013 to reflect extending God’s grace to myself in the starting over and to reflect keeping my heart and my palms open to His anything.

What do your 2013 desires look like?  Does it include extending grace to yourself?  Or keeping an open heart before the Lord?

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Fire

 Mom
Oct 042012
 

I’m not really a kid person. But I have 3. Sometimes I wonder why!

This year that wondering, humbling, stumbling feeling has centered on my oldest son.

He is ten and a half and has been a steady challenge from day one. It took 2 weeks of multiple people, all kinds of contraptions and around the clock intensity before we could nurse like a

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“normal” mom and baby. In fact, “around the clock intensity” is a pretty apt descriptor for my relationship with Michael in general!

We have had some of our worst moments together this last year, Michael and I. Funny, I remember 4th and 5th grade as a time of being perpetually frustrated with my own mother. Now I’m that mother. Many yelling, utterly exasperating, and bewildering moments we have had.

Michael is hot headed.

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The using.

He has explosive emotions. He is strong and unrelenting and sometimes takes up all the space in the room if not contained.

He is also very bright. He consumes all the information and experience he can access. His energy is the kind that can be incredibly helpful. His spirit is the kind that could fuel great leadership and vision. His heart is the kind that could warm and comfort people.

One day I stopped at the top of the stairs and looked at him and said, “Michael, you have fire. And so do I. Don’t be discouraged when it comes out in unrefined ways. It is a great source of life and power, a gift.”

Keep your head up; Try and listen to your heart
We all grow up , and someday we’ll say goodbye
So shine your light while you got one

“Make the most of what you’ve got
Don’t waste time trying to be something you’re not
Fill up your head, fill up you heart and take your shot
Don’t waste time trying to be someone you’re not.”

~Dave Matthews

What a revelation this image of fire was to me, to us! On the one hand, it validates my fears: fire burns. It has great capacity to destroy. It’s dangerous when not contained. It is wild and primal. No wonder I have a strong reaction when I see fire in my kid, and in myself.

At the same time, fire is a force of life, of survival. It is a strong igniting energy that fuels. It brings heat and light, warming us and helping us to see and be seen. And its dynamic power is of immense practical help! The definition of primal is essential or fundamental. Fire is a deep, rich source of good—something we can’t live without.

What do you see in your kids that challenges you?

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