A Kiss on the Forehead

Encountering Heaven in Every Day Life

Multitude Monday: Take 4

First of all, I want to take a second to return to last week’s blog post.

Honestly, all I did was quickly put my thoughts onto paper, so to speak.

They were unfiltered, not completely well formed, and passionate.

My blog usually has about 20-40 hits on it for a normal post. And of course, the post from last week has been viewed several thousand times.

Yeah, I wasn’t prepared for that. First of all, I’m honored that so many people would take time to read my story. Which is really God’s story. On the other hand, based on some of the feedback I received, I probably should’ve taken a little more time to clarify some of my thoughts so as not to be misunderstood. So at some point this month, I am going to take a little time to go back and touch on a few things for clarification’s sake, and try to share the rest of my story, if that’s okay with you. It seems strangely appropriate since February is also Eating Disorder Awareness Month.

But today, I want to take a little time to be thankful. Because we really don’t do that enough. And I really gotta get back into the swing of that habit.  🙂

So here’s my Multitude Monday – Take 4.

Today, I’m thankful for…

66. Mr. Right. I will probably say this each Monday. But this week, I’m thankful that he’s aware of how exhausted I’ve been, and that even though our toddler has not been sleeping much AT ALL these past two months, he has VOLUNTARILY taken the night shift with him, and allowed this preggo to get some good sleep.

67. Snow. Because snow is fresh and pretty and white. A this point in the winter I really don’t enjoy it, but honestly, it keeps life interesting, to say the least.

68. Those who have supported us to be able to do this internship. It’s SUCH a blessing to not have to worry about finances while focusing on ministry and trying to figure out what’s next in life.

69. Living within 2 hours of my parents. Time with family is precious.

70. “Touchdown M&M’s” on clearance – a big bag for $1.50 at Target. (Basically, touchdown M&M’s are regular M&M’s with pictures of footballs printed on them. Um… yes please!

71. Acts of love from Mr. Right – He brought me starbucks and flowers on Saturday morning!!  🙂  Totally made my day!

72. Heated seats in my Subaru. At least my butt stays warm.

73. Pinterest. I LOVE pinterest. AND I actually use it to help me meal plan and be creative!!  I don’t know how I could be a stay at home mom without it’s inspiration!!

74. Worship. I’m planning on hopefully starting another mini-series on my blog about worship. Stay tuned.

75. My new devotional book. I’m currently reading “Search the Scriptures” by Alan Stibbs – it’s totally different than ANY devotional I’ve EVER done and I’m LOVING it – it takes you through the entire Bible in three years, asking you to read a passage, then asking you a few VERY basic “get you thinking” questions about what you’ve read. What I like about it is that it forces ME to THINK about what I’m reading, rather than a lot of “fill in the blank” devotionals that are very leading and basically teaching me what someone else has thought about the passages I’m reading. I think that kind of learning is valuable too, but I can get SO lazy studying scripture that way. This is JUST what I needed to re-engage my mind in my love of the scriptures!!

76. Frozen Pizzas. Fast, cheap, and right now I can’t seem to get enough of them.

77. My new business venture with Origami Owl. WHAT a BLESSING!!  Be looking for a blog post about this VERY, very soon!!

78. Hope for the future. Need I say more?

79. Snuggles with Buddy Bear. He is becoming increasingly cuddly. I LOVE that.

80. Sweet kicks from Sweet Pea. She’s getting mighty feisty!! I can’t believe we get to meet her in three short months!!!

81. Maternity jeans in MY SIZE that FIT PERFECTLY on CLEARANCE for less than $10 at Target!!!! Any woman who has EVER been pregnant and had to pay $35 for a pair of jeans she’ll only wear for 4-5 months CLEARLY understands the joy here.

82. Winter boots. I finally invested in some after wearing my running shoes everywhere in the snow. WOW. What a difference warm feet make!  HA!

83. God’s sovereignty and protection. I sense it around me all the time and love seeing Him at work in my life!!

84. Technology. Even though I don’t have many friends where we are right now, it’s so nice to stay connected with those who are far away.

85. Chik-fil-A in the land of no Chik-fil-A. There just happens to be one 20 minutes from my house. Today, that little southern corner of my heart was so thrilled to enjoy Chik-fil-A with a DEAR younger sister in Christ downtown. 🙂

What are you thankful for today, friend??  If you’re reading, leave me a note with ONE THING you’re thankful for!!  C’mon, there’s gotta be SOMETHING!!  🙂

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Supporting Rachel: My Story

**disclaimer: I am not directing anything in this post at anyone in particular (apart from names mentioned), nor to cast judgment on anyone. my goal is merely to educate and enlighten using my own thoughts and experiences.**

Let me start by saying that this post will NOT be what you think. My goal is neither to bash “The Biggest Loser” nor to share my opinion on Rachel’s appearance in the finale of the prime-time weight-loss reality show. Neither of those things are my place, and as much as I have opinions, there are plenty of other blogs and places you can go to read about those things.

I do want to say, my heart goes out to Rachel. Seeing the joy and excitement on her face on Tuesdays finale, I can only imagine how devastated she must feel at the social media backlash she is receiving for doing EXACTLY what she was challenged to do – and that was to loose as much weight as possible in as little time as possible. She was doing what she was told would make her healthier, happier… she was told it would give her confidence and a bright future. She lost an amazing amount of weight. You see the look in her eyes during the finale and she is proud. She is excited. I’m sure she sees her weight loss as an amazing victory. Something to be celebrated. Because in our society, that’s what we do.

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I remember being in a similar situation in my late teens. Puberty hit me late. Around my junior year of high school, I started to “fill out” and my once stick-like and lanky figure became fuller, rounder, more womanly. I was never obese, but I’ll admit it – I was that girl who had always eaten a cheeseburger, french fries, a bag of Cheetos, a coke, and an ice cream cone for lunch (not even an exaggeration) and never thought twice about it because I had a “super-metabolism.”  That was NEVER a “healthy” choice for me, but my unhealthy decisions took awhile to catch up. By the time I graduated from high school, I was teetering on the “overweight” side of the BMI chart. I was starting to become uncomfortable in my own skin. Between friends, family, and acquaintances, I began to receive comments, encouragement to choose another path… a path to become “healthier.” I was told I needed to start exercising and eating healthier, that I couldn’t keep eating ice cream twice a day. I was told “calories in, calories out” and encouraged to trade my cheeseburger for a salad. None of it was bad advice. All of it was well intended.

When I got ready to leave for college, I was warned time and time again about the “freshman fifteen,” and when my college roommates and I sat down on the first night of school to create goals for ourselves for the semester, I made it my goal to be “healthier” – I was going to exercise, eat healthier, and stop midnight snacking. Sounds innocent and healthy, right? I was supported by my friends and family. They gave me tips and held me accountable to my eating and exercise regimen. I remember celebrating the first time a pair of pants was so big on me, it fell off. I was SO proud of myself. I was SO excited.

And then I went home for Christmas.

People who hadn’t seen me for awhile saw me for the first time in months, and I was met with concern after concern about my weight loss. I kept assuring people I’d done it healthily, and in my own estimation, I had! I didn’t know any differently! I had discovered, as Rachel said during her victory speech on Tuesday night, that I COULD take control of my eating and my life and make myself healthier. I had NO idea that I had already spiraled out of control.

So imagine my shock and confusion when later that semester, I found myself sitting on one side of a long table, being confronted by faculty, staff, and administration of my college, my parents on speaker phone, being told that I had an eating disorder, was being dismissed from school, and would be unable to return until I “got better.” In my mind, I had done exactly what everyone had told me to do. And here, they wanted to send me to a psychiatric hospital. How on earth was it okay for the girl down the hall from me to eat right and exercise “for her health,” but when I tried to do the exact same thing, I was suddenly deemed “crazy”??

(Do you see the parallels here with Rachel’s story?)

I will say, I AM SO GRATEFUL that someone said something. I did spend the next four (roughly) years of my life in and out of treatment centers and psychiatric institutions, uncovering deeper issues (to be discussed at another time and place), and I am eternally grateful to those who saw that I DID need help, and that they were willing to go to any and all lengths to get it for me. I am so thankful to God that He spared my life in spite of my ignorance and foolishness. I’m so thankful for the life that I’m living NOW, FREE from my battle with anorexia and living healthily with my husband, beautiful child, and another on the way. I have been healed, body, soul and spirit. And I’m SO grateful. I can’t say that enough.

However, that doesn’t mean the path was easy. That doesn’t mean I jumped into getting help right away with arms extended and ready for whatever the “experts” wanted to throw at me. That’s just not how it works. I fought it. It took a long time to reconcile the fact that what I had been taught was “healthy” had gone way too far. And I was so scared of going to the other extreme in my life (which I knew I was capable of) that it took me a long, long time, lots of prayer, and lots of “letting go” to get there.

So back to Rachel.

Now, I don’t know Rachel personally. I can’t sit here and look at her picture and what I know of her journey and diagnose her with an eating disorder. Nor should I.

However, based on my own experiences, I can appeal with you to respond to her reveal on Tuesday night in a few ways. These things can be applied to ANY situation where you fear someone you know MAY have an eating disorder.

1) Try not to judge her based on her appearance, or the number on the scale. It’s NOT our place to do so. If Rachel does have an eating disorder, comments like “you’re too skinny” are not helpful. In fact, they can be just as damaging as comments of “you’re too fat.” If you are ever concerned that someone in your life may have an eating disorder, there are much gentler, kinder, and more effective ways to approach it. Now, I understand that we live in an era of social media and people are going to say what they’re going to say (and Rachel, I’m so sorry for that!) but it’s a good habit to not comment on peoples weight and/or appearance. It’s okay to be concerned for them, but I would be careful about how that concern is expressed. **Let me add here that in situations where this is someone you know personally, finding a way to gently confront the person to get help IS necessary – but make sure you have approached the situation prayerfully and with tact and forethought, and never make their appearance or number on the scale the focus of that conversation. This is something else I will discuss somewhere else at a future date.**

2) Pointing fingers of blame is not helpful. I’ll be honest. I don’t watch “The Biggest Loser” regularly. There are reasons why I don’t watch it. The same reason a former alcoholic wouldn’t spend a lot of time in a bar. But I have seen enough to know the premise and understand WHY the trainers and producers of the show overall are being blamed for her appearance. I have my own opinion, but I also know that the problem is much, much bigger than a reality TV show. It’s a sin issue in our society involving the idolatry of health, fitness, nutrition, and appearance. Does that mean that taking care of your body is wrong or that it’s wrong for people to go on that show and loose weight? Not at all. I applaud them for it. I’m a huge advocate for taking care of oneself through proper eating and nutrition. The issue is much, much bigger than all that. But I’ll talk more about that another time.

3). What Rachel needs right now is NOT CONDEMNATION, but rather COMPASSION, UNDERSTANDING, and SUPPORT. First of all, as I mentioned above, none of us know if Rachel has an eating disorder. We should leave that up to her own support system, counselors, nutritionists, friends, and family. However, if she does, the LAST thing she needs is people screaming at her and judging her through social media outlets. Going through a struggle like an eating disorder is ANYTHING but easy, and NOT something one should be judged for.

I remember, so clearly, the day I was first told I had an eating disorder and dismissed from college. I was humiliated. The very thing I had spent so much time working my tail off for and celebrating was being condemned as WRONG. I had SUCH a hard time reconciling that in my mind. I remember walking around campus feeling like everyone was judging me. I felt so much shame and condemnation. I felt embarrassed. I felt stupid. I felt like everyone would think I was completely superficial and selfish. I felt so guilty as my roommates helped me pack and said goodbye, and I knew they’d be so much better off without me. I felt suicidal and alone.

IWU

The thing is, the support I was receiving from those around me was completely the opposite. Sure, there were those people who kind of stood at a distance and didn’t know how to respond, but for the most part, I was surrounded by loving, compassionate friends. No one called me hateful things like I see being said about Rachel on social media. No one started out telling me I had control issues or I that was too competitive. I received nothing but love and support.

I get that by going on “The Biggest Loser” Rachel was putting herself in the public limelight. I know, but even being in a public light, I don’t think that changes how we should handle the situation. I also understand many saying that she did it just for the money. That may be true, but again, not helpful. We should never take it upon ourselves judge another’s hearts or intentions. (I am guilty of this, but working on it. Haha).

Oh friends, can we put aside our shock and our judgement, and instead pick up love and compassion? Can we pray for Rachel and those around her instead of publicly blasting her? If it comes to light that she does, indeed, have an eating disorder, can we be there to support her instead of clicking our tongues in judgement and saying “I told you so?” And instead of trying to find someone to blame, can we look within ourselves and see how we might be contributing to the bigger problem at hand in our society?

**I rarely post anything controversial, because I know there are plenty of people out there who can “out-talk” me or back me into a corner in a debate. That is NOT the goal of this post. I recognize that I may have lit a fire in some of you to argue and bash me and this post. That’s a risk I took in writing this. In fact, I’m struggling with whether or not I will publish it as I type this. But I feel that in order to have compassion, we must have understanding. And that’s what I’m yearning for us all to have.**

Let’s have our arms stretched out in compassion, seeking to understand, speaking the truth in love, instead of ending with pointed fingers of accusation.

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Multitude Monday: Buddy Bear Edition :)

Okay, so generally when I do a Multitude Monday post, it’s a post about the things, big and small, that I’m thankful for. But over the last week and a half since we’ve moved to the city, I have been so blessed to watch the world through my 18 month old’s eyes. He was born in the beautiful smoky mountains, and really, all he’s known is simple, country living. Having lived in the big city before, I’ve always kind of considered myself to be a “city girl” (I grew up in suburbia and went to college in the heart of downtown Chicago). I hadn’t thought about it before we moved, but for Buddy Bear, most of what’s around him now that we’ve switched to a VERY different, Urban terrain is completely new and foreign to him. He’s a country mouse in the big city, and everything, even the things that I take for granted, are new, big, and exciting. Beyond that, but he’s at an age where he’s able to express his excitement about the new things. It is SO fun to watch. So here you have, a list of what I’ve noticed HE might say he’s thankful for today.

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1. Cars. The boy LOVES cars, and in the city, there’s NO shortage of them. You would think that would be something he gets used to quickly. But no. Every time we go outside, he’s pointing, saying “Cah. Cah. CAAAAAHH!!” and giggling.

2. Dogs. Yes, you run into more dogs in the city than in the country. And yes, he wants to stop and look at each and every one of them.

3. Escalators. HOLY. COW. The child LOVES escalators. This morning we went to Target. Without thinking about it, I stepped on the escalator with him in my arms. You would have thought we were on a space shuttle ride to the moon. He squealed and laughed and marveled as we went up, up, up. He looked at my feet again and again, simply tickled by the fact that mommy wasn’t walking, but it sure felt like it. As soon as we got off, he started signing for “more”. So, as a treat, we rode the escalator up and down four times on the way out of target. Child’s day = made. And yes, he cried when we got off for the last time.

4. Free Museum Thursday. There is a nature museum about 15 minutes away that is free on Thursdays. They have frogs, snakes, fish, plants, a giant water table for kids to play in, an indoor playground with tunnels and slides, and best of all, a butterfly exhibit. He chased butterflies for almost 45 minutes last week, flapping his arms and pointing and squealing. Complete BLISS.

5. Buses. See #1, but magnify the excitement times 1,000.

6. Squirrels. Again, Buddy Bear has always loved squirrels, but this is a completely different animal. It’s kinda gross to think about, but city squirrels are MUTANT-HUGE. Plus, the window in our livingroom overlooks a park, and the window also has a gate on it. The squirrels like to hang out on that gate in the afternoon, so really, it’s like going to the zoo without leaving our living room.

7. Airplanes.  We live not too far from one of the busiest airports in the nation. Planes are constantly coming and going. Every time we step outside, his eyes are on the sky and he always finds a plane and waves “buh bye!” as it disappears.

8. White noise machine. A downfall of moving from the country to the city is that the city is LOUD. When you are born into a country environment and only ever sleep in silence, moving to a big city is a HARD adjustment on your sleep routine. Solution = a white noise machine. Sleep magic.

9. Trains. See #1 and #5.

10. Lights. We live in a part of town that has a LOT of blinking lights. Think Vegas on a mini-scale. Every store and shop has neon flashing. This is mesmerizing to a toddler.

11. IKEA.  Need I say more?

12.  Shopping Malls with play areas.  Not only did we move from the country to the city, but we moved from the south to the north. It’s COLD. It’s wet. It’s snowy. For a little guy who’s used to going outside and at least walking 2x a day outdoors, being inside all day long can be kind of a bummer. THANKfully, most shopping malls now have those little indoor play areas. And we don’t live too far from a shopping mall. Fabulous.

13. People. Not surprisingly, my child is a social being. He is fascinated by people, and will smile and talk to everyone around him. In the city, there are people EVERYWHERE. Not only that, but in the specific area we are living, these people are more than just white Americans. This area is INCREDIBLY ethnically diverse. I remember the first time he saw someone with a much darker skin tone than his own. He stared for a LONG time. I am so grateful he is in a place where he is being exposed to people of LOTS of colors, languages, dialects, and mannerisms. What a neat experience for a little kid. 

14. Sirens. To adults, these can be quite annoying. But to a toddler boy??!?!?!?!!! Hearing a firetruck, police car, or ambulance siren is cause to throw down the blocks you are playing with and RUN to the window, point, and squeal. 

15. Tall buildings. I know, that’s a given living in a city. But I forget that he hasn’t ever seen anything of this magnitude before. Outdoors or in the car, he is always wide-eyed and looking up. Precious.

16. Elevators. Kinda like the escalators, but really, we all know elevators are COMPLETELY different. We went to Michaels the other day, and it was on the fifth floor of the building we were in. We climbed onto a crowded elevator on the first floor and provided entertainment for each of the other 15 people on that elevator the entire way up. Every time the elevator door opened, he yelled “OOOOOOOOHHHHH!!” and everyone laughed. Then the door would close and he would watch intently until it opened again. Magic. Pure magic.

17. Close proximity to Grandparents.  This isn’t because we’re in “the city” so to speak, except that this specific city is only 2 hours from my parents. We spent Christmas time with them, and Buddy Bear LOVES his grandparents. It’s so nice to be close again so he can start to develop more of a relationship with them.

18. Snow. Again, more because we went from south to north, but snow fascinates this kid. He doesn’t like it once it is on the ground but when it’s snowing outside, he is enthralled. Hands up in the air, squealing.

19. Swimming lessons. We live close to the YMCA. This kid LOVES water. And at the YMCA, swimming lessons are affordable. So Saturday mornings, he gets daddy time and water. It’s awesome.

I could probably go on and on… looking at the mundane through the eyes of a child is INCREDIBLE. NOTHING gets old. EVERYTHING is exciting and new. I am enjoying this fresh perspective in the crazy chaotic world of city living, and I’m so very thankful for the little man who is helping me to remember to take time out for the small things. 🙂

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Cleaning that closet…

You know that one closet?  You know, the one that, over time, has gotten sooooo messy and chaotic that you get overwhelmed, and instead of taking everything out and clean it, you choose to simply close the door and pretend like it’s not there?

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That’s kind of how I’ve been toward writing lately. And honestly, I think that in moments, that’s how I’ve been toward my heart.

I know writing is good for me. I know I have things to say. But quite honestly, these last five months or so have been so chaotic, so full of confusion and frustration and joy and busy-ness and transition… I’ve had so many thoughts I’ve wanted to put to the page, but haven’t known where to start. I’ve been overwhelmed, so I haven’t even entertained the thought of sitting down to write. 

First, a brief synopsis of what’s happened since you saw me last…

  • We spent a month at home with family and friends. We were refreshed.
  • We celebrated Buddy Bear’s first birthday. We were sad and happy all at once. How QUICKLY time passes!
  • The theater company I was a part of went through a major change and temporarily ceased to exist. I grieved.
  • We went on our first EVER vacation and our first EVER cruise (it was the same trip, but a lot of firsts!). We enjoyed one another.
  • We got (SURPRISE) pregnant. We struggled with that, because the timing was “wrong.” Then we got excited about this blessing.
  • We miscarried. We felt “teased.” I was angry.
  • We hosted a “Love and Respect” couples study in our home in an effort to make some new friends. We had fun stretching ourselves.
  • We got (SURPRISE) pregnant again (and yes we know how that happens). We were elated.
  • We found out it was TWINS. We were terrified.
  • Buddy bear started walking. Our lives changed.
  • We lost one of the twins around 12 weeks. While we were overjoyed the other was healthy, we were devastated
  • We struggled with knowing what to do next for Mr. Right’s internship, since it was supposed to be overseas, but the pregnancies and lack of funding were making it difficult. We prayed
  • Doors opened to work with a ministry in the city instead. God instantly provided. We rejoiced.
  • We prepared to move across the country upon Mr. Right’s completion of school. We lived in chaos.
  • We celebrated Christ’s birth with family and friends. We rested.
  • We moved two hours south to the city. We will be here for two months. After that we have no idea what’s next. But, we are trusting.

I don’t share all that to say “look how crazy my life is.” I know that, in comparison to many people, my last six months have been a cake walk. But I know that some of you out there are in the same place as I am, and I want to offer you encouragement.  Frankly, I walked into this new year exhausted. Once having the heart of an adventurer, I currently find myself longing for stability, for a firm place to stand. I often picture this as my husband working a stable job bringing home a steady income and living in a home for more than 8 months at a time. But realistically, that’s not what He’s called us to right now, and that’s not the path we are walking right now. 

And yet, I’m grateful for the instability, because it makes me cling to the only consistency in the chaos.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him

He only is my rock and my salvationmy fortress; I shall not be shaken

On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rockmy refuge is God. 

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him

God is a refuge for usSelah”  Psalm 62:5-8

In HIM, life isn’t quite so overwhelming.

So come on, heart. It’s time to let God clean out that closet. It’s time to be poured at His feet. It’s time to rest in His salvation. It’s time to stand firm on the Rock once again. Only in Him can we find stability.

 
 

 

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Multitude Monday – Take 3

Happy Monday, everyone!!  I hope the fact that it’s Labor Day offsets the fact that it’s Monday.

Even though I don’t work, I tend to feel a little down on Monday’s because the family time we get on the weekend is all-too-fleeting! Today is a normal day in my house. Mr. Right has both work AND school today, and I really didn’t sleep very well last night, Buddy Bear is having a hard time with his naps lately… well, I’m feeling pretty worn this morning. So that’s all the more reason to GIVE THANKS.

Here’s what I’m thanking God for today. 🙂

 

46. Coffee. I’m on my second cup, and I’m normally a half-a-cup sorta gal. Shocking, right?

47. Waking up early and being unable to go back to sleep (stay with me), leading to an extended and doubly blessed time in the Word.

48. Routine and Structure.

49. Twins. 🙂 A friend of mine just had beautiful baby girl twins and there’s something so so special about two extra tiny little bundles swaddled up and lying next to each other.

50. That new baby smell (on my friends twins).

 

51. Toddlers walking belly first. You know what I’m talking about – when they’re first learning to walk and really getting the hang of it, but they use their belly to offset the weight of their oversized head. It’s PRICELESS. (Can you imagine if adults walked like that?)  

52. This cleaning schedule. Seriously. I implemented this last week and it has changed. My. Life. MY HOUSE IS CLEAN(ish) AND I STILL HAVE A LIFE!

53. Medical technology (for my friends C-Section).

54. Getting to the gym early so I can watch Good Morning America while I run.

55. Youtube videos that ALWAYS make me laugh out loud.

 

 

56.  “Streams in the Desert” devotional – a dear friend gave it to me last week and I LOVE it.

57. Calculators. I’m taking a statistics class (blah) and being reminded of WHY it’s been 13 years since I’ve had a math class.

58. Claritin.

59. This fabulous bread recipe, which is becoming a staple in our household.

60. My bread machine. To make said recipe.

 

61. Pinterest. I’m a junkie, yes, but I’m one of those who actually, FACTUALLY uses it to try new things. Weekly!  Hence, the recipe above and the cleaning schedule above. I. Love. Pinterest.

62. The fact that my statistics class is free. AND required for my grad school program. Those two things NEVER go hand in hand.

63. Towels. They just do a good job cleaning up messes. Kudos to whoever invented the towel.

64. My phone, which keeps me connected to family and friends far away.

65. The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of thing unseen.

 

What are you thanking God for today, friend?

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Kisses at Walmart

Don’t you love it when God shows up in the most unexpected places?

Yesterday afternoon, I was having a horrible day. Buddy Bear had been incredibly cranky, clingy, protesting his naps, and throwing every bit of food I gave him on the ground. Mr. Right is back to school, which is always a tough transition, as he’s not as available to help and every second of his day is given to school, homework, or work (he works really hard in all three areas to make sure Buddy Bear and I are taken care of, but back-to-school really is a hard transition for the entire family).

Finally, at about 3pm, I’d had enough, and I decided I needed to get out of the house, so without even changing out of my yoga pants and t-shirt or bothering to run a brush through my hair, I loaded up Buddy Bear and we headed to Walmart. We are a little short on cash this week, but I had a $20 bill and a Walmart Gift Card which I was confident had $15 on it. I had a short list of things I needed that had been forgotten on an earlier trip to the grocery store this week and had also ordered some photos to include in thank you cards from Buddy Bear’s birthday party last month (yes I am a bit behind) so I went to pick that stuff up.

Buddy Bear was NOT excited about our Walmart trip. He fussed and whined the entire time. He kept trying to get out of the cart and was obviously unhappy (probably due to his lack of nap). I found myself flustered and frustrated as I finally got to the checkout line. There were three people ahead of me and so I picked up Buddy Bear and tried to calm him. I rocked him, shushed him, tried to distract him, and finally started singing softly to him which calmed him down. I couldn’t help but be a little embarrassed as I looked at the guy in front of me who was obviously annoyed and the lady behind me who gave me a knowing look that said “I understand.”

When I finally got up to the cashier and the obviously tired employee scanned my items… sugar… bananas… oil… the pictures… and a few other things, she announced my total. “$32.50.” With Buddy Bear in one arm, I fumbled for the gift card and my $20 out of my wallet and slid them across the counter to the cashier. She scanned the gift card. Then again. Then again.

“Sweetie there’s nothing on this gift card,” she said softly.

“Are you sure? Because I was sure there was $15 on there.”

“No honey, it says it’s empty.”

Well shoot. I doubled checked my wallet for more cash (even though I was quite sure there wasn’t anything in there) and bit my lip. “I am SO sorry, that’s all I have today. I hate to do this, but can we take out the pictures and a couple other things to get it below $20?”

The cashier looked up and smiled, “I understand sweetie. Let’s make this work.”

Buddy Bear started fussing again, and I looked back at the long line growing behind me and said “I’m so SO sorry.”

I took my change and kissed Buddy Bear on the cheek. “Can you say bye bye?” Instead, he buried his head into my neck and fussed.

We left Walmart and continued to the car, where I buckled in Buddy Bear, rolled down the windows, and took a moment to let the air conditioning kick in before I put the car in reverse. When I started to back out, I noticed I was being blocked by an S.U.V. I waited, and waited, and waited… then put the car back in park, and leaned my head back against the headrest, and closed my eyes for just a moment.

I was startled by a tapping on the window. It was the driver of the S.U.V., holding out two Walmart bags. Peeking out of one bag I could see the envelope containing the pictures I’d had developed. Confused, I rolled down the window and she she told me she had been behind me in the line at Walmart. She told me she’d paid for my items, and she insisted I take the bags. I protested, but she persisted. As I tearfully took the bags, she thrust the $20 bill into my hand. I tried to explain that we would have the money Friday when Mr. Right got paid, and that it was really our own fault we didn’t have the money right now – we hadn’t budgeted properly, and I really didn’t NEED the items right now, OR the extra money, but that she should give it to someone else…

She didn’t let me get through my first sentence.

“Honey,” she said in her sweet, rich southern drawl, “I don’t care if you’re a millionaire, if you live in this car, or if you are just having a bad day. I want you to have this and I don’t want you to argue. You are such a sweet mama with that baby and you need to know you are loved and appreciated today.”

I held back tears.

“Oh, and I hope you like kit kat because I threw a candy bar in there for you too. God wants you to know He loves you.”

I tearfully thanked the lady and told her I would pay it forward. She responded.

“I don’t care what you do. As long as you know you are loved and appreciated.”

Humbling, isn’t it, to receive a gift you don’t deserve?

Now, I didn’t I didn’t “need” any of the stuff she went back and bought for me. I didn’t “need” the $20. And I certainly didn’t “need” that kit kat bar (although it IS my favorite)… but I did NEED to know I was loved and appreciated, right in that moment.

Isn’t it amazing how God can send you exactly what you need, and even more than that, right when you need it?

God gave me a kiss on the forehead… right in the middle of the Walmart parking lot today.

In what big or small ways have you seen God’s loving tenderness in your life lately? How can you be a messenger of God’s love to someone you encounter on your next trip to Walmart?

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Multitude Monday – Take 2

I realize it’s been a few weeks, but give me grace! We were wrapping up summer, getting ourselves situated for the school year ahead, and going on one last Mr. Right and I getaway (faaaaaabulous). But I’m back, and here to stay! Here’s your next session of Thanksgiving, brought to you by Multitude Monday!

Today I’m thankful for…

 

20. Rest. I thought a lot over the last week as I started to feel guilty laying out by the pool on our vacation about how God mandates rest. God rested. And last week, we rested. I’m not good at it, but I enjoyed it!

21. A husband who cares about time together, and wants to nurture our relationship. I realize not everyone has this, and I consider it a gift.

22. My Keurig.

23. Cruises. Yes, we went on a cruise. It was our first, and it was fabulous. Everyone needs to save and go on a cruise. Being together, being unplugged, being on the water… can I go back now?

24. Steak. Medium well. Served with Potatoes and Veggies. I may or may not have eaten this every night of our cruise.

25. Sunsets.

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26. Back to school time. I have always loved school, and this time of year gives me a fresh perspective on life and puts energy in my step. I’m sad to see summer go, but excited about the new season ahead.

27. Buddy bear’s adorable mess after he’s eaten spaghetti with meatballs.

28. Friends who will watch my not-sleeping-through-the-night and slightly needy toddler while I am relaxing on a boat for a five days.

29. The ability to live on campus this semester, which saves us gas money and gives us more precious time together as a family.

30. Playing dress up with Mr. Right.

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31. Celebrating a good friends ordination and the evidence of God’s faithfulness in his life.

32. My theater family (more to come on this later this week).

33. Buddy bear’s wobbly “first month of walking” steps. Oh man, I could watch him all day long… belly out first, arms up in the air, “I want to go fast but I’m so unsure” steps!  Gah!!  It kills me!

34. God’s ability to heal our hearts and help us move on.

35. Emails from friends that say “this made me think of you” and has a devotional attached that speaks directly to what we are going through or experiencing.

 

36. Warm chocolate melting cakes.

37. Calculators. Who really does math anymore??

38. Dancing. There’s really not much that makes me happier than moving with music. I may not be good at it, but I sure do love it.

39. The beach. I can’t begin to think of the smile that God had on His face when He created the place where snow white beaches meet the bluest blue ocean and He knew how we would enjoy it.

40. Wide mouthed, slobbery baby kisses. (I realize I’ve already said this, but c’mon… this is really the best part of my life right now! And any parent can testify, that’s no small thing!)

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41. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.

42. My toddler running into my arms with glee even after we went off and left him for five days.

43. Fingernail polish and freshly painted toes.

44. Suntan lines (yes, I know skin cancer is bad).

45. This song.

 

My life is full.

Be blessed, dear ones. I want to hear what you’re thankful for today!!

 

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Multitude Monday… Take 1

Hello Friends…

I’ve been slacking. This happens to me from time to time. Life gets in the way and I get busy… A few weeks go by and then I think “oh man, I’m way too far behind to even get caught up.” I get overwhelmed and I freeze. But a friend inspired me today to start again, if only for my own good.

You see, I finally got myself to sit down and start reading a book I’ve been wanting to read for some time, “One Thousand Gifts“. I’ve enjoyed it completely, as I can really relate to Ann’s heart in so much of what she says… In her struggles, her thoughts, her emotions… But the premise of the book is really of the importance of living in thanksgiving. And with a number of things that have gone on in my life in the past week, I really feel like I need to get back to that place. So this morning as I was perusing Facebook and ran across my friend Amy’s blog on which each Monday, she chronicles things she’s thankful for that particular week. I decided I’m going to try to do the same thing. 🙂
So here goes my first attempt at my own version of “Multitude Monday”. The idea is to eventually reach at least 1,000 things I am thankful for. I think it may take me a good while, but every journey begins with a step, right?

Today, I’m thanking God for…

1. This past month we’ve been able to spend with family and friends, and for the many rich blessings that go along with that!
2. Summertime.
3. Going outside barefoot and without a coat. Also not having to worry about socks and coats on babies.
4. Blueberries.
5. A car that gets us not only from point a to point b but also across the country safely and with little hassle.

6. The way God created the human body and the miracle of life.
7. Restored and growing relationships with family and friends.
8. Technology, and that it allows us to grow in relationships even when we live far apart.
9. The excitement of watching my baby boy learn to walk, and the thrill in his eyes as his wobbly little legs carry him from mommy’s arms to daddy’s. Theres really nothing better.
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10. The way heartache draws us closer to God and one another.

11. Salvation that isn’t born of anything we can do, but rather by what God has done for us through Christ, and the fact that I KNOW this as truth!
12. Tearful goodbyes that remind us of how much love is in our lives.
13. Slobbery wide mouth baby kisses.
14. My online mommy friends, who I’ve never met in person but who love and support one another in all circumstances.
15. My new (to me) bread machine, thanks to my mother in law.

16. Toy trucks and the joy and hours of entertainment they bring to my little boy.
17. Friends who remind me to ask God for things I try to conjure on my own, like hope.
18. Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream
19. The Wisconsin State Fair
20. Naptime, which in quite sure God intended just as much for a baby to grow as it is for a mommy to get a break. 😉
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My life is full.

Have you taken note of your kisses from heaven this week?

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Mental Health and the Church: Discuss

Friends, I’m sorry it’s been awhile… I do promise to finish my post on choices I began when I last wrote!! Mr. Right, Buddy Bear and I have been packing boxes, cleaning, moving, cleaning some more, unpacking boxes, and celebrating our anniversary over the last few weeks. I am sure you will forgive me for not having/taking the time to sit down and write, but I will get back to it!

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I could not let the day pass, however, without sharing what’s been on my mind this past week. This past weekend, a pastor in our community lost his battle with depression and his life to suicide. In hearing this news, I, alongside much of our small community, was crushed. I didn’t know this pastor personally, but I definitely know, in my own way, his struggle, the temptation, and the hopelessness those last moments must have brought. My heart breaks because I know it didn’t have to end that way.

This weekend, the son of a prominent Christian author and pastor, Rick Warren, also lost his battle with depression, and his life. I have no personal connection with the Warren’s, but again, my heart is broken, because I know the struggle, the temptation, and the hopelessness those last moments must have brought. My heart breaks because I know it didn’t have to end that way.

My heart is broken, but it is also encouraged.

It is encouraged because, through these tragedies, light is being shone into darkness. Within the last four days, I have heard several local pastors speak in reaction to these occurrences. I have also seen many “bigger names” in Christian media begin speaking out about that which is usually a taboo topic in mainstream Christianity: Mental Health.

I was especially impacted by this blog by Ann VosKamp, bestselling author of “One Thousand Gifts.” When I first read the blog, I had no idea who had written it… I felt as though my own heart was leaping onto the computer screen. With every other line I was standing to my feet and shouting “AMEN!” PLEASE take a moment and head over to her page to read her thoughts. Then come back here and discuss.  🙂

It’s time, church, to stand up and BE the body. As Ann so eloquently states:

“(It’s time for the Church to) turn to the hurting, to each other, and promise it till we’re hoarse:

We won’t give you some cliche –  but something to cling to — and that will mean our hands.

We won’t give you some platitudes — but someplace for your pain — and that will mean our time.

We won’t give you some excuses — but we’ll be some example — and that will mean bending down and washing your wounds. Wounds that we don’t understand, wounds that keep festering, that don’t heal, that down right stink — wounds that can never make us turn away.

Because we are the Body of the Wounded Healer and we are the people who believe the impossible — that wounds can be openings to the beauty in us.

We’re the people who say: there’s no shame saying that your heart and head are broken because there’s a Doctor in the house. It’s the wisest and the bravest who cry for help when lost.

There’s no stigma in saying you’re sick because there’s a wounded Healer who uses nails to buy freedom and crosses to resurrect hope and medicine to make miracles.

There’s no guilt in mental illness because depression is a kind of cancer that attacks the mind. You don’t shame cancer, you treat cancer. You don’t treat those with hurting insides as less than. You get them the most treatment.

I wanted the brave to speak Truth and Love:

Shame is a bully and Grace is a shield.  You are safe here.” 

(from Ann VosKamp’s blog, “A Holy Experience,” found here.)

Oh friend, does your heart leap like mine does at those words? What a challenge. What a need. What a CALLING! And it’s OUR calling!

***My hope is, as we learn to be the hands and feet of Christ, we can find those who are in the midst of the struggle, the temptation, and the hopelessness… we can BE CHRIST to them, a safe place to struggle… and we can make a difference so that it doesn’t have to end that way.***

How different would the church be if we really acted like Christ? How would this change our hurting and broken world? How would it impact the hurting and broken among us???

I wanna hear your thoughts, your experiences, your heart.

PLEASE, discuss.

Blessings, friend.

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Choices Part 1

Earlier this month, I spent a lot of time on my Facebook page raising awareness about Eating Disorders. After all, it was Eating Disorder awareness week. This week has a special place in my heart because, as I’ve already alluded to, I struggled for several years of my late teens and early twenties with severe anorexia that landed me for many months in inpatient treatment in a psychiatric facility. Before you write me off as being completely crazy for having spent so much time in a psych hospital, let me suggest to you…

Maybe we’re ALL just a little crazy.

Huh?

Yeah, I said it. And I don’t mean in just a “sometimes-I-dance-around-my-living-room-singing-into-a-spatula-as-my-microphone-pretending-to-be-on-American-Idol” crazy.

…aaaaaaand then again, you probably do that, too…

May I propose to you a different definition of crazy…

Crazy is choosing to believe that which is not true, or choosing to remain blind to the truth.

Let’s back up a second and think about an example of someone who the world would REALLY consider to be “crazy”…

Let’s look at my favorite movie “A Beautiful Mind.” Have you seen it?

*gasp!* You HAVEN’T?!?!  This must change, my friend. And although this post is a total spoiler, read on (and then go see the movie… cause you have to)…

In any case, the central character in the movie, John Nash, battles schizophrenia. He sees “delusions” – he sees things that aren’t really there. He believes a lie. And his belief in these lies causes him to live in ways that directly contradict reality. He chases “Russian spies” in the middle of the night… he sneaks around behind his wife’s back in order to participate in “secret missions”… and he nearly lets his infant son drown in the bathtub based on the message of these delusions.

To him, the delusions are not delusions at all, but are very real, all-consuming, and, in a sense, have become a part of who he is and the way he lives.

They are his best friends.

His security.

His reality.

Oh friend, we are ALL just like John Nash…

Sure, the lies we believe may not come in the form of schizophrenic delusions or hallucinations, but clearly, we are all just a bit crazy

We all believe things that aren’t true. We have mental tapes that aren’t based on truth at all, but are rather based on lies… they are based on false messages about ourselves, about God, and about others that we’ve heard from the time we were very young, and we’ve heard them so much we have chosen to accept them as reality. Perhaps we were abused or experienced some trauma which fed into these lies. Perhaps we grew up being taught that being a Christian means being “good” all the time.  Perhaps our experiences in this world have taught us to believe things that seem very real and true to us. Perhaps we believe it’s true that…

I must be perfect to be loved. I don’t deserve to be loved, not even by God, because I’ve messed up again and again…

If I forgive those who hurt me, I am letting them off the hook. I must remain angry to protect myself from harm.

Because I am a Christian, I will be protected from pain and suffering. 

I am fat, ugly, and awkward. No one could love me like this.

This situation is overwhelming. Drugs, alcohol, food, or relationships are the perfect way to relax and to escape.

If you believe any of these things to be true, I have no doubt that they seem very, very real to you. I also have no doubt that these beliefs have a very strong influence, whether you realize it or not, on the way you live from day to day. You may want to argue, “if you knew everything about me, my life, and my situation, you would KNOW these things are true.”

I remember feeling very much the same way. I remember a day when I was sitting across from a therapist in a psychiatric hospital and she was asking me to look in a mirror and tell myself that “I like myself.” She told me I was severely underweight and dying. I looked in the mirror and I still saw a fat blob. Inside, I was screaming, “I CAN SAY IT, BUT I DON’T BELIEVE IT! I STILL BELIEVE I’M UGLY, STUPID, FAT AND AWKWARD! I am unlovable! WHY should I tell myself something I don’t BELIEVE to be TRUE!?!?”

I was irritated and discouraged by people who told me my eating disorder was an “illness” I would be battling for the rest of my life. What kind of hope did that give me?

I was so frustrated with people who didn’t know SQUAT about what I was experiencing trying to talk me out of my own sense of reality.

I was also so frustrated with people who told me to pray more, read my Bible moretrust God more, and I would be healed. That God would make the thoughts would go away.

If it was as easy as all that, I would’ve been healed a long time ago. Duh. Who wouldn’t want that?

What was so frustrating to me is that I could look at the facts and I could see what was “true”… I knew on the one hand that I was dangerously underweight and in danger of a heart attack or starving to death.  But the “voices” in my own mind continually told me “You’re FAT. You’re UGLY. You’re AWKWARD. You’re UNLOVABLE.” And let me tell you, those voices were LOUD. And I had prayed, asking God to take the “voices” away… asking Him to “heal” me from this eating disorder. And yet, the voices were still there. So maybe the “experts” were right. Maybe this was an awful disease I would be plagued with for the rest of my life. I was SO discouraged. So what was I supposed to do but give in and believe the lies?

Not long after that, I was allowed to go on a pass and spend a few hours out of the hospital in the “real world.” A friend and I decided to go to the movies. We saw “A Beautiful Mind.”

I remember the first time I saw the movie so distinctly. When you watch this movie, the delusions Nash saw seem so real at first – the producers don’t reveal to you what or who the delusions are, nor the fact that Nash is, in fact, schizophrenic. When it is finally revealed that the roommate, the little girl, and the even the secret agent are all just figments of John Nash’s imagination, you feel so dumb, like the film-makers have tricked you. When people first start pointing out to Nash that the delusions aren’t real, that they aren’t TRUTH, you aren’t sure who to believe.

As I watched the film, finally coming to terms with the fact that Nash’s delusions were NOT real, for the first time in my life, I started to question my OWN view of reality.

I jokingly turned to my friend and poked her saying, “Are you real?”

Though I was externally joking, as I turned inward God began to do a work on my heart through this box-office hit, and he spoke softly to me, “Have you considered that everything you believe to be so real… may not actually be TRUE?”

About halfway through the movie, I went to use the restroom, and as I washed my hands I glanced up and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was suddenly caught off-guard with the reality that maybe the way I saw myself wasn’t based on reality at all.

Maybe the way I was thinking was based on lies, just like John Nash.

I was frustrated. Okay, so maybe what I believed wasn’t true. But how on earth could I change the way I was thinking? The tapes playing in my mind again and again were so loud and seemed so real.

And nothing seemed to shut them up.

I went back into the movie theater and was shocked as God spoke again, so clearly, through John Nash…

See, at the end of the film, he’s been through treatment. He’s on medication. He’s doing quite well as a professor and he’s about to be awarded the Nobel Prize. Big stuff for a crazy guy! He is, by all accounts and purposes, doing really well and not only functioning, but thriving in every day life.

But I don’t really think that’s the point of the movie. Click the link below, watch the clip, and see if you catch it….

http://www.veoh.com/watch/v33093279pTtBM6dR

Did you catch it…?

There are words in that clip that make me jump up and scream “Hallelujah!” every time I hear them. They changed my life forever.

When Nash’s friend asks him if the delusions are gone, what is Nash’s response? He stops. He thinks. He turns and sees his delusions still following him. And then he states, ever so matter-of-factly…

“No, they’re not gone. And maybe they never will be. But I’ve gotten used to ignoring them and I think as a result they’ve kind of… given up on me. I think that’s what it’s like with all our dreams and nightmares, Martin. We’ve got to keep feeding them for them to stay alive.”

Oh, the TRUTH of that sentiment resounds ever-so strongly in my heart, even 12 years later!!

In that moment, sitting in that tiny movie theater, my life changed. And I suddenly realized I didn’t have to be a victim of the thoughts that plagued me.

I had a choice.

choose truth

 

I realized, for the first time ever, that maybe being “healed” from my battle with Anorexia didn’t mean I would never hear another negative thought about myself again. It didn’t mean I wouldn’t struggle with feeling beautiful or lovable.

Maybe being healed means CHOOSING to believe the truth instead of giving in to the lies. 

And maybe, like John Nash, if I chose the truth enough, the lies would give up on me?

I was willing to try.

And it changed my life forever.

Won’t you try, too?

Friend, what lies are you allowing to speak so strongly to your heart and mind?  How do you see this impacting your every day life? Maybe you don’t struggle with an eating disorder, but are they preventing you from living the abundant life God wants to give you through Christ?

Deciding it’s time to CHOOSE TRUTH is the first step toward victory over the battle in the mind. No matter what your battle might look like.

Stay tuned for part 2… 

In the mean time, if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, download this free e-book<https://secure3.convio.net/mmoa/site/Ecommerce?VIEW_PRODUCT=true&product_id=1308&store_id=1661> from Mercy Ministries.

Ebook Starved

 

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