Lean in ’17

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I’m gettin’ lean in ’17

a lean that’s all encompassing 

I wanna be all I can be 

and represent my Lord and King 

through ALL things, help me to SING

It’s on Him I’m gonna LEAN! 

I have just recently begun watching the show “This is Us” on NBC.  I’m a little bit behind the ball, but I’ve binge-watched almost the whole first season online, and it’s so, so good!  It’s the kind of show that you either love or hate.

This show wrecks me. Even the music makes me tear up.  But the character that I really connect with is Kate.  As a child, she is “chunky” and much of the storyline revolves around her becoming more self-conscious of her size.  Then as an adult, it shows her measuring every meal, obsessing over every calorie of everything she eats…exercising and doing all the right things- only to lose 1 lb.  Kate is charming and lovely, and yet all she can see is her size.

When I watch the show, it’s like seeing myself on the screen.  I religiously count all my calories, and then feel like a failure when I haven’t lost a pound.  Then I over-indulge during the holidays and feel like a failure when I’ve gained a pound (err…or two, lol)…the cycle never ends.

And now that my girls are entering the teen years, I try so hard to say and do the right things…

I say things like– Eat healthy so you can be HEALTHY, not THIN.  Exercise so you will feel good and feel good about yourself.  Wear clothes that fit you and flatter your curves.  Recognize that people come in all shapes and sizes, and embrace the body God gave you! You are beautiful!

But deep down, I fight those negative thoughts every single day.  I recently admitted this to someone close to me and told them that maybe this is my “cross”.  You know how Jesus tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him?  Well this love/hate relationship with food and my weight is just that- something that can either get me down every single day- or it’s something that He can use to keep me close to Him. Every moment I go to Him instead of turn to my own thoughts, well that’s another victory!

So I’m committing to getting LEAN in ’17!

I’m going to LEAN on HIM and NOT myself! 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:37

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A baker’s dozen

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My oldest just turned 13.  I can hardly STAND it! A teenager *gasp*!!

I remember turning 13 like it was yesterday.

I was painfully shy and tall.  I wanted more than anything to hide from everyone and fade into the background.  But as I navigated those awkward years, I learned to stand tall.

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My oldest- hiding from me a she tries out her new bike. 

I see so much of myself in my oldest daughter. As soon as she sees a camera- she runs, turns her head, and does anything she can to hide her lovely face.

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Like her last band concert…I chuckled as I watched her slowly move the music stand with her foot until it blocked me from seeing her face as I sat in the audience.

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I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I eventually found my “voice” and I stopped hiding. Singing in chorus was the one thing that gave me the confidence to be myself.  It was a place where I found community, friendship, and a group of peers that finally accepted me.  It was the first place where I wasn’t afraid to shine.

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
  Matthew 5:15

As a mom, it’s my job to stand tall and to help my girls find the things that they are good at!  It’s my job to encourage them and to help them be more self-confident- so they can find their unique “voice” and shine bright in this world.

And on those days when I am feeling less than confident, I know I can run straight into the arms of my Heavenly Father, for in my weakness He is strong!

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My oldest… resting on her Daddy’s shoulders 🙂 

And when my girls need a little pep-talk,  I pray that God will equip me and give me the right words to point them to the Son-the ultimate source of my strength and light!

Keep me as the apple of the eye;

Hide me in the shadow of Your wings – Psalm 17:8

loved

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While I love taking photos, I have never liked having my own picture taken.  My hair is never right, my smile looks fake, and the angle is never flattering.  But I experienced something this past weekend that had a profound impact on the way I saw a picture of myself.

The Sunday service had just finished, and I began tidying up the stage. A couple of ladies- whom I love dearly- came to the edge of the stage to chat with me. Trying to be lady-like, I knelt down to talk with them and sat with my legs tucked behind me.

We chatted about life and how our weeks had been, and then out of the blue, one of them said to the other-

“Quick!  Get your phone out and take a picture!”

“A picture of what?” I asked, confused.

“A picture of YOU!”

I thought it was a weird request.  Why in the world would she- out of the clear blue-want to take my picture?

And in that moment, I felt the Lord answer me-

because she loves you

“Don’t change a thing!  Just keep sitting like you are.”

So I continued to sit just as I had been, while they took my picture. I noticed my husband walking back into the sanctuary, and he began walking up towards us.  I started to laugh thinking about how odd this impromptu photo session must have seemed.

“Don’t move!”

And I sat as still as I could while they moved around to find the best lighting.

“Aww… see?  I knew it was going to be a good one!” They showed me the photo on their phone, and for one of the first times, I didn’t notice all those little flaws about myself that I usually do.

 I saw something very different-

I saw someone who felt loved.

Someone who felt worthy of having their picture taken.

It was such a sweet, sincere moment-  a simple, loving gesture that I will not forget.

I am so thankful to have this photo to always remind me that

I am

loved.

Let love be genuine.  

Romans 12:9

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I am loved.  And so are YOU!!! 

Self-Worth

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My husband called me the other day to say hi while he was at work.

“Are you enjoying your day at home?” he asked me.

Well, to be honest, I wasn’t at home at all.  “Umm.. yes…” He must have heard the hesitation in my voice, because he laughed and asked me where I was.

“I’m just leaving church, and then I’m going here and there…”  I continued to rattle off the things I wanted to get done before the girls got home that day.  I had intended on staying home all day, but as I often do- I began to feel guilty about taking a day off and decided to take care of a few things.

I continued giving him the checklist of all the things I had done so far…”and before I left the house, I ran the dishwasher and got a load of clothes going.  Oh-and I gave the dog a bath.” I admit, I was pretty proud of all the stuff I had crammed into that short time span.

I waited on the other end of the phone for his verbal “pat on the back”,  but it didn’t come.

“You know, it really is ok for you to not be doing something.”

I was speechless.

Because deep down, I am really not ok with doing nothing.

I feel guilty.

For many years my self worth was found in the things I did.  The more I did, the more I felt worthy as a person… and worthy of being loved. I honestly still struggle with this.

But my self-worth is not found in what I do

or in the number on the scale

or in the amount of my paycheck

or in the approval of others

Saving is all His idea, and all His work.  All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!

Ephesians 2:8

We are worthy simply because we are His.

There’s nothing we can do to earn His grace or His love.

And after all these years of life, I still ponder this great mystery of His- that I am loved unconditionally

and that I have a husband who loves me unconditionally, too 🙂

Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.  

Ephesians 5:2

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All Dried Up

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At first glance it seems as if 

it doesn’t stand a chance

all dried up and withered

due to “desert” circumstance

I admit, I haven’t been

as faithful in its care

I left it by itself

as if it wasn’t even there

but as I take a closer look

a new bud, do I see?

I think it’s not done living yet-

A second chance for me!

IMG_3398I actually cleaned today.  Yes- that’s a small victory worth writing about in itself.  In the process, I thought I’d “clean up” this poinsettia that seemed destined for the dump.  Remember when I predicted the demise of my gorgeous poinsettia  before Christmas?  Well, I had given up and was ready to send it on it’s way to the trash.

I carefully sat the plant in the kitchen sink- after my daughter helped me clear away all the dirty dishes, and I picked each dead leaf off, one by one.  Crinkly, colorless, and void of any life- these dead leaves willingly fell into my hands.  As I cleared all the dead stuff away, to my surprise- I noticed that there were signs of new growth at the top.

So I cleaned it up, watered it, and left it in a sunny spot.

I thought about how much easier my own life would be it I would willingly get rid of things that are keeping me from growing.

I sat the poinsettia back onto my table, knocking over one of my favorite coffee cups. It was broken beyond repair. I have had this cup for over 15 years. It was given to me by a student on my last day of student teaching when I was in college.  I felt like I never really connected with these high school kids, and because of that- I thought of myself as a failure.  Until one of the students came up to me and gave me this coffee cup and a balloon.

It meant the world to me. It was proof that I had mattered to someone.  I’ve drank coffee from that cup nearly every day for the last 15 years.  And for the past 15 years, I’ve also held onto that feeling of “failure”- as unfounded as it was.  So, as I cleaned up my mess and threw the cup in the trash, I agreed to let go of that memory, too.

So, I’m throwing away the “dried up” thoughts and memories that are holding  me down, and throwing away the “dried up” leaves that are preventing new growth on this plant that is still hanging on!

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead  Philippians 3:13