Doors and Windows

We’ve all heard that saying “When God closes one door, He opens a window.” I first heard it in my beloved musical-turned-movie, The Sound of Music. What a lovely, peace-evoking phrase. And it is from this phrase that I found inspiration for this post :)

This morning, I felt particularly attacked by ED. I lacked confidence in my appearance, and I didn’t feel well. Earlier this week, Satan really hit the attack-button hard for me, and through a lot of prayers and tears, my fiance helped me slam the door in Satan’s face. It was in reflecting on this phrase, “slam the door in Satan’s face”, that something occurred to me.

When we slam the door in the Enemy’s face, he immediately beings to search for a window, prepared to force it open, if need be. He looks for a weakened window, one with broken seals, or small cracks, planning to attack from a different angle, in a different part of our life. You see, he knows better than to try to force open a strong window.

I think this is what I experienced this morning: my fiance and I slammed the door in Satan’s face about one thing, so he searched for a weakened window into a different “room”. Unfortunately, he found one, and I didn’t realize he was breaking in until he had at least one foot through the window.

This begs the question: How do we strengthen our windows to prevent Satan from getting in? I’m no expert, but this scripture comes to mind:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

God is the source. He’s the one who closes doors and opens windows, so wouldn’t it make sense that He could also strengthen and protect those same windows? And what if he strengthens us to protect our windows by and through himself? When we stick with Him, He sticks with us. And when we stick with him, he allows us to produce fruit. Perhaps it is through this fruit that we are able to keep our windows strong and secure.

This week, I challenge you to ask God to show you those weakened windows — and ask Him to help you strengthen them so that when the Enemy comes lurking, you will be prepared.

Blessings,

Beth

Renewed Inspiration

Hello, Friends.

It’s been a long time since my last post.  A really long time.

There’s a lot that I can blame/attribute this to: graduating, beginning a new job, planning my wedding…I haven’t exactly been lazy :)  And when I’m home, I’m tired and lack motivation to write.  But what it really comes down to?  Lack of inspiration.

I haven’t had that burning desire to share anything lately – and the few times that I’ve thought about something I could write, I’m either too busy or too exhausted to actually write.  But when God inspires you to do something (like write a blog), He may give you a break, but He won’t let you forget it altogether.  And He doesn’t hesitate to remind us of these things in the most unexpected.

It was in a conversation with my former band teacher (now my colleague!), that I found a renewed sense of inspiration.  She had complimented me a couple of times earlier that day on how good I looked, and this eventually led to conversations about body image, eating disorders, etc.

We talked about the influence I could have on my students (especially the gals) if I was willing to talk about my struggles with ED.  We talked about how women are often insecure about their beauty, but having someone who regularly and sincerely tells you you’re beautiful?  It’s no magic bullet for body confidence, but it sure helps.  And we talked about how the clothes we wear can dramatically affect our self esteem.

We all have different body types.  Each of those body types looks best in different styles of clothes than another.  But in our fashion obsessed culture, we so easily forget this.  Girls who would look amazing in one style force themselves to wear another, less flattering style, just because it’s “in”.  When these clothes don’t flatter, they look in the mirror, and tell themselves something that could be the fatal mistake.

“I look terrible in this.”

And thus, this sweet girl’s self confidence and body acceptance is shot for the day, if not longer.  She has blamed her body for the clothes not fitting her a certain way.  She has decided that her body must be flawed and that the clothes must be perfect.

But, if this girl would simply change the wording, she might discover all the difference in the world.

“Wow, these clothes look ridiculous on me!”

She has now placed the blame on the clothes for not fitting her body right.  Her self confidence and body acceptance are still intact, because rather than labeling her body as flawed, she has identified the clothes as defective…for her.

Do you see this difference?  Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in perspective to bring about the beginnings of a shift in our outlook on life – a shift in our body confidence.

Thank you, Mrs. Ulmer, for helping renew my inspiration to write.

Blessings,

Beth

A Project Worth Supporting

Hey Friends!

Long time no blog!  I’ve been busy student teaching and tying up the loose ends that go along with that.  Also, I’ve been busy supporting my fiance in a project that he’s been working on for 5 years – to write and publish a book.  Except, that one book has become a projected 9 book series.  Book one is basically done…hooray!  But if writing a book isn’t hard enough…have you tried publishing one?  Or even paying to publish one?

Thankfully, there are quite a few options available for self publishing AND raising the support to do so.

So, this post is not my “norm” but I feel that it’s quite important.  I hope you’ll give it a read!

My fiance (his name is Ron, by the way) has created a blog to help promote his book-writing efforts.  Here is a copy of his last post:

Fundraising

Hello all!  I’m glad you’ve joined me today.  First of all, thank you for your time and interest in this project!  I’ll do my very best to make your time worth while.

For a little over five years, I have been working on a massive story project, a series which I have called The Keeper’s Chronicles.  (Please read the Welcome page for more information).  This post is to invite you to participate in the development of this story.

The Knight’s of Abaddon is the first book of nine fully-planned titles in The Keeper’s Chronicles–and is currently in the funding process for publication.  I will be publishing with Createspace independently, which is an Amazon company.  It’s a great opportunity and offers benefits that an ordinary publisher doesn’t offer.  It also ensures the integrity of the material as I have every say in how the book comes together and what the finished manuscript is.  The book will be produced in a high quality paper back (which means skipping the hardcover traditional publishers push) and will also be available to Kindle as well.

So, the fundraising…

I am attempting to raise funds through Kickstarter.  Kickstarter is an online community of project fundraising for books, art projects, and new technology.  This is how it works: if you are interested in project, you can pledge as little as $1 toward the fundraising goal listed.  All the projects listed on Kickstarter (including mine) will offer rewards for your pledges.  Seems easy, right?

Well, it is.  But here’s the business part.  A project must have 100% of it’s goal pledged before any money is charged (from you, the donor) and released to me (the author).  This ensures that the project will indeed be completed.  If only 99% of the pledge goal is funded by the funding cut-off date, donors will not be charged and the project will not be funded.  It’s all or nothing.

As of the time of this posting, The Knight’s of Abaddon will be on it’s 3rd day of fundraising and currently has $175.00 of the $5,000.00 goal needed.

What’s next?  

Simple; if you are interested in donating and receiving cool promotional items as well, check out The Knights of Abaddon on Kickstarter and make a pledge.  The deadline is Jan 11th, 5:09pm.  
 
Thank you so much for your interest in this project.  I look forward to watching this project to completion. 
To read more about the book itself, please make a visit to Ron’s blog.
If you’re interested in donating to Ron’s goal of finishing up this book, here’s a link to Kickstarter.
Both Ron and I are excited to see what God will do through this book.  It certainly has a Christian message which is so important – but can make publishing even more challenging.  I hope you’ll consider supporting this project! :)
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Have a great rest of your weekend!
Blessings,

Beth

Burn Out

I’m sure you’ve been there before.  That feeling that you just don’t want to do that thing you’re supposed to do…that thing you have to do.  You sit down to the computer and stare at the blank Word document.  You know that paper won’t write itself, but your mind is blank, and your body is tired.  Your stamina wanes.  There’s a deadline looming, but hardly makes a dent in that feeling of apathy.

This is me at this moment.  4 1/2 weeks left until graduation, and I’m just…done.  Now, before you think I’m just seeking attention or fishing for encouragement, stop.  Just stop.  I write because God puts things on my heart – perhaps so that I can more fully process whats going on in my life, or maybe (and this is my hope) so that someone else may benefit from my experiences.  Anyways.

This evening, I sat down to work on my TPA - that big, crazy paper I have to write to graduate.  You know.  Thankfully, there are prompts, so I’m not just pulling stuff out of thin air.  But the prompts are wordy and complicated.  And my brain feels tired and foggy.  And I just don’t even want to try to clear the fog.  My motivation is tanked (well, at least for tonight).  Yet, I have no choice.  I have to write this paper.  I have to go to school tomorrow and teach the kiddos.  So what do I do with this?  How do I manage it?

First, I change my perspective.  Instead of saying that “I have to go to school tomorrow,” I need to think more like “I get to go to school tomorrow”.  I’ll admit, though…it’s hard to think of the TPA as a privilege.

But more important than changing my perspective, I’ll go to God – to His word.

So maybe this discipline isn’t “painful”, but the point remains.  When we experience things that are challenging or painful or ___________,it’s not pleasant.  But YES, we will grow through the experience if we allow ourselves to do so.

And the second promise I’m clinging to right now:

No, I’m not “suffering”, but I do believe that my challenges in student teaching will bring about good and growth in me.

So I’m probably done working on my TPA for tonight.  But there is tomorrow.  And the day after, and so on.  I’ll reach down deep inside and find some motivation – or make some.  And it’s gonna be okay :)

I hope you’ve found some encouragement in these words.

And if you’re like me, dealing with burnout, how do you motivate yourself?

Blessings,

Beth

Roots

Sometimes, all I can do is sit back and marvel at how things in my life literally come full circle.  Over the summer, I had the possible eating disorder clinic job come up, which would incorporate teaching and and music therapy…what I’ve wanted to do for a long time.  Full circle.  Today, it’s the burger issue.  My very first blog post ever, (which is actually on a different blog) was about a burger, and in a way, this blog post is about a burger too.  Or at least, it all started with a burger.

My sweet roomie and I went out for a fun, Red Robin dinner last night.  We split a burger and a wrap, and man-oh-man, it was tasty!  Well, at least the half-burger, fries and salad were.  I was too full for the wrap.  But with that sense of fullness came a sense of guilt.  And the sense of guilt created what felt like an all-out tailspin of anxiety, fear, nervousness, and a desire to restrict my eating and/or exercise a lot.  Sigh.

As you might imagine, I greatly looked forward to going to church today – looked forward to the uplifting, the encouragement, the deeper knowing of God.  But sometimes I forget about one factor.  That factor is Satan…and I specifically forget that he can have an affect, even in church.

The sermon dealt with Sin (big S) being the root, and sins (little s, plural) being the external evidence of the root, Sin.  It led me to wonder what or where the root of this Eating Disorder is.  I began to wonder how I could get at the root, rather than just trim the branches that everyone can see.

Home.  Lunch.  Difficult.  Cranky.  Tears spilling over, even just in a text conversation.

I talked to my mom and dad.  I told them that I was trying to figure out the root sin of my eating disorder – was it vanity?  Perfectionism?  I didn’t know.  And I felt so anxious, nervous, afraid etc.

And like parents always do, they had a weapon to use against this enemy, Satan.  They reminded me that eating disorders are medical conditions, not based in sin.  And if there IS sin at the root of it, guess what?  It’s forgiven.

“as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.”

Psalm 103:12

I talked to Ron next.  And you know what he did?  He prayed for me.  Of course, he talked to me – encouraged me and such, but he did battle by praying.

I keep coming back to John 10:10

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I Came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Burgers are meant for enjoyment, not to blind the eater with guilt.  Food is meant for nourishment and life, not as a tool of torture anguish.  And life.  Life was not meant to be lived in fear of food, or fear of anything, really.  Life was not meant to be lived void and empty, but full of joy and peace.

Friends, we all have Sin and sins.  But while we were sinners, Jesus died for us so that we could be forgiven – and have a full and abundant life.

What is keeping you from that?

Blessings,

Beth

The Murky Middle

Hello Friends!  It’s been too long since I’ve written.  I suppose you could call it a dry spell – I just didn’t feel inspired to write.

It’s interesting – my fiance (yes, that happened since my last post) just mentioned my “blog silence” the other day.  And here I am, writing.

First, let me say that I fully intend to blog all about Ron’s proposal and the lovely day that ensued – but sometimes, God just lays another thing on your heart – and you gotta just write.

Today I needed to go to church, desperately.  I needed that refreshment, that time to worship and focus on the Lord.  That time to forget about all the stressful things that take up mental time and space, and just breathe.

After a great time of worship through singing, Pastor Jonathan (check out his blog!) brought the message.  The theme he consistently came back to was this:

We have a picture of the before and a vision of the after.  But between the before and the after is the “murky middle”.  That place where everything seems confusing and weird, out of control.  That place where we notice that we’ve started to slide back towards the before – a place we don’t want to revisit.  When we get “stalled out” in the murky middle, Satan wants us to feel disconnected, detached, discouraged – ultimately, to forget the goal.  To forget the after.

Bam.  Stalled out.  Murky middle. Discouraged, disconnected, tired.  Sounds familiar!  I won’t lie – I’m tired.  I want to be back home in Montana.  But I have a hunch this is part of the process.  God hasn’t just forgotten about me!

Here’s the thing.  When God begins something in us, when He begins to pull us out of our before, towards that glorious after, He won’t just leave us out there in the murky middle.  Oh, it may feel like it sometimes.  But Philippians 1:6 clears up any confusion:

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”

No, this doesn’t promise that it will be an easy ride.  It doesn’t give us a concise time frame.  But it says that this good work will be finished.

And how do we get through the murky middle?  It’s the most complicated, simple answer in the world: Faith.

Faith.

I find myself in the murky middle right now.  Student teaching – a mere 6 weeks remain until graduation.  The after is getting closer, but there’s still mud to wade through.
Anorexia – stress makes this one harder to manage.  But eating disorders are not outside of God’s promise to see His good work through to completion.

Faith.  Faith in God’s plan, His timing, His love.  Faith in His guidance and strong arms.

I leave you with a quote from Pastor Jonathan:

“God won’t give up on you, so don’t give up on God.”

So simple.  But so, so important.

Take care, friends! :)

Alignment

One of the big projects I must complete as part of my Education Degree is called the TPA – the Teacher Performance Assessment.  It’s something that the State is implementing in order for teachers obtain certification…although because it’s still a “pilot” program, it won’t be required for my certification just yet.  But anyways, it’s a big enough deal that we actually must attend a weekly workshop dedicated to teaching us what is necessary to be in this big paper.  There are lesson plans, accommodations, rationale, and TONS of self assessment and reflection.

One of the big things they stress to us is the concept of alignment.  Our “Long Term Learning Goals” must align with our “Learning Target” for the lesson, which must align with our “Teacher Tasks” which must align with our “Lesson Closure” and on and on.  The rationale behind this is that aligning these elements will ensure that each lesson will build upon the previous one, reaching towards the Ultimate Goal.  Beginning with the foundation, each lesson will build up from there.  While each lesson is different, there is always a reference back to the foundation, then to the first floor, then the second, and so on.  Each element is necessary in order for the unit to stand.

Back in June, I wrote about my desire to someday work with Eating Disorder patients, and how a job possibility was now on my radar.  This job would entail tutoring at an in-patient eating disorder clinic, and finding ways to incorporate music therapy.  Basically, my dream job.  I don’t have an update on the specific job, however, I do have an interesting observation on my “calling” to work in the field of Eating Disorders.

Of course, a lot of people in my life are aware of my history with ED.  They also know that I care about people who may be dealing with similar things.  And now, some of them view me as a resource.

In the course of 1 week (ONE WEEK), two people have come to me looking for some type of guidance in helping someone in their life realize they need help regarding an eating disorder.  Either of these folks could have gone to other people, or even Google for the answers they sought, but they chose me.  It’s humbling, to say the least.

And then to top it all off…last night I had a dream that a friend pointed out a person who needed help in realizing that they had an Eating Disorder.  In my dream, I remember speaking to that person about getting help, and feeling very passionate and concerned, even though it was just a dream.

So what does all of this have to do with alignment?  Go back to the lesson plan.  I wrote that the Long Term Learning Goals must align with the Learning Target for the day – that each Learning Target is the foundation, then the first floor, and so on.  Perhaps for me, the Long Term Learning Goal is to work with Eating Disorder Patients, and the Learning Target for today is to be a resource to my friends who want to reach out to others too.  This is a foundational piece.  An exciting piece.

And I believe that’s it is all a part of God’s plan.

God is faithful.  He begins something in all of us – and will be faithful to complete it.  What is your “Long Term Learning Goal”?  How is your “Learning Target” building on the foundation upon which God is building in you?  I’d love to hear about it!
Blessings,

Beth

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