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

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

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

P.S. Just a little reminder – don’t forget to “Like” me on Facebook :)

Long Distance

Hello friends!
Things are hoppin’ here at school – and I expect posts to be quite sporadic for the next couple of months.  But when inspiration strikes…there’s no ignoring it!  It’s funny where that inspiration comes from sometimes, though.

I adore metaphors.  I really believe that I actually comprehend a concept much better when I can translate it into a metaphor – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.  Just like inspiration, sometimes it’s pretty interesting what causes a metaphor to construct itself in my mind.

So today.  Boyfriend and are I texting, and I ask him if he’s been to the store yet to get some meds for his icky cold.  I’ve given him a couple of ideas of things he could pick up to hopefully ease the symptoms and get him back to feeling better soon.  But the thing is, he’s been working overtime for the last couple of weeks, and when he gets off work, he just wants to go home.  I don’t blame him one bit!

But part of me gets frustrated.  I’ve told him what I think will help him feel better, and all he has to do is go to the store.  He knows these things would probably help him, but he’s just exhausted…the couch is is friend right now.  I would go get medicine for him, except for that whole distance thing…Seattle and Northwest Montana aren’t exactly close.

I mulled this around in my mind for a bit, feeling almost helpless, wondering if I should ask my mom to intervene (*Super mom*!) or what.

And please note: This is not a “boyfriend rant”.  It’s part of the metaphor – just keep reading!

And then the metaphor (thus inspiration) struck.

At the times when I’ve struggled the most with this Eating Disorder (ED), boyfriend (and family, friends, and so forth) has been far away, watching and listening to my battles, giving me ideas, tips, advice, guidance etc.  When someone deals with ED, it’s like working overtime, and they just get tired…and don’t always want to do things to help them become healthier, even though they know it’s for the best.  They just get tired.  Trust me, I know this.

With all of this in mind, I think I finally understand what my loved ones back home have felt for the past couple years that I’ve been dealing with ED.  Just like my supports back home, I felt somewhat helpless and frustrated that I could only offer words and prayers, no “tangible” actions.

And to take this one step further…

God gave us the perfect medicine for all of the struggles we face in life.  No, accepting Him doesn’t remove our struggles, but it does allow us to spend eternity with him – and having a relationship with him is probably the greatest comfort through anything we face.

But here’s the thing.  He watches us, knowing exactly what we need, giving us all the tools to get it, but we have to actually do something about it – accept what He has to give.  We work hard, we get stressed, we get tired, and sometimes, we know that we just need to go and get – or accept – the remedy He freely offers.  We just have to do it.  That’s it.

And after we accept Him, He continues to be our remedy if we only let Him.  How awesome is that?!

You know that stress I talked about in my last post?  I need to accept God’s continuous remedy daily.  The stress probably won’t vanish, and I’ll still have to work, but that work won’t be under my own strength (Philippians 4:13)  It’s like honey to the sore throat :)
God is the remedy – the healer – if we’d just let him.

If you have any questions about what I’ve written here, just drop me a note :)
Have a blessed week!

Beth

He Kicks you When You’re Down

Student teaching will not be a walk in the park.  I’ll just get that out there right now.  Between the two big papers required by the School of Ed here at Northwest, the classes I have to take for the next 5 weeks and prepping for teaching, there is a LOT of work to do.  And it’s not just busy work…it requires actual thought, intentionality, focus.  Oh, and time.  Lots of time is required of me.

After just 4 days of class at Northwest and 3 days of classroom set up and meetings at my “cooperating school” (with no students), I was ready to throw the towel in.  We had been inundated with emails telling us that this was due here and that was due then.  I was overwhelmed.  Over.Whelmed.

I felt about like this girl:

Walking home from class that afternoon, all I could hear was “I can’t do this.  I can’t do this.  There is NO way I could do this.  What on earth ever made me think I could do this?”

My next thought: “But God is with me and will give me the strength that I certainly don’t have.  And everyone else thinks I can do it – and they’re praying for me.”

Then negativity rushed in, saying “Obviously, you’re faking it.  They only THINK you can do it.  You’ve got them all fooled.  Sheesh.”

I felt like I’d fallen on my face and then got kicked.

And then it dawned on me.  This voice of doubt, defeat and despair came straight from the Enemy.  So I prayed.  And thought.

I wanted to quit.  The temptation was so sweet – going home?  Being done with this crazy workload?  What could be better?  But when I thought about going home – really thought about leaving all the work I’d done here behind, I couldn’t stomach it.  Four years…wasted.  A large sum of money…wasted.  There was no peace like a river in my soul.

Then, I thought about what I had to loose (besides time and money) by not completing my degree.  Sure, pride is involved, but you know what got me at the heart?  The job I hope to get eventually.  If I don’t get this degree, I don’t have a chance at getting a job tutoring eating disorder patients while they’re in treatment.  I’m not saying that God is limited in the beauty He can create from my dust, but still…without the degree, I wouldn’t be able to get the job.

So I rolled up my sleeves.  Talked to God.  Called my mom.  Called my boyfriend.  And took a deep breath.  And until December 7th when I walk to the front of the chapel as my name is called to recognize my accomplishments at Northwest, I’ll continue rolling up my sleeves, talking to God, calling my mom, calling my boyfriend and taking deep breaths.

That will be my armor to keep Satan from kicking me when I’m down.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:11-12

Blessings,

Beth

No Thief Like Fear

Hello friends!

Sorry I have been MIA for awhile…summer play, summer job and boyfriend have been keeping me quite busy.  But now I’m done with work for the summer, and getting ready to head back to school.  Thankfully, I was able to take a few days off before leaving to get some rest and, ummm, oh yeah.  PACK.

Prepping to go back to school has brought up a lot of emotions and feelings.  Slight dread, exhaustion, anxiety, apprehension and fear, to name a few.  It seems like all of them can be explained: slight dread – my schedule will be jam-packed and it’s my 9th semester.  I’m just about checked out!  Exhaustion – see “slight dread”.  Anxiety – see “exhaustion”.  Apprehension – “See “anxiety”.  Fear – well…there is fear about the previously mentioned items, but there really shouldn’t be all out fear about these things.  And what if the fear is what causes those other feelings?  Could it be that fear is robbing me of any fun that I might find in my last semester of college (oh my gosh, my last semester….)

It would make sense.  Fear has robbed the joy from other things too.

Fear of having to increase a size has taken joy out of clothes shopping.

Fear of my old clothes not fitting has taken joy out of putting together a fun outfit every day.

Fear of gaining weight used to remove all joy from eating tasty, different foods.

Fear of gaining weight used to suck the joy out of walks – I walked to burn calories, not to just feel better in general.

See, fear is nasty.  And it likes to attack from all sides.  Those fears listed above are just a few.  I’m nervous about the commute for student teaching, for student teaching itself, for finances.  I’m afraid of judgement from people I haven’t seen all summer – ED wants me to believe that when they see me, their first thought will be “Wow, she’s put on some weight….”

There is no thief like fear.

Jason Gray wrote a song with that title:

Fear will take the best of us
Then come back for the rest of us
Its raging hunger never satisfied
It’s closer than a brother
And more jealous than a lover
Who holds you while it swallows you alive
Let down your guard
And it will steal your heart

There’s no thief like fear, no
There’s no thief like fear.

I think he hit the nail on the head.

Where is fear stealing the joy in your life?

Blessings,

Beth