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

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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

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! 🙂

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

But What if I Don’t Wanna?

Well friends, it’s that time of year again.  Yesterday, I arrived back at campus, and I’m now mostly unpacked and mostly organized – just a bit left to finish up today.  Tomorrow I begin my “victory lap” and I’m about as ready as I can be.  But truthfully, I don’t want to be here that badly.  Sure, it’s fun living on campus, being around so many friends and living “independently”.  Yes, it’s only three months until graduation and I’ll come out with a diploma.  But I’m just…done.  Tired.  Tired of school.

So how do I stay here and finish school strongly when I’d rather be at home?  Well…it’s not gonna be easy.

1. Break Down the Semester into palatable chunks
For me, having short-term goals in mind helps keep me focused on the present rather than on some future date that seems years and years away.  For example, In 6 weeks, I will have completed my half-day student teaching, and I get to see boyfriend.  5 weeks after that, I get to see boyfriend again.  And 4 weeks after that is graduation.  That sounds a little less intimidating than “a semester” or “three months” or even “15 weeks”.

Also, a couple of my classes meet only one time weekly for 6 weeks, and the time between those weekly classes tends to go by quickly…especially when there is homework to be done…. 🙂

2. Talk to Family and Friends From Home Often

I’ve been here for just over 24 hours, but I’ve already talked to my parents and boyfriend.  They encourage me to stay strong in the work I’m doing here, but also help me feel connected to home.  Facebook is also great for this!

3. Give Myself Breaks and Have Some Fun

Take a walk.  Check email, facebook, pinterest, etc.  Read a magazine.  Watch Chopped.  See a movie or go out with friends.  Yes, homework is very important, but so is my sanity – which will not be maintained without a few breaks and spurts of fun here and there.  And with the lovely and wonderful friends I have here, I think I’d be quite silly to not spend some time with them while I’m here!!

4. Go to God With all my Struggles

Pray for strength and endurance (…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31)

Pray for a sense of purpose aside from obtaining a diploma (And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28)

Pray for a sense of peace amidst the stress (For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…” 1 Cor 14:33)

Pray that God would help me to be content (And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19)

 

I need to constantly remember that God has placed me here for a purpose.  He knows it may not be the easiest thing for me, but the Lord doesn’t do things needlessly.

How do you cope with doing something you’d rather not do?
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