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

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! 🙂

Asking For Help is a Brave Thing

Hello friends!

More and more, I’m seeing and understanding that a loving slap in the face isn’t such a bad thing.  Sure, it stings, but if it brings about some change, it’s probably good, yes?  Yes.

In my last post, I talked about some things I’ve been dealing with lately, and the possibility of spending some time in an inpatient eating disorder center.  Which, by the way, certainly fits the description of a stinging, but healthy slap in the face.  Yesterday, I had a discussion with a professor that led to yet another figurative whack.

And what was that whack?  Well it went like this:

-I tell the professor that I’ve been struggling this semester, and have lost weight.

-After asking some other questions, the professor asks who my roommates are.  I tell him the name of the one he knows.

-He borrows my phone to call her.  Yes, you read that right.  To call her.

-He tells her that I need some help, and he’d like her (and my other roommates) to eat and/or prepare meals with me.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad thing.  Team work on meal prep and planning is going to be great!  Last night, cooking with one of my roomies was SO fun!  But it was a slap because it proved that I need help.  What a revelation, eh?  😉

But there are a few things that make asking for help comparable to walking a tightrope.  Or skydiving.  Or really, doing anything that would give me a need to be brave.

The ED voice. 

The moment someone offers to help or the moment I think of asking for help, it’s:

No, don’t ask for help.  It’s not that bad.

If you ask for help, you’ll be such a burden.

How could you impose on them by asking for help?

Things like that make it really scary to ask for help.

But what a liar that ED voice is.  My head knows those things aren’t true, but my heart has trouble believing.

*Now, hear this.  I’m not writing about these things to fish for attention or affirmation.  I write these things for the sake of being open and with the hope that if someone else is experiencing thoughts like this, they will be able to recognize them as lies.

Pride

Pride is part of the human condition…as in it’s NOT unique to eating disorders.  However, it certainly plays a role in the struggle to humble myself  and ask for help.  And sometimes, it takes bravery to let down a facade, built in pride, to be humble.

I think,

You know, I can do this on my own. 

If I can’t do it on my own, I won’t be able to do it at all. 

I’m the only one who can actually make the choice for me to get well…I can do it without help. 

Ha.  Yeah right.  This attitude hurts every person around me who WANTS to help.  It pushes away their kind and caring words and their attempts to do something for me.  It laughs and shrugs off any attempt for someone to show concern over the small amount I’ve chosen to eat at a certain time.  My prideful attitude tells God I don’t need him to help me recover, and throws all of the ‘helps’ he’s provided right back in his face.  And maybe, just maybe, my prideful attitude makes it more difficult for me to ask God for help. 

That stings.  After all, because Jesus lived as a man, we can approach the throne of God boldly so that we can receive grace and mercy in our time of need (my paraphrase of Hebrews 4:14-16).

God gave us fellowship and community in order to hold each other accountable and lift each other up.  God gave me roommates who love and care deeply, but I have to accept their help and allow their gentle correction and guidance.  We need each other – for fellowship, for support, for correction, for help.

Take a listen to this song.  It’s not the greatest quality recording, but I think you’ll get the idea 🙂

We were meant to have open hearts, but in fear, we lock them up; we don’t want to get hurt.  But, by the grace of God, we’re given each other to unlock our hearts.  The key is “each other.”

May we all be brave enough to ask for help.

Blessings, friends!

Beth

The Hurts of Healing

Hello, friends!  Happy St. Patty’s Day, and happy Saturday!  This week lasted a million years, I think.  Two midterms, several assignments, AND the fact that Spring Break the week prior made a senioritis-spring-fever-producing concoction.  Only 6 more weeks until finals, not that I’m counting…. 😉

In my Spring Break recap post, I mentioned that I had some excellent conversations while at home.  Excellent, but challenging.  To a quite high degree.  Actually, the difficult conversations began the afternoon before break.  To summarize:

I’ve been advised to consider more aggressive Eating Disorder treatment.  I’m not necessarily in immediate danger, but my weight has been trending downwards, and there’s definitely some concern.  This could mean a short inpatient stay.

A stinging reality of healing,

The evening that I arrived home, I was able to  talk with my parents about the next step in treatment.  I was thankful to talk to them face to face!  In this conversation, I had freedom to be  open about how I feel – stuck.  I know I want to change – to be healthier – but I’m struggling to progress.  At first, they were just as shocked by the notion of inpatient treatment, but they became more accepting as we talked.

I asked them, “So, are you supportive of sending me to a center if that’s what needs to happen?”  My dad’s response:  “If you were I drug addict, I’d send you to rehab.  It’s the same idea.”

Relief.

In my routine doctor visit, I found out that I weigh several pounds less than I thought.  Ouch.  I’ve been doing “blind weigh-ins” for months, and while it worked to get my focus off of numbers, well…it didn’t work out so well in the long run.  In terms of weight, I’m literally back at square one – at diagnosis weight.  Dang.

Another sting, but given the situation, it couldn’t be avoided.

That afternoon, I had a meeting with my dear mentor.  I expected sympathy and support, in light of recent events.  Sympathy and support showed up…by way of a figurative slap in the face.  Which, by the way, was a very good thing.  I asked my mentor for advice on inpatient treatment, and her response left me speechless.  Because sometimes, the most loving thing a person can do is reach across the table and punch you in the nose.

Basically, she told me to think about how what I’m doing now will screw up my life in the future.

“Do you want to have healthy babies?”

yes.

“Do you want to have strong bones, a healthy body?”

yes.

Of course, my mentor will support whatever decision I make, but she wants me to really think about these things.  Hard.

This little bit of healing in our conversation came with yet another stinging reality.

And these are the hurts of healing.

Change doesn’t happen without some discomfort.

Just like gold can’t become pure without a lot of heat.

Just like children experience aches and pains as they grow.

Just like stitches hurt when you get them, but provide better healing of a wound.

I asked my parents to think of my ED like a gash on my arm.  We could bandage it up with band-aids and neosporin, and while that certainly wouldn’t hurt – and in the long run, would help – it would be a lot more affective to just go get stitches.

Sometimes, you have to experience discomfort in order to progress.  In order to heal.

There are a lot of words here, but I wanted to give a little update, and mostly, ask for your prayers.

Now, to leave you on a more hopeful and happy note:

I DO question why I’m dealing with all of this.  But I’m reminded:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whohave been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Stay tuned, friends, for updates, and for info on some of the tools I’m learning about!

Take care,

Beth

P.S. If you have questions about any of this, don’t hesitate to ask 🙂

His Thoughts are Higher…

Good morning!  A day off from school = perfect blogging opportunity, yes?  Yes.  Don’t worry, mom, I’ll get to the homework in a bit! 😉

We all know that life is like a roller coaster: I’m cruising along high and fast, enjoying the ride when all of the sudden, it’s like the bottom drops out.  Suddenly, I’m careening down some crazy drop, and while I’m still on the track, it feels like that little car I’m strapped into might just go flying at any moment.  When it feels like life is out of control, I desperately try to regain some sort of control.  This control seeking concept isn’t unique to me.  But how we all try to find that control?  Perhaps that’s where the uniqueness appears.

For me, finding control amidst the mountain of homework, frustrations, money concerns and whatever else might be going on almost always materializes in the form of food and exercise.  See, for the most part, eating disorders occur because there is some lack of control which begs for compensation.  Speaking from experience, when my life felt crazy and hectic with all kinds of things I couldn’t control (think homework, schedule demands, ill grandparents etc) the one thing I felt that I COULD control was how much food I put in my mouth and how many minutes a day I exercised.  And maybe this isn’t always a bad thing, but when it becomes my personal law, resulting in unhealthy weight loss, it becomes a very bad thing.

Two years of dealing with something like this certainly feels like suffering.  Eating disorders have several physical and emotional implications.  But understand this: I’m not looking for pity when I say this – I’m just being honest.  And let me be clear: we ALL have a struggle in our lives – an “Achilles heel” – that torments us.  Be it depression, anxiety, eating disorder, insecurity – any of these things we deal with have potential to feel like suffering.  And then, on top of our personal struggles, you add in life!  Of course, life holds many beautiful elements, but things like busy-ness, job or school stress, family tension, sorrow are tough.  Life can look pretty bleak sometimes.

The sermon at church yesterday was the last in a series on Job.  You want to see some suffering?  My struggles seem TINY compared to Job!  He literally lost everything.  EVERYTHING.  Family, home, possessions…everything.  Except his faith in God.

When we deal with difficult things, we want to know why.  Why me?  Why do I have to deal with this now?  I’m a firm believer that God doesn’t allow things into our lives just for the sake of watching us squirm.  Because:

Source

Pastor Jonathan (here’s his blog) made a LOT of good points in this sermon, but the one that has stuck with me the most is this:

“God uses us best in places we’ve been broken the most”

Pastor Jonathan went on to talk about how we can sympathize AND empathize when it comes to ministering to those who are dealing with things we’ve come through.  It’s this idea of “Beauty from Ashes” – from our darkest moments can come something beautiful.  Because:

Source

And I just love this idea: we don’t necessarily have to be through a particular trial in order to have impact on someone.  The way we handle our challenges – that can speak quite loudly to someone who is struggling also.

So why all of this today?  Well, God has impeccable timing, obviously 🙂  But to be more specific…

I’ve been planning a trip to Africa to work with some friends.  In December, my doctor gave me the OK to continue planning, as long as I kept progressing, health-wise.  Things had been going well, but the stress and chaos of school has apparently started getting to me; my weight has been slowly going down over the past few weeks.  Nothing drastic, but enough to cause concern regarding my ability to go on this trip.  In order to go, I need to gain several pounds in a few months – and it feels like I’m standing at the bottom of Mt. Everest.

Why, God?  Why do I have to deal with this now?  What’s going on?  What are you doing!??!”

Well….

Source

Perhaps now is not the time to go to Africa.  Or perhaps God is waiting to show me His strength and sovereignty yet again…or…fill-in-the-blank.  Who am I to put God in a box?

So here is my musing of today.  I have faith that God has a plan in this entire situation – and that my struggles are not needless.  He will be glorified!

I know that was a bit heavy – but thanks for reading today, friends 🙂

How has God been glorified in your struggles?  I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings,

Beth

A Weekend Adventure

Well hello!  I can’t believe how long it’s been since my last post!  Let me tell ya, I was up to HERE in homework.  So much reading.  SOOOO much reading!  But the good news is, I survived, got it all done, and had a good weekend to boot!  But this post isn’t about this last weekend…it’s about the weekend before.  Tricky, I know.

Part of the birthday gift for my roomie was a “surprise adventure trip” and we chose last weekend to adventure.  Marisa had no clue where we were going…only that she should wear layers and good shoes, and that we needed to leave at about 10:15 am.  Yay surprises!!!!!

So after getting some cash and some gas, we were off to our first stop: the ferry.

And now we know that our general destination is Whidbey Island.  Hooray!

Notice the sky: it’s blue.  Not gray, blue.  And there are no clouds.  And if we looked the other way, we’d see the sun.  Basically, God blessed us immensely with BEAUTIFUL weather!

The weather…I just can’t get over it!  We could have stood for hours just looking at the beauty and soaking up those rays! 🙂

After disembarking the ferry, our next stop was in Langley – a lovely little cafe called The Braeburn

This place…ADORABLE!  Delicate plates line the walls, and local artists’ prints (and originals?) are featured and for sale.  There’s an apple theme (refer to the name…) and every table has a little tub of apple butter.  SUCH a lovely place!  I would highly recommend it.

The spring-like weather must have affected my tastes, ’cause I craved fresh and light food.  Soft mozzarella, juicy tomato and fresh basil were accented by a balsamic mayo, all held together by a (locally made) light white bread.  The salad was pretty basic, but it completed the meal perfectly…so tasty!

Marisa felt a breakfast vibe, and went for the eggs benedict, which came with rosemary potatoes.  If you’re looking for a meal to stick to your ribs, this would do the trick!  I was fortunate enough to sample some of the potatoes, and man.  Let me tell ya…AH-mazing!  Salty, buttery, and perfectly seasoned.

After our delightful lunch, we were reading to head to our intended destination: Fort Casey!  Fort Casey features Admiralty Head Lighthouse, as well as trails, breathtaking views, rocky beaches, and, everyone’s favorite, WWII bunkers!

Take a look in Marisa’s sunglasses….totally accidental, but no complaints here!!

The bunkers are legit.  They didn’t see any battle, of course, but they’re well equipped, and perfect for fun!  Although I’ll admit…the darkness from the solid cement and no windows does get SUPER a mite creepy.  But we found a room with perfect acoustics, and sang eerie, pentatonic-scale songs, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  It was like being a kid again!

We wandered down to the beach and just sat on a log for a moment, enjoying the view.

And I couldn’t go all the way to Fort Casey without snapping a shot of my favorite lighthouse!

Even though this was the end of our Whidbey-exploring, the fun wasn’t over yet…we did still have another ferry ride, and plans for ice cream…

I saw this van behind us…and laughed for a long time!  They look all ready to head out……glad I’m in front of them 😉

One cool thing about being an adult?  I can eat ice cream at dinner time if I want to!

And so we did.

Two things:

#1. Ivar’s soft serve…SO good!  It’s thicker and creamier than Dairy Queen’s, and oh-so nummy.  But a word of caution…what I have there is the “child’s size”.  So order carefully!

#2. I realized a while ago that I don’t have any pictures of me eating.  Pictures of food?  Yes.  Pictures with food?  Yep!  Pictures eating food?  Nope.  So we were intentional to take pictures of me actually consuming food.  I think ice cream is a good first shot, yes?

That pretty much sums up the day!  A relaxing day spent with a lovely friend, enjoying God’s beautiful creation?  Blessings.

Take care, friends!

Beth

P.S. If you haven’t like Make Food Not [Body] War on Facebook yet, just click here

The “Live Dead” Challenge

Hi folks!  I know I keep promising a recipe, and I promise it’s coming…I’ve just been quite busy this week.  As a matter of fact, I should be doing homework right now.  Sooooooo I’ll make it a short and snappy post 🙂

Here at school, we’ve started the “Live Dead” challenge this month.  The idea is to learn how to “die to self” – take a look at John 12:24-25.  This is accomplished by spending some intense time in the Word and in prayer.  The focus is unreached people groups in a region of Africa, so in each day of the challenge, prayer focus is placed on one of these people groups.

 

Here’s what my journal looks like!

I officially began the journal today.  (Isn’t it amazing how close the word “journal” is to “journey”?  ….. )  Like I said, learning to “live dead” is accomplished by spending meaningful time in the Word and in prayer.  One significant aspect of this challenge is to tithe our time by giving a tenth of it back to the Lord.  Folks, this means almost 2 1/2 hours each day.  That’s a lot of time.

They provide a basic frame work for how to go about spending this much time with the Lord – reading the Bible (and journaling) for an hour, memorizing scripture for 5 minutes, praying for 30 minutes, worshiping for 30 minutes, then listening/being still for 5-10 minutes.  We use the Live Dead journal as a springboard for all of this.  I’m still just blown away by how much time that is.  Man!  And the bigger thing…how on earth could I ever find that much time to spend on this…to spend with the Lord?

My first thought: “I’M A STUDENT!  I have so much homework, so many commitments, so much to do!”

And then I thought: “This is impractical.  Who has that much time to devote to reading the Bible and praying except for pastors?”

The journal topic dealt with tithing time, and then it prompted us to think about and respond to this concept of tithing time.  I began to contemplate and write a little about how huge of a commitment it felt like.  And then…conviction.

I thought about tithing money – I feel strongly about tithing the “first fruits”, not what’s left after taking care of other financial responsibilities.  So how is time any different?  Is it really any different to give God whatever time is left after I do my homework, write blog posts, browse pinterest and review Facebook?  I don’t think it is.

We, as followers of the Lord, tithe money in faith.  Ten percent of a paycheck feels like a lot sometimes, but God is faithful to provide when we’re faithful to give and have faith.  The writer of today’s devotional in the journal writes, “If we tithe…10 percent of the time He has given us, He will take what remains of the day and bless it, making it more fruitful than we can believe possible.”   Perhaps I ought to tithe time in faith also.

This is tough.  I want to give time and believe, but the numbers…the time…it just doesn’t quite add up for me.  But remember the man in Mark who says, “I do believe!  Help me overcome by unbelief!” (9:24)?  Yeah,

So what shall I do?  I think I’ll work towards spending more and more time in the Word.  And I’ll pray about it.

That’s the best thing.

Do stay tuned for a recipe…it’s coming soon! 🙂

Take care!

Beth