Tea Cup

Every morning, I drink a cup of tea.  Right now, decaf green is my first choice, but I’ve gone through phases of rooibos, decaf earl gray and even licorice spice.

I fill a mug with water and pop it in the microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds.  Every day.  I take it out, plop the tea bag in and settle on the couch with my computer to catch up on Facebook and sip my tea.  And when I’m done, I take the cup back to the kitchen and set it by the sink.  Sometimes, I take the tea bag out of the cup and give it a rinse, but if I’m in a hurry, I skip this step.

If I don’t take a moment to rinse out that cup, the residual tea leaves a brown stain, one that can’t be removed with just a quick rinse, or even dish soap.  However, if I take a few moments to rinse the cup, there is just the slightest evidence of tea.

You all probably know by now that I like my metaphors.  And this cup of tea, no doubt, is a metaphor.

We are that cup of tea.  God is the rinse.  Of course, Jesus removes our “stain” when we accept his gift of salvation.  But over time, the struggles and stresses of life build up a different kind of stain – one that occurs from not daily going to the Lord for renewal.

When my tea cup gets stained, I take some extra time to sprinkle baking soda in it and gently, yet firmly scrub it out.  Prayer is the baking soda, God is the scrub brush.
Potentially an uncomfortable situation, but the world is better and brighter after we undergo this.

But there is an alternative.  We can take time daily to “rinse”.  Go to God.

Recognize his sovereignty and give him praise.

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:9-10) 

Ask for help for that day.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matt 6:11)

Ask forgiveness.

“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” (Matt 6:12)

Ask for strength for the day, and protection from the Enemy.

“And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matt 6:13)

And then take a moment to let the Lord respond, to fill you with peace and joy, byproducts of His presence in your life.

“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10a)

We have the choice – we can keep our tea cups clean, or let the stain build up.  How is your tea cup looking?

Blessings,

Beth

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Wording

You know which kind of post is my favorite to write?  The ones that I don’t plan in advance; the ones who’s topic suddenly surfaces and I know I must write.  So you could say this post is a disruption in the regularly scheduled programming…for something quite important.

If you google “Bible translations”, you’re gonna find a ton of hits.  New International Version, New Revised Standard Version, King James, New King James….the list goes on.  Now, while all these translations deliver the same message of Hope and Salvation in Jesus, along with great ideas for joyful, peaceful and right living,  the precise wording does differ.  I came across one of these discrepancies the other night.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6.  It speaks of fully trusting the Lord, not on your own view of the world.  And when you recognize Him and seek Him in your day-to-day life, He will help you.  Obviously, this is my paraphrase 🙂  I’m familiar with two popular translations of this passage:

From the New International Version:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

 

From the New King James:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

I’m sure you noticed the purple letters in bold 🙂  So what’s the difference?  Both suggest that when you recognize God, He’ll help you out, right?  But for me, it’s the specific implication.

To say that God will “make your paths straight” implies that the road will be easy; that the Lord will remove all your problems, which He certainly could do.  While I don’t believe that God likes to watch us squirm in discomfort, I DO believe that God allows us to experience or endure challenges for a time to facilitate growth, thus not just getting rid of the challenges in life..  And we all know that growth isn’t easy

So this is why I prefer the second translation listed.  The word “direct” makes me think of my dad helping me back out of a tight parking spot by pointing one way or the other.  He didn’t just hop in the driver’s seat and back out for me (remove the problem) but helped me work through the situation by directing me, allowing me to become a better driver.  Allowing me to grow.

Heavy thoughts for a Saturday morning!  But it just felt so important.

What do you think?  Do you agree or disagree?  Is there another scripture which has given you a similar experience?

I’d love to know 🙂

Have an excellent weekend, friends!

Blessings,

Beth

 

Christmas-Time and Life

Wow, it’s been a week since my last post!  Guess I’m really on vacation!

I hope you all had a delightful and merry Christmas!  I enjoyed the day very much, going to church, cooking, relaxing, and driving around to look at Christmas lights.  Oh, and having pie, of course 🙂

Here are a few scenes of my break thus far:

Party!

 

They only look like poop. They're actually oreo balls before the choclate coating 🙂

 

Before baking....

 

I was having too much fun to actually remember to photograph Christmas morning or Christmas dinner.  Or even the pie after baking.  I think this is a good thing 🙂

This week has been lovely so far.  Much relaxing, shopping, cooking and fellowship-ing.  Deeee-lightful!  To be completely real, though, this time of year is undoubtedly one of the hardest for dealing with my bad friend (eating disorder).  Every where I turn there’s food!  And it’s sugary, creamy…delicious.  All these foods we only eat at special events – pumpkin or peppermint confections, summer sausage with cheese, Christmas cookies.  Every get-together is centered around food.  Costco even has extra samples out!  It’s like this crazy dual temptation.  I want to taste everything, eating to the point of satisfaction, while delighting in the decadent treats (temptation #1).  But then I become nervous – scared, even.  There are so many choices.  So many things I want to taste.  So many calories.  Then, I just want to walk out.  Or throw my plate away and grab a stick of gum.  This is temptation #2.

Guys, I haven’t mastered this yet.  I’d love to say that I find this great happy-medium where I enjoy a normal amount of food, neither feeling deprived or overly full, and then I happily skip home, feeling comfortable and relaxed.  That, however, wouldn’t be entirely true.  I can usually eat a normal amount of food…or at least eat until I feel satisfied.  But then that nasty voice starts bugging me, telling me that I ate too much or that I better walk extra in the morning.

So what do I do?  I do the best that I can.  I eat several times during the day.  Perhaps not always up to “standard” but again, I do my best.  And then I take care of myself.  I make time to just be alone in the quiet.  I go for walks.  I reflect on all the reasons I have to take care of myself.  And I read scripture, going back to the promises I’ve read over and over, taking comfort in their familiar and comforting words.  These things aren’t magic pills, but they certainly help. 🙂

I don’t mean to sound like a downer.  God is still good and faithful.  He won’t leave me or forsake me.  And change and growth never come without a little discomfort 🙂

I hope you’re all enjoying the Holidays!  Check back soon for a recipe for the best scalloped potatoes, possibly ever.  Seriously.

Blessings!

Beth

 

Two Years Ago Today…

Unbelievable.  Today marks the two-year anniversary of perhaps one of the most life-changing moments to date.

Two years ago today, I received the diagnosis of anorexia.

Two years ago today, I spent two days in the hospital, undergoing tests and exams.  All pride was removed.  Or shall I say ripped down.

Soon after leaving the hospital

Two years ago today, my life, under God’s sovereignty, was placed on a path different than I would have ever imagined, one that I never would have chosen.

And as crazy as it sounds, it’s been a blessing. 

I’ve had the opportunity to meet people and develop close(r) relationships with people that probably wouldn’t have occurred, had my life not taken this unexpected turn.  And I look forward to meeting more people and developing even closer relationships.

I’ve gained understanding of people.  I can empathize and sympathize better than before.  When a young and nervous girl tells me that she “doesn’t like eating”, I know what she’s really saying.

Thanks to counseling sessions, mentoring sessions, and more opportunities to have deep conversations with lots of people, I’ve been able to get to know myself better.  Ask myself the hard questions.  Figure out what I really believe and think and feel.  Make some decisions.

I’ve worked harder and dug deeper than I ever have before.  And guess what?  I had no choice but to rely upon and trust in God more deeply.  And if that was the only reason I could state as a blessing, it would be good enough.

See, I don’t believe that God does anything by accident, or “just because”, or because he likes to see us squirm.  God is love, and putting us through difficult times just for the sake of doing it doesn’t seem like a loving characteristic.  I do believe, however, that God allows challenging things into our lives in order to grow us; to refine us and grow us.  Growth is change, and change is temporarily uncomfortable at the least…downright painful at the most.

So this is my reflection today – remembering where I began, and celebrating where I am.  There is still recovery work to be done, but so much has been accomplished.

Today

I’ve learned that He makes beautiful things out of dust.

Blessings,

Beth

The [Fearsome] Appetite

At about 9:00 every night, I hit a wall in which I can no longer do homework.  I could read something ten times but I still won’t retain or comprehend it.  I used to push through it until I realized that although perhaps valiant, my lack of comprehension makes it rather pointless.  So instead of studying for my Biology lab final (eeek!) I’m writing to you! 🙂

I suppose the title of this post is quite confusing.  Aside from the Sunday School answer of “sinful appetites”, what appetite could be considered fearsome?  If you’re new to my blog, I’m recovering from anorexia (take a moment to read my about page).  I feel like I’m doing better, but I still have an instinct to restrict my eating, and an overall fear of eating “too much”.  So when I have a bigger appetite than usual, it’s kinda scary.  What’s gonna happen?  Will my jeans fit tomorrow?  And why am I so hungry?  These types of questions fill my mind.

“You shouldn’t eat that.”

“You don’t need that.”

“You don’t need anymore to eat.”

“See, your tummy is already rounder.”

Phrases like that are fired at my mind with the one goal of tearing down my defense system.  I used to listen; used to let it completely rule me, obeying that voice without a question or a second thought.  It must be true.  Right?

But then I realized this voice was full of it.  A lying Enemy.  This realization didn’t occur overnight…it took time and a lot of trusted people telling me over and over.  And they still have to tell me sometimes – to remind me that these words whispered in my heart are indeed lies.  But I fight back.  I find something to eat.  And I eat something else if I’m still hungry.

And then I remind myself of a few things:

My fight isn’t against flesh and blood, but against powers of the dark world (Ephesians 6:12)

If I turn my head to the right or the left, I’ll hear a voice reminding me of the path to walk (Isaiah 30:21)

Satan comes to kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give abundant life (John 10:10)

Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)

And

The Lord rescues me from my enemies when I call to Him (Psalm 18:16-19)


In the same way God gave us tasty food to be enjoyed, He gave us an appetite to desire these food-gifts.  And therefore, an appetite isn’t something to be feared 🙂

Snack time?  Perhaps!

Blessings,

Beth

 

Food…a Gift From God

Have you ever had one of those days when God just fits pieces into place for you?  They’re wonderful.  Today is one of those blessed days.

I meet with a counselor weekly as part of my Eating Disorder recovery.  Today, we began talking about my feelings of being overwhelmed by all the beautiful words my dear family and friends were leaving for me today (it’s my birthday!).  I felt caught off guard by these feelings, and desperately wanted to explore them…dissect them to find the origin.  And God was faithful to put pieces together for me.

It came down to not feeling worthy of God’s amazing love, and therefore, I haven’t been allowing it in as much as I need to.  This prevents me from loving myself the way I ought to, and ultimately, from loving others the way I want to.  Let that settle for a moment.

We discussed all kinds of things around this topic, and how I might go about fully taking God at His word and believing He loves me as He says He does.  The big word was surrender.  Surrender to the fact that God DOES love me and nothing I’ve done or ever will do could possible change that.

After more conversation, something made me think of food.  Food as an expression of God’s love.  You see, He could have made food something simply to sustain us.  It could have been bland and boring…I picture dog food.  But He didn’t do that.  He made it colorful and full of flavor.  He made different textures and smells.  He made it something to enjoy because He loves us and loves to give us good things.

How beautiful.  And healing.

And to not enjoy and surrender to the love in the gift…isn’t that essentially scoffing God and His beautiful gift? (thought, courtesy of my roomie)

I saw this video on one of my favorite blogs, My Little Celebration, and I’ve been wanting to repost….I think this is the perfect opportunity!

 

What a display of the pure enjoyment of the gift of good food.

And a quote for your enjoyment:

“We shall draw nearer to God, not by trying to avoid the sufferings inherent in all loves, but by accepting them and offering them to Him; throwing away all defensive armor.  If our hearts need to be broken, and if He chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Take care,

Beth

 

 

 

When the Going Gets Tough…

 

…God shows the tough who’s Boss!

Story time! 🙂

Monday night, I had a little study sesh in preparation for a composition mid term the following day.  We all thought we had it pretty well under control…that is, until we found out that this test quite possibly would require us to memorize more than we had.  I all but threw the towel in.  Annoyed?  Yep.  Nervous?  Ahuh.  Perhaps a little scared?  Maaaayyybeee.  Unmotivated?  Oh yes.  Frustrated?  Without a doubt!  But God saw it all.

“In my distress I called to the Lord,

I cried to my God for help.

From his temple he heard my voice,

my cry came before him, into his ears.”

(Psalm 18:6)

That night, a wonderful friend called me up just to pray with me about the situation.  My mom gave me some encouragement, and promised she’d be praying for me as well.  And the Lord gave me rest!  I slept well that night, which pre-test-frustration aside is a huge blessing 🙂  But the next day…well, lets just say it brings to life the lyric, “Morning by morning, new mercies I see.”

My alarm went off typically early, and I did my gettin’ ready thing.  Nothing seemed different…until I noticed that our full size mirror wasn’t in it’s normal spot…and in it’s place hung a piece of paper taped to the bookshelf.  Intrigue!  I grabbed my phone to use it for a light to see what the paper said (my roomie was still asleep) and here is what I saw:

Confusion…utter confusion!  I didn’t read the word “month” initially, and all I could think was “uhhhmmm…it’s not my birthday.”  But I reread it and began to comprehend, when out of the the corner of my eye, I saw something all over the wall.  I swung my little light over to find this:

Oh.my.gosh. !!!!!  It took me a moment to realize what exactly was going on, but when I did realize the deal, I could have cried out of appreciation and…joy.  See, Marisa decided to celebrate my whole birthday month, beginning on November 1st.  In each envelope, there’s a note from someone, a scripture, and a quote.  I’ll share more of that later 🙂  Needless to say, this amazing surprise lifted my mood and put a smile on my face…I still felt nervous for the test, but I felt better.

God showed the tough who’s boss.

After this delightful discovery, we were off to a jazz event at a high school up north a little ways.  It went well and we enjoyed listening to a great high school band.  And on the way back, I received a text from a friend asking if I’d be in the music department that day.  I told her that I would be briefly, and that I’d find her when I came in.

Upon arriving, I quickly spotted my friend, and she excitedly motioned me over.  She reached for a little ziplock back and handed it to me…I didn’t know what the bag held.  She smiled broadly and announced that she’d brought pumpkin bread for me!  Moist, spicy…perfect.  Exactly what I’d been craving!!  And all right before the fateful test.

Again, God showed the tough who’s boss.

I took the test.  It went quite well (although I don’t have my grade yet…but I felt decently about it!).  After the test, I went for a walk in the sun, and enjoyed the crisp, fall air…my favorite!

And then came Wednesday, with a new birthday envelope to open, and an exciting chapel service to attend. World Vision would be coming to our campus so we could pack care-giver boxes, which would be sent to North Africa.  Not just any part of North Africa, though. These packages are being send to the part of North Africa that is dear to my heart, and that I plan to visit.  That’s pretty awesome, yes?  But there’s more!

This North African country is known for being difficult to work with when it comes to volunteer aid.  I don’t know all the details, but I just know it’s been tough…but they’ve finally decided to allow organizations like World Vision to deliver aid!

Let me lay this out for you:

#1. We pack care-giver packages

#2. Said care-giver packages are being sent to the country I plan to visit

#3. We literally packed the FIRST boxes to go to this country

HOW AMAZING IS THAT?!

The World Vision representatives did an excellent job of making this a meaningful experience by showing us a video of volunteer care-givers in other African countries.  They’re just normal people with basic training, but they have a huge heart and love for people.  Some of the care givers have serious medical difficulties as well, but they still sacrificially care for their neighbors.  What a beautiful thing.  And to know that I could help in a very small way…humbling.

Here’s a few photos for ya!

The assembly line

We packed basic items like latex gloves, soap, Vaseline, water purifiers, wash cloths, cotton balls and batters…things that we take for granted, and probably have in our bathrooms.

Here is a refill kit for the care-giver boxes

In front of each item to pack, they had placed a little card to describe how each item would be used.  The vaseline in the picture above is used to soothe the skin of ill people and prevent it from cracking.

More assembly line

After packing up our bag, we placed a little note in the top with our first name, hometown and a message of encouragement.  The care-givers are thrilled to read this, and pray for the person who packed the kit.

God showed the tough who’s boss.  Not just in my situation, but in the lives of people in North Africa.

I hope this didn’t sound like a downer “you-should-feel-so-blessed-cause-they-have-it-so-bad” kind of post.  I really and truly want to convey to you the different ways I’ve seen the goodness of God this week!

“Great is Thy faithfulness,

Lord unto me!”

How has God shown you His goodness this week?  I’d love to hear 🙂

Beth