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

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

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

Head or Heart

Guess what?  It’s Wednesday!  Do you know what that means?  It’s closer to Saturday!  And do you know what THAT means?  The semester is almost over!!!!!!  Not that I’m excited or anything….

Buckle your seat belts…I’m about to get philosophical 😉

There’s a big difference between knowing something in your head and believing it in your heart.  Belief and faith in Jesus may be the first thing that comes to mind as you think about head vs. heart.  Romans 10:9 says “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (NIV)  Sounds easy.  But sometimes there’s a roadblock between our heads and our hearts.  And just to complicate things, this disconnect between head and heart doesn’t occur only in our relationships with Jesus, but in other aspects of life.  However, I have a hunch most of these issues are deeply rooted in our relationship with the Lord.

See, when it comes to Eating Disorders, people can tell me that I’m not fat.  People can tell me I look good, am beautiful, fill-in-the-blank ad nauseum.  And in my mind, I know this to be true.  Someone at my height and my weight can’t be fat.  But my heart doesn’t believe it.  My head knows that eating ___________ won’t make me puff up like a balloon overnight, but my heart is scared that the morning after eating that burger or piece of cake, my jeans won’t fit.

And then, I think through the nitty-gritty facts: how it takes a LOT of calories on top of what I already consume in order to gain one pound.  How that burger or piece of cake physically canNOT cause my jeans to not fit in the morning.  My head knows these things – I can spout off the figures like it’s nobody’s business.  But my heart…my heart just can’t quite grasp it.

So when our hearts can’t see things the way our head does…why does that happen?  Like I said a moment ago, I think there are roots in our relationship with Jesus.  Perhaps it’s not that there’s been a big catastrophe or crisis of faith, but maybe just a subtle lack of belief that the enemy has slid under the door.  Perhaps when our heart and our head don’t agree, what our heart really struggles with is believing that Jesus loves us as much as he says he does.

After all, why would he love me so much?  ED says I’m not good enough, attractive enough, smart enough, thin enough.  And if I’m not good enough, then why would Jesus love me?  But that’s where ED is wrong.  To be blunt, I’m not good enough…on my own.  I’m a sinner, an imperfect human, but Jesus came, and died for us because we’re NOT good enough by our own power.

Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  When we were still sinners – when we were not good enough…Christ died for us.  And even though we’re still human and still sinful, Christ has redeemed us and taken the punishment we should have received – because He loves us anyways.

Believing ED’s lies basically throws Jesus’ love for me right back in his face.

Ouch.

How apt and timely that my devotional this morning focused on this scripture:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

In the Bible, Jesus tells us of his love for us over and over.  May this reality be like a mighty river, washing away any roadblock between our heads and our hearts.  May it be enough for our hearts to believe.

Blessings,

 

Beth

 

Perfect Timing…

Well good evening!  Do you like the slight change to the design of the blog?  It was time for a little shake-up 🙂

Speaking of shake-ups…have you ever noticed that after you’ve dealt with something challenging and are starting to come out of it, something happens which tempts you to go back to the habits etc of the initial challenge?  It catches you off guard – you thought you were past this.  You were moving forward, right?  Things were going so well!  And you felt pretty great.

Oh what timing.

So what on earth am I talking about?  If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve had some eating disorder struggles recently.  They’re often made worse by stress, and consequently, struggling to eat enough makes stress harder to manage.  It’s really a vicious cycle.

There are less than three weeks left in this semester.  This is SO exciting, yet quite scary – there’s much to be done in the next little chunk of time.  Homework and deadlines tend to hit all at once.  And then, other responsibilities arise.  And then I get tired.  And I want to write blog posts instead of doing homework (oops…) and I want to relax and go to bed and read books for fun.  But homework and responsibilities stare me in the face.

And the stress level begins to rise.

And my tummy doesn’t feel as hungry, and the food I eat doesn’t sit as well.  I feel nauseous or dizzy for a moment.  My shoulders tense up, and I know it’s time to go for a walk…and call my mom 🙂

Oh, and there’s the issue of “Hmmm, I ate very differently this weekend, and I feel kind of chunky right now.”  Or “My tummy is churning, and I just need to eat something gentle.”  Basically, ED tries to barge back in when my stress is high and my defenses are weak.

So I have to double my efforts.  And lean on my support system a little more.  But I also have to listen to my body.  My tummy says “Please be gentle, I’m still getting over my shock” and ED says “Yeah, eat something light…sheesh!”  So I choose to be gentle while still nourishing my body adequately.

And I put my foot down on Satan’s attempts to make everything more difficult.  He certainly knows that by the grace of God, I’ve been more successful with tuning out ED’s nasty voice.  So Satan grabs the megaphone and starts yelling.  When I’m most vulnerable in my stresses, Satan “…tempts me to despair, and tells me of the guilt within.”

BUT.  “Upward I look and see Him there, who made an end of all my sin.”

As soon as I call out to my Heavenly Father, he parts the heavens to come rescue me from my enemy (Psalm 18).  As Revelation 12:10 says, “…the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.”

Satan is powerful, but God is more powerful.

And here’s what I say to ED – to the enemy:

“Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.”

Genesis 50:20

I don’t know what God is doing, but this I know: He certainly does.

Thanks be to God.

Blessings,

Beth

P.S. More weekend shenanigans coming soon!

 

 

 

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 🙂