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

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

Burn Out

I’m sure you’ve been there before.  That feeling that you just don’t want to do that thing you’re supposed to do…that thing you have to do.  You sit down to the computer and stare at the blank Word document.  You know that paper won’t write itself, but your mind is blank, and your body is tired.  Your stamina wanes.  There’s a deadline looming, but hardly makes a dent in that feeling of apathy.

This is me at this moment.  4 1/2 weeks left until graduation, and I’m just…done.  Now, before you think I’m just seeking attention or fishing for encouragement, stop.  Just stop.  I write because God puts things on my heart – perhaps so that I can more fully process whats going on in my life, or maybe (and this is my hope) so that someone else may benefit from my experiences.  Anyways.

This evening, I sat down to work on my TPA – that big, crazy paper I have to write to graduate.  You know.  Thankfully, there are prompts, so I’m not just pulling stuff out of thin air.  But the prompts are wordy and complicated.  And my brain feels tired and foggy.  And I just don’t even want to try to clear the fog.  My motivation is tanked (well, at least for tonight).  Yet, I have no choice.  I have to write this paper.  I have to go to school tomorrow and teach the kiddos.  So what do I do with this?  How do I manage it?

First, I change my perspective.  Instead of saying that “I have to go to school tomorrow,” I need to think more like “I get to go to school tomorrow”.  I’ll admit, though…it’s hard to think of the TPA as a privilege.

But more important than changing my perspective, I’ll go to God – to His word.

So maybe this discipline isn’t “painful”, but the point remains.  When we experience things that are challenging or painful or ___________,it’s not pleasant.  But YES, we will grow through the experience if we allow ourselves to do so.

And the second promise I’m clinging to right now:

No, I’m not “suffering”, but I do believe that my challenges in student teaching will bring about good and growth in me.

So I’m probably done working on my TPA for tonight.  But there is tomorrow.  And the day after, and so on.  I’ll reach down deep inside and find some motivation – or make some.  And it’s gonna be okay 🙂

I hope you’ve found some encouragement in these words.

And if you’re like me, dealing with burnout, how do you motivate yourself?

Blessings,

Beth

Not Missing Out

ED is like what I would imagine an abusive boyfriend to be like.  He sweet talks me into believing that he’s good and trustworthy, then tells lie after lie about how I’m not good enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough ad nauseum.  And when I’m not good enough, pretty enough, thin enough etc, I’m probably not worth going to that party, or going to that restaurant.  There’s no way I’d consider roasting hot dogs and marshmallows with the family, attending a church pot-luck or going on vacation.  Too complicated.  Not worth it.  Not happenin’.

Except, that’s what ED wants me to believe.  ED, and ED alone.

In a recent meeting with my dear mentor, we talked about this very thing; how ED wants us to just stay home instead of living life.  It’s a load of garbage.  Lies.  Deceit.  You know what my mentor’s motto is?

“I’m not missing out”

For my mentor, this could mean taking a chicken sausage along to roast while her family has brats.  It could mean packing dinner to the farmer’s market to make sure she gets good nutrition in a place that can feel overwhelming.  Telling ED to “shut up and leave me alone, I want to do _________ with my family!”

Not missing out.

Not missing out on a vacation.  Not missing out on a Scentsy party with my mom,  sister and dear ladies from my church.  Not missing out on a double date.  Not missing out on that church pot luck.  Not.Missing.Out.

I’m tired and frustrated.  Tired of dealing with ED and all his deceptions and belittlement.  Tired of skipping a get-together because I have a tummy ache.  Frustrated with this Eating Disorder taking up so much thought and planning time.

Tired of missing out.

John 10:10

Our lives were not meant to be lived sitting on the couch in fear or despair.  God intends for us to live a full and abundant life.

Are you done missing out?

Blessings,

Beth

Which Voice?

So many voices compete for our attention.  Most of them are good/necessary.  There’s the voice that tells you when to eat, or when to give someone a hug.  There’s the voice that gently insists that it’s probably not a great idea to have a second piece of cake, and the voice that reminds you to give strangers their space.  Then there’s a voice that tells you to have no cake.  Or to not eat.  Or that you’re fat, and your pants look horrid.

It seems like the solution would be easy: just listen to the nicer voice (the reasonable voice).  Ignore the nasty voice (the ED voice), right?  Well, it would be a great solution, except that it’s not quite that easy.  The ED voice has a way of drowning out the nice voice – a way of hiding the reasonable option.  ED makes his victim believe every word, and take it to heart.

Here’s a story:

The other day, I put on a pair of pants that I hadn’t worn for a couple of weeks.  They seemed a bit tighter, and ED flung a dart.

Wow, your pants are already tighter.  Sheesh.

But I was on my way out the door to church, and I didn’t have time to really negotiate by changing my clothes, so I just went with it.  After Sunday School, I remembered that I should eat my snack.  It was nothing big, but it was a snack…and ED fired another arrow.

You don’t need that snack.  Remember how your pants fit?  Just don’t go there.

But after some thought, I ate part of my snack anyways. But by the end of church, I burned through my too-light snack, and the hunger was about to throw a tantrum.  I.was.RAVENOUS.

We went to our typical Sunday-after-church- restaurant, but found it to be jam packed.  A cranky customer and a cranky waitress later, and I was a cranky mess. I needed food and I needed it fast.

We headed across the street to another restaurant, and after we were seated, mom offered to order me an appetizer.  My family rarely orders appetizers, and as she placed the order, and ED realized that he couldn’t keep me from eating, he decided to use another tactic.  He said,

You are SUCH a burden.  Look at this, ordering an appetizer, bending over backwards just to get you something to eat.  And look how cranky you are!  Man-oh-man, they’re all just walking on eggshells around you.  What a burden.

And I believed him for a while.

Of course, after eating, I felt much better, and I was able to talk through the situation with Ron and my parents, but that sense of being a burden lingered.  So I brought it up in counseling.  Wanna know what I learned?

ED is the burden.  We all bend over backwards for ED.  We all walk on eggshells around ED.  Not me, but ED.  Even I walk on eggshells and bend over backwards for ED.  If I didn’t cater to him so, I might very well be in a different place today.

In reflection, for every nasty statement from ED that day, there was a counter-statement from the reasonable voice.  When ED berated me for my pants feeling tighter, there was another voice cheering – by the grace of God, I’m meeting my goals.  When ED didn’t want me to eat the snack, there was a voice reminding me that I need the snack for energy and body repair.  When ED told me I was a burden, there was a voice reminding me that my loved ones want to take care of me.

Two voices.  One constructive, the other destructive.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

Two voices.  One the voice of God, the other, the voice of the enemy.

Which voice will you listen to?

Full Circle

Hello friends!  Boy, do I have a story for you.

When I was about 13 years old, I had one of those moments of “Oh-my-gosh-what-am-I-gonna-be-when-I-grow-up??!?”  When I was little I wanted to be a doctor…and then I discovered that I couldn’t handle blood in large quantities.  By age 13, though, I knew I really liked music, and wanted to do something with it…but what?  I asked a friend what he thought, and without batting an eyelash, he said “music therapy”.  He knew that I wanted to help people, and although medicine may not be my forte, providing therapy would allow me to still work in that type of field.  And with music!

I found that a Music Therapy degree would probably be obtained through a Master’s program – and I would need a Bachelor’s of music something…so I opted for Music Education.  But by the end of High School, I had pretty much give up on the Music Therapy idea…Music Ed just seemed like what I wanted to do.

Of course, in college, while studying Music Ed, I felt pretty sold on it.  At least on the surface.  I mean, I had to throw myself into the classes, writing papers as though becoming a music teacher would be my dream come true – and while I do have an interest in teaching and helping people, maybe the standard classroom isn’t quite the place for me.  However, in taking upper-division classes and preparing to student teach, I had essentially resigned myself to the fact that I would be a teacher.  Just ask me – I’d probably robotically tell you that I plan to come home after student teaching and hope to find a job in elementary music.  At least…I think I do?

While attending family therapy at UCSD, my dad remarked one day “Wouldn’t it be somethin’ if you ended up working with eating disorder patients some day?”  It was like permission to NOT teach classroom music if I didn’t want to!  And it got me thinking.

I want to help others who are fighting eating disorders.  But I’m not exactly sure what that will look like.  Will I work in an eating disorder treatment center?  Will I mentor others like Barbi (my mentor)?  Or would I be an advocate for healthy body image in my classroom?  So many unknowns!

A bit of a back story:

My therapist for this summer is opening an in-patient treatment center sometime next spring.  This will be the only service like this in my area, if not the whole state.  This is really exciting!!!!  In a conversation with Chelsey, I told her about this idea of working in the Eating Disorder field and I said “Heck, you and me should go work at the new clinic!”  Chelsey stopped dead in her tracks.  See, just days before, her and her boyfriend said essentially the same thing.

So last week in therapy, my counselor and I began talking about jobs working with eating disorder patients.  I mentioned that it was interesting that he had brought up jobs in the eating disorder field because I had taken part in several job related conversations lately.  And then I expressed my slight concern over the fact that working with Eating Disorder patients wouldn’t really make use of my degree…”…but I suppose that’s life!”

My therapist said, “Ah, but music is being used in Eating Disorder Therapy more and more.”  SAY WHAT?!?!  So I told him the brief history I just told you – about wanting to do music therapy, but leaning more towards the Music Education side of things.  There was a bit more light on my horizon.

It seemed like things were coming full circle – back to Music Therapy!  And what my therapist told me next literally blew my socks off.  And I mean that.

He said “Can I bring it around even further?  Because in-patient clinics are working with teens in school, they need tutoring in order to keep up with their classes.  You’ll have the Education degree, and will be certified to take a job like that.  You can use Music Therapy as part of the tutoring.”

Could someone pick my jaw up off the ground please?

We continued discussing this type of job and I became more and more excited.  I light up when I think about taking this type of job – much more than I do when I think about teaching 500 elementary children.  It ties right in to my desire to help people – and use music.  And it’s possible that I could have a job near home doing this work with eating disorder patients.

Not only is this exciting because of the notion of the job, but it emphasizes the hope I’ve carried through the entirety of journey through anorexia: I want my experience to have a purpose – a meaning.  I want it to be used for something.  And perhaps working with young people in recovery is one way my journey would be useful to another.

Guys, I’m so excited!!!  I’m praying and trusting that God will guide me and lead me, opening doors when and where they need to open.

Have a great Sunday!

Blessings,

Beth