Monday, July 15, 2013

a true love story...

The problem I have with your typical love story is that most often they aren't a true depiction of lasting love. Whether they are found beneath the shiny new cover of the latest best seller, or on the weekly episode of how to find love while simultaneously dating 27 men at once. They are edited. Plumped. Colored in.

So, when my daughter wants to hear a love story or wants to know what true love means, I tell her how it is that I know that I know that I know that her daddy is the only man for me.
Besides the fact that he works really hard and comes home to help around the house, brings me flowers for no reason,and is almost always the first to admit when he is wrong.
There is another reason that I know that he is God's choice for me.
But first, allow me to explain.

All of my life I have struggled with my weight.
Well, except for the first few weeks of my life.
I was a preemie and I began this life as a very, very tiny person. But formula just went straight to my thighs and within nine months time, I looked like this.

The smile is probably because someone promised me a lollipop if I would sit still for the photo.

To say that I love food would be putting it mildly.
I love food more than people who love food love food, and while all the heart medications that I am on have certainly contributed to much of my weight gain, they aren't entirely to blame.

At any rate, the point being that along with my struggle with food, I have also struggled with a definition for beauty all of my life. This probably doesn't surprise, because the two often coincide.
Self-doubt, intimidation, and insecurity begin at a very early age for most girls.
Am I beautiful if I am overweight?
How much weight is too much?
Where is the hard line?
Who gets to decide?
Maybe if I stand like this, hold the camera at this angle, suck my stomach in, stick out my chin...

Bottom line?
It is no use. No use at all.
No matter how hard we try, or how much we suck in, and tape up, there will always be someone thinner, someone prettier, someone with better hair.
Either we love ourselves or we don't love ourselves.
It is as simple and as difficult as that.

So, what does all of this have to do with my love story?
Allow me to explain...

A few years ago I was in a room full of beautiful women. Most of them thinner and prettier than me and all of them younger than me.
I was feeling less than.
I was feeling chubby. ugly. Worthless. Old.
When out of the blue, in walks my husband.
He pauses inside the door and begins to scan the room for me.  When he sees me, his whole face lights up and he heads my way.  Immediately my outlook and my demeanor begin to change.  Suddenly I felt beautiful. loved. cherished.
And that is when I knew.
I knew that not only was he the man for me, but that God was trying to show me something.

Before anyone gets upset, blames me for being anti-feminist, and says that we should love ourselves despite what men think....
please hear me.
I agree.
We absolutely should.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely.
However, that is not the point.
And if we try to make it the point, we miss out on something so beautiful.

The point... is that my husband's love for me reminds me of the way God loves us.
You see, God is completely taken with our beauty.
He doesn't see what we see when we look in the mirror.
He doesn't compare us to the girl next door or to the one we sit next to in class.
When God looks at us, He sees all of the reasons He loves us and the reason He gave His life for us.
As a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that He not only rejoices over us, but He dances over us, and even has us engraved on the palms of His hands.

And if we can just grasp even the tiniest glimpse of this passion that He has for us...
If we can just let Him show us who He made us to be...
And why He made us to be...
Exercise and healthy living will be done for the right reasons.
Our body image will change, even if our body doesn't.
And it will be similar to when my husband walked into that room and I knew that I was loved.
Cherished. Had been seen, and had been found to be beautiful, valuable, worthy of love.

Our self image will be changed forever.
Our entire lives will be changed forever.
And we will stop missing out on the greatest love the world has ever known.

Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
    Forget your people and your father’s house. 
 Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
    honor him, for he is your lord.

Psalm 45:10-11

Monday, July 8, 2013

James. To my surprise.

I've been reading the book of James lately.
Actually I've been following along with a small group of friends and we are all reading the book of James. We chose James because we were looking for a Beth Moore Bible Study that none of us had already completed.
James won.

To be honest, I wasn't so sure about it.
I was concerned that it would cramp my style.
I've always seen James as a style cramper. That sounds horrible. I mean, dude made it into THE Book of books. Who am I to say anything? My little blog corner of the world hasn't even made a portion of the dent that James made on the Christian community.

But the fact remains...
his book scared me a little.
And isn't that funny?
because I don't think that we as Christians like to admit when we aren't in love with a portion of the Word of God. Like it's blasphemous to be real or something,
 and like God is surprised.
Pretty sure He already knows.

But  I have to tell you.
Whenever I would read James, all I could think of was how I was going to face trials, but I was expected to be joyful. And how I needed to be a doer, not a hearer only.
That my tongue could use some taming.
To be careful not to show favoritism.
To be patient.
And to remember not to promote strife.
The list goes on.

All that to say.
I wasn't thrilled that we chose James.
I think I would have rather done Revelation.
And that's a book with a big reputation for being scary.

as I've been reading the book of James, and following Beth Moore through the pages of the New Testament, I've found a couple things to be true.

First of all, I am occasionally incorrect.
This was found out almost immediately. Wow. Imagine my surprise.
I'm a mother after all. Don't we know everything?
Apparently not, because James is actually not the book of condemnation that I had always believed it to be.

I remembered something that I had forgotten.
I love the Word of God.

I had forgotten because I had allowed myself to be swept away by the million other things that are going on in this busy life of mine. And many of those things sadly have the influence of the world on them.
I had forgotten because I had come to look at time in His Word as a requirement instead of a privilege.
I had forgotten because I am human.

But now I remember.
I remember what it feels like to be excited over finding a nugget of truth.
I remember what it feels like to know that I know that I KNOW that He is real.
And that He is for me. And never against me.
I remember what it feels like to find my purpose in His Word and in Him.
I remember what it's like to fall head over heels for Him.
And I'm so glad I'm here again.

All that to say this...
His love for you is beyond the imaginable.
Sometimes it is difficult to hear Him in the midst of the world.
The world screams when He whispers.

And this...
If you find yourself bored with His Word, or lacking in motivation, don't give up.
Don't think He doesn't know this about you, or is angry over it.
Why else would He put it on the hearts of so many to write studies that help us navigate the waters of His Word?

Sometimes I can go it alone. Just Jesus and me. We walk through the pages of His Word and He shows me stuff that freakin. blows. my. mind.
Other times I need help.
A tour guide if you will.
And Beth Moore is proving to be a fabulous guide at this point in my journey with Him.

But either way, the point is to find yourself there, in His Word,
with Him, on a daily basis.
It is something you will never regret and will absolutely benefit from
on a scale of HUGE.
Win. Win.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

We all have bad days...

Today was one of those mornings where it took every ounce of strength I had just to make it to the shower.
Don started the water for me and waited till I was safely inside before he went to see if there was any orange juice. He's convinced that orange juice will make me feel better.
He's probably right but I don't think we have any.

By the way, the picture is just because I think it's beautiful.

Mornings like this are rare, thank God, but they are certainly my least favorite way to start the day.
I prefer an early morning walk, a bowl of malt-o-meal, and maybe a cup of coffee.
Along with a little time in my recliner to help ease myself into the day.
Easing myself into the day is something I'm accustomed to.
Dragging myself to the shower while stopping to breathe is not.
Like I said before. Thank God.
Years ago when I was diagnosed with CHF, He got me through a particularly ugly rough patch and we've been close ever since.
Because of this, I try my best not to talk about CHF too much.
Partly because I don't want to be defined by it, and partly because I prefer to focus on how grateful I am to be here.
And mostly healthy.

But we all have bad days.
And if we only share the good days with one another, then we isolate ourselves from those around us.
We paint a life-picture that has been photoshopped for all to see, all the time wondering why we are lacking in the relationship department.
It is important to be real.
In good taste, with respect for others, and with the benefit of some filtering, but real none the less.
Had a bad day?
Me too.
Wish you felt as normal as everyone else seems?
Same here.
Tired of your same old problems?
I hear ya.

So allow me to say this.
Today I all but crawled to the shower.
But tomorrow I plan to have my morning walk and a cup of coffee.
Because my God is good.
And He is with me.
Both when I walk and when I crawl.
He can do the same for you.

Your devoted friend,

just wondering...

There are times when I wonder how He sees me.
And when I say He, I mean God.
I understand that He loved me before He created me
and that He gave His life so I could live
and that nothing can ever separate me from His love.
But I still wonder.

I mean, think about it.
What if you had the choice to bring a child into the world knowing that they may grow up and choose to live a life without you in it.
Although, that's probably not the best example. Pretty sure most of us have done that.

I guess my point is this.
It was pretty amazing of Him to bring me into this world, and give His life so that I could live mine, all on the hopes that I would want to have anything to do with Him.

I guess that's what I mean when I say, I wonder how He sees me.
I don't really wonder how He sees me.
I just wonder what that feels like.
Probably feels a lot like parenting.

Sure do love Him.

True Love & The Bachelor

Anyone else watch the Bachelor?
Of course people watch it. I'm just curious as to how many of you watch it.
Seems like not very many of my friends keep up with it the way I do.
Each and every season I tell myself that I'm through watching it and that I won't watch another one.
I remind myself that while it's entertaining and romantic, it isn't a true depiction of the sort of love that has stood the test of time and it often just stirs up frustration for those of us who have been married forever and feel like we've "lost that lovin' feelin".
And please don't misunderstand me. It would be a complete and total lie if I said I didn't love my husband. Because I absolutely do love him. I also love the fact that he & I are best friends and that we get to spend our lives together. He's perfect for me and I believe I'm perfect for him too.

And this is why I'm torn.
Shows like the Bachelor. Or any show-slash-movie-slash-novel that plays up the romance without showing the long term, real life stuff causes me to think about what I have, what I desire, and what is most important in life.

It's not that I want to trade in the model I have and start over.
It's not that I regret the model I chose.
It's that the romance, the beauty, and the adventure are a pull on me. Always have been.
Maybe because I'm a female? Or because I'm a romantic? Or because I have some unresolved issues that would require long, drawn out, expensive counseling sessions?
Probably all of the above.

I just don't think we can ignore the fact that while there are exceptions to every rule, it's generally women that tune in to watch these shows, buy these best-sellers, and go see these movies.
This romance stuff was written for us, ladies. Whether we realize it or not.

And the bottom line is this...
It started with Him.
No, not Sean. or Brad. or even our significant others.
The one true love of all of us.
Some of you may not believe this either. And that makes my heart break for you, but it isn't the point of this post.

I believe that God himself put these desires for beauty, romance and adventure inside of us.
I believe it was His idea.
I believe He is a romantic and that He understands the female heart.
And while He may not give two hoots about whether we watch the Bachelor.
Or read romance novels, or watch chick flicks for that matter.
I believe that He understands the "why" of what we do, and what we long for...
 and I believe He wants to help us satisfy the desires He placed inside of us.

So, when I'm praying for my marriage, I ask Him to show me the way He sees it.
The way He sees my husband.
The way He sees me.
I want to experience the love, the romance, the adventure, all of it;
but I also know that while I was made in God's image and have the ability to love,
it is only through a real one-to-one relationship with Him that I will find the ability to love myself and others to the fullest capacity.
And that the adventure and the romance will then automatically fall into place.

Just a thought...

but God...

If it isn't guilt, it's fear.
And when it isn't fear, it's worry.
And when guilt, fear, and worry have each had an angry turn, depression goes in for the knockout round.
And by the time they are done, I'm pretty much whipped.
Whimpering in the corner, fetal position assumed, flying the white flag of despair.
Way to start the weekend, huh?
You're welcome.

If you know me very well at all, you aren't surprised by the above.
If you have just met me, or been blessed to be excluded from this part of my life, you are very likely surprised.
Perhaps shocked.
Because let's face it, coming from someone that looks like this most of the time, all of the above is not expected.
So before I give you the wrong impression and lead you to believe that I'm Jekyl and Hyde, allow me to explain.

God has seen fit to bless me with a personable personality. I love people, crowds, fellowship, friends, relationships, etc.
One of my favorite things to do is to find someone's need and meet it if at all possible.
I honestly get a weird, non-creepy rush out of seeing people enjoy life.

So the yucky stuff I deal with sort of catches me off guard. It overwhelms me at times, and it threatens to undo me.
Why, God?
It doesn't fit.
It makes no sense.
It's growing old.

The answer?
I don't know.
Other than the fact that God would never do this to me.
I'm His child and He wouldn't hurt me any more than I would hurt one of my children.
So the only thing I can think of is that I live in a fallen world, and I'm not the only one the enemy would love to see incapacitated.
Name your gifting and he will try to break it down.
For you it may be singing, or writing, or leading.
For me it's loving on people.
That may seem like not such a big deal compared to singing, writing, and leading, but I'm pretty sure it's a big deal to the person who needs a hug. a meal. an encouraging text.
someone to pray with them.

But when I'm afraid or depressed, all of that is extremely difficult because it's way too hard to focus on myself and others.

So what to do?
"But God." (and that's in a ton of places in the Bible, kids.)
And it's pretty much my favorite phrase in His whole entire written Word.
"But God..."
In other words, freakin
He can handle it.

Got depression?
Got fear?
How about anger?
He specializes in redeeming any and all.

And I can only say this because I know firsthand.
I know firsthand that the more time I spend with Him,
the more often I'm in prayer,
and the more of His word I read...
the less I deal with all the crap that tries to keep me from being the person He created.
So, in closing...
living the dream?
Well, it's directly connected to plugging into Him.
Because with Him?
All things are possible and life is worth living.

Happy weekend, loves!
MUAHH!! xoxo

Post-It-Notes from God

So today I woke up with a heavy heart over the thing that I am facing right now.
It isn't depression this time. It is something that I don't often face, but when I do, it threatens to freakin disable me.
And as I passed the amazing Word of God, laying on my desk, I felt that tug on my heart that reminds me that I need to go there even when I don't want to,
And today I didn't want to because it seems that my entire existence is threatening to be disabled by this thing.
So I ignored my lack of desire to read the Bible and picked it up anyway.

I read John 8:31-32.
And that little light bulb in my brain popped on.
There is an answer to this problem I'm facing??
Apparently so, and while I've read this passage a million times before, it hit me in a new way today.
It flooded over me like a tidal wave of refreshment.

And it's not like the voice of God spoke from the heavens with a booming voice.
Or a British accent.
Because, whytheheck do they always give Him a British accent in the movies, anyway???
Sorry. neither here nor there.
But, it was seriously like He was summing it all up for me when the little brain bulb popped on...

"Have a problem, Christa?
I have an answer.
In fact, I know exactly how to help you be free of this issue.
There is hope. There is peace. There is a cure.
It is found in my Word, and it'll bloody set you free."
I tend to think that God talks like me sometimes.

Point of the post:
what struck me most about this passage of Scripture is that you don't tell free people how to find freedom.
You tell those who are bound.
In other words, He knows what I'm dealing with, and He isn't even mad about it.
He knows the extent of it, and how deep go the roots.
And He has a plan.
Because a very long time ago, the love of my eternal existence, my Jesus, looked into the future, saw that I would be bound with this very thing, and He wrote a prescription.