Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Miraculous Life

This is going to be a post looking back...and to the future.  My last year at Northwestern College...Er, University of Northwestern--St. Paul, MN?  I was seeing a therapist on campus.  She had encouraged me to write down what my life would be like if everything was perfect--as if somebody waved a magical wand and my life was everything that I wanted it to be.  So I did.  I gave it the title, "A Miraculous Life."  While I was looking for a recipe from my first college roommate, I found it in a box and thought it very fitting to share parts of it, hoping that I might be able to encourage others and also that I could use this blog to process through it and my life right now.  Note that I was not yet married, but a few months away from the wedding.

The first part is too personal to share that involve people that I am still close to today.  I will tell you that the first line is,
"In a miraculous life, I would be perfect."  
 Wow.  What a standard.  Consequently, although it seems as though I started out thinking about myself, the next paragraph consists entirely of how other people would be or act differently.  Interesting how I felt as though my perfect life would consist of others changing and not myself changing.

The next paragraph starts focusing on myself, however, just focusing on very negative things that have affected me a lot.
"I would not have anger issues and I would constantly be expressing the fruits of the spirit.  I would especially know how to go through things in my past without letting it drag me down.  I would be able to have a conversation with my ex without getting anxious.  I would be able to only have compassion for [a certain person] and not twisted feeling[s about that person].  I wouldn't ever question my thoughts about others.  I wouldn't commit adultery with my thoughts, because I am so committed to Josh and so in love with him, that I simply cannot.  I would be able to get my intimacy needs met by God, Josh, and other friends and not just one person.  I won't miss [a certain person] because that tie won't be there anymore.  I won't think about those times or when I was questioned or when I laid on the table for hours in emotional and intellectual agony.  I won't remember him."
I had to change things in this paragraph, but I really wanted you to see it all the same.  This paragraph is totally and completely focusing on my past.  On key people and events and how I was still enslaved to them.  I don't know about you, but I can almost hear the agony in my own writing in remembering these things and realizing how enslaved I really was.  "I won't remember him" is a very final thing to say..And honestly not something I think that God wants for me.  I don't think that God wants me to forget what I did and how I suffered because He wants me to share it with others as a testimony of how far away from all of that He has brought me and so that I can have compassion for others who have fallen into the same trap and are lost, while others may see somebody who is beyond reason and just give up on them.  I would be far from where I am today if I didn't have at least one person who didn't give up on me in my past.

This is one of my favorite paragraphs, this next one.  In fact, after the previous one, it gets so much better, and I hope you can see why for yourself.
 "I would have a very solid relationship with God, praying to Him all throughout the day.  I would be able to hear His voice and not question whether it is Him or not, but just know.  I would be able to worship Him without words, giving Him my whole heart and not just lip service.  I'd study His Word daily and simply bask in it, learning more about Him every day.  I wouldn't let fear stand in the way of obeying Him and others would see me as a godly woman because of it.  I would be able to successfully minister to my family and they will be able to see a light in me and not just a "Christian."  I'd reach out to those who are not saved because I value their lives because God gave me His love for them.  I would speak openly about my testimony, not being ashamed ever, because the story is about God's grace and love and power--not about how sick and twisted I have been.  I would do anything for God, because He is my Beloved and my Lord."
WOOHOO!  Maybe parts of that sound like still wanting perfection, but I believe that God wants us to do all those things and that through His strength and power, someday we will attain it!  If you also see..When I start talking about God my whole attitude changes!  It doesn't really focus on what I'm lacking as much as who I want to be in a positive way.
"I would be the friend that people trusted and felt they could talk to.  I wouldn't make others feel like crap by forgetting important things or putting others before them.  I would know how to make each friend feel special and I wouldn't let laziness, selfishness, or fear get in the way of that.  I would learn how to understand others and let them know that I get it, yet let my presence be enough, instead of always trying to find words to fix things.  I would visit friends who live far away, simply because I love them enough to make that sacrifice.  I would gladly sacrifice for all my friends because I love them as I love myself."
Ah, friends.  Something really important to know about me is that I believe that if God hadn't broken into my life when He did, I probably would have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (click on the blue words to learn more about it if you don't know what it is).  A person is not diagnosed with BPD until early adulthood, the reasons are because it can look like a really out of control teenager!  However, God started getting my attention when I was 17 years old, and by this time any symptoms of BPD that I had were growing and getting more intense.  I was very impulsive, with money and sex and doing things because I felt the intense desire to, without thinking of the consequences or how I or others might feel about it later.  I had been cutting myself on and off for 3 years and had suicidal thoughts.  I struggled with depression and a constant fear of abandonment.  My emotions were a constant roller coaster and so were all of my close relationships.  As I have learned more about BPD in college, I have recognized these things in my life still, although often as very minor compared to how they were or how they would need to be in order to be diagnosed.  I also have a good friend who has BPD and her and I have discussed how if it wasn't for God stepping into my life when He did, I could have easily been in some very dark places like she was.
"In a miraculous life I wouldn't be afraid to trust people.  I wouldn't be afraid of abandonment by adults or people in general.  I would invest my time and interest in adults and let them minister to me.  I would tell my family the entire truth and it would help them see God...I would be a good role model to my sisters and they would see Christ in me and be attracted to Him.  My sisters would love me for me and not just what I can do for them or give them.  I would love my sisters with an unconditional love, calling them out, but never yelling--always being honest and gracious."
Beginning early in my walk with Christ I have had a difficult time with older Christian adults.  I would try to talk to them, desperately needing guidance and advice to work through and get out of the bondage that I was still in, but I would either be ignored or brushed off.  This cut me deeply.  I had a hard time trusting after that and would not as willingly reach out to "adults", even through college.  I presumed that my past was "too much" and that it was overwhelming and nobody wanted to deal with it...Or me.  I have felt this way, even still.  The churches I have attended have left me sometimes feeling a sense of community or friendship, but I have never sensed a permission to be myself or to openly share my testimony or to talk about it--even though it is what made me who I am today.  People are closed off to each other, preferring sarcasm and joking around, so that they don't have to open up and be vulnerable, because they think that people will judge them or think less of them.  I don't know about you, but it hurts my heart to live that way.
"I would be involved in advocacy for human/sex trafficking programs.  I would be giving of both time and money to these organizations.  I would be efficient and loving while working in these environments.  I would help these children and women work through their trauma and learn to live a normal life.  I would show them God and not let them die in sin and their pasts.  I would work in a prison and those around me would see Christ in me without me saying a word about Him."
And most importantly:
"In a miraculous life I would not struggle with my identity and I would find it solely in the Lord." 
I am praying today that I can start living my miraculous life.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Set Your Hearts On Things Above

My little sister is on her way back from a missions trip at Fort Defiance in Arizona with Youth Works. She went with her friend's church. I saw that she was online on Facebook and started a chat with her asking how her trip was going. She told me that it was amazing and that, "I learned so much and it was an amazing experience." I started crying. I have been praying for this trip and for her--even asking friends to pray for her. My family has been through a lot of ups and downs. My little sisters have perhaps had the most difficult adjustments to make and have not always known how to cope with those adjustments in healthy ways. I have been so blessed particularly since getting married a year ago to see them blossoming into beautiful young ladies. Not being in school anymore, I have had more time and resources to be able to see them more often. I have seen them both have more and more moments of being responsible and caring and less and less moments of selfishness and lashing out. They are 15 and 12 years old, so I get it--believe me!--but it is still beautiful to see them changing. Those are really hard ages to be in our culture today, and yet I am constantly surprised by how mature and wise they are becoming. It is so encouraging! Thinking about this has actually encouraged me to dig into my bible right away and I found this, which I think is something that I need to be reminded of:
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."
Have I shown my sisters this? Do they see that I am more concerned with God and what He is concerned about than my cell phone, my job, how far along our house renovation is coming, or what kind of things we have in our house? I confess that I think that they hear me mention God or tell Bible stories, but they might not see what an intimate relationship with Jesus might look like from me, or even that I care about God more than materialistic things or my own contentment.
"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."
I am becoming more and more convinced in my heart that taking off the old self and putting on the new self is often a daily or even hour-to-hour occurrence. It's something that I can only do through complete dependence on God, with His strength. That can seem overwhelming, but I believe that God will help us if we really want to do it. Why wouldn't He? He doesn't leave us alone on this journey. He's there even when we think He's distant or absent. Think of the Footprints poem and google it if you don't know it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Little Things

I know that it has been a long time since my last post.  I suppose that a lot has happened since I last posted! Some great news was that in the month after I had started eating gluten-free I lost 10 pounds!  Unfortunately, I think that I may have gained it back ;)  We don't own a scale, I just have the Wii Fit balance board if I want to check it at home, but that doesn't happen very often anymore.  I think that part of my problem was that I was eating more foods with fat and protein (like nuts and other grains) without doing the extra activity needed to put the protein to use in building up my muscles or to use up the calories from the fat right away.  I am hoping to keep going for walks and go rollerblading again.

Last week I went for 2 long walks, went kayaking, and rollerbladed 5.5 miles.  The night after I rollerbladed I got sick--puking for the first time in 11 years.  My stomach hasn't really been the same since and I have been very sensitive to sugar and sweet things with fake sugar in them.  Maybe it is a blessing in disguise!  I have already known that I am sensitive to sugar and other sweeteners but didn't really care.  Fortunately I want to stop feeling sick, so hopefully I can keep on track with eating sweet things in moderation.

It seems that my health is dependent upon the little things.  Physically I need nine--yes nine!--hours of sleep every night to function well.  I apparently need to moderate my intake of sweets as well as choosing to not eat gluten.  I also need to be active, both in little every day tasks and in going for walks, rollerblading, kayaking, and things like that.  If I don't do those things it is evident in my health.  I get sick, I gain weight, I am exhausted all the time, I am forgetful, I am crabby, etc.  I think my mental health is dependent upon some physical things too, interestingly enough.  I can't think well if I am too tired or I physically don't feel well.  My emotional and spiritual health especially are dependent upon my relationship with the Lord.  In my mind and heart I know when I am not healthy emotionally or spiritually and I even know what would help bring me back to being healthy--spending time with Jesus.  Now don't get me wrong, it's not like I just spend time with Jesus and everything is fixed and all my problems are gone.  It's  more like...I spend time with Him and I am able to think more clearly.  My priorities are realigned with what is really important and I am often able to see things in a different perspective than before.  Sometimes I also just have a sense of peace that would otherwise be unattainable in such a circumstance--the peace that surpasses all understanding.

With all of these things it seems like I could write a list of rules and things that I "should" do.  It would be so easy to do that but I know that I would find myself breaking all of these rules all the time.  Instead I want to make these things become my lifestyle.  I want to be constantly in an active relationship with Jesus and be doing other things to keep myself healthy.  I want to set a good example for those around me, including my sisters and any children Josh and I may have in the future.  Not that they must attain whatever standard I have set, but that they may see my life and the goodness in it that comes from Jesus (for from God comes all wisdom, knowledge, and understanding) and want it! That's the way that I want to live my life.  That people can see Jesus in all the little things in my life and want Him.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


So since my last blog post I hadn't been doing very well with watching what I was eating or exercising or even being active at all. I was feeling sorry for myself, yet would still give in to nearly every craving that I had for junk food and would still sit on the couch and read or go on the computer when I was home. I was fatigued much of the time and work was draining. Then yesterday I read an article on why a woman decided to change to a gluten-free diet. Her blood sugar level would drop if she didn't eat every 2 hours and she would get an intense headache, become irritable, and feel nauseous. This had happened since she was a child, so she thought that it was just how she was. After she switched over to a gluten free diet, those symptoms went away. That specific story caught my eye because that is often how I feel if I haven't eaten for 3 hours. I also am starting to believe that I have inflammation not only in my joints, but also in my neck and shoulders partially from MSG's, which often seems to contribute to my migraines.

Yesterday I started looking up gluten free recipes and I read up on how just substituting "gluten-free" versions of food is not the best decision. I went to the grocery store to pick up some almond milk (the only milk that I will drink) and I was able to look at Cub's "organic" aisles more in-depth to see what they have. We are going grocery shopping tomorrow after work and I think that I might add some of those items to my list. Mainly quinoa (just a little bit to try it out), a gluten-free yogurt I found, and perhaps some organic tea just cause I think drinking something flavorful would help to curb my appetite. Turning my diet completely or mostly gluten-free would probably have to wait until our kitchen is done so that I can bake things so that I have more things to eat and so that we have room to store the extra ingredients that I would need to buy. I'm not sure about buying some of the gluten free bread at the store, it looks so fake and is so expensive, I don't know that it would be worth it. Anyway, those are my gluten free ideas so far!

Today I took the dog for a walk around the block, but felt super productive and active doing it ;) I also ran errands and did some cleaning/chores around the house. All of that equals me being more active (except for work) than I have been in a very long time. It feels soo good!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why I'm Doing This

Although this started out as a journey to eat healthier and exercise more, I have decided to expand my blog into simply being more active (not just going to work, school, and home) and becoming healthier in mind, spirit, emotions, and body.  There are a lot of reasons why I am starting this blog and deciding to officially embark on this journey.  Here are some:
-I am tired of not feeling comfortable in my own skin
-My husband and I want to start having a family within the next year or so and I would like to become healthier before that happens
-I want to glorify God through my body; "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." 1 Cor. 6:19-20
-I want to be more alert and energetic
-I want to be more disciplined
-I want my life to be a testimony to others of God's faithfulness and goodness
-I want more accountability and I figure that if people read this blog and notice that I haven't posted in awhile they can ask me how I'm doing
-I would like a space to process and share my thoughts about God and where He is in all of this
-I know that it will be more difficult years down the road to change my lifestyle and habits and so I ought to start now

I hope and pray that this blog becomes a tool that God uses to change me and perhaps inspire others.  I know that with any hard thing or change, it is easier when you know that others are going through a similar experience and you're able to encourage each other.  Please tell me if you are embarking on a similar journey and we can encourage each other!