Friday, September 18, 2009

Fat and Secure?

There I stood -- shirt cut low, pants that hung perfectly to show off my curves and hide the parts of my legs I didn't like, make up just right, hair in place, lollipop hanging out of my mouth. I was dressed to get attention and I would do anything to get it.

So insecure and lost that finding "love" and security in feeling wanted by a man, I was obsessed with pursing those feelings. I drank, danced, and did things at night that I was ashamed of in the light of day in hopes of feeling whole, loved...good enough.

That girl lives in my past. I don't often speak to her or think about how hard life was for her. I choose to push out the memories of things she shouldn't have done. I live in my safe, happy suburban life filled with church, children, and stay-at-home-mom moments. In one unexpected moment, my suburban life crashed into hers and I learned something painful about myself.

I stood in my driveway unloading groceries and talking to my mom on my cell phone. At first I didn't pay attention to the whistling. Then I realized someone was whistling at me -- cat calls. I was so flustered and uncomfortable I got off the phone with my mom so I could carry in the groceries quickly. When I darted out the door to get the last of the groceries our Rottweiler puppy darted out before I could put my hands on him.

All the guys in the neighborhood are in awe of our not-so-little little guy and when they guys at the end of the street saw the pup their whistles were redirected in his direction. As Triton, the pup, ran down the street towards them I ran straight towards the guys that had been just making me so uncomfortable.

The conversation was awkward and I was questioned about my "status"...funny I thought the large diamond ring and its shiny companion on my hand would have answered that, however I happily informed them that I am married. To one man's credit he apologized for disrespecting me and my husband by carrying on. (wondered why it is not disrespectful to carry on like that if I had been a single gal, but I didn't say anything)

When I finally herded the puppy back to the house I tried to explain to Will that the guys had been whistling at me, but as I heard myself describe what was going on it sounded like bragging and I shut up. I couldn't find the words to describe how weird the whole thing made me feel and tried to shrug it off.

As the night wore on I began to think of the time in my life when those whistles would have touched off different emotions in me. I would have walked toward those calls, a wiggle in my walk, a little bit of attitude, confident in my ability to turn heads. And then I realized something...I'm avoiding that kind of attention. I'm avoiding it to the point of making myself unhealthy.

During the Beth Moore simulcast a few weeks back Beth spoke about the "heart of your desires" and how that trumps your desires. God looks beyond what we say in we want in this moment to meet the deepest desires of our hearts, and often He uses those desires to draw us to our destiny. She urged us to lay our desires out on His tell Him what we want. I didn't know how to do that, I don't seem to know what I truly desire in life.

I began to think about how I want to be thinner. It seems the billion times I've tried to revamp my eating and lifestyle I am derailed -- mostly self sabotaging. Including a very recent effort.

Then I began to see into my own heart. I do want to be skinny, but you know what I want more? To be loved and valued, but not the false love and fleeting value that comes from physical acts. Not the love and value I pursued in the dark days of my early twenties. As I began to hide my body under layers of fat I found that I don't get attention from men (save for my loving, amazing husband). I don't feel cheap or like a "piece of meat". No one notices me. There's safety in that for me.

How do I become a woman who is running after God but at the same time not running away from who I was? I am not that girl with the torn and tattered heart hidden under sexy clothes. I am a chosen woman of God who He called out of the darkness and into the Light (see 1 Peter 2:9). There's more safety and security in that Light than any body type can give me.

I don't want to run from that girl anymore. I want her to look into her future and know she finds a love that fills every fiber of her insecure being and that love blesses her with an earthly love that she doesn't even dare to dream of. I don't have to hide or make myself unhealthy...maybe I'm ready to lay a desire in His lap.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Room Looks Happy

I was so tired and sore, but as I walked up the stairs behind her I could barely contain myexcitement. I stood motionless in the hallway as she opened her bedroom door.

As her family and friends began to sing "Happy Birthday" Isabel ran int my arms. I carried her into her room. My heart still pounding, my eyes filled with tears and the butterflies banging around in my belly were nearly the size of those hanging from her ceiling.

After 48 hours of scraping wallpaper, painting walls and furniture, assembling furniture, hanging decorations, making the bed, loading in the shelves and so much more we were done. It all came down to that moment.

Oh, how fun it was, friends! For Isabel's birthday we made over her bedroom. She spent two days with one of her grandparents while we created a pink and green oasis fit for a guitar playing, singing, dancing, dimpled princess.

Even before I saw Isabel's reaction (and we were hoping she loved, but you never know for sure) it was one of the best days of my life. Beyond all the big milestone days (you know wedding, birth of children, etc.) there are those days that are what life and family are all about. This was one of them.

For a few moments after we finished and the waiting for her arrival began I sat on the floor next the closet. I pictured the coming days and years in his room. The laughter, the sleepovers, the prayers, the fashion shows, the singing, the learning, the reading, the heartache, the love, the little girl that will begin to blossom here...and I cried and prayed. What an amazing blessing my sweet daughter!

Here are a few pictures of her room. Oh, by the way her reaction was so cute she was embarassed and unsure, but as she began to explore she told me that the room looks happy and it makes her feel happy inside. Yay, that's what we were hoping for!

View from the hallway.

the view if you were laying with your head on her pillow

Friday, September 11, 2009

Hope Still Reigns

As the beer began to flow the stories started.

My memories of September 11 were painted by television footage, radio interviews and painful memories of loss and anger. But as I sat at a bar a few blocks from the footprint of the World Trade Center I heard things that no man should know or remember. Stories of seas of shoes, the anger that was borne over recovery efforts, bucket lines, paper, smoke, clouds of despair, the sounds of people jumping to their deaths, buildings still standing that were forever ruined in the aftermath of terrorism, and of men who once guarded one of the world's greatest buildings and now guarded a hole in the ground from an office in a trailer.

A series of events after Sept. 11th led to a friendship with a NYC cop and a Port Authority officer. Those friendships beckoned me back to the city and to a giant hole. Days before our arrival they had finished the excavation of the site and were now doing what Americans do best -- rebuilding hope and chasing progress. Even the wild anger of mad men and the unfathomable sorrow of loss weren't stopping the American spirit. Hearts would beat again, trains would run, life would be lived...hope still reigned.

There is no doubt that day changed the lives of most Americans -- be it the loss of life, the loss of a feeling of security, the reality of hatred in the world, or something else. We all carry away scars. And while admittedly I don't know the glory that will befall God from this tragedy I can tell you something that has happened in my own life.

I am thankful. I am more aware of the men and women who put their lives on the line everyday; be it around the block, across town or miles away. The first responders carry a burden that often goes unnoticed in the mad rush of life today. Now, as sirens blare or lights flash, I pray. Father, protect them and those they are going to serve.

In the Culpeper community tomorrow, September 12th, there is an opportunity to say thank you in person. A Community Event for Culpeper, southern Fauquier, Orange, Madison & Rappahannock Counties Honoring our Firefighters, EMS, Law Enforcement & First Responders -- Code: Honor. Even if you aren't local, take a moment to visit the website and leave a thank you message for a local hero.

I honestly don't know the good that has come out of September 11 in the lives of those who stood among the rubble and searched for signs of life and death. Those men who I drank with, I know there lives have forever been changed and they might not ever be "okay" again. I pray that God will use them mightily and let them learn to rest in His peace. There are a lot of questions I have about that day and while I likely will never get to ask God or hear the answers there are a few things I do know...that He has showed me.

Whether or not we ever bring the mad men to our justice God will bring them to His. The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:7-9

Hate is not to be in me. If I turn the anger and hatred toward the men that hate us where will I be? Angry. Fighting. Fearful. Bitter. No, it is not ours to hate. Daily I choose to turn that energy to God and ask Him to work in the lives of those that would destroy our nation founded on freedom in Him. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:43-45

Hope will always survive. I was made to put my hope in a Creator who chose to love me. He will be forever and so will my hope. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

So, friends, today my banner of hope flies; even as my heart remembers the ache of eight years ago. I am thankful for the stories of survivors, rescues and hope. I am thankful for the men and women who chose that day (and every day) to serve. I pray for those who carry scars from that day, who live loss everyday; I pray that You are their hope Father.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chasing 99 0n My Way to 34

As Isabel was coloring her Bible lessons worksheet today she began to sing. The words of her song touched my heart...

"God keep talking to me,
Because I love you,
I'm listening..."

Oh my!

Yesterday was day one of 99. I'm chasing 99.


I saw a link on Facebook yesterday to Chasing 99. Read through the Bible in 99 days -- they have a schedule laid out and talk about the time commitments (also have plans for the New Testament or just the Gospels and Acts).

I've never read through the whole Bible. I liked the thought. And as I began to unfold the timeline in my head, I realized I'd be finished with the reading days before my birthday and a couple of weeks before Christmas.

So, my new goal: I'm chasing 99 on my way to 34! I can't wait to hear what God has to say as I turn my attention to His Word. As I gear up for the holidays, wind down the year and find my legs as a homeschooling stay-at-home mom God is ready to speak.

And as Isabel shouted toward the ceiling of our office/study this afternoon...

"God keep talking to me,
Because I love you,
I'm listening..."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Bees of My Life

I love to take pictures; to capture a moment or a glimpse of hidden beauty. I see much of life through the lens and even when I don't have the camera to my eye I often see snapshots that would have been click worthy.

Sunday afternoon I took a walk with God and my camera. As I wandered the fields and woods around our family's mountain home I asked God to open my eyes. Father, I prayed, open my eyes to Your creation. Let me see the details of this world that you placed around me. Help me find the photos.

I saw a butterfly on a bush and rushed to capture the moment. I had taken some shots earlier of a pretty beat up swallow tail butterfly. I was hoping for the perfect specimen and the perfect picture. Before I could push the button the butterfly was much for that.

As I stood there at the edge of the tree line I heard a buzzing. My eyes focused in on a bee buzzing for tiny flower to tiny flower. I moved into the edge of the bushes and began to focus the camera on him. I could hear his buzzing stop as he climbed into the bloom. I saw his legs laden with pollen as he bumbled through his God-given job. He was beautiful and perfect.

I must have taken 25 pictures of the bee and was caught up in his flora-centered world when my daughter, Isabel, appeared next to me. "Whatcha taking pictures of mom?" She asked her sweet little sing-song voice. Like I woke from a great dream of bright colors and untouchable worlds I was confused and didn't answer her. After a second round of questioning I managed to mumble something about a bee.

"A bee? Why? Bees are gross!" She said as she wandered off to live her own adventures in the fields of our mountain oasis.

And as I stood there, I was annoyed. The bee was not gross, he was perfect and beautiful. I saw him not as a bug or a nuisance (not at all the way I saw the bees that have stung me in the past!), but I saw him as God made him. I saw him in living color.

Monday brought ponderings of what to write today for my first blog of this week. Should write of recharging my batteries in the mountains of Virginia? Should I write of the blessings of last week -- family, friends, and an adorable husband? Should I write about my bee?

As I thought about the bee God began to prick my soul a little bit. Well, really, a lot. I prayed to see His creation the way He sees it. So I could capture the image, so I didn't have to engage but observe. I don't ask God for the in my life. I don't ask God to let me see His children as He sees them. I don't ask God to show me how their are laden not with pollen or the beauty of flowers but by heartache, pain and the trials of this life. I don't focus my heart or my eye upon them.


Honestly, I don't know. And in all truth, I feel awful about it.

So, this week I pray....Father, let me see Your children as you let me see that bee. Open my eyes to the details of their busy lives and heavy loads. Instead of buzzing and chatter, let me hear the rhythm of their life and their work. Let me be caught up in the moment with them so that I can recall details they share later to give them a Word or share a smile. Allow me to tend to the bees in my life, not through observation or a disengaged lifestyle but up-close and involved that I might impact others for You. Give me Your eyes to see Your creation with the love You have for it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

1 in 90,000

Faces turned heavenward, arms spread reaching for the hands of the Father, music just a shadow of the voices in praise...worship. Often on Sunday mornings I listen to the voices fill the auditorium and imagine that God is looking down. He kisses the foreheads of His children tipping their heads back for a glimpse of His face. With the strong and gentle hands of a Father He reaches down to grab His children's hands. Imagine how His heart beats with delight in hearing their voices.

The thought always amazes me. An amazing picture.

This weekend I had the opportunity to view the Beth Moore simulcast. While the broadcast was amazing (and I will share another day what God gave me) there was something else that I could barely fathom.

90,000 people. There were 90,000 people in 516 locations (in 45 states and 8 countries) participating in the simulcast. That's a lot of people, yeah?

90,000 voices. When Travis lead us in amazing worship moments there were 90,000 voices raised. Can you imagine how it sounded in heaven?

90,000 voices saying "I love you, daddy" and lifting their little hands and faces to Him.

And as I stood there amazed by the thought of being part of something that large. I was humbled in the same breath.

90,000 voices but He heard every one. God heard my voice as loud as the worship leaders. He kissed my forehead and touched my palms. He delighted in my singing (as off-key and choked up as it got!) as He delighted in our worship.

Father, thank you that when feel small, insignificant...just one of many...You remind me that You know me. Be it 1 in 20, 1 in 90,000, or 1 in million; You hear my heart and my voice as loud as any other. Thank you.