Sunday, January 16, 2011

Fasting for Adam

I realize I have neglected my blog as of late (late being a year and a half), but I have been busy since May partnering with my sister and father in blogging as we pray for my cousin Adam throughout his recovery following a motocross accident. Today we are rejoicing that he has uttered his first words on his long road to full recovery!!

See our Fasting for Adam blog for more information.

And at some point, perhaps I will revisit my blog...and I hope you do, too.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Once Hated Dark Chocolate (and Other Reasons I Know Transformation is Possible)

Mmmm. Yum. Dark chocolate. I tend to love the European brands, ranging from 75-95% pure cocoa. I let it melt in my mouth as long as I can. I am a dark chocolate fiend. Really! Ask anyone who has seen me near a bar of that delectable goodness. I have trouble putting it down. One of the most amazing days of my life was the day I visited a chocolate factory in Switzerland and sampled the darkest of the dark to my heart’s content (and stomach’s chagrin).

I can remember a time, though; I didn’t like chocolate at all, not even a bit. I would exchange Halloween candy with my siblings just to get more of the sweet, sugary stuff like Starbursts, Sprees, and Sour Patch Kids. They could generally have all of the chocolately candy bars they wanted from me.

I have changed.

Yes, that’s right. I am not the same as I once was. (Shocking, right?) Fortunately, the scope of my transformation extends far beyond my changed taste in sweets. I have plenty of other good examples of change in my life, both trivial and significant:

-From not making my bed as a child to making it nearly every day of my life since freshman year of college
-From general disgust with avocado to love for avocado so great that I eat it straight up with a spoon
-From always wanting to catch my shows to not having had a T.V. for years
-From hate and dread of running to restlessness if I don’t get in a run or hike
-From adamant opposition to attending Oregon State to having graduated from OSU ’04 after transferring following my sophomore year at Northwestern and loving it!
-From thinking that I was not one of those crazy, “called” missionaries who would live overseas to living two years in Kazakhstan as a missionary and never regretting it for a second

Well, the list could go on and on. I think you get the point. It’s just that I realize that each of these examples goes to show me that change really is possible. While some of the changes listed are a matter of grown-up preferences and choices, others are truly matters of the heart.

I wasn’t able to transfer to Oregon State until I was able to let go of pride (because a state school just wasn’t good enough while I was in high school), misplaced worth (the issuing school of my degree should NOT be a determining factor in my value as a person), and my own plans of my future (farewell dance degree and NU friends).

I wasn’t able to pick up and move to Kazakhstan without God gently and diligently tugging on my heart to let go of the conveniences and comforts of my familiar, Western world while also giving me a greater love for people of all nations and an expanded vision for people everywhere to know and experience His love. I remember shaking with fear when I realized in the summer of 2001 that God might just want me to live in Kazakhstan. By the time I went in 2005, I couldn’t wait to go. I was ready. To this day, I cannot wait to return.

Thinking back on this is important for me, because it reminds me that I am not “stuck” as I am. I won’t always be this way or that way. For me, I don’t have to just accept that I’ll just always struggle with food and body image issues. I never need to think that I am and always will be too selfish to serve or just too dramatic about my own life to listen to others share about their lives. I can have an appropriate view of self. I can submit to God and others in humility. I can learn to put my own needs on hold and stop vying for attention so that I can truly get to know others.

I can become more the person God wants me to be, each and every day.

God has been changing me all along, and He will continue to do so. He is in the business of transforming lives. This is good. I could use a lot of help, and I’m so glad that He is not finished with me…or you.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:23 & 24

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

God Can’t Love Me Any More Than He Already Does

I recently posted a Facebook status, sharing with my world of over 800 Facebook friends, that I was trying to comprehend the truth that there is nothing I can possibly to do make God love me more than He already does. Absolutely, positively nothing.

I received a fair share of comments. Some people encouraged me to keep letting the truth sink in. Others identified with the difficulty of truly living in light of this truth.

Why? Why is it so hard for us to receive the depth and the riches of God’s love, which He so generously lavishes on us? (Don’t answer that. I know that there are a million and one reasons.) The fact of the matter is, whatever it is that is keeping us from experiencing God’s love to the fullest must be handled appropriately, as in destroyed, obliterated, crushed.

For me, I know if I work at showing more kindness, serving more hours, coming up with better ideas, being a better friend, bearing more fruit, avoiding failure, and on and on, that somehow this will help me earn and keep God’s love and favor. Wrong.

One of the best decisions I made today was to become a mass transit commuter for the first time. I took the bus! People have laughed at me all day long for doing such a “crazy” thing, but I know that if I want to be more of a reader, I will have to spend some time on a bus with a good book. I am so thankful I did just that today, for I was able to read a section on Joyce Meyer’s book Battlefield of the Mind about having the mind of Christ. Good idea for a girl who wants to explore what it means to have transformed thoughts.

In the particular chapter I enjoyed today, the author stresses the importance of being “God-loves-me”-minded. She writes, “If we never meditate on His love for us, we will not experience it.” I don’t know about you, but I want to know and experience God’s love for me in a mighty and powerful way that changes my life as a result.

While I could continue on with my ramblings on the matter, I shall let God do the talking and share just a few of the prominent verses about God’s extraordinary love for us. And you know what? I think one of these is going to go on my bathroom mirror…just so I am sure not to forget!

…God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins….So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in Him.
1 John 4:8b-10,16

We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 35, 37-39

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Psalm 36:5

For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100:5

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Psalm 145:8

Monday, July 6, 2009

Beginning a Transformation by Taking a Look at the Past

I was living every child’s dream. Not only did I have a great Halloween costume idea, but I also had a mom who went way out of her way to design and construct the coolest costume a kid could ever have. I was a jelly bean jar – a plastic-wrapped, balloon-filled, hat-topped jar with sparkly cheeks…and I knew the love of a mom who took the effort to make me a jelly bean superstar, a child with the coolest costume to show off.

Unfortunately, my memories of being that jelly bean jar tragically turned into those of a nightmare. I giggled with my classmates, eager to march through a first grade classroom and snake around the desks while proudly displaying our costumes for all to see. How could anyone find my costume less than the best? Soon, however, the excitement I felt and the happiness I radiated were quickly dashed by the words of one six-year-old boy during my second grade class’s costume parade: “You make a good jelly bean jar, because you’re fat!”

I don’t think I need to offer a long explanation to describe how those words could damage the tender heart of a somewhat chubby and always sensitive seven-year-old girl. I may, however, need to describe to you the powerful impact those words have on the life of this 28-year-old writing to you today.

Though I hate to admit it, I must confess that to this day, all of my proudest moments – those of actually making the varsity cheer squad, graduating valedictorian, completing college, landing a job, as well as my most challenging journeys – applying for colleges, interviewing for jobs, dating, considering my calling in ministry – are all marred by this idea that no matter how much love has been poured into making me who and what I am, no matter how confident I should be to stand before other people as I am, it’s not and never will be good enough. I’m too fat and thus, nobody wants me this way. I might as well give up.

“Seriously?” you must ask. “Seriously?”

“Yes. Seriously!”

Ridiculous, right? In my head, I must agree with you. This sounds pretty pathetic coming from a girl who appears to many people as active, ambitious, friendly, articulate, and confident. Honestly, I don’t know how I have managed to dupe so many people into believing that I am anything less than a struggling young woman consistently striving to be anyone or anything other than who I am.

Well, I tell you that this has simply got to come to an end, and I pray with all of my heart that it will. Although…(sigh)…I know this may be a long process, and I hope I do not give up while God is at work transforming my heart and my mind. Today, I officially asked for God’s help in allowing me to forgive that little boy. He is not to blame for my 21 years of thoughts and choices since he uttered those ignorant words. He is not my excuse for poor behavior, the way I have focused on physical appearance throughout my life, or my lack of effort in truly understanding my identity in Christ. Because I am forgiven, I know he deserves my forgiveness. I freely offer it today, knowing that it is my own life, not that of the now grown boy, that is about to change because of it. This is my first step in transforming my thoughts so that my mind may be renewed.

While I may have put on a few pounds in the past two years, it doesn’t make me any less worthy of love or less able to do what God has created me to do. That Halloween, I did not make a good jelly bean jar because I was fat but because my mom made me the best jelly bean jar there ever was, and I knew it. Besides, I was NOT a jelly bean jar, I was me, dressed as one. In the same way, I want to understand that God made me the best me there ever was, and whether I am fat, thin, or in between, I am not my body. My soul simply has a body to use for a time.

I invite you to join me on my journey of transforming thoughts so that our lives may be changed...

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2