Seasons Changing

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven

Ecclesiastes 3:1, NSRV

Voices of the past are echoing through my head this beautiful fall afternoon.  There is something about the crispness in the air at this time of year that makes my thoughts turn nostalgic and a little melancholy at the same time.  When I feel this way I always wonder if I am secretly an introvert pretending to be an extrovert.  Regardless, a reflective mood is upon me.

Life hasn’t taken me where I thought it would.  Then again, does life truly ever turn out the way we think it will?  My current reality looks very different from my childhood dreams and visions.  By default I am not implying that my life is bad in anyway, but it definitely doesn’t resemble the dreams of being a stay at home mom of two or three that drives a mini van and goes on play dates at the library with a lifelong best friend.  Not bad, just different.

Along the way I have made choices that set this path before me.  Other times choices were made for me based on the needs of my family.  One of the things that I don’t think I did enough of earlier in my life was pray to the Father about where he wanted me to go. I didn’t ask what choices he wanted me to make.  Have you ever wondered if God regrets the whole humans have free will thing?

The faces of dearly loved ones who have now departed from this life also fill my mind on these first days of Autumn.  The years that have passed since losing them slip away but the ache of missing them still runs deep.  It seems like they were just here yesterday and doesn’t seem possible that is has been years since I last talked with them.  The wisdom they shared with me lives on in my memories.

The faces of dear friends that are kindred spirits also come to mind as I am in this melancholy reverie of sorts.  I treasure the memories of deep conversations on religion and also fun times of fellowship with these wonderful guys and girls that were here in my life for a season but have since moved on to the next stops in their journeys.  Perhaps I am feeling that loss so keenly right now because I am discovering so much in my Fellows readings that I am just bursting to have discussions about.

But all of those choices and people have brought me to the place I am today.  So I am very grateful for every choice, every voice, and every face that I now miss.  Each choice and each person in their own way shaped me into the person that I am becoming today.  There have been moments of extreme laughter as well as times of excruciating pain, but every experience has had a hand in shaping me into who I have become.  So while I sometimes wonder what life would be like if different choices had been made along the way, I am incredibly grateful for all of the blessings I have received in this mixed up crazy existence of mine.

This latest path in my journey may just be the start of the next big chapter.  Who knows what wonders and experiences the path holds for me, but I am secure in the knowledge that I am no longer alone in my travels.  With God as my travel guide the skies are the limits.  My future could look very different indeed from my present.  Perhaps there is an occupational change around the bend.  I don’t know where this new adventure in learning is taking me, and that is okay, because I have the heavenly travel guide laying out my path and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Psalm 138:8, NSRV

Weighty Battles

This past weekend was an awesome weekend spent on a retreat.  It was the starting place of the next great chapter in my spiritual journey.  So much took place, my mind is still processing it all.  I will be writing more on that later after things have percolated a little bit longer.  This afternoon I need to focus on another train of thought.

What I realized this afternoon is that the evil one’s darts come quickly and his attacks can come at a moments notice.  This is not new information, or even a new revelation for me.  It did manage to creep up on me with absolutely no warning though.  My guard was down, which is never a good thing.  I was catching up on Facebook because I was offline for the most part while retreating.  And that is when I saw it.

It was a picture filled with wonderful, God seeking people.  The joy of a wonderful weekend spent together forging lasting connections is evident on each precious face.  And then BAM! The darts begin to fly.  I find myself extremely opposed.

The attack is fierce, its aim perfectly tailored for me.  I am immediately distracted from all of the good of the weekend and immediately focused on the image of myself in that picture.  He holds back no punches as his darts hammer into my brain directing my eyes to my form and whispering”look at that giant blob in the picture.”  Look at that person!  How can anyone take her thoughts seriously?  She obviously doesn’t even take herself seriously or she wouldn’t be so disgustingly obese.  She needs to find some self-respect and a lap band.  The object of these cruel and vicious thoughts is the woman in purple in the front row.  Me.

In my mortification, the evil one now begins to use me as a weapon of destruction towards myself.  I blindly start to reach out to someone, anyone, that will validate that incredibly chubby woman in that picture is not me.  Enter Maximus, bless his little heart!  I show Maximus the picture that is now evoking feelings of worthlessness and ask him, “Why am I always the biggest person in every picture?  It doesn’t make sense!  Why am I that large?  I try so hard to eat right!  Why do I always look like the only large person in every single picture?  Do you see any other bigger people? ”  Not my finest moment, I will admit.  I am trying to console myself by  trying to identify someone else so that I am not the only one lost and alone.  His response? Priceless. “Well, not as big a you….”  and then utter silence as his eyes grew very large and very round “…..I mean not as cuddly as you!”   Followed by intense giggling.

He quickly tries to make amends by saying, “it’s not funny as in haha funny, but funny as in I can’t believe I said that funny.”  Followed by five more minutes of uncontrollable laughter.  At that point I realized how quickly the evil one strikes.  I am confessing all of this freely to anyone that will take the time to read it.  In my human weakness, to cover up my own inadequacies and shame, I tried to lash out by looking for physical imperfection in others to make myself feel better.  My petty, weak thoughts a result of my own brokeness intent on tearing down another precious creation of our loving God hoping to make myself feel better.  Reverse body shaming at it’s finest.  My hypocrisy abounding.

I refuse to be used as the evil one’s number one weapon against myself anymore.  After asking God to help me, he showed me how far I have come by placing positive thoughts in my head to replace the negative ones.  So if you have stuck with me this far through my low, celebrate some of my triumphs in this battle of the bulge with me now.

Since writing my initial post about my weight struggles I have become ten pounds lighter.  That is nothing to sneeze at!   It is only the beginning of a long journey, but a weighty one.  I shed the equivalent of a large sack of potatoes or a small Thanksgiving turkey or two bags of sugar.

I am also winning the battle in my struggle with carbonated beverages.  Although still unclear on what I will drink going forward, I am proud to proclaim that it has been over a week since I have consumed a diet soda.  Water, ice tea, and coffee have been my beverages of choice.  Truth be told, I could really go for a Dr. Pepper 10 right now.

This summer marked another incredible first for me.  I participated in a 5K Color Run and finished it!!!  Along with my mother and son.  Such an awesome achievement shared with two of my greatest supporters!  God has indeed been faithful to me as he leads me in my healthier life style pursuit.

Yoga is next on my list of physical firsts to try.  Another blessing that has come out of the wonderful retreat this past weekend.  Perhaps there will even be a picture or two of that eventually.

Spiritual Warfare is real.  In moments of great spiritual awakening the army of darkness will strike to distract you from the purpose you were created for.  They do not play fair.  They will exploit any human weakness they can get at you with.  Not because they are out to get you.  They could care less about you.  The army of darkness attacks because the evil commander’s goal is to destroy our heavenly Father. We are all beloved children of God.

Continue to move forward firm in your faith.  Your Father in heaven loves you, just as he loves me.  He sees us as his perfect creations.  We are enough.  We are good.  We are flawless.  If you still have doubts of about this (okay, so maybe I am still trying to make sure I feel better about myself as a daughter of the almighty King of creation) you need look no further than the recent new release by the group MercyMe.  It says it all, flawlessly (I couldn’t resist! lol):

I can’t promise that I won’t become discouraged as I continue to move forward with my weight loss struggles.  However, I can say with the utmost confidence that my Father in heaven delights in me exactly as I am.  He is my strength, my salvation, and my shield.   When the darts of evil attack me he will protect me always.  I am safe and secure in the arms of my Savior, Christ Jesus.

Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4, NRSV