Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Rant Interrupted

This morning, I weighed.  After three solid weeks of watching what I eat and exercising consistently for the last two, I'm stuck in the cycle of gaining and losing the same two pounds over.  And over.  And over again.

So I planned to come here and write a rant about how ridiculous and overrated this whole Made to Crave nonsense is and how it really helped for the first weeks, but it hasn't made a lick of difference overall.  I even worked part of it out in my head and planned to whine about PCOS with a renewed vigor found only on a grade school playground.

I can't do that now.  I can't rant because God brought a scripture to my remembrance that identified this ridiculous cycle for me:  "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2).

This is where the rubber meets the road.  At this stage in the game, I would declare weight loss ridiculous, quit my efforts and drown my sorrows in a bucket of carbs that would shame Panera into the ground.  Then I would've called my mother and my husband and made them commiserate with me to the point of tears.  (I may or may not have done that last thing before the scripture was brought to my attention.)

But Romans identified a cycle I have ignored in the past.  I lost my sense of determination because I was caught up in the idea that my sacrifice deserved, not just a return, but an immediate return.  So I prayed in the car that Christ would continue to draw my heart to servanthood for His glory.  And, again, I asked Him to remind me of Philippians 3:19:  "Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things."  I don't want to find glory and indulge in the temporal.  And I know that means dedicating myself to permanent changes that will result in some awesome, albeit sometimes delayed, returns. 

But ultimately, these things are leading to a servant's heart.  Isn't that whole point of sacrifice?

(For Women's Bible Study ladies who may read:  Isn't this just reassurance that it really is God's kindness that leads us to repentance?  I was caught off-guard by it, and thankful that He is gracious enough to point out the cycle for the sake of real change and repentance.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Satisfying My WHOLE Self--Made to Crave

When the CCL asked me to join this Made to Crave class, I didn't have high hopes for what would come out of meeting with a bunch of women I didn't know.  Frankly, I assumed being in more Bible study would be good for my parched soul, but I did not anticipate losing one pound.  So I readily signed up and committed to join her in our journey through Nehemiah.

I didn't know that God and all his heavenly glory would converge on me with a singular message that would be pounded into my body with more persistence than a teenage boy's bass:  What's your purpose?

If running is for the sake of running, what good is it?  If weight loss is just to fit into a smaller size or get healthier, what's it worth? 

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I'd gotten that I can't just go to church, sing a song or memorize scripture in order to fulfill an obligation.  Those things were specifically to bring glory to God and align my heart with His.  But nothing about my eating habits or exercise goals fit within the framework of kingdom goals.

In group yesterday, a scripture on the opposite side of the page from a few weeks ago caught my eye:
For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live
as enemies of the cross of Christ.  their destiny is desruction, their god is their
stomach, and their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is on earthly things.
                                                 --Philippians 3:18-19

TerKeurst follows that scripture with commentary:  "Paul reprimands those whose lives are self-indulgent rather than self-sacrificing.  By claiming the benefits of the cross but denying its power in their lives, he says they se tthe stage for their own destruction" (Made to Crave Participant's Guide 56).

For me, identifying self indulgence or selfishness is a little more obvious when it involves money or serving others.  But when it involves food?  That can't apply, can it?

But right there where I couldn't ignore it, I saw something--"...their god is their stomach..."

A life of service--of self denial--is one whole life, not a person fragmented into parts where Jesus applies here but doesn't apply here.

And I'm just now figuring it out.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Let My Life Song Sing Part 2

Part One

Last night, I dreamed it again.  I was in a sloppy sweatshirt and some pair of stretchy pants walking down my driveway.  I was lost, or at least I felt like I was lost, and I was looking for Favorite.  I kept saying his name and sobbing because I couldn't find him.  And then I was aware of a suffocating emptiness. 

When I wake up, I know it's not a dream.  I can relay the emotions of that day and the days before with alarming clarity.  I don't necessarily remember events in sequence, but I haven't forgotten the way it felt.  In short:  suffocation.

The real days that followed might as well have been a dream--hazy, undecipherable nonsense.  I cried and learned, for the first time, that not all tears are satisfying.  They came in unpredicable, seizured outbursts--a response to pain I couldn't identify or treat.  If I could've spent them like currency, I would've bankrupted myself in the first few hours with the hope of washing my hands.  Finished.  But they budgeted themselves.  And even now, they demand to be used as payment when I believe the account to be empty.

My prayers were wordless sobs.

Then there was the antagonistic swirling in my mind.

If I shouldn't fear and if I belonged to Him, why did this happen?  He could've stopped it.  Almighty God holds dominion over death; therefore, this situation didn't need to exist.

Since it does, what now, God?  What do I do now?

Then there was that story:  the disciples were on the water; Jesus was sleeping.  There was a huge storm.  Waves swept over the boat.  In a panic, the men woke Jesus and (I imagine) yelled, "Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!" (Matt 8:25).

On the black and white pages of scripture, my prayer existed.  We were drowning.

I whispered that prayer before laying my head on my pillow.  I whispered it when I got up in the morning and when I brushed my teeth.  I whispered it on the drive to work, when I turned off the ignition or took another breath before walking into my classroom.  I whispered it before every church service and after every song.  It was every inhalation and exhalation of my body.

Lord.  Save us.  We're going to drown.

One evening, when the tears were spent for the time being, I opened the Word to read my life verse.  I needed reassurances because I was drowning in grief.  Instead of starting in verse one, my eyes drifted to verse two of Isaiah 43:

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

I prayed, "Lord, we're drowning.  Save us from drowning."
He responded, "I'm here.  I see the water.  But you're not going to drown."

Those moments are replete with an intense needing.  I can remember the water and the waves and I dream about the suffocation and the needing and the desperation. 

Some days I think about those waves and how scared I was when we were just trying to keep the boat afloat.  I think about His direct response to a specific prayer and I wonder why I don't spend more time in the river laying my heart bare in front of Him.

"We didn't count on suffering
We didn't count on pain
But if the blessing's in the valley
Then in the river I will wait"
                                                            --Delirious, "Find Me in the River"

I'm waiting here.  For You.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Let My Life Song Sing Part 1

For the past few weeks, PastorJosh has been encouraging us to think about our Life Verses.  Currently, my Life Verse is looking a whole lot more like a Life Chapter because God continues to speak new Truths out of the same segment of scripture.  Apparently I'm supposed to be learning that all this stuff is tied together.  (Who knew?!)

A few years ago, I had never even heard of the concept of a Life Verse.  When Beth Moore shared it during one of our women's studies, I was confused as to how one determined which verse was "the one."  Did you just pick one you really liked?  Did someone else choose it for you?  Would it come out of a fortune cookie?

Mine came as a response to struggle.  My struggle?  Worthlessness.

I have always had difficulty feeling like I was good enough.  I've never believed I was pretty enough.  Or smart enough.  Or thin enough.  And those feelings of less than have carried over into a good number of my personal involvements.

I struggle to lose weight because I don't believe my body is capable of doing it.  I have difficulty with school because I am constantly comparing myself to the people around me which results in insecurity in my intelligence.  I am forever feeling like I don't measure up at work because I'm not as creative/determined/scheduled/prepared/conventional as I should be. 

So when Satan attacks my life, he generally does it through self worth.

"They don't like you because they know who you really are, Crys."
"You are fat because you are a loser.  You'll always look this way, you know."
"It doesn't matter how many hours you devote to the job.  You'll never be excellent at this."
"You might as well get used to being mediocre.  That's all you'll ever really be."
"They're really only tolerating you.  You are such an annoyance to everyone here."

They are harsh statements.  But I have mostly believed them.  And I can tell you that losing our child was the nail in the worthlessness coffin.  It was one more thing I couldn't do.  One of our most basic, primal abilities as women and one more example of failure in my life.

It was official.  I sucked.

During Believing God, one of the things we were supposed to remind ourselves of was this:  "I am who God says I am."  But all of these things (and then some) were the very reasons I was struggling to believe God had already defined me as more than a conqueror.  My life seemed to breed failure and I was terrified I would never really be of value to God.

When fear was addressed in one of our studies, I made it my mission to look up several verses that included the words "fear not."  (There are so many of them in the Bible.  Don't believe me?  Do a search.)  I read through them until I got to Isaiah 43:1:  "Now, this is what the Lord says, the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel:  'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.'"

It was my deepest fear recorded in the middle of scripture.  I was (it's still a struggle) terrified I would never be the person God had called me to be.  I had screwed up one too many times.  I would continue failing Him in the most monstrous ways possible.  I?  Wasn't worth the breath He gave me.

But when I read that scripture, I felt like God was starting a personal conversation with me.  Me.  The person least worthy of His personal attentions. 

That conversation hit me in the places I needed it most.  He began by addressing my fear, and reminding me of His enduring, redemptive presence in my life.  Then, by calling my name, He basically indicated He knows me.  He doesn't just know my name--He knows my true self...the things I hide and the internal struggles.  And his response to all that mess?  I belong to Him.

Intrinsically, don't we all want to belong?  This verse, more than anything, has been a reminder that I belong to someone who is willing to redeem and claim me.

It hasn't been magic.  I still struggle to believe those things and often find myself repeating those words.  Just because something is True doesn't mean we automatically believe.  But I know there is freedom for captives through the words of scripture, and I have committed myself to a belief that I am who He says I am even when that seems like the most ridiculous premise available.

I'll continue this series with the ways God has spoken to me through the words of Isaiah 43. 
Next up:  A specific and direct answer to prayer.


Do you have a Life Verse?  How did you find it?  I'm interested in the ways God speaks to His people.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The CrazyCowLady

I'm running a 5K.

Since I hate running with the fiery passion of one thousand suns, this wasn't really part of the "the plan."  (Though, I'm currently realizing that whatever semblance of "plan" I had going on is collapsing around me.)  And it wasn't really my idea.

See, I have this friend.  Since it's her life ambition to ride a cow, we're going to refer to her as the CrazyCowLady or CCL for short.  We're adding "crazy" to the beginning of this sentence because the CCL has this impeccable way of jumping in feet first and totally believing everything is going to be fantastic.  Forget glasses and water.  This girl sees life through a kaleidoscope.

And, to be realistic, this thing didn't really start with a 5K.  It started with Bible study.  All I did was offer to help her organize the Women's Bible Study for the summer.  I had some ideas and I'm used to handling the administrative side of things.  She agreed and it was pretty smooth sailing.  (And a blast.  She's hilarious, ya'll.)

Then she asked me to go to another class with her; her step-mom was teaching Made to Crave on Monday nights and we could go together.  We could encourage each other!  We'll lose weight!  It'll be awesome!  Almost every woman who has taken this class has lost 30 lbs!

I had read Made to Crave and believed that the accountability of a group would be a good thing (and I have a lot of free time in the summer) so I agreed  to go with her.  And, truthfully, it has been a good thing.  We're both working with the LoseIt! app on our phones (joined by  my mom and my aunt) and there has definitely been a lot of encouragement and accountability that has come out of the first two weeks of this book.

Right now, our word is "Determination."  That's been a rough one for me.  There have been a litany of circumstances that have demanded determination in my life, but sheer distrust in my ability and hatred for my body usually come out ahead. 

But the CCL?  Believes that having a buddy cancels out all negativity.  Which led us to a 5K.

Yesterday, I got a text: 

CCL:  I want to sign up for the Color Run...Think about doing it with me!  PLEASE!

Me:  You're killing me.

CCL:  Listen, it won't be hot, we can have a fun weekend and we have a long time to train.  We can walk/run!!  Come on, Friend.  It's a good goal!

Me:  You'd be an awesome drug dealer.

CCL:  LOL!  You can't stall life.  We can walk it/run it.  It will be so fun.

Me:  Right.  Fun is not a worry I have.  Dying while doing something I hate?  Different story.

CCL:  You won't die.  I promise.  The odds are good we can do it.  Come on buddy!!

Me:  (sigh that wasn't a part of the text)  Ok.  I'm in.

CCL:  Woo Hoo!  I'm so proud of you!

And that's how ended up committing myself to the Color Run in Memphis, TN.  My goal is to be able to run at least half the race, but we'll be training to run the whole thing.  Thankfully, walking is acceptable.

You ever had a friend like the CCL?  One you didn't know you needed until God slapped her in your life?  Tell me about her.  Reassure me that I'm not the only one :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Waiting for the Dam

The worst.thing.ever happened to me this afternoon:  I ran out of words. 

I was staring at a computer screen, attempting to write a letter to the women who will be participating in the Nehemiah study at my church, and I realized I had nothing to say.  Nada. 

I reasoned my lack of verbosity was due to finishing a guest post for another blogger earlier in the day, but then I realized I had been working on that post for more than two weeks. 

This?  Is the verbal Sahara.  And it's crazy because I have all of these ideas that need a little flesh on their bones.

I don't think this is a permanent place--just somewhere I'm going to navigate while I spend a little time listening for God's voice.  Also?  I'll be logging time here just to keep myself in the practice of writing.

Hopefully, I'll be able to put the proverbial pen to paper on some of those other topics in the near future. 

Personally, I'm praying the dam holding the loquaciousness will break.  Soon.

Friday, June 8, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (6/8/2012)

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 175)

After a frustrating turn (again) with Fat Tuesday, I went to see a nutritionist yesterday.  I had spoken to a nurse before I met with him, and she assured me their "plan" was much lower in carbs than the diabetic diet I had been following.  When I sat at his table, however, he showed me a plan that accounted for approximately 120-140 carbs a day.  I was confused; he noticed my confusion and asked a question:  "You look like you don't understand?"

I told him what the nurse said and stated I'd already been following a plan that kept me at or under 80 carbs per day.  He leaned back in his chair and asked for details.  I slowly began recounting carb choices, how I determine how many I get per meal and how I attempt to make that happen.  Then he said something no doctor has ever said to me before:  "It sounds like you're really trying.  How did you learn all of this?"

I told him I read until it made sense.  And I fought it for a long time.  But my insulin resistance demands attention--no matter how much I'd like to pretend that any traditional plan would work.

We chit-chatted; he said he really didn't have anything to teach me.  And, for the first time since losing a bunch of weight in a really questionable way, I felt like I knew what I was doing.  So slow-going or no, this is where I am.

I hate my legs.  I love maxi-length dresses.  I will buy as many of them as I can while they are "in" so I can wear them when they aren't.  Don't judge me.  (I bought another one at Sam's the other day.  To date, I don't think I've paid more than $25 for any of those dresses, and I've gotten 2 from Walmart.)

Laundry is no bueno.  I'm envious of the women who know how to get smells out of under armor and how to keep mixed color clothes bright and clean.  I did learn to use aspirin on my whites so maybe I'm getting the game?

For the first time in a while, Favorite and I cooked at home last night.  We roasted asparagus with garlic salt and fresh cracked pepper.  This is totally the way to eat asparagus.  Actually, with a few exceptions, this is the way to eat most vegetables.  Get yourself some grapeseed oil and get on it.

I've never participated in more than one Bible study at a time, but thanks to the prompting of my friend, Courtney, I am doing just that this summer.  The first study is based on a book I read last year--Made to Crave--and is a focus in learning to fill our needs with God instead of food.  There's a little more to it, but for simplicity, we'll leave it at that.  The second study is Kelly Minter's Nehemiah we are hosting at our church.  Courtney is leading; I'm doing the behind-the-scenes work.

Oddly, instead of being overwhelmed, I'm pretty excited about both of them...even when I found out our study has at least 25 women.  (25!  Women!)  So I'm way outside my comfort zone and scared to death.  But ready.  So, so ready.

I need to set an exercise goal.  Here's the deal, though:  I have no idea what sort of goal I should be setting because most long term goals seem to focus around the idea of running.  I hate running. 

So now I'm left wondering if I should get a gym membership or go it alone.  Classes are out at this point, because I can't afford to get a rec membership for the summer.  Thoughts?

I so need a summer schedule.  I don't do well with large blocks of free time. 

So I guess I'll be sitting down to determine what my Mon-Fri will look like for most of the rest of the summer.  Of course, exceptions are always welcome for people I love and miss.  Blue Sky, anyone?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Admission Price of Community

I realized something yesterday as my dad and PastorJosh battled wasps with a can of aerosol hairspray, a pool skimmer and a stick:  some of the best shows don't charge admission.

Of course, the day we open the pool is always an event--wasps aside.  It requires a minimum of six people (we had seven and a baby yesterday), and generally, someone "accidentally" ends up in the pool.  (Yesterday that person was NumNum-the-Wonder-Child who managed to slip in while we were letting her dangle her feet over the edge.  She's a sneaky one.)  When our tasks were accomplished, we all sat around the dinner table and laughed manically over stupid stories or antics.

It's community.  And a sweet reminder of Wednesday night dinners of yore.  (I'm introducing new vocabulary words to the blog.  You're welcome.)  But that experience also made me think that shared community isn't all shared meals, swatting wasps as a team and laughing.  Sometimes it looks significantly less "shiny, happy people."

Earlier this week, PastorJosh tweeted, "Being a critic isn't a spiritual gift."  It hit me, because, truthfully, the same community that allows for shared happiness also means direct access to the crazy ins and outs of individual personalities.  And direct access often leads to commentary.  Personal commentary.  About other people.  And their situations.  Which are none of our business.  Most of the time.

At the end of the year, one of my students commented that I was really great at constantly telling her where her papers needed improvement, but I wasn't so great at telling her how she had improved from the last paper.  She isn't wrong.  I've spent most of my academic career learning how to critically assess material and comment on those assessments.  I'm good at it because I've had a lot of practice.  And more times than not, I find myself using those same critical assessment skills to evaluate other people or their life decisions even when I need them to grant me graciousness for mine

But the tenor of my community has shifted.  The people who have partnered with me are less willing to laugh over criticism as my spiritual gift.  They don't make light of the serious.  I'm learning what it looks like to love.  And God is gently reminding me about my call to encouragement even when it's counter to most aspects of my personality.

Like most other things, I'm sure I'll be writing through this process. 

Right now, I'm just thankful God is still working on my heart.  I'm praying He'll help my unbelief.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Compilation of Attributes

We are officially back from visiting BigBro and SILSheena.  I documented most of our trip through Twitter and Instagram, so I probably won't recap here (with the exception of a few things I just feel the need to discuss because that sandwich at Melt bears some meditation).  Now that vacation is over, I've had some time to sit and consider a variety of topics:  the school year, church, Bible study, weight loss, etc. 

And I promise I'll try to talk about any of those things as interestingly as I know how.  I sure wouldn't want to take you away from your DVRed episodes of The Hatfields and McCoys because holy crap that was amazing TV.

(Totally serious for a minute.  Did anyone watch it?  The History Channel hit it out of the park this time.  I totally felt invested in those people--though I couldn't quite understand the allure of Johnse Hatfield?  Favorite and I rarely watch more than a couple hours of TV at once, and we found ourselves watching two episodes back-to-back--about 4 hours worth of television.)

Meanwhile, I've wisely been considering which attributes of which women I would gladly take as my own.  So far, here's what I've gotten:

Face/Hair:  Isla Fisher (runner up:  Emma Stone)--What can I say?  I love red(ish) hair and pixie-ish looks.

Figure:  Julianne Hough (runner up:  Jessica Alba)--Abs.  That's all we need to think about here.

Intelligence:  Melissa Fitzpatrick--I'm pretty sure she's younger than I am (anyone know for sure?), but her reading prowess is off the charts.  And she writes so beautifully.

Dance Skills:  Shakira (runner up:  Jessica Alba)--I just want to be able to belly dance...but Alba's turn in Honey was enough to convince me she deserves some recognition here.

Singing Chops:  Christina Aguilera (runner up:  P!nk)--Aguilera gots skillz, yo.  Anyone who has heard her sing knows that's for sure.  But I also have a thing for P!nk's I'm-not-trying sound.  I should also mention that it wouldn't hurt my feelings to sound like Kelly Clarkson, Natalie Grant or Carrie Underwood, either.

Determination:  Christine Caine--I've never had one woman who singularly made me feel so capable and slacker-ish in the same second.  God is certainly using her.

Writing Ability:  Nichole Nordeman.  Or Melissa Fitzpatrick.  Or Beth Moore.  Or Madeleine L'Engle.  Or any woman who has made me feel like words jump off a page into the chests of the people who read them and make an impact.

That's all I managed to compile before our nine hour car ride came to a gracious end.  But surely I'm not the only girl who's ever compiled attributes?


Saturday, June 2, 2012

In case you aren't already...

In case you aren't already, you should.follow on twitter or instagram to get the low down on our visit to Ohio. Click on the sidebar to get started. See you on Tuesday!