Encouragement

What God May Be Showing Us When We Go Through Deep Waters

This isn't about resolutions but sticking to a vision even when your plans for the new year don't go according to YOUR plan. It's about what God is showing us when that happens. As I've been going through deep waters the last few weeks with healing, physical pain and even emotional pain, I've been seeing just what I think God tries to show us at these times and I want you to hear what God's teaching me as it may help you. At the time of year when we make it all about performance, it's important to know that grace is all we need. When we've got an agenda, He may have another plan - a detour for us to heal us in ways that only He can. We just gotta trust God in the detours.

Verses to Look Up for Study: Isaiah 43:10, Psalm 73:26

5 things to remember to do when we’re going through tough times:

  1. Seek God First. Matthew 6:33
  2. Feel what we Gotta feel and trust Him to guide you. John 14:27
  3. Know he’s with you in it - won’t leave us or forsake us. Deuteronomy 31:6
  4. Feel the fear but trust him. Isaiah 41:10
  5. Whatever happens, he’s working it out for our good. Romans 8:28

Lastly, this song came to me as I was preparing this message today and this version came up. Thought it was a great version of God working in pop culture:

Just the Way You Are: How to Be Still and Enjoy the Season that You're In

I love the changing of the seasons because they are a reminder of how life ebbs and flows. As we watch nature change right before our eyes, we see that we can trust the beautiful picture God is painting. I remember this really hit me as I drove up North the fall after my Dad died to go write my book. As I grieved, I just had to be still and even enjoy the season I was in surrounded by the beauty of nature. I'd lost my Dad and it was devastating, but it was also really beautiful. My focus at the time was letting my heart heal from the loss. Working out, was not. I did what I could with the season I was in. 

What are you doing today in the season that you're in with what you have? Are you keeping it simple? Or are you hurriedly planning for the next because you are afraid to feel what's going on in this one? If you are piling on a million things so you stay busy, I get it. I had a recent bout with that and didn't even realize I was doing it. It must have been the post-high school students/empty nester brain. As soon as the house was empty it was like, "Okay, let me do everything on my list!" I'm sorry, what? 

Let me tell you what I am doing to be still and enjoy the season I'm in. I'm working on a new book, as I mentioned last week. I'm also focusing on getting back into my body.  We all go through seasons where our body is more the boss than we are and I am coming out of one of those. Now I have the time and the space to get healthy again. But as someone who has been an exercise addict there are two principles that are incredibly important to me:

#1. I come into it knowing that my body is a vessel for the Holy Spirit but also knowing that it's not a god to be worshipped. 1 Corinthians 6:19 AMP tells us, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body."

#2. It's also true for me that physical health is important, but spiritual health is even more so. These are important things for me to remember on my journey of health. 1 Timothy AMP tells us, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come."

*****

So, I've been, as Fergie says, "up in the gym just workin' on my fitness."

Photo Credit: www.secure.static.tumblr.co

Photo Credit: www.secure.static.tumblr.co

Here's the thing though. This season I've been in with my health, I'm not coming into a new one trying to "fix" myself so I can be good enough or accept myself. I accept myself as I am today. I want you to know that you don't have to wait until you are "fit" to be accepted. When we accept that we are loved by God, we can accept that God wants us to change for the better. In John 10:10 it says, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Part of that is feeling good in our bodies so we can be vessels for Him! It's not about getting better looking or fitting into better clothes, but ultimately it's about Him. The healthier we are, the more able He is to use us. But that doesn't mean He's not using us now! He wants to work with us to improve our health, he's not EXPECTING us to get it right so He can accept that. If that's what you believe, please listen to me, that's not who God is. He loves you JUST the way you are.

When we can see ourselves as God sees us, we can meet ourselves in the season we're in and begin to move forward. That means accepting where we're at and totally ENJOYING that part of the season! And yes, that means not focusing on our plans or a goal weight. It means focusing on HIM. Focus on the journey, not the goal. Focus on  Him in the midst of it, not down the road. Imagine God is the yellow stripes down the middle of a road and just keep your eyes on Him. 

Some of us aren't in seasons where working out is really an option. We can't get away because work is too busy, kids are busy, or a beautiful baby has come into our life! That's okay! I truly believe THAT is where God is wanting YOU to Be Still and ENJOY the Season you're In. If you can get away and go for a walk or hit a yoga class, then go for it. But don't beat yourself up for where you are at my friend! 

Oh, and guess what I've got to do this every day too!! Right now, not having kids in the house has allowed me to get up early and go workout to get the day started. So I've been doing a mix of walking, barre workouts and yoga. I love it because they all are low impact, and the classes have awesome instructors and atmospheres. I'm not running miles that kill the knees that I have left. I'm being gentle on my body and mind.

It's funny because last week I was at an early barre class and I talked with two ladies after class. As we rolled our eyes to share in the exhaustion, we laughed about how we're moving slow and how we used to be able to do push-ups, planks and runs a lot more in the past but we are meeting ourselves where we're at. Where? Right NOW. And just the night before I went to that class, I made a remark to my husband (not beating myself up, but just noticing) "Wow, I'm kinda out of shape." Thankfully, I'm doing something about it. But you know what my husband said, "Honey give yourself a break. You've been in a season." He was right. The last four years of our life together had been one crazy season with every kind mixed into it. But it was a beautiful thing to hear Him say that.

The next day after I got home from the gym, I started to prepare this week's message and listened to Billy Joel's  "Just The Way You Are." Started balling, just realizing that my husband truly loves me just the way I am. What a gift God!! I realized how crazy it is that we always think in the demanding seasons of life we're not beautiful or something.  But if we're showing up, however we're supposed to show up in that season, being still and enjoying it? That's where we're beautiful. Right now, in the season that we're in. 

So here's my message. Ladies we are all beautiful - just the way we are in whatever season we're in. I don't care if you've got scars or baby puke on your face, you are beautiful. I don't care if your pants size went up or you need a haircut (like me). I don't care how much you want to say, "But I'm not as pretty as so and so." I care that you ARE. You really are beautiful JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. I know you may not be feelin' me right now but believe me. Be kind to yourself, and your body. Forgive yourself for not being further along in health or some other area. You are where you are and God's okay with that because that's exactly where he wants you to be...still.

Here are two verses that God gave me in devotion time recently that I think speak to this message:

You ARE fearfully and wonderfully made. "I will give praise and thanks to You; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my Soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:14 AMP

You faith is worth more than gold (Amazing!!). "In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:6-7 AMP

Finally, here are a few videos that I think speak to it as well. Maybe you can add them to your workout playlist to remind you: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

Here's Your Playlist for the Week With Videos Below: 

Alessia Cara, Scars to Your Beautiful
Bruno Mars, Just the Way You are
Pitch Perfect Girls, Just the Way You Are
Billy Joel, Just the Way You Are

 

Seasons Change: How We Transition From One Season of Life to the Next

Today's post was supposed to be about how I've learned to navigate the grief over the years since Dad passed. Well, that's not what it's turned into, because as an empty nester today, I'm navigating an additional kind of grief - of not having kids in the house. So I thought it was appropriate to widen the scope of this, cause grief and change aren't all tied up into a nice box with a bow. They are messy. So this one's for all of you who are walking into a new season of your kids going back to school, your kids being off at school, or in their new careers, or your parent or loved one not being on this earth. Maybe for you it's even about mourning a relationship that you have that has changed. Whatever the case may be, we all need a little bit of God's grace.

So, here's the story. I thought my husband was going to be the one to have a much more difficult time than me with the whole empty nesting thing. Ha! I was wrong. I totally got blindsided. Day one of a regular week with the kids not there, or even just Sami there was a little shocking. The routine of everyone gathering together at the end of a day to come to the table and nestle into home was something that comforted me. It was a routine.

So when Mike got home, I didn't expect to snap at him about something as dumb as clothes of Matt's we're giving away. Then I'm in the kitchen, cooking our turkey for dinner trying to get in touch with my feeling and realizing I had anger. Wow, hadn't had THAT emotion in a while! What's behind anger? Fear. Of course I had fears of the change with this next season. I had fears that I wouldn't be able to get back to my dream after all these years of putting the kids first. I had anger that one day they are here, and one day they are gone?! It wasn't them, or even my husband that I was angry at. It was the situation changing - cause we all hate change, right? And it was the enemy wanting me to beat myself up for all the stuff I haven't gotten done in this season of parenting. Yeah, no I wasn't going to let him do that. I wrote about it, apologized to my husband, named what I thought might be going on and kept moving forward. That was that. I could process my emotions. Of course, they came back again the next morning but guess what? I don't have to hate myself! This is normal and part of the process of changing into a new season!!!

So here's what came as I sat with this lovely grief. Much of it has helped me since Dad died too...

#1. SIT WITH IT. Yes, that's what I said. That sweet rollercoaster of emotions is yours, so own it. But don't let it lock you into the ride. If you don't feel it, you stuff it. You gotta feel it, whether it's anger like that I felt Monday night, or plain old sadness. Maybe it's not even a feeling. Maybe it's purely physical, like you feel like you can't do anything. Be in that. Maybe you are in your head. Okay, maybe don't stay in your head. But put it down on paper. Get it out of yourself the minute it starts to take you for a ride (even if you hate writing!). If we don't sit with it, we won't heal it. Yes we have to move on, but our feelings have a mind of their own. "The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still." Exodus 14:14 NIV "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 NIV

#2. BE COMFORTED. There is so much stuff out there to "comfort" ourselves with, whether it's food or Netflix - we can just seek it in those things. But here's the thing about healing. You aren't going to heal it, if you just seek comfort. You've got to let God heal it. You've got to let God get to the root of your pain, and be comforted knowing that He isn't doing it to hurt you, but to heal you. Believe me I get it. I get wanting just something to take the edge off. Hello food! But I have found when it gets tough, there truly is only one who can comfort me and that's God. Not only that, he's the one who puts people in my life who I get to share my grief with that get it so we can comfort each other. How beautifully God works in our lives. He is..."the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV. Galatians 6:2 NIV says, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

#3. RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU ARE BEATING YOURSELF UP. This may not make sense at first, but listen to what you tell yourself. Do you tell yourself things you should have or could have done? Do you do what I did the other night and beat yourself up for not "measuring up" and doing more in that season? Stop yourself. Get out of your head. Recognize that those are NOT your thoughts and they are certainly not God's, because He would not be beating you up for everything you haven't done. He would be telling you that He had you in that season for a reason so be nice to yourself. "See how much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1 NLT

#4. LOOK AT THE GOOD. Gratitude, contentment, acceptance, love. Have gratitude for the entire season you've been brought through and for what God is already doing in the next. Let God show you by reflecting on the previous season, just how lucky you are to have loved or to have been present to the kids God has given you or to love the parents you did. Think for a minute just how much God must love us, to show us love and to put people in our lives to love! Accept where you are at, maybe in all the messiness and realize that God is going to do a new thing because out of every storm comes a clear sky somewhere! Love. Just BASK in the love you got to feel because you've gotten a small taste of just how much God loves us. "But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 NIV.

#5. PRACTICE SELF-CARE. How hard is this one? In 2 days I have found this statement to be true, "Kids are an awesome distraction from dealing with your own stuff." Yes, I said it. It is a beautiful thing to raise kids - a tremendous gift from God. But, wow. When they aren't in front of us 24-7 and we're left with ourselves? What a time to look at ourselves and say, "It's time to take care of you." Yes, we do our best at taking care of ourselves when we have those people in our life. But I see where God just kinda opened the skies enough to show Mike and I, "It's time for you to take a real rest and take care of yourselves." I can just feel it in my bones almost. What does that look like for you? For me? It's going to yoga more. It's being in nature more. It's getting a massage to release the toxins!! It's even letting the cortisol in my body rest by eating foods that don't inflame my system. It's doing all those things that connect me to that love of the Father - watching a sunset, listening to a song, video chatting with the kids. It's so much about just being in the season I think. And I know I'm only a few days in, but I can see how much it's about that acceptance and contentment, and even healing.  I mean I'm excited for how God's going to show me how to take better care of my body this season! "Don't you realize that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT This verse is one I think I'm going to put on my wall, "Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]. 3 John 1:2 AMP

#6. DREAM AGAIN. It is so important to feel our feelings. But we cannot let them run our lives or stay stuck on a pity pot of the past. We must dream again. We must know that God's got good plans for us in the next season. The other night I was beating myself for all the stuff I haven't done with Healthy Voice in this season, and all the work we have to do in our house. But that doesn't serve me. What does serve me is everything I've mentioned above, and this. Dreaming again about all the things I can do with Christ in my work, in my marriage, in my home, with my time. I was walking around St. Mary's and ND campus yesterday, texted my husband to say, "We gotta come back over here and do our Sunday morning runs." They were so important to us for a long time, but kids schedules took it away for a season. But that's okay, because we have new ways to dream!! God will do new things in this season ahead. "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19 NIV

One last fun thing. Did anyone look at the title of this blog and think of the old eighties song by Expose called "Seasons Change"? I did for a minute. So if you need a little extra dose of reflection (or a laugh at the eighties outfits). 

On another note, if you just need to be with it, here's a more appropriate video. This is one that's with me now as I Be with it.

Mid-Week Message: Healthy Voice on Vulnerability

"Healed wounds bring HOPE." - MT Schoeller

Watch today's Healthy Voice Message on the topic of Vulnerability and maybe find a little more courage to find it in yourself.

Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

Here is Brene Brown's Talk on The Power of Vulnerability

Here is the "In the Arena" Quote

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt