Batter my heart

 
Sometimes I feel as though I’m caught in an existential funk, but I don’t know if that’s a problem. Questioning what purpose I may possess doesn’t seem to be the problem, the problem with my thinking at times seems to be pride.
Shortly after marrying my husband, I found myself in yet another counselor’s office trying to sift through my overwhelming feelings of depression. I didn’t really click with this counselor, and she was more concerned with talking about God’s grace as opposed to addressing my problems head on.
She was nice enough and seemed to care, but what she was saying were things I had heard my whole life. I didn’t want to be there, and I begrudging went each week to appease my husband. I was in a program that lasted for several weeks, and I would try to blaze through each section that I was supposed to complete just so I could be one week closer to the end.
Retrospectively, my problem at that time wasn’t really the depression, but pride. I thought that I had it all figured out and that I was too good for God’s grace, or at least the idea of it. I didn’t need to hear about what I already knew in my head, even though I desperately needed it to permeate my heart.
I finished this program with a sigh of relief, and never gave it much thought again until this morning. Often I fear asking the Lord to draw me closer because of what He may take away. I know that He is a jealous God, and doesn’t like other things in His place. I do want Him on His rightful throne in my heart, but at what cost?
Below is a sonnet that I originally read at least 12 years ago. Its words often echo in the back of my mind, especially in times such as this when I find myself wondering what I am supposed to be doing and longing to be close enough to His divine presence that I can feel His breath.
For the things that break your heart, may they also break mine too. Draw me ever nearer, nearer to you.
Batter My Heart, Three Person’s God (Holy Sonnet 14)
John Donne1572 – 1631
Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurped town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betrothed unto your enemy:
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Being Pregnant and Being in Remission

When I hear the word remission, I immediately think of cancer relief. It’s a word that implies someone has beat their illness yet there is a chance of recurrence.

By simple definition remission means the “period during which the symptoms of a disease abate or subside. Release, as from a debt, penalty, or obligation. Forgiveness; pardon.”

I have never had cancer, and for that I am incredibly thankful. I have had another disease that stuck to my bones for years, and took a lot of hard work to even begin the healing process. I am a recovering anorexic-bulimic.

My journey with starvation began when I was in middle school, and I was bigger than most of the other girls. I was awkward, depressed, and completely lacking in the knowledge of how to relate to people. One day I fell ill with a stomach bug, and lost five pounds over a period of two days. This spark ignited my already noxious mind with the notion that I could be more attractive, more normal, if I could eat less and lose weight.

So that’s what I did for years. There were times when I would be better at it than others. In high school, my depression was at a peak, and being 16 and miserable was not something that I had planned on. I was not losing enough weight so I decided to begin purging my body. The only problem was I hated throwing up. I absolutely despise the act. So I opted for a much easier route. I began taking handfuls of laxatives, daily. Typically with bulimia one binges, but I was hardly eating anything anyways and eventually ended up getting very sick. Laxatives cause you to lose ample amount of vitamins, to become dehydrated, and are addictive among other things. I was also working out far more than someone in my condition should have been and was feeling the effects wearing on my joints.

My senior year began, and I felt like death. My gums would pour blood, and lots of it, just by the tiniest bit of applied pressure. I was in desperate need of help, but I did not know how to ask for it, and I don’t know if everyone around me was just naive to the fact that I was falling apart or if I just did a really good job at hiding it, either way I did not have anyone there to help pull me out of this pit.

That was until I started dating this guy who really helped me begin tobreak this crazy cycle I had fallen into. It was a slow process, but he helped me to think of myself differently and to gain a healthy appreciation for my body and for food. Our relationship did not last, but I think that God allowed him in my life long enough so that I could begin my journey of healing.

I went to college with a new fascination about health and wellness, and learned so much about how the body functions. My depression began to subside, only coming back in waves. I was well on the way to recovery, all without medical intervention.

That was more than seven years ago, and I have not lapsed back into my anorexic-bulimic state.

Now just because I eat and actually enjoy it, does not mean that fear of gaining too much weight is not wedged tightly in the hidden crevices of my mind.

When I became pregnant, my first initial fear was that I could possibly lose this baby since it’s still so early on which was followed by the overwhelming anxiety of gaining far too much weight which for me was both a concern of vanity and health.

So I was careful. I counted my calories for about 24 hours, then decided that I was not going to be ruled by obsession. I ate when I was hungry and allowed myself to give into some of my cravings, not in excess because that is not healthy for me or baby, but just enough to not be miserable. I didn’t gain any weight at all my first trimester, and have healthily added on the right amount of weight right on into my third trimester all without stressing over what I eat.

This pregnancy has taught me to love my body and to respect it far more than I ever have. My body is doing amazing things, and frankly I think I look darn good.

But even in all the strides toward a healthy body image I have made, it can take one ignorant comment to start to quickly unravel all of the good work I have begun in my mind.

I’ve spent most of my day crying because of a handful of inconsiderate comments that were doled my way about how large I have become. I’m a fairly intelligent person, I can tell that my body is bigger than what it was eight months ago so I do not need someone else reiterating the obvious truth that I am most aware of. I have also had to deal with being compared to other pregnant women who have completely different body types than I do and who may or may not have taken as good of care of themselves as I know that I have. Why are pregnant women targets for such ridicule?

I do not make jokes about how obese someone has become or how the person next to them is so much smaller than they are, what possesses some people to think it’s OK to do the same to an already over-emotional, hormone ridden, pregnant woman?

In times of frustration like this, it is easy for me to default to my old way of thinking and want to eat 500 calories or less a day. But there is something greater inside of me than that. I am growing an amazing gift that God has intrusted me with, and it is now my sole purpose in life to guard, cherish and protect her in anyway that I can. This starts with me trusting God for strength, and believing that what He says is true in Philippians 1:6 “Being confident in this that He who began a good work in you will carry it out unto completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

He began a good work of healing in me. He began an even greater work of allowing me to conceive this little miracle. I know that He will finish what He has started if I let Him. I do not want to get in the way of His special promises. I have been released from this burden and forgiven for making it an idol. I will always be in remission, bearing an invisible scar, relying on the perfect strength of God to make it through each day.

I’ve been given a wonderful husband who has seen me through my darkest hour and who continues to shower me with encouragement and blessing. I’m so thankful that not only did God demonstrate His love for me through the death and resurrection of Jesus, but He continues to show His love for me through this incredible man who is used mightily to offer strength and compassion when I most need it.

So today, remember to be kind to others. Your words may weigh more than you can even imagine.

Surrounded by Peace: A mother’s reflection

As I sit here in my partially sunlit living room, the coolness from the spring breeze that smells so sweet here in the mountains pouring  through our screen door, I can’t help but feel the peaceful presence of the Lord washing over my constantly worrying motherly heart.

I have not given birth to this sweet miracle growing inside me yet, but you cannot convince me that I am not yet a parent. I fully believe that parenting begins while the child is still in utero. A parent is nothing more than a caretaker, and I am all consumed with taking care of this little girl who seems to be getting a kick out of kicking me in the diaphragm.

I do not know what her face looks like, how her eye lids cover her eyes, whether she has her daddy’s button nose and envy provoking eye lashes or if she has my full lips and dimpled chin. I do not know what her cries sound like, whether she’s calm and collected like both of us or if she’s spicy and passionate full of a feverish intensity.

But I do know that she is a gift. One that I do not deserve, but one that I am eternally grateful for. I do know that she moves gently when our kitty lays sweetly near my belly. She moves excitedly when her daddy talks to her. She moves to the beat of my guitar’s resonance when I’m playing it near, and she thrashes about violently when we’re near music that is too loud and too closely related to a rock concert.

As I near her grand arrival, I tend to worry about her delivery, her health, how prepared I am to deal with a newborn. But then a calmness rushes over me as I feel God saying “Let me perfect what I’ve started in you.”

Earlier in my pregnancy, I was paralyzed by so many fears. From gaining too much weight, to having a traumatic birth experience. All of my fears were certainly legitimate, and if you’re reading this and are feeling very fearful about your pregnancy or anything else that may be going on in your life, it’s OK. Do not let anyone ever tell you that your fears are childish or foolish. Only ignorant, cold-hearted, and wicked people will purposefully make you feel that way, and they are clearly not worthy of any of your time or concern.

As the weeks have quickly passed so have many of my fears. My child and I have both been blessed with wonderful health so far, I have been given beautiful support by my family, and we have been incredibly blessed with necessary gifts to aid us in taking care of this sweet child.

When fears of inadequacy swell in my heart, I hear the Lord say “I have not given you this spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and of a sound mind.” When fears creep into the corner of my mind about the birth I hear “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

I’m drawn back from this reflective moment by the low hum of cicadas and the cars passing by. Life is busying itself all around, and I am thankful for peace.

Nature Sings to God

 

I saw this today, and thought how amazing it is that all of these objects in space sound like different instruments.

Psalm 148 (New International Version)

Praise the Lord.[a]

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights above.
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for at his command they were created,
and he established them for ever and ever—
he issued a decree that will never pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
11 kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
12 young men and women,
old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
14 And he has raised up for his people a horn,[b]
the praise of all his faithful servants,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the Lord.

Pause and Refocus: Holy Week Reflection

Red Equal Symbol

I’ve seen a lot of hostility this week on social media sites because of this sign. I’ve seen it on both sides and it mostly comes from self-proclaimed Christians.

To you Christians who stand on either side of this debate, please remember we are all brothers and sisters.

We can call each other brothers and sisters because of an amazingly pivotal event that occurred a couple of thousand years ago in a town called Jerusalem.

We are in the midst of holy week, and today, Maundy Thursday , is a day of remembrance of Jesus’ last supper or the first communion.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

“the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Tomorrow is Good Friday where we reflect on Jesus’ crucifixion. This is huge! This should never be forgotten, especially on the day that is set aside for such a purpose. Jesus died and came back from the grave so that we might live.

Hebrews 2:9
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

So brothers and sisters, despite your political and moral views, pause and refocus. Do not forget what we can all celebrate this week: a life that can be lived free from the bonds of hell, death, and the grave.

Teach Your Kids to Pray

I am so thankful that my parents taught me how to really talk to God. It has proven to be incredibly beneficial for me throughout my life. Prayer has brought me closer to God which has brought me much healing both physically and mentally. I’ve known from a young age that I can boldly approach the Lord, give Him praise, acknowledge who He is, and make my requests known to Him. I hope to teach my children what I know and in turn watch them learn far more than I can teach them.

I am re-blogging this article from Whatchristianswanttoknow.com about how to teach your children how to pray.

 
Teaching Children About Prayer: 8 Tips for Parents

by Crystal McDowell on March 21, 2013

Are your children praying? Not just over their meals, but do they know how to get a prayer through to God? As a parent, you can’t be available to them 24/7, but God is everywhere all the time and can answer their prayers in His perfect timing. Just as you can decipher the urgency of your children’s request—how much more does your Father in heaven hear the cries of His children (both young and old) and answer according to His will?

You must instill your faith in God into your children by teaching them to pray at the earliest age possible. If you missed the boat in this—there is still much grace from God to begin today:

#1) Start by Example

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 11:1)

Is prayer an important part of your life? Do you pray with your children on a daily basis? An active, intentional prayer life keeps you sharp and connected to God. It will give your children great hope and assurance when they know you are praying for them. They will more likely begin to pray for themselves and others as they watch your prayer life.

#2) Use Prayers from the Bible

“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9)

The “Our Father” is one of the most widely known prayers in the Bible that brings incredible unity in the body of believers when prayed together. Find the prayers of Moses, Nehemiah, David, Solomon, and Jesus for starters. Begin the practice of memorizing and reciting prayers together as a family.

#3) Pray Scriptures

“For the word of God is alive and active.” (Hebrews 4:12)

You must instill your faith in God into your children by teaching them to pray at the earliest age possible.

When my son was younger, he was afraid of the dark. I taught him to pray “God, you haven’t given me a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and of a sound mind” from 2 Timothy 1:7. Eventually he’s grown up to know that he can translate any of God’s scriptures to a prayer language. God’s word is the sword of the Spirit that our children can use to impact the world with powerful prayers.

#4) Practice A-C-T-S

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant.” (Daniel 9:17)

Years ago I learned how to pray A-C-T-S as a guideline and taught it to my children. The acronym is: A (give adoration to God), C (confess our sins), T (to give thanks), and S (to make supplication or requests). For our family devotions everyone participated in this prayer with confession being a silent prayer between God and the children. This became an effective tool for prayer that they still use today in their personal prayer time.

#5) Demonstrate Body Posture

“When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out toward heaven.” (1 Kings 8:54)

Whether standing, sitting, kneeling, or stretched out —your outward expression of faith in prayer helps keep you focused. Children can be accustomed to a certain position of praying out of habit. By changing the prayer posture from kneeling to standing with palms open—your children learn to physically engage in their prayers and experience the practice of humility before an awesome God.

#6) Encourage your Children to Pray out Loud

“A time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7)

Have you ever felt uncomfortable when asked to pray out loud? There’s a time for silent prayers, but your children may have opportunities to speak out loud when praying. You can use your family devotion times as a chance for them to practice in a safe, comfortable place. Their confidence will build so they will always be ready to pray out loud in school, church events or wherever God leads them.           

#7) Look for Opportunities to Pray

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Driving past an accident, a classmate whose parent’s are divorcing, trouble with grades, etc…all of these circumstances need prayer. As you keep alert to intercessory opportunities, your children will eventually bring their requests to your devotional time together. Let your children hear “let’s pray about it” from you when life throws a curve ball at them. It will build their faith in God to answer according to His will.

#8) Keep a Family Prayer Journal

“Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered.”
(Exodus 17:14)

Wouldn’t it be nice one day to go through a family prayer journal like you peruse through old photographs? Writing down your prayer requests and God’s answers can speak volumes to a child’s faith. It gives credence of God’s faithfulness and encourages them to seek out His face on a regular basis as well as stretching their faith in praying for the impossible.

These tips are just guidelines to get your family started on a greater journey of faith. God blesses you with so many opportunities to reveal His hand, His love, and His presence in the lives of your children. Make prayer a top priority for your family—one day you may be the beneficiary of your children’s children prayers!